About Turkey


The history of Anatolia, the Turkish homeland is simply incredible. The world's oldest city was discovered, here, at Catal Hoyuk in 7500 BC. The Hittite Empire, little known in the west, rivaled that of ancient Egypt, and left behind captivating works of art.

  The heartland of classical Hellenic culture is actually in Turkey, including cities such as Troy, Pergamum, E have a Roman past and all have a Byzantine one. The Seljuk Turkish Empire could boast of people like Omar Khayyam and Celaleddin Rumi, the poet, mystic and founder of the order of Whirling Dervishes. Turkey's history is astoundingly long, extending for almost 10,000 years

The Prehistoric Times

Paleolithic Age ( Old Stone Age ) ( 2 Million - 8000 BC )

  Paleolithic Age, also known to be the old stone age, begins somewhere between 2 million years ago and ends 10.000 years before our time. This time period marks the beginning of the existence of the ancestors of man.

  The early man in the Paleolithic age did not know to farm and raise crops but lived on picking up vegetables, fruit and on hunting. In search of the new food sources and to be able to hunt animals, he moved from place to place , and gathered in small groups. His dwelling was in rocky areas, under big rocks and in caves. In areas where this condition could not be met he made easy and primitive shelters out of wood. Around 40.000 BC he started making simple stone tools for hunting and protection purposes.

Between 40.000 and 10.000 is the glacial age on earth. Not being able to move much due to the climate, the primitive man utilized the skin of the animals that he hunted by successfully carved stones. To make clothes he used pins made out of bones and saw animal skin covers for himself. During this hard time of survival , he was able to discover and to control fire and by doing so he happened to have passed an important step in his development which helped him be separated from the animals. In this same period the earliest notion of the need to believe in an other world or in a mightier power can also be traced. In the graves that were dug for the dead as simple holes he left food by the side of the deceased and this is interpreted to be his faith in afterlife. To sum up, the hard conditions of life in the glacial age led the early man develop better socially and technically. The passage from the very primitive man, namely Home Neanderthal, to the ancestor of the modern man, namely Home Sapiens who is dated to between 10.000 and 8.000 may also be considered in this period.

  In the last phases of the Paleolithic age the early man could make tools in order to make different new tools. The first works of art emerged in this era too: paintings made on cave the walls and various art objects such as low reliefs and figurines.The intellectual life of the man was beginning. Moreover, animal bones, teeth and shells the ornate objects demonstrate the first aesthetic concern in man.

  The fact that in Paleolithic Age, the Asia Minor is extremely rich in fossils and fragments of human beings and animals, of stone, of bone and of vegetation, as well as of works of art reveals that Anatolian land was intensely inhabited during this period. The most important place in Anatolia where all the three phases; Upper, Middle and Lower in the Paleolithic Age can be seen, is the Karain Cave on the 30 km northwest of Antalya. In this respectively big cave, there are various living sections from each of the three phases of the Paleolithic Age. Among the finds are many carved stone and bone tools, moveable art objects, remains of the bones and teeth of Homo Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens, burnt and unburned animal and bread fossils. Karain cave in the Paleolithic Age is not a crucial excavation site only for Anatolia but also for the Near East. One can see some of these remains in the Museums of Karain, in Antalya and in Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Neolithic Age ( 8000 BC - 5000 BC )
  This period reveals a new step in the history of mankind with the development of the established and settled societies and production of food. Anatolia once again gives the most comprehensive sites in the world for this age with Cayonu, Hacilar, Catalhoyuk and Koskhoyuk excavation sites.

The Cayonu settlement which is not far from the city of Diyarbakir has been unearthed by the expedition teams under the leadership of Cambel, Braidwood, Mehmet Ozdogan, Wulf Schirmen and it is dated back to 7250-6750 BC. In the middle of the settlement is a center and around it are monumental, rectangular structures and houses. The foundation of the structures is stone and above is sun-dried brick. The inhabitants of Cayonu are the first farmers of Anatolia. They raised sheep and goat, and domesticated dog. The woman figurines among the finds discovered are the earliest traces of the Mother Goddess cult.

