How Turkey Important in World History

The Ankara collection, dated at 2000-1900B.C., comes from tumuli at Alacahoyuk, Horoztepe and Mahmatlar, and includes artifacts in gold silver, electrum bronze and ceramic.Anatolia has given rise to many civilizations in the course of history. Although not as advanced as Egypt or Mesopotamia, the Hatti, who spoke a language characterized by prefixes, were nevertheless one of the more advanced societies of their age(3000-2000B.C.). The objects on display at the Ankara

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations constitute the finest Bronze Age collection in the world next to the Ur Treasure in the British Museum.

An Outpost Against Invasion From The Balkans: Troy

During the time of the Hatti, Troy I (3000-2500) and Troy II (2500-2200) represented the Bronze Age in northwestern Anatolia, that is to say at Canakkale. Both fell within the sphere of Aegean culture, and Troy II had a particularly brilliant age. The gold vessels unearthed by Heinrich Schliemann, and kept in the Berlin Volkerkunde Museum, unfortunately vanished during World War II.

The riches of Troy are now represented by the gold jewellery on display in the Istanbul museum of Archaeology. Troy III-V (2200-1800B.C.) is a continuation of Troy II.

Migration Of Indo-European Peoples Into Anatolia – The Hatti-Hittite Princedoms

The Indo-European migrations, which took place over a vast territory extending from Western Europe to India, brought some peoples over the Caucasus into Anatolia. The Nesi people settled in Central Anatolia, the Pala in Paphlygonia, and the Luwians in Southern Anatolia. In the course of these migrations the new arrivals gradually captured the Hatti princedoms to form first the Old Hittite Kingdom (1660-1460 B.C.), and than the Great Hittite Kingdom(1460-1190 B.C.).

The Hittite Empire (1660-1190 B.C.)

The Hittites founded a federative feudal state, and during their final two centuries constituted one of the two superpowers of the age, the other being Egypt. Indo-European in origin, the Hittites recognized equality between men and women, and indeed their law incorporated rights even for slaves. No other legal system in the world at that time was so advanced. Although the monarchy passed from father to son, this was a kingship based on the idea of “primus inter pares”, first among equals, for the ruler was required to bring many matters before the senate, which was made up of aristocrats known as the Pankus class. At a time in the Near East when the flaying and impaling of enemies was the rule, when heads and hands would be lopped off and pyramids made of them, the Hittites were astonishingly humane, almost like civilized of nations today.

The Hittites adopted the Hatti religion, mythology, language and customs, as well as their names for places, mountains, rivers and persons. Because the Mesopotamians called Anatolia “the Land of the Hatti”, the newcomers were mistakenly given the name “Hittite”. Hittite architecture was highly original, and included the strongest city walls of the Near East in the second millennium B.C. They also built the most magnificent temples, and developed a figurative art that was to be widespread in Anatolia.

The Ilium of Homer’s Iliad Troy VI (1800-1275 B.C.)

As the Hittites were settling in Central Anatolia, another Indo-European people were flourishing in the Canakkale region at Troy VI, which today is one of Turkey’s finest ruins, with a city wall preserved to a height of four meters, and a number of well preserved megaron type houses.

The Ilium of King Priam, in Homer’s epic, corresponds to layer VIh(1325-1275 B.C.), and was destroyed in an earthquake, while the city captured by the Achaeans was Troy VIIe (1275-1240/1200 B.C.). When Troy VIh was destroyed in an earthquake in 1275 B.C., followed by the pillaging of Troy VIIa in 1240/1200 at the hands of The Achaeans, a staunch outpost against incursions from the northwest- an outpost which had stood for two thousand years was gone.

And indeed, the crude hand-made pottery discovered in Troy VIIb2 / 1240-1190 B.C.), like the Buckelceramic pots found in Troy VIIb2 (1190-110), are of Balkan Origin. Having captured Troy in 1200, the Balkan peoples proceeded to occupy Anatolia in waves; around 1190 they destroyed the Hittite capital of Hattusas and penetrated as far south as the Assyrian border.

