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black and white photograph of a donkey standing next to a an archaeological feature

George traversed the Turkish landscape in vehicles and on foot, but it was the donkey who most frequently appeared in his photographs, providing a helpful scale and an invaluable load bearer.


black and white photograph of George Bean on a donkey with four local Turkish guides


A Donkey to the Rescue

Jane Bean recalls one particular occasion in which an unfortunate George was assisted by an equally unfortunate donkey.


Some time in the 1950’s, when George was traveling on his own, he had the misfortune to damage a knee quite badly. Often in Anatolia one slept on the roof of the house to catch the cool breeze. On this occasion he got up in the night to seek the garden, completely forgetting where he was, thus stepping into space.  Perhaps he was lucky to get away with a badly sprained knee!

After resting up for a few days he couldn’t afford more time, so set out with a group of helpers to explore a site high above the village. The knee lasted long enough to get  him up there and note their findings but then became impossibly painful, rendering him immobile.

The donkey had been left at a lower level, as the path was steep and narrow, so the young man on George’s left in the picture carried  him on his back to where the animal was tethered. He finished the journey as shown, but how either the man or donkey managed to carry him, I can’t imagine.

It is not surprising that George had a great respect and affection for the Anatolian peasants.


black and white photograph of donkeys in front of a ruined wall


black and white photograph of a donkey in front of a fallen stone with a Greek inscription


black and white photograph ofa donkey grazing next to a ruined building, with a man posing for the camera


black and white photograph of a donkey next ot an archaeological feature


black and white photographoof a donkey and two men next to a body of water


black and white photograph of a donkey grazing in an archaeological landscape with mountains

Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

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