  The Hacilar Settlement, brought to the daylight by James Mellart, located on the 25 km southwest of Burdur, is dated back to 5700-5600 BC. The walls and the floors of Hacilar houses which are made of mud-brick on stone foundations are lime mortared and red painted. Wooden poles for supporting flat roofs and ladders to suggest that some structures had two stories are discovered. In every house, there are goddess figurines made of clay, in standing and sitting postures. Different from other settlement areas, the dead are buried outside the cities. The pottery in Hacilar is well fired and comes in red, brown and yellow colors.

  The Catalhoyuk settlement, on the 52 km southeast of Konya and north of the town of Cumra is, dated back to 6800-5000 BC and it is the most developed center of the Near East and the Aegean. The excavations have shown that the city with ten different settlement levels was built according to a designed plan. This is achieved by arranging the rectangular planned houses next to one another around the courtyards. There are no stone foundations in Catalhoyuk and all the houses carry flat roofs. Houses were made up of mud brick and they all were built according to the same ground plan. They have no doors. Instead the entrance to them is through windows on the ceilings by using portable ladders. The windows for air and light are placed on the topmost part of the walls near the roofs. The houses are composed of wide living rooms, storage rooms and kitchens. In the rooms there are seats and furnaces. The dead are buried under the seats in the houses after having been dried in the sun.The walls of the houses are decorated with bull heads and paintings. These paintings which signify the rituality in the community are placed in a corner in the houses rather than in a special separate location within the settlement area. Bull heads are formed in high reliefs, like statues, and some of them are made by the covering of original bullheads with clay. In the formation of the wall paintings, red, brown, black, white and pink dies on top of the gray mud brick are used. Among the motifs used are geometrical designs, flowers, stars, circles and in some parts depictions of life as well as human hands, deities, human figures, hunting scenes, bulls, birds, vultures, leopards, wild deer and pigs, lions and bears. A depiction of the eruption of a volcanic mountain ( very likely, the Mount Hasan, near Cappadocia) is the oldest known scenery painting.

   In Catalhoyuk, we can also trace the early stages of farming. This is also accompanied with the worship of the Mother Goddess along with the holy animal, the bull. The Mother Goddess stands for fertility and multiplication of man. In the excavations carried in Hacilar and Catalhoyuk, hundreds of Mother Goddess statutes have been found. She, with her sexual organs in exaggeration is almost always depicted nude and lies down in the postures of crouching, and specially in the process of birth-giving . The fact that similarly designed Mother Goddess statues could also be found in the Near Eastern and Aegean cultures signifies the existence of matriarchal societies in these regions in the same time periods. The Goddess Kybele comes into sight around the 7000 BC. ( Most of the finds from this period are on display in Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

  As for Koskhoyuk; during the excavations carried by Ugur Silistre in Koskhoyuk, near Nigde, ornate pottery pieces and statues have been discovered.
Chalcholithic Age ( Copper Age) ( 5500-3000 BC)

   In this period, in addition to stone tools copper pieces also come into sight. The need to change valuable goods (ceramics, textile) for both raw and shaped mines helped the trade develop, and this brought the exchange between peoples and the preparation of inventory listings with the beginning of communication. Symbols, hieroglyphs, writing with pictures, came into use. By the end of the 4000 BC cities emerged and the first steps of the human civilization were made.

Burdur-Hacilar level 5 ( 5500 BC) is the oldest site in Anatolia where metal objects are discovered. Regarding technique and forms; the handmade pottery production reached to an advanced level here and the single-colored, polished, ceramic pots were produced as an alternative to the metallic pots which were respectively more valuable. The surface of the pots is finely polished with a special technique to create a metallic effect.