Civilizations Which Influenced The Hellens
The Urartu Kingdom(860-580 B.C.) and The Phrygians(750-300 B.C.)

In southeastern and eastern Anatolia, which seem not to have been much affected by the migrations of the Balkan peoples, the Late Hittite Princedoms(1200-700 B.C.) and the Urartu Kingdom (860-580 B.C.) produced a high level of culture.

In the 8th century B.C. the Hellenes came in contact with the rich two-thousand-year-old heritage of Mesopotamia through the intermediary of the Late Hittite Princedoms living in southeastern Anatolia.

The Hellenes acquired the Phoenician alphabet from Al Mina, and the mythology and figurative art which we see in Homer and Hesiod, from such Late Hittite cities as Kargamish and Malatya. The helmet of a Hellene in the 8th century, along with his shield, various belts and different hair styles, were just like Those of the Hittites. Hellenic figurative and decorative art in the 8th and 7th centuries followed Hittite styles and iconography.

Although the Urartus were strongly influenced in their art by Assyrian and Late Hittite example, they produced fine artifacts which they were able to export to Hellas and Etruscan cities.

The Phrygians were among the Balkan peoples who came into Anatolia around the year 1200 B.C., but they first appear on the scene as a political entity after the year 750 B.C. The Hellenic world knew of the Phrygian King Midas as a legendary figure with long ears who turned to gold everything that the touched.

The Assyrians, on the other hand , record that he was king in 717, 715, 712 and 709 B.C. Although the powerful kingdom which Midas founded was swept away by the Cimmerians in the First quarter of the 7th century, scattered groupings of the Phrygians continued to evolve their civilization in Central Anatolia though the 6th century B.C. The Phrygian rock temples and treasures in the vicinity of Eskisehir and Afyon are quite well preserved, and among the finest works produced by their age.

Three Intriguing Anatolian Peoples: Lydia, Caria and Lycia

The Lydians and Lycians spoke languages that were fundamentally Indo-European, but both languages had acquired non-Indo-European elements prior to the Hittite and Hellenic periods. Both alphabets closely resembled that of the Hellenes. During the reign of Creosus, fabled for his wealth (575-545 B.C.) the Lydian capital of Sardes was one of the most brilliant cities of the ancient world.

Although the Carian alphabet resembles the Lycian, the Carian language has not been deciphered to date. Herodotus says that according to a Cretan legend the Carians were called Leleges and lived on the islands during the time of the Minoan Kingdom, that is, in the mid-2nd millennium B.C. The Carians themselves, however, claimed to be native Anatolians, related to the Lydians and Mysians.

The archaeological finds pertaining to all three cultures show strong Hellenic influence. Of the three, the Lycians best kept their own character. Their monuments hollowed out of the rock are among the most interesting works of art in ancient Anatolia.

The Ionian Civilization (1050-1030 B.C.)

Following the destruction of Troy, the Hellenes established cities all along the Western Anatolian shore. In the 9th century B.C. they produced the first masterpiece of Western Civilization, the Iliad of Homer.

During the era of the natural philosophers, i.e. 600-545 B.C., Anatolian culture was of a brilliance unmatched in the world of its time, superseding Egypt and Mesopotamia Rejecting the idea of djinns, fairies and mythological causes, the natural philosophers investigated natural phenomena in a free spirit; Thales, son of the Carian Hexamyes, using the same methods we would today, predicted an eclipse of the sun for May 28, 585 B.C. This was the first prediction of a natural event in history. During the occupation of the Persians (545-333 B.C.), Anatolia relinquished its leadership, but regained it in the Hellenistic Age (333-30 B.C.). Throughout these centuries, Miletus, Priene, Ephesus and Teos were among the finest cities in the world, and the Anatolian architecture of this era greatly influenced Rome.

The Roman Age (30 B.C. – 595 A.D.)

The Romans developed the technique of mortaring bricks together, thereby producing arches, vaults and domes of large volume. These were the first major feats of engineering in history, and although the very first were at Rome, it soon became the turn of Anatolia Fine cities sprang up not only in the south and west of the peninsula, but also in its heartland.

