A Child's Geography: Explore the Holy Land
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Directions to Eden, Please?
Turkey ~ Part 1~
When I was young and summer days grew warm and long, I
used to swim in the cool of the Maitland River, fish in its
murky shadows, and canoe under its leafy canopy. The
Maitland River isn’t well-known so you’ve probably never
heard of it. But perhaps you have heard of these four well-
known rivers from the beginning of time, written of in
Genesis 2:10-14: “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the
garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of
the first is Pishon… The name of the second river is Gihon...The
name of the third river is Tigris…”
Wait! Now imagine that the Bible then named the very river that coursed near your home. “And the
fourth river is the ….” Wouldn’t you catch your breath if you read that verse in the Bible and realized,
“That’s the very river I swim in on summer afternoons!”? There are children today who do indeed
read in the Bible of the river that streams just outside their house! The stories of the Bible happen
in real, actual places on Earth. God’s story, through the ages, is rooted in geography. The words
of Scripture are firmly rooted in the ground of our world, places you can see and touch and
experience today. I can’t wait to experience those rivers and mountains and lands with you!
Of course, geographers pack their bags before embarking on a Holy Land exploration, but the most
important elements of a journey simply cannot be tucked into a suitcase. Firstly, wise travelers have
observing eyes that are focused to truly see the sights. Secondly, astute adventurers nurture strong
memories to net their adventures and keep them as their own. And thirdly, sensible geographers carry
with them a healthy faith. A growing faith gives our heart the eyes to see the evidence and glory of
God everywhere we travel. With our trio of essentials, let us depart!
The Bible begins with the story of geography: the story of Earth,
and its creation…and it begins with a garden. The Bible reads,
“Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east” (Gen. 2:8).
This is the first mention of an exact, geographical location on our
Earth. It speaks of a real garden that once existed: the Garden of
Eden. If I cracked open my Bible, could I find a map that told me
where the Garden of Eden is today? No! No modern map can
show us where to find the ancient Garden of Eden. Perhaps we
could, however, gather some ideas regarding its location from the
Bible and its clue of those four rivers: “Now a river flowed out of
Eden…and became four rivers…” (Gen. 2:14). Since Eden means
“delight” in Hebrew, we will need to look for a place of delight! Let’s begin in a place where
children today can eat a candy called “Turkish Delight.” These children live in the Middle Eastern
country of Turkey…and one of the rivers that flowed through the Garden of Eden begins in that
country. Might Earth’s very first inhabitants, created masterfully by God’s own hand, have walked
through the dark green valleys of this country? Why not hop on a flying carpet to see where the
Garden of Eden may have been in Turkey?
The Turkish Flag: The star and
crescent are Muslim symbols.

