The history of Turkey tells of a 10,000 year-old civilisation. Anatolia is a melting pot where cultures from Sumer, Babylon and Assyria interacted for centuries with peoples such as the Hattis, Hittites and Hourrites. The result was a unique Anatolian civilisation which has long inspired the thoughts and legends of the West. The ancient Bronze Age witnessed the establishment of the first independent city states. At that time, the centre and southeast of Anatolia were inhabited by the indigenous Hattis. The most spectacular findings from this time are those of Alaca Hoyuk in the Kızılırmak region and of Horoztepe near Tokat, in the Black Sea region. They are contemporary with the royal tombs of Mycenae in Greece.
THE LEGENDARY TROY
Troy was founded around 3000 BC, and played a major role in the importation of tin, vital for the production of bronze.
THE HITTITES ARRIVE
The Hittites arrived in Anatolia towards the second millennium BC. They absorbed much of the Babylonian civilisation and long enjoyed a monopoly of iron in Asia. This, combined with the use of the chariot, gave the Hittites a military superiority over Egypt and other Mesopotamian states. The victorious raid against Babylon in 1590 BC was the climax of the first Hittite empire, followed by a period of decline. Then, in the first half of the fourteenth century, came a revival of power. This second era saw a Hittite hegemony snatching from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.
THE URARTIAN STATE
THE PHRYGIANS AND KING MIDAS
THE LYDIANS INVENT M O N E Y - SARDES
ANATOLIA CHANGES HANDS AGAIN -
THE ROMAN PERIOD BEGINS
The Roman period of Anatolia began with the death of King Attalus III of Pergamon (Bergama) who willed his country to the Romans because he had no direct heir. Anatolia then lived through a period of peace and prosperity, particularly in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The pax Romana proved to be an extraordinary period of urban development. Ephesus served as the seat of the Roman governor of Asia and as a great commercial and cultural centre.
THE ERA OF EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE
SELJUK AND OTTOMAN TURKS
In the 11th century, under their leader Tugrul, the Seljuk Turks founded the dynasty of great Seljuks reigning in Iran, Iraq and Syria. In 1071, his nephew Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines in Malazgirt, near Lake Van. The doors of Anatolia were thus opened to the Turks, and Anatolia went through a profound transformation ethnically, politically, and in the religious, linguistic and cultural spheres. The Seljuk Sultanate in Anatolia continued until the beginning of the 14th century. The zenith of the Seljuk civilisation came in the first half of the 13th century with Konya as its political, economic, religious, artistic and literary centre. The Seljuks created a centralised administration organised around the Sultan, his ministers and provincial governors. Science and literature blossomed, as did mystic poetry. Anatolia was crossed by the great routes linking the east and west, and many of the caravanserais built along these routes still stand today. Agriculture, industry and handicrafts expanded and the country was suddenly rich in mosques, madrasahs (medreses - educational institutions) and caravanserais (kervansarays - roadside inns).
COLLAPSE OF THE SELJUK SULTANATE
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE GAINS GROUND
In 1296, Osman declared himself the independent Sultan of the region of Söğüt near Bursa he had hitherto held in fief, and founded the Ottoman State. During the rule of his son Orhan, Bursa and Iznik were captured and soon the whole south-eastern coast of Marmara was under Ottoman control. The many conquests and diplomatic successes of Orhan were not the only achievements of his reign. He had encouraged and promoted art, literature, science and commerce. He also established a regular standing army, known as the Janissaries. Well paid and disciplined, the Janissaries provided the new Ottoman state with a patriotic force of trained soldiers.
Built upon such solid foundations, the Ottoman Empire spread apace. In the reign of Murat, this expansion was still in a westerly direction and it was not until the frontiers were extended to the Adriatic, the Danube and Thessaly, that the Sultan turned his attention towards Eastern Anatolia Now that his rule was established in Europe and Asia, Beyazit turned towards Constantinople in 1402. The city was almost within Iris grasp when he was called to meet me westward march of Timurlane which delayed the conquest of Istanbul for several decades.
In 1453, under Mehmet the Conqueror, the Ottomans took Constantinople, a momentous event for the whole world and a great feat of arms. But the banner of Ottoman success was to be raised much higher and by the late l6th century the Ottomans were deep into Europe. In the following centuries, however, the Ottoman Empire lost its momentum, entered a period of stagnation and then gradually a period of decline.
WORLD WAR ONE
THE VISIONS OF ATATÜRK AND REPUBLIC OF TURKEY
Against this challenge, the Turkish nation engaged in a struggle to restore her territorial integrity and independence, to repulse foreign aggressors, to create a new state, to disassociate Turkey from the crumbling Ottoman dynasty, to eradicate an old and decrepit order and to build a modern country dedicated to political, social and economic progress. This was the vision of Atatürk, a general in the Ottoman army who had distinguished himself in the defence of Gallipoli (Çanakkale) against the Naval Forces of Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand. The Ottoman victory over the Allies at Gallipoli renewed Turkey's visions for the empire Atatürk wanted a clean break with the past, to unite the nation in the quest for modernism and to lift Turkey to the level of European countries. On October 29 1923, the republic was proclaimed and Atatürk was elected president. Secularism was established by separating religious and state affairs. The Latin alphabet replaced the Arabic script and women were given the right to vote and to be elected as members of parliament. These reforms, as well as many others in all aspects of social life, put Turkey on the track towards becoming a thoroughly modern country.
A PROUD NATION
About Turkey >