In all of these cities there were such monumental works as an agora, gymnasium, stadium, theater, baths and foundations, and many of them were of marble. The roads, too, were paved with marble and lined with colonnades, thus protecting the citizens from sun and dust in the summer, and from cold and mud in the winter.

Water channeled into the cities via aqueducts sprang from the fountains, and a fine, well maintained network of roads and stone bridges connected the cities on the peninsula. Dozens of ancient cities in Western and Southern Anatolia, portions of them almost as they were in Roman times, fill visitors with awe.

The First Christian State in the World
The Byzantine Empire (330-1453 A.D.)

Byzantine art was born in Anatolia at the end of the Roman era. As the Roman art of sculpture and architectural decoration entered a period of decline toward the end of the 3rd century, new life was breathed into them by early Christian practitioners of both arts.

One might say that early Christian and Byzantine art were an expressionistic rendering of Roman themes; where architectural space was concerned, they represented a whole new approach. For two and a half centuries, from 300 to 565 A.D., Constantinople (Istanbul) was the leading city of the world in art and culture. The most brilliant time for the early Christian era was the reign of Justinian (527-565).

Hagia Sophia, a centrally domed basilica, was built prior to this (532-539), and is the masterpiece of Byzantine art, one of the most famous works in the entire world.
The best preserved Byzantine religious buildings are Hagia Irini Church (6th and 8th centuries), the Basilica of St. John (Justinian’s reign) and the Church of Mary (4th and 6th centuries), both in Ephesus, and the Alahan Church (5th and 6th centuries) in Southeastern Anatolia. From the Late Byzantine era the best preserved and finest works are St. Mary Pammakaristos (1310) next to Fethiye Mosque, and Kariye Mosque, that is to say the Chora Church, both in Istanbul. In the latter two buildings, the multidomed ceiling harmonizes beautifully with the walls and their three-staged arches.

The first people to dwell in all of Anatolia were the Turks. The Hittites, Phrygians and Greeks lived in only part of the peninsula. The Turks arrived in Anatolia from Central Asia by way of continual migrations and incursions, and through their policy of tolerance in government earned the love of the Indo-European peoples living on the peninsula. It was the Turks who adopted Islam, and on this basis mingled with the local peoples starting in 1071. The passage of nine centuries has resulted in present-day Turkey.

Until recently it was thought that contemporary Western civilization was based on the Greeks, but archaelogy and history now show that it goes back rather to beginnings in western and south-western Anatolia. 

Did You Know That ?

1.World’s second greatest mozaic museum is found in Antakya (Antioch). The most beautiful and ancient examples of mosaics, which were first used by the Sumerians 5000 years by mixing the fragments of pottery into the wall daub, could be seen all around Anatolia. The mosaic museum in Zeugma, Gaziantep is as rich as the one in Antioch.

2.Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia. In its thousands of years of history, it has been the capital of three great empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman.

3.Çatalhöyük, which is known as one of the earliest settlements in the Neolithic Age, is located in Çumra district of the present-day city of Konya (ancient Iconium). By virtue of sheltering unique findings as proofs of the first home architecture, religious facilities and landscape paintings, it bears a special place in the history of civilizations and impresses its guests immensely.

4.Two of the world’s seven wonders are located in Turkey;The Temple of Artemis and The Halicarnassus Mausoleum. The Temple of Artemis, which is situated in Izmir-Efes (Smyrna-Ephesus), is an exquisite architectural masterpiece. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, the temple was built in the 800s BC.  The Mausoleum, which is located in Halicarnassus (Bodrum), was built by the Karian Queen Artemisia between the years 355 and 340 BC to commemorate his husband Maussollos. However the archeological findings of these temples which were done in 1869-1874 by J.T Wood and 1904-1905 by David G. Hogart was taken to British Museum.

5.At the end of the seventh century BC, the first coin was minted in Sardis, the capital of the Lydian Kingdom, which neighbors with Salihli district of the present-day city Manisa.

6.Coffee was first brought from Yemen to Istanbul in the sixteenth century. Prepared in a specific method peculiar to Turks, and always in a ceremonial attitude, the delicious reputation of the Turkish coffee spread all around Europe in the seventeenth century. Among its many lovers, Balzac, Moliere, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Pierre Lotti are few to be named. Drinking coffee is still a very essential part of Turkish culture.

