Don McCullin in Anatolia: Roman Roads: A Journey Across Asia Minor (Hardcover)
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In Anatolia is Don McCullin's masterful observation of the Roman monuments that still adorn the mountains, valleys and coast of western Turkey. It is a meditation on landscape, of the effects of light on ancient stone, of the way that clouds animate the past, and that ever elusive spirit of place.
This book is also an investigation into the unifying forms of an urban, artistic civilization that once stretched from the borders of Scotland to the banks of the Euphrates, from the sands of the Sahara to the river Danube. On one hand it can be assessed as a brutal Empire based on conquest, slavery and public executions, but it yet upheld a universal literate culture open to talent and based on local self-governance that was tolerantly inclusive of race, language and old systems of belief.
In Anatolia is consciously focused on just one specific period within Turkey's dazzlingly rich parade of historical cultures (that stretch back over twelve thousand years), but by choosing the five hundred years of the Roman Empire, we can also celebrate a time that we can all share in.
Don McCullin has won himself the reputation of being the greatest living photographer of conflict, but this has always coexisted with his other role as a great traveler. But these two facets of his artistic career yet come together as a witness, founded on deep-rooted humanity and compassion. He also takes pride in the craft, so he delights in developing all his own film, using his digital cameras as a mere notepad-like back-up. Over the last decade, his most ambitious journeys have been to chronicle the far frontiers of the Roman Empire, a lifelong obsession that had been accidentally been kick-started by an incident in his early career when he worked alongside Bruce Chatwin.
In Anatolia is a companion to an earlier volume, Southern Frontiers, where Don had observed the landscapes of the Roman Empire in North Africa and Syria. In Anatolia was created through a series of epic journeys across western Turkey commissioned by Cornucopia Magazine. His companion during all these journeys was the writer Barnaby Rogerson, who was not only able to watch the master at work but was able to listen to the astonishing tales from Don's adventurous life, as they traveled along Roman roads. So we get the context and the historical story behind every chosen photograph. The Roman province of Asia Minor was one of the richest in the entire Empire, composed of a triumphant series of cities, each adorned with fountains, sculptures, temples and theaters. Though two thousand years old these public buildings, their gateways and opulent avenues still dazzle and inspire. They also guard ancient cults, modern mysteries, the scars of violent wars and astonishing achievement. These worn pavements were once walked upon by the feet of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, Caesar and Sulla, St Paul and Hadrian.