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Tales of flying carpets are merely the stuff of fantasy, but our
carpet is as real as the Garden of Eden once was. We’d find
such a carpet in Turkey…but where exactly are we? Hold a
globe in your hand and spin till you find where God has
intersected the Mediterranean Sea, and the continents of
Europe and Asia; there you will pinpoint Turkey. Now that
you’ve landed, let’s make our way to the crowded Turkish
Grand Bazaar in the city of Istanbul. (Can you locate
Istanbul in the northwest corner?) A bazaar is the Persian
word for market, and it is here in the Grand Bazaar of
Istanbul that we would find our ornate Turkish carpet called
a kilim (KEE-lim). Here, in alleys so narrow one can hardly
squeeze through, stringing along more than 65 streets,
merchants from over 4,000 shops shout out to passing
shoppers trying to sell their colorful wares. Some
shopkeepers of the Grand Bazaar grab our arms, tugging us
into their stalls, while others tickle our ear with whispered
prices especially negotiated for us. In one shop selling
carpets, I imagine our fingers reaching out to feel the dark
hues and naturally dyed colors. Perhaps the shopkeeper,
Ahmet, may roll the kilim out for us, chuckling, “Evet, evet,”
(Yes, yes in Turkish) teasing us that our carpet may float
away, sweeping us up over the Grand Bazaar and all of the
city of Istanbul. Imagine: a dip and a dive, a launch and an
upward lunge, and here we would be, on our own kilim,
looking down at the country of Turkey below us!
With your eye on your globe and Turkey far below, what image can you form out of the shapes you
see? I imagine a strange creature with the Sea of Marmara as an eye. Can you pinpoint where
Istanbul and the Grand Bazaar might be?
Turkey covers an area of 301,400 square miles [780,626 square kilometers] which is about the size of
the states of Texas and Virginia combined. While we may have an easy overview of the entire
country from our carpet, Turkey actually spans about 1000 miles [1, 609 km] from end to end. We’d
have to start driving before the sun rose and drive long after sunset, to cross the entire country.
From your carpet perch, you would surely have noticed the four great bodies of water bordering
Turkey: the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. What
makes these bodies of water seas and not oceans or lakes? A sea is a stretching expanse of salty
water that is usually a reaching arm of ocean, butting into a continent of land. If you look carefully,
you’ll find that the Mediterranean Sea, for instance, is really just an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that
God has allowed to reach into the lands of Africa, Europe and Asia. Out of the Mediterranean Sea
stretches another arm, the Aegean Sea…and out of the Aegean Sea extends the arm of the Sea of
Marmara….which reaches out even further as the Black Sea. This arm of seas from the Atlantic
Ocean is a long-reaching arm indeed! (Our travels will lead us to seas that are not connected to
oceans at all, but are entirely surrounded by land, called land-locked seas. Such a body of water is
nearly always a body of salty water. [An exception is the Sea of Galilee.] A lake, on the other hand, is
a large body of usually fresh water surrounded by land.)
More than 250,000 people visit the 4,000 shops
of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar every day, the
world’s most famous bazaar. The oldest part
of the Bazaar was built in 1461 under Mehemt
the Conqueror. Today’s shoppers carry home
purchases of such goods as jewelry, pottery,
spices and carpets.
More than 250,000 people visit the 4,000 shops
of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar every day, the
world’s most famous bazaar. The oldest part
of the Bazaar was built in 1461 under Mehemt
the Conqueror. Today’s shoppers carry home
purchases of goods such as jewelry, pottery,
spices and carpets.

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Wave-tossed by this quartet of seas, the country of Turkey is
actually like a bridge between the two continents of Asia and
Europe. Yes, all that separates these two continents is a sliver
of water—with the city of Istanbul on either side of the
ribbon of blue waves. Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city of 9.5
million people, is the only city in the whole wide world built
on two continents! (You may have heard of Istanbul’s ancient
name, Constantinople, in your history studies.) That thread of
water, which separates the city into East Istanbul and West
Istanbul; and separates Europe from Asia, is one of the most
important trade waterways in the world: the Bosphorus Strait.
It is the connecting waterway for ships from the Black Sea to
sail on out to the Sea of Marmara, then to the Aegean
Sea…and onto the Mediterranean Sea, and out into the
Atlantic Ocean.
Although the Bosphorous is a strait of water, that doesn’t
mean it flows perfectly straight, without winding around
bends and curves. Actually, the word strait has nothing to
do with “straight” lines, but means it is a narrow channel of
water that God created between two landmasses. This narrow
strait joins two larger bodies of water. Try thinking of it this way: have you ever squeezed on a long,
thin balloon? Just as a skinny balloon bulges out into large shapes when you squeeze it in the
middle, so the strait of water “squeezed” by the two landmasses swells into two larger bodies of
water on either side! Looking at your globe, or map, of Turkey, can you determine which two larger
bodies of water bulge out of the squeezed (only 0.5 to 2.8 mi. [660 to 4,500 m.] wide!) Bosphorus
Strait? Yes, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea!
Recall that little Maitland River that I used to play in? Big old Hereford cattle use to wander down
its banks to lap up the thirst-quenching cool water or sometimes splash across to the other side of
the river. The Greeks had a story about their god Zeus supposedly hiding a cow in the silvery,
narrow waters of the Bosphorus Strait. Thus, in the Greek language, “Bosphorus” means the “the
cow crossing-place.” (That makes it rather easy to remember that the Turkish city of Istanbul, is
on the Bosphorus strait—the cow passage!) You are not likely to not see any cows swimming down
there in the Bosphorus Strait but you will probably see streams of cars crossing over top of the strait
on the Bosphorus Bridge, the 12th longest suspension bridge in the world. This stretch of steel
allows you to drive from the continent of Europe right into Asia.
This is a photograph taken of Turkey from a
satellite up in space. Looking down from way
above, what shapes do you see in Turkey’s
geography? The different shades of green tell
us where plants, trees and vegetation are
growing in the landscape. The blue areas are
the seas and lakes. The white areas above the
land are clouds. Photo courtesy of
visibleearth.nasa.gov