7.The word “turquoise” comes from “Turk”, meaning Turkish, and was derived from the perfect blue of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast.

8.Tulips were in fact introduced to Holland from Turkey by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was Charles V’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the era of Süleyman the Lawmaker. In the 1500s, bulbs were so popular that by 1634 in Holland it was called ‘tulipmania’. People invested money in tulips as they do in stocks today. This period of elegance and amusement in 17th-century Turkey is referred to as “The Tulip Age.”

9.The most valuable silk carpet in the world is in the Mevlana (Rumi) Museum in Konya, Turkey. Marco Polo’s journeys in the thirteenth centuries took him here, and he remarked that the “best and handsomest of rugs” were to be found in Turkey.

10.A cave known today as the Grotto of St Peter, or Church of St Peter, is believed to be where the apostle Peter preached when he visited Antioch (Antakya, in southern Turkey). It is widely considered to be one of the earliest Christian houses of worship. In 1963, the Papacy designated the site as a place of pilgrimage and recognised it as the world’s first cathedral. Every year on June 29, a special service held at the church, is attended by Christians all around the world.

11.Anatolia is the birthplace of many historical figures such as the mighty Phrygian King Midas, the father of history Herodotus and St Paul the Apostle. When the archaeologists from the Pennsylvania Museum opened the tomb of Midas, they found some of the earliest and well-preserved wooden furniture in the world.

12.St Nicholas, rather known as Santa Claus, was born in Patara and served as the Bishop of Myra on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is believed that St Nicholas died in Myra on December 6, at the age of 65. Each year, ceremonies are held to commemorate him and children all around the world cherish this opportunity of bonding and sharing their joy with each other. The village contains the famous Church of St Nicholas with the sarcophagus believed to be his tomb.

13.Many important events surrounding the birth of Christianity occurred in Turkey. St John, St Paul and St Peter all lived and prayed in southern Anatolia. Tradition has it that St John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus after the Crucifixion, where she spent her last days in a small stone house (Meryem Ana Evi) on what is now Bülbüldağı (Mount Koressos). It is a very popular pilgrimage site for Christians today.

14.According to the Legend of Great Flood told in both the Koran and the Old Testament, after the withdrawal of the waters, Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat (Ağrı) in eastern Anatolia. Throughout centuries, the scientists have conducted expeditions on the slopes of Ararat with the hope of finding the remains of Noah’s Ark.

15.The seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation -Ephesos, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea- are all found in Turkey.

16.Anatolia played a crucial role in the organization and spread of Christianity.

The religious councils, which are integral to Christianity, were all convened in Anatolia.
-Nicaea Council (325 AC)
-First Constantinople Council (381 AC)
-Ephesos Council (431 AC)
-Chalcedon Council (451 AC)
-Second Constantinople Council (553 AC)
-Third Constantinople Council ( 680-681 AC)
-Sevond Nicae Council (787 AC)
-Fourth Constantinople Council ( 869-870 AC)

17.Troy where the Trojan wars recounted in Iliad by Homeros of Smyrna were fought is situated in a small village (Tevfikiye) of Dardanelle (Çanakkale) in western Turkey. The symbolic Wooden Horse erected at the site to memorialize the historical significance of the place, stands as an invitation to a mystical, epical and romantic journey through time.

18.One of the first most accurate world maps were drawn by the well-known Turkish cartographer and navigator Piri Reis in 1513. The map known today as Piri Reis Map skillfully depicted Europe, Asia, Africa and the then known portions of America as well as the places which were yet to be discovered. Erich von Daniken in his famous book The Chariots of the Gods suggests that the accuracy of the Piri Reis Map could only be explained by considering the possibility of an extraterresterial help.

19.Şanlıurfa is known to be the City of the Prophets where Prophet Abraham, Prophet Job, Prophet Elijah and Prophet Jacob lived. Lake of Fishes which is accepted as one of the holy grounds can be found in this city.

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