   One other important settlement area of the Chalcholithic period in Western Anatolia is the Beycesultan site, going back to 4000-3000 BC, located on the 5 km southeast of town of Civril in Denizli, excavated by Seton Lloyd. Here, some of the mud-brick structures with a rectangular plan look like long megaron houses (megaron is a long and narrow room that has a hearth in the center). Inside the structures are hearths, seats along the walls and storage. Here, in a pot, is discovered a collection of silver and copper rings, part of a dagger and metallic pins. The ceramic of this period has a background of gray, black and brown.

   Canhasan site, on the 13 km northeast of Karaman town in Konya, unearthed by David French was a bridge between west and east Anatolia and Mesopotamia for trade and cultural exchange. Copper rings and bracelets are among the most important finds here. Anatolia which had the most advanced culture on earth during the Paleolithic period has lost its leadership in the Chalcolithic period to Mesopotamia and Egypt, after writing was discovered there Due to the fact that writing got to be used in Anatolia a thousands years later, the level of culture here could not go beyond that of Neolithic period primitive village, even though people were using metal in daily life.

Bronze Age ( 3000 - 1200 BC )

   The Bronze period begins around 3000 in Anatolia, around 2500 in the Aegean and Crete, around 2000 in Europe. Bronze is obtained by mixing copper and tin ( % 90 copper, % 10 tin). In this period apart from bronze tools other kinds such as copper, gold and electron, which is an alloy of natural gold and silver are also produced for using in religious ceremonies. The people in this period lived in cities surrounded with fortification walls. Houses are built in rectangular shapes on stone foundations with sundried brick walls and. Agriculture, animal husbandry, merchandise and mine production are the means of life.

Alacahoyuk, 67 km to Yozgat city and 3 hours away from Ankara is the most advanced settlement area in Anatolia from this period. The rich graves discovered here are in shapes of regular stone rooms. The dead is put in the center of these rooms with gifts, in a posture that the knees are pulled up to the belly ( hocker position). Sacrificed and presented during the ceremony, bull heads and feet are left on top of the roofs. Goats and sheep are also sacrificed. They might have been served to the attendants at the funeral. The graves are thought to be used for many generations. Most of the gifts are composed of gold, silver, electron, bronze objects and decorative items such as diadems, necklaces, hairpins, bracelets, earrings made of precious stones like amber, rock crystal, etc. Bronze and gold weapons, sun discs, deer and bull figurines, goddess statues of religious services are invaluable works of art discovered here. For the first time in this period do we find bronze spear heads in Anatolia. They resemble very much to their counterparts in Mesopotamia and Syria which is an interesting point.

   Another important place in the bronze age is Troy, Level 1. dated back to 2900-2500 BC. This first city in Troy, now partly unearthed is wrapped up with a 90 meter wall. Houses are in megaron type again and the entrances are from the narrow sides. Walls are stone and set in the herring bone pattern. Troy, Level 2. is dated back to 2500-2000 BC. It is built on top of Troy Level 1. The inhabitants of this level come from the Aegean and Balkans like those of the first level. It is also surrounded with walls but this time they are 20 meters longer. The expedition team uncovered a royal residence that belongs to a king on one of the hilltops. Heinrich Schlieman, the German businessman who dug the Trojan mound in 1870, discovered a treasury at this level of Troy 2. Knowing Homer's Iliad by heart, he was in search of King Priamos's treasury and for years he believed the treasury he had discovered at the site was so. In the last years of his life, however, he was going to learn that the treasury actually belonged to a different level, the level 2, thus, to a different time period.

Hatti Culture

The information about the Hatti civilization comes to us through the Accadian sources (2350-2150 BC). The Hattis are believed to be the one of the indigenous peoples in Anatolia. They lived around 2500 BC in city kingdoms and small tribes and by 2000 BC all of them were taken under the rule of the Hittites. Different from other cultures though,The Hatti art gives us the examples of a human-shaped pottery type (anthropomorphic) rather than an animal shape or a hybrid form. They worshipped such statues and figurines, and each one of them carried his or her name. The Hittites, an Indo-European tribe that came to Anatolia over the Caucasus around 2000 BC, were influenced by the Hatti culture in religion, mythology and literature. Not only did they take the names of mountains, rivers and towns from them; Hittites preserved even the original Hatti name of the country they lived in as "the land of Hatti". It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Hittites formed one of the most interesting and authentic civilizations of the world history with the help of a rich cultural background they inherited from the Hattis over 250 years.
The peaceful times in Anatolia that lasted for thousands of years came to an end with a fierce attack around 2000 BC. There is only the remains of a thick fire layer dating back to 2000 BC in the settlement areas of the central Anatolia such as Alacahoyuk.

