Arts & Life
Ancient civilizations of Anatolia
Ancient civilizations of Anatolia
For thousands of years, Anatolian lands have been a perfect crossroads of ancient civilizations, embodying the cultural heritage of the world. The lands, also called Asia Minor by the Romans, have seen the rise and fall of many empires and civilizations. Today, in the 21st century, we can still find traces of these civilizations as many ruins and ancient cities shed light on the lands’ history. Click through for a journey through the time of ancient civilizations, as compiled by Hazal Özcan: (Photos: Alamy)
Sumerians: Dating back to fifth millennium B.C. the ancient Sumerians settled in Mesopotamia, between the fertile Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As one of the most sophisticated ancient civilizations, the Sumerians are mainly known for their invention of writing.
However, the ancient Sumerians had a lot of discoveries including important innovations of governance and architecture. The clay tablets they left behind still enlighten many parts of archaic history.
Hittites: The ancient Hittites ranks in the top among the most important civilizations and empires of Anatolia. Dating back to the second millennium B.C., the capital of the Hittite empire was located in the Boğazkale district of Çorum province, in modern Turkey.
The ancient city sets precedent for urban organization as its temples and fortifications have been perfectly conserved. Hittites are significant such that they became the first state in Anatolia to ensure political association. They kicked off historiography and signed the first written treaty ever known to humankind.
Phrygians: Known as the “people of the sea,” the Phrygians settled in Anatolia in 1,200 B.C. Their most famous king is Midas, who has been subject to many Greek legends. The Phrygians was the hegemon power of Anatolia, after the Hittites.
Their capital was called Gordion and is located in the capital Ankara of modern Turkey. They are mainly known by their craftsmanship including mesmerizing ceramics and wall reliefs.
Lydians: After the fall of the Phrygians, King Gyges of the Lydians established the civilization. Located in between the Aegean provinces of İzmir, Manisa and Uşak, in modern Turkey, the Lydians’ capital was Sardis.
The ancient civilization is mainly known for its invention of money. Because their settlement area embodies many gold and silver mines, the Lydians found a much easy way than bartering and invented money. The civilization was both rich and strong in the military sense.
Urartians: Acknowledged for their innovations in architecture and construction, the Urartians rules today’s eastern Anatolia for almost two hundred years. Also known as the Kingdom of Van, the history of Urartians are yet to be enlightened due to the lack of written sources.
Even though they had dominant combatant characteristics, the Urartians also spent a lot of time with agriculture and stockbreeding activities. They even established an irrigation and drinking water system, which still exist in this day.
Ionians: Located in the coastal provinces of Aegean in present-day Turkey, the Ionians were masters of sea trade. They lived peacefully with Lydians as neighbors, but also established colonies in the Black Sea region to extend their marine trade.
The Ionians established one of the most important ancient cities in the world, Ephesus, whose excavation works are still ongoing. The most significant piece of Ionian literature is the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. They also had important scientists including Thales and Pisagor in mathematics and Hippocrates, who is known as the father of medicine.
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