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Named after the “cow crossing-place,” a cow would no longer have to swim the Bosphorous, but could be driven across one of the
massive bridges that span the Bosphorous Strait!
God drew a thread of blue water, the Bosphorous Strait,
to separate the continents of Europe and Asia. Bridges
now span the Bosphorous Strait, but a. 4,593 feet [1, 400
m] rail tunnel, running 180 feet [55 m] underneath the
Strait, is currently being built.
Photo courtesy of visibleearth.nasa.gov

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Field Notes
What an amazing start to finding the Garden that was there in the
beginning! Are you enjoying your carpet ride? Have you ever seen
someone perched on a floating carpet speaking tales of adventure onto
a mini-recorder? You may stay seated on the carpet and I’ll be the
mini-recorder, listening to your field notes!
Press Record and talk to me…
~ about how the geography of Earth connects to the stories of the Bible:
What important place from the Bible might have been located in Turkey? What are
three essentials that a geographer brings to every exploration?
~ about Turkey’s location on a globe: What does the country look like from
above and what of its size? What bodies of water border Turkey? Which continents?
Tell me what you learned about seas. Tell me more about where you found your kilim.
~ about the Bosphorus Strait: What does its name mean? What is a strait? What
does a strait connect? Name the bodies of water the Bosphorus Strait connects. What
kind of bridge spans the Bosphorus Strait?
While you may not see any cows crossing the
Bosphorous Strait, if you look across Turkey (see
previous arial photograph of Turkey on page 7), can
your keen eyes determine where you might find
cows in this country? Cows in Turkey like to
chew exactly what cows like to chew along the
banks of my little Maitland River: lush, green
grass. Rich green grass is waiting for us if we
soar east from Istanbul up along the northern
coast of Turkey. You will notice how the skies
are gray with rain clouds here but the coastal
mountains below us are deep green. Indeed,
here along the Black Sea you may actually see
many cows grazing to produce Turkey’s very
best milk and butter. The climate of this area of
Turkey is what we call temperate. A
temperate climate is an area with weather that
is not too cold and not too hot - but just right!
The Black Sea region of Turkey is beautiful and temperate. The
seasons are not extreme, but moderate, and rain is plentiful.
Hasn’t God created excellent growing conditions for many crops
such as hazelnuts, tea, tobacco and cherries?

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In temperate regions, like here on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, changes between seasons are not
extreme with searing hot days followed by freezing cold days, but subtle, with moderately warm days
giving way to moderately cool days.
As the warm air blowing in off the Black Sea rises over the north coast of Turkey, rain clouds are
formed, which creates rainfall year round, almost 8 feet [2.4 m] of rain during a year; four to six
times the rainfall in other regions of Turkey. (That amount of rain is as high as you sitting on your
Dad’s shoulders!) The rain clouds that God sends off the Black Sea make these steep mountain
slopes verdant and lush with grass and crops. Imagine looking over our carpet’s edge to see the
Turks on this mountainous northern coast bringing in harvests of cherries from what some believe
to be the world’s oldest cherry orchards, the gathering of billions of hazelnuts, and expansive tea and
tobacco plantations. Four in every ten Turks live by working in God’s land growing crops or grazing
herds of livestock such as goats or cattle. As we peer over carpet’s edge, deeply inhaling those
aromas of teas and drying tobaccos, drifting in on the sea breezes up through this garden-like area of
Turkey, we can’t help but sing praise to our God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps 50:10),
and who “care[s] for the land and water[s] it…enrich[ing] it abundantly” (Ps. 65:9)!
Speaking of fertile, lush gardens, can you spot the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers down there in the
southeast part of Turkey? Recall these words from God’s Word “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water
the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers…The name of the third river is Tigris; …And the fourth
river is the Euphrates” (Genesis 2:10,14). Today, we know very little of the first two-mentioned rivers
of Eden but we may ponder over the two other named rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris. The name
Euphrates itself comes from a root word that means “to gush forth” and we can see that it does just
that as the river winds and meanders its way through steep canyons and gorges. As you gaze down
on the Euphrates, one can imagine how Abraham must have felt when God said to him “Unto thy
seed have I given this land …unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). This great river is the
northeastern boundary of the Promised Land and the site of such great historical events as the battle
between Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon and Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt in 605 B.C. (Jer 46:2).
The Tigris River, on the other
hand, comes from a word that
means “the river that goes,”
which it certainly does, coursing
throughout Turkey faster and
with a greater volume of water,
than the Euphrates The
Euphrates and Tigris Rivers both
begin high up in a rugged region
of Turkey called Anatolia. (Can
you locate the Anatolian Plateau
stretching across the center of
Turkey?) From way up in space,
we see this vast central region of
the Anatolia as dry and rolling.
Thus, we aren’t surprised that in
the Greek language Anatolia
means: “Land of the Mother
Sun.” The Anatolia is what
geographers refer to as a plateau.
The course of the Euphrates River is one border of Mesopotamia, “the land
between two rivers.” The Euphrates River also marked one of the boundaries of
the land promised by God to Abraham and his descendants. In the Old Testament,
the very important Euphrates River is referred to simply as "The River" (ha-nahar).
Photo courtesy of holylandphotos.org