Assyrian Trade Colonies ( 1900-1700)

The Assyrian merchants established trade colonies in central parts of Asia Minor in this period. Their aim was to sell and barter the goods they produced for timber, silver, copper and raw material from Anatolia. According to thousands of tablets discovered at Kultepe, the Assyrians had established independent trade colonies here named karum. The gold and silver were the two basic norms for trade, the former for the wholesale and the latter for the retail business.The method of trade was bartering. The donkey was the main transportation animal. This period marks a big interaction and cultural exchange between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The Indo-European tribes that until then lived on the north of Europe, for an unknown reason, migrated towards south between 2250 and 2000 BC in to a vast area from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean. During this migration, tribes like Germans, Latins ,Iranians, Cimmerians, Indians and Hellens moved to the areas and the countries around their present day locations. In the meantime some tribes, likeTrojans, Thracians, Phrigians and Hittites got in to Anatolia too.

In the year 395, when the Roman emperor Theodosum I divided the empire and placed his son Arcadius at the head of the Eastern side and his other son Honorius on the throne of the Western side, he could not have known what kinds of effects this action was to have on the future. The Western Roman Empire, with Honorius at its head, was to have a short life. The Eastem Roman Empire, however, was to last almost one thousand years until it was finally put to an end by the Ottoman Empire Mehmet II when he conquered the city of Istanbul in 1453.

   The city of Byzantium was chosen to be the capitol of the Eastern Roman Empire.

   Sixty five years later, however, the name of the city was changed to Constantinople in honor of its founder, Constantine. Even though this radical change was made in the concept of the empire, the Byzantines always referred to themselves during their one thousand year long history as the Roman Empire and their nation as the Nation of Rome. After the collapse of the empire, however, historians began to refer to this empire as the "Byzantine" Empire and so it is remembered today. This empire began in 330 and lasted until 1453, for 1123 years. A struggle between Moslems and Christians began to arise in the Middle Ages. Those warriors known as the Crusaders were the most concrete example of the struggle between these two major religious beliefs.

   The most important change made when the Roman Empire evolved into the Byzantine was the change in religion. While Rome was a polytheistic society, the Byzantines accepted monotheism as the basis for their religious belief. The second greatest change that occurred in the empire was the change in language. The Roman Empire used a number of languages, but Latin was the official language of its government. Latin was used increasingly less after the founding of Byzantium and Greek began to take its place as the official language. Naturally, this change also brought with it major political changes.

  The Byzantine Empire began with the Emperor Constantine who reigned for thirteen years; a total of 88 emperors were to reign during the course of the empire. These emperors came from various family lines. The leading groups were from Heraclion, Syria, Phrygia, Macedonia, Commenos, Angelos, and Palaiologos. Although the Byzantines began their empire with a vast territory of land inherited from the Roman Empire, they soon lost the territories around the Northern and Eastem Mediterranean and they became an empire with generally Aegean territory. By the time of the collapse of the Empire, Byzantium merely consisted of the city of Istanbul and its immediate surrounds.

