Milas is a funny little town. Like Bergama, it appears at first to be nothing more than one long concrete main drag. Hang about, however, and you eventually find the old town as far away from the main highway as it can hide itself. Here history lies in thick layers, ruinous Greek houses overlooking an ancient temple, pieces of Hellenistic masonry popping up unexpectedly in the walls of Beylik-era mosques.
Gertrude passed through in 1907 as she started her long journey across Western and Central Anatolia to Binbirkilise near Karaman. The caravanserai from which she hired her horses was almost certainly the Cöllühanı at the top of a hill. I remember when it seemed to be on its very last legs but was still home to a felter and a saddle-maker. Now it’s been given a makeover which will no doubt see it fill up with chi-chi craft workshops any day soon. You can still see reused pieces of Roman masonry dotted about the courtyard though.
While in Milas Gertrude took a quick look at the Gümüşkesen Monument, a tomb that is thought to have been modelled on the more famous Mausoleum of Halicarnasos (Bodrum). After hanging about to watch teenage boys use its sides as a climbing wall for a few minutes I continued uphill in search of a sarcophagus she reported seeing in a garden. Not altogether surprisingly it was nowhere to be found. Instead I stumbled upon a sign pointing in the direction of a Jewish cemetery.
Not expecting any more success with that, I wandered up a dirt track and into a field where sheep were cropping the grass in the cool of evening. They glanced up at me before pressing on unperturbed. A brood of black chickens on the other hand took one look before turning tail and fleeing for the safety of a nearby coop.
Much to my surprise I found the ground littered with gravestones carved with Hebrew inscriptions and dated according to the Jewish calendar. Most lay flat on the ground; just a few jutted up at an angle. On a couple small stones had been placed as is usual in Jewish burial custom. Having picked up a larger stone to fend off the sheepdog should he turn nasty I now placed it gently down on one of them, before heading back into town to consider which of several candidate mosques might have been the one Gertrude mentioned in her diary.