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A plateau is like a mountain without a peak. Similar to a mountain, the center Anatolian Plateau of
Turkey rises high into the air; but unlike a mountain, God creates plateaus with a relatively flat top.
A plateau can be regarded as a flat-topped mountain, or an oversized table of land rising up out of
the landscape. Think of the Anatolian Think of the Anatolian Plateau as a table rising up out of the
central interior of Turkey, a tableland, where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers begin and course down
through its rugged terrain.
The lands that lie in between the winding Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are known as the
Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia literally means “the land between two rivers.” Often times the word
Mesopotamia is also referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization.” I picture this part of Anatolia,
meaning “the land of the mother sun,” as having two arms, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which
cradled Earth’s very first towns, farms and society, born here in the Mesopotamia, “the land
between the two rivers.”
Take a look down there at the southeastern Anatolian Plateau where historians believe that our
planet’s very first homes were built and farms were cultivated. Ever since the dawn of time, this
sweeping Anatolian Plateau has been the birthplace of a chain of civilizations and peoples whom
God has used in mighty ways to write the world’s history. The Hittites of the Bible lived here. The
Persians, Romans, and Byzantines ruled here. It was in the Mesopotamia that the first metal was
ever made. Copper, the first metal ever used by mankind is still mined here in Turkey, near the
Tigris River. When we read in the Bible of how Adam and Eve’s son was a farmer and that their
great-grandson’s great-grandson worked with metal, we wonder if the Garden of Eden itself was
once indeed here, somewhere in Turkey, lying between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Did the
very first people ever to walk the dust of this earth, Adam and Eve, indeed first walk here, in the
Turkish Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers? In all truth, we simply do not
know. The global flood of Noah’s day dramatically and catastrophically changed the landscape of
our world. Are these two rivers of Turkey the same rivers of the Biblical Garden of Eden? Some
suggest not: The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of Turkey today flow on top of thousands of feet of
fossil sediments believed to be from Noah’s Flood. Thus, it is argued, these two rivers are not the
same rivers of the Garden of Eden. Then why do they have the same names, you ask? The
Maitland River that coursed near my
house was named after a long ago
Governor, Sir Maitland. And it may be
that the families who settled this part of
Turkey after the flood named these two
rivers after the long-ago rivers they
remembered flowing out of the Garden of
Eden. The original Tigris and Euphrates
Rivers of the Garden of Eden fed and
watered Adam and Eve’s paradise, just as
the modern Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
do today for great areas of Turkey.
Peer over our carpet’s edge and perhaps
you may see a young girl dipping her pail
in the Euphrates; or watch two boys
watering their cattle at river’s edge and
another man netting mullet fish. Since
the beginning of time, water has been
Ataturk Dam dramatically alters the original flow of the Euphrates River.
The dam may benefit some in Turkey with hydroelectric power and
water to irrigate farms, but it has left others below the dam with much
less water. What a difference this dam has made!