830-850, Turkish mercenaries from Central Asia found in service of Abbasid caliphs

850-905, Tulunids (Turkish generals) rule Egypt virtually independently of the Abbasids

900, Samanids rule in eastern Persia and borderlands of Turkistan; Turks are exposed to Persianate Islamic culture; preparation far incorporation of Turks into main body of Middle Eastern Islamic civilization

10thc. , term "sultan" (Arabic abstract noun meaning "sovereign authority") begins to be used to designate rulers

c.1000 , Ghaznavids establish rule in Afghanistan, break Samanid power, and expand into Persia below Oxus River; champions of Sunni Islam within a predominantly Persian cultural context

1040, Seljuks take Khorasan from Ghaznavids; soon control most of Persia with center at Isfahan; from there advance to defeat Buwayhids (Shi'i Persians) who had dominated Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad for a century

1055, Seljuk sultans become de facto rulers in Abbasid Baghdad; two centuries of turmoil is ended and unity restored in eastern Islamic region; Persia and Mesopotamia are reunited and northern Syria added to the "Great Seljuk" state

1071 , Battle of Manzikert ( Malazgirt ) a decisive victory for Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan over Byzantines; break Byzantine line of defense in Eastern Anatolia; Turkish-speaking Muslims raid and settle in area now known as "Turkey"; much of the Greek/ Christian veneer of indigenous Anatolian population gradually replaced by a Turkish/Muslim veneer

1092 , death of Seljuk Sultan Malik Shah and his great vizier, Nizam al-Mulk; dynastic strife ensues

1118, Seljuk Empire splits into principalities ruled by princes of the family, often over- shadowed by their "atabeys" ( tutor guardians )

12th c. , Seljuks of Rum ( Konya, Anatolia ) rule centra1 Anatolian plateau with center at Konya (Iconium) .

1204 , Byzantium fatally weakened by 4th. Crusade and Latin occupation

c.1200 , high point of Seljuks of Rum; by absorption of smaller Turkish principalities (beyliks), Seljuks extend their jurisdiction to south coast of Anatolia; Turkish nomads ("gazis") active in western border/march region adjacent to Byzantium

1243, Mongols under Hulagu Khan move west, defeat Selcuk Sultan Kaykhusrav II, and establish overlordship in Seljuk Anatolia

1258, Mongols conquer Baghdad and bring Abbasid Caliphate to an end Later 13th c., Turkish Anatolia fragmented as Mongol control weakens and is withdrawn; many small principalities ( beyliks ) emerge, one of them led by Osman (Turkish form of the Arabic/Muslim name, Uthmm; European corruption of Osman is Ottoman) in northwest Anatolia (around Iznik and Bursa) adjacent to Byzantine territories.

1071-1300, Anatolia witnesses swift military penetration, ragged political conquest, partial and superficial cultural/linguistic conquest by Muslim Turks who, in their upper ranks were carriers of Persianate Muslim culture. That group was small in number but powerful . Below them, Turkish-speaking Muslims mix with indigenous population. Folk culture and folk religion often at odds with high culture and Islamic orthodoxy represented by the religious and political elite in the society.

Ataturk and the Modernization of Turkey

Ataturk is the national hero of Turkey. He founded the modern Turkish Republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire; an empire that was seen as the sick man of Europe at the turn of the century. His modern perspective created a new nation and a country, and a secular state understanding different from most other Islamic countries was introduced by him. Once you step in Turkey, you will see his statues and the busts all over. One of the best books written about Ataturk from a foreigner's point of view is the book titled " The Rebirth of a Nation" by Lord Kinross.
He was born in the year 1881 in Thessaloniki, at that time, within the Ottoman Empire's borders at that time, in Greece at present . His full name was Mustafa Kemal and the Ataturk surname, meaning the father of Turks, was given to him by the Turkish people (1934 November 24th.) in accordance with the reforms he introduced to create a modern Turkish country.

