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There's a lot of history here. The easiest way to deal with it in a digestible format seems to be to give a chronology of
the major events to begin with. We're going to use that as a framework to hang bits and pieces on later.
7500 BC
First Stone age settlements at Çatalhüyük
1900-1300 BC
1250 BC
1200-700 BC
Hittite Empire with Hattusas as capital, contemporary with ancient Egypt and Babylon
The Trojan war and the fall of Troy
Migration of Greeks to Aegean coastal regions. Establishment of the Phrygian, Ionian,
Lycian, Lydian, Carian and Pamphylian Kingdoms. The East of Turkey is the home of the
Homer is born in Izmir (Smyrna). Aegean Hellenism begins
Cyrus the Great leads the Persians into Anatolia
Alexander the Great drives out the Persians
The Romans incorporate Anatolia as the province of Asia, controlled from Ephesus (Efes)
40 BC
47-57 AD
Antioch sees the marriage of Antony and Cleopatra
St. Paul spreads Christianity and a community at Antioch is established
Roman Empire adopts Christianity
Constantine lays out the boundaries of his new capital, Constantinople
Glory of Byzantium under Justinian
Muslim Arabs besiege Constantinople
Greek and Roman Churches split over theology
Rise and rule of the Selcuk Turks in Anatolia, Konya is their capital
The Crusades, marking the beginning of the end for Byzantium, a fascinating period in
Byzantine history
Ottoman Empire appears in Bursa
The fall of Constantinople - the birth of Istanbul
Suleyman the Magnificent sits on the Ottoman throne controlling a huge and powerful
Peter the Great initiates Russo-Turkish rivalry
Crimean war
Abdul Hamid, the last of an unbroken line of Ottoman sultans is deposed
Turkey allies with Germany in the first world war
Ataturk leads resistance to the allied plan to carve up Turkey
Foundation of the modern Republic of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Many things
happen all at once
Ataturk dies in Istanbul's Dolmabahce palace
Turkey manages to remain neutral during the second world war
Charter membership of the UN
Turkey joins NATO
Military coup, successive governments ineffective
Associate member status of EU
Cyprus crisis
Kanan Evren leads military coup. 3 years of military government
Turgut Ozal elected prime Minister
Full EU membership for Turkey impeded by Cypriot issue and questions over human
rights record
Suleyman Demirel elected Prime Minister, inflation at 70%
Demirel President, Tansu Ciller Prime Minister, Turkey joins EU Customs Union
5 attempts at forming coalition governments, Islamic Welfare party disbanded, reforms as
Virtue and is the largest single party in parliament. Military intervenes to prevent
Islamicists forming governments. 75th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic (and 15th of
the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) celebrated.
When discussing history it is always difficult to know from which period to actually begin. The
earlier civilizations of Anatolia cannot be ignored. Some historians take the advent of the Turks
into Anatolia 6000 BC. It has to be noted that civilizations are never built without foundations. Just
like a wall made of bricks, they are all established upon former civilizations. Therefore it is quite
possible to see traces of the very earliest cultures inherent in those that followed.
As a great world crossroads, the land has seen the struggles and accommodations to each other of the Hattis,
and the Assyrians, the Sea peoples, the trojans and the Greeks, the Byzantines, the Crusaders, abd the
Seljuks,the Ottomans, The Kurds, The Armenians and the Turks, to name only the most well-known.More than
once the personal loyalties have been weighted more on the side of a desire for feuding,or for land, or for
tolarence than they have been enclaves of people-identified often not by themselves but by their enemies in
terms of religion, language or family-who because of the very rugged topography have maintained their culture
unresponsive to and ignored by whatever group claimed to rule the land .
Another major element in the long history is the importance of the trade routes that made a
network linking Anatolia to the East, to Egypt and to Europe. The roads usually followed the paths
of least
Resistance; they went over mountain passes, along the river valleys and across the safest fords.
Fully as their builders were able to engineer them, they were all-weather roads;they often were
elevated high ways. They were politically important in that they were part of the mechanism
A government in Rome or in Susa in touch with wat was happening in Sardis,for example.
They were important economically in enabling goods and services to move with
dispacts. They were important tools in faciliating the communication of ideas.The
spread of Christianity and later of İslam followed the trade routes. Regularly at about
the distance that could be travelled in a day there was some kind of shelter for
people and their animals to spend the night. Many of the towns and cities evolved as
part of the system of roads, shelters, caravansaries and marketplaces.Besides the
routes on land people also used a relay of fire towers to communicate quickly over
long Distances. Crusader castles were sited on hilltops so as tbe the places of
defense and alarm,so as to be able to signal to each other.
Between 2000 and 12000 BC, the civilization of incoming Hittites, as they came to be known,
was caught up in the dominant culture.The Hittites are a people mentioned frequently in the Bible
(Old Testament).Hattis, Hurrians and Luwians and assumed in time a character and significance of
its own.
The Hittite civilization directly affected its own sucessors, Urartians, Hellenes and
Etruscans.After all,Since the civilizations are the creation of soceities not races, their characters
are passed on by socialTraditions not blood ties;so, for example,the ancient Greek Mythology and
religion in one direction,no less than Urartian in the other show market Hittite influence. Then, the
peoples of Turkey did not form a single society. There were numerous societies with different
metarial, spirtitual and linguistic conventions;each built up its own tradition, preserved and then
transmitted it. Thus, at the time of Hittite Empire,when over 20 languages were in use, intercourse
among peoples had already begun to draw to a larger human mosaic. This produced a socail
pattern, both geographically and historically in which traditions were blended, discoveries and
inventions passed on and most important, customs and habits diffused. For instance, myths and
epics borrowed from the Hittites from outside, particularly in Babylon, traveleld extensively
through other cultures of the ancient world, from the Sumerian of the 4th and 3rd milennia in
mesopotemia as far in time and space as the Hellenisatic period of western Turkey and the Agean.
And the passage of time was maked by the development of language into something far more
complex than a mere wehicle for the transmission of tradition and experience. Its utilisation for the
expression of ideas and concepts saw the emergence of western Turkey by the 6C BC as the home
of philosophy. Thales,Anaximander, Anaimenes, Heraclitus established the area as the cultural
heart of the world’s landscape. The mid 4C BC heralded the thesut of the accumulated civilization
of the classical period .Throughout the surrounding regions of the so called Near East and the
Mediterrrenean, until blocked By the rise of Rome some two venturies later. For the eastward
conquest of Alexander of Macedon prompted the mutual accommodation of the cultures of Asia
and Europe, and the development of the Earliest urban centres of the Hellenistic Age- the coastal
cities of
Pergamum, Ephesus, Priene, Miletus and Didyma. The cultural equals of Rome in its
heyday, these cities with their flourishing art had a direct and improtant influence on the
civilization of the Roman Empire and no less on its eastern Roman successor right up to the
Byzantine zenith in 10C BC.
Subsequently, as the region came to be dominated by the Seljuk Turks in the 11C AD, their
particular mastery in,for example, the building of medreses ( Islamic Institutes of higher
education), hospitals, observatories, bridges and caravesaries-as well as carpet weaving and
other crfats- made its own distinctive contrubiton. Then, from the 13-20 C AD, one of the
world’s most durable imperial dynasties, the Ottomans,impressed its own seal on the culture of
Turkey and created a vast territorial empire, based on the strength and integrity of this cultural
resource-base. And so we come to modern Turkey,- which was established Mustafa Kemal
Atatürk in the beginning of 20 th C-