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necessary for living. All rivers, like the meandering Maitland River or the great Euphrates and Tigris
Rivers, provide drinking water for livestock and people, irrigation for crops, a means to transport
goods, travel waterways, and a source of food. Thus, all throughout history, humans have built
towns, which have grown into prospering cities, close to where God has provided running water.
Industrious beavers often built dams of sticks and mud across my Maitland River. But what we see
as we gaze carefully down from our floating kilim, are definitely not beaver-built structures
stretching across the rivers. Nor were these here in the day of Adam and Eve. Do you see the
massive concrete dams spanning the width of the rivers? More than 20 such dams are built over
both rivers to generate electricity for the Turkish people and to irrigate over 17 million square miles
[44 million sq km] of Turkey’s land in need of water. While the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers may be
dammed up to benefit families in Turkey, dams actually leave less water for other families down river.
How God created our Earth—geography—weaves through the stories and peoples of the past,
powerfully effects where and how people live on this globe today, and influences the family of
humanity’s future.
The God-designed geography of Turkey, with its Bosphorous Strait, its
Anatolian Plateau, its temperate coastlines, and the course of its rivers, such as the Tigris and
Euphrates, determines where families live, what they eat around their tables, how they work and
what they do. God formed humanity out of the dust of the Earth, and for all of our days, we are
intimately connected to the dust under our feet, to the geography of Earth.
We’ve explored some of the highlights of Turkey’s geography, but we have yet to visit Turkey’s
highest—and most secretive—point, its whirling dervishes, its underground cities to crawl through,
its magnificent churches and its camel wrestlers to shake your heads over. So hold on to your
carpets—oh, the places we’ll go!
Field Notes
I can’t wait to hear your memories and field notes from our first ride
through Turkey! Press Record and talk to me…
~ about the Black Sea Region:
What of its climate? What is grown in this region?
~ about the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers:
Do you remember what their names mean? Where do they begin? Tell me what you
think about these rivers and the rivers of the Garden of Eden. How do the rivers help
the people of Turkey today?
~ about plateaus (or tablelands): Once you have described a plateau – what
famous plateau lies in the center of Turkey? Can you find it on your map?
~ about Mesopotamia: What does its name mean? What else is it sometimes called?
Why? Can you name some of the people groups that started here?

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Travel Log
Using your globe or atlas, draw an outline map of Turkey.
As we travel, let’s make record in our very own travel log of the places we’ve
visited and the unusual sights we’ve seen! Make your map large enough to hold
all of your discoveries!
Don’t worry about making a perfect map, just do your best. Drawing the basic
shape yourself will help you remember it better. Or you can use the map
provided for you on the CD-ROM.
Map Notes: Let’s record the locations of:
Istanbul
Sea of Marmara
Mediterranean Sea
Aegean Sea
Black Sea
Bosphorous Strait
Anatolian Plateau
Optional:
Tigris River
Euphrates River
Mesopotamia
If you’d like, draw pictures or symbols on your map representing:
The Grand Bazaar (perhaps a picture of your own floating kilim?)
Bosphorus Bridge (if you draw a cow in the river, that may help you remember the
story of the river’s name!)
Cherry trees or baskets of tea on the Black Sea coastline (Do you recall that
this is one of the oldest orchards in the world?)
Dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
Travel Notes: Geographers write what they’ve seen in order to share the
adventure with others—and so they can revisit the places in their memories!
On the next page of your travel log, record three important sights you
want to remember from your tales of Turkey.

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~art ~books ~food ~music ~poetry
Bringing It Home
Simple ideas to bring the world to your door
Art
The Turks are known for their brilliant colors and intricate geometric designs in textiles and tiles.
Perhaps you’d like to try weaving your own kilim:
http://www.allfiberarts.com/library/aa01/aa040201.htm
Or, try your hand at decorating a Turkish Tile:
http://www.papermandalas.com/turkishtile.htm
Music
Music captures so much of a land and people. Introducing your children to Turkish music is a
simple way to transport yourselves around the world: a bit like your own flying carpet! Why not
check out these sites while your young geographers notebook and map and let the music play while
they recount their travels?
You can hear a wide selection of Turkish music at these sites:
(The Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture)
http://www.discoverturkey.com/english/kultursanat/muzik.html
(National Geographic)
http://worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/worldmusic/view/page.basic/home
(Click on Middle East and then Turkey)
Also, you can check your local library for Turkish classical music (called sanit) or traditional folk
music.