His background was military, and he served in various posts in the Ottoman army. During the First World War , he was the colonel in charge of Infantry at Gallipoli in 1915 and it was his genious defense tactics that prevented the allied forces ( British, French, Anzacs - Australians and New Zealenders and Senegalese) from capturing the Dardanelles and eventually Bosphorus.
His success and fast growing reputation disturbed the capital and to keep him under control he was promoted to Pasha ( General ). When the War ended the armies of the allied forces occupied nearly all corners of the country including Istanbul. Sultan and many of the people saw a hopeful future in the acceptance of either the British or American mandate. Ataturk, however, had a very different vision. He left Istanbul in a small boat, namely Bandirma ( a nice model of the boat may be seen at the Ataturk Museum in Ataturk's Mausoleum, Ankara), going ashore at Samsun, a coastal town in the Black Sea, on the 19th. of May 1919 ( a date later to be presented by Ataturk to the Turkish Youth as the Turkish Youth Day), the day the War of Independence began. He wanted Independence.

First with skirmishes , in time with proper army troops, Ataturk and his army friends' armies started fighting the enemy. Ankara was chosen to be Ataturk's headquarter for its central location and the seeds of a new country were planted there. He and his friends wanted to replace the Monarchy with a Republic. The War of Independence took some three years and by the end of the year 1922, all of the invaders had left the country. The Ottoman Sultan fled in a British boat. The birth of a new nation had begun.

Ataturk's Revolutions
Political Revolutions
The Sultanete was abolished in 1922, November 1st.
The Republic was declared in 1923, October 29th.
The Caliphship was abolished in 1924, March 3rd.
Social Reformations
The hat as opposed to fez was introduced. (1925)
The activities of religious sects were banned by law. ( 1925)
Western calender was introduced. ( 1925)
International numeric system was introduced. ( 1928)
The Metric system was introduced. ( 1931)
The nicknames and personal titles were abolished. ( 1934)
Religious attire was prohibited in public ( 1934). According to this law, religious personalities, irrespective of the religious groups they belong were not to wear religious attire in public but only in their sanctuaries.
The surname law.( 1934)
The modern secular system of jurisprudence is instead of religious law is integrated.( 1926)
The liberation of the women of Turkey by giving them political and social rights.
a) Rights brought with medeni kanun ( 1926)
b) Rights for women to be elected for the parliment
Educational and Cultural Reformations
Unity in Education ( 1924 )
Introduction and the acceptance of the Roman alphabeth. ( 1928 )
The foundation of Turkish History Institution
The foundation of Turkish Language Institution
The Principles of Ataturk ( Kemalism)

The doctrines of Ataturk or Kemalism is a system of thought based on the facts of Turkey. It is shaped with the will of the Turkish nation through a long historical background. Above all, Kemalism is the introduction and the rendering of the rights to the nation. It is the expression of the national sovereignity.It is an attempt to reach the level of the modern civilizations, it is westernization, modernization. It requires to experience a modern social life, to establish a secular state, and to govern with a positive science mentality.

The principles of Kemalism can be viewed in two groups: "The Basic Principles" and "The Complementary Principles".
The definition of the principles as Ataturk has expressed them:
The Basic Principles

The Complementary Principles
National Sovereignity
National Independance
National Unitiy and Togetherness
Peace at home Peace abroad
Scientificism and Rationalism
Ataturk's Address to the Turkish Youth
Turkish youth!

Your first duty is to project and preserve the Turkish independence and the Turkish Republic forever . This is the very foundation of your existence and your future. This foundation is your most precious treasure. In the future, too, there may be malovelent people at home and abroad, who wish to deprive you of this treasure. If some day you are compelled to defend your independence and your republic, you must not tarry to weigh the possibilities and circumstances of the situation before taking up your duty. These possibilities and circumstances may turn out to be extremely unfavorable. The enemies conspiring against your independence and your Republic may have behind them a victory unprecedented in the annals of the world. By violence and ruse, all the fortresses of your beloved fatherland may be captured, all its shipyards occupied, all its armies dispersed and every part of the country invaved. And sadder and graver than all these circumstances, those who hold power within the country may be in error, misguided and may even be traitors. Furthermore, they may identify their personal interests with the political designs of the invaders. The country may be impoverished, ruined and exhausted.

You, the youth of Turkey's future, even in such circumstances, it is your duty to save the Turkish independence and Republic. The strength you need is in your noble blood within your veins