Anatolia: History


Figure 1.--This patriotic painting depicts the Turkish Army's entry into Izmir after a major victory over the Greeks (Septemnber 9, 1922). The painting is entitled 'The Liberation of Izmir". It was part of the war-winning Great Smyrna Offensive. Izmir was the location where Turkish civilian armed resistance against the occupation of Anatolia by the Allies hah began (May 15, 1919). We do not know who the artist was.

Anatolia is a relatively small area in global terms, anout the size of Texas. Anatolia is a Greek term. The Romans called it Asia Minor. Even so, few araeas have proved to be such an imprtant cross roads of history. There are evidence of human habitation in Anatolia during pre-history. The migration of humans out of Africa, however, does not appear to have followed a route through Anatolia, but rather into Central Asia and then West into Europe. Anatolia on the perifery of the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia has played an important role from the beginning of written history. Neolithic hunter-gathers soon after civilization began to become estanlished in Mesopotamia began a transition toward a pastoral and agricultural life style (about 7000 BC). Anatolia was the center of the Hittite civilization which vied with Egypt for supremecy. The Hittites like the Egyptian fielded chariot-based armies. While the Eguptians fought the Hittites tonadeaw, the Hittites conquered large areas of Mesopotamia, including Babylonian Empire. From an early point, eastern Anatolia became an imprtant part of the Greek cultural world. The Trojan War was fought there. Achaeam merchantb princes and adventurers clashed with the remnants of the Hittite Empire. Important Greek thinkers (Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Thales) lived and wrote in easern Anatolia. The Persian Empire gained control over Anatolia. The revolt of the Ioania Greeks led to the Persian Wars and eventually Alexander's campigns. Alexander's great victories were largely fought in Anatolia. This led to destruction of the Persian Empire and the Helinistic Era. Anatolia was an important part of the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire that followed. The Byzantines even when significantly reduced saved classical literary works and shielded Europe from mounted nomadic invaders. With the transformation of the Steppe tribes from Ibdo-European groups to more Asiatic peoples, the Turkic tribes moved wet and seized Anatolia from the Bysantines, beginning the Turkic and Islamic era of Anatolian history. With the decline of the Caliphate, Turkey, first under the Seljuks and then the Ottomans became the center of the Islamic world. The Ottoman Empire was for centuries a major power dominating not only Anatolia, but the Christian Balkans and the Muslim Arab lands. The Turks were a minority in their Empire. The modern Turkish Republic rose our of the Turkish heartland of the Empire following World War I. The non-Turkic people were destroyed by the Young Turks in the Armenian Genocide.

Pre-history

Anatolia is a relatively small area in global terms, anout the size of Texas. Anatolia is a Greek term. The Romans called it Asia Minor. Even so, few araeas have proved to be such an imprtant cross roads of history. There are evidence of human habitation in Anatolia during pre-history. The migration of humans out of Africa, however, does not appear to have followed a route through Anatolia, but rather into Central Asia and then West into Europe.

Rise of Civilization

Anatolia on the perifery of the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia has played an important role from the beginning of written history. Neolithic hunter-gathers soon after civilization began to become estanlished in Mesopotamia began a transition toward a pastoral and agricultural life style (about 7000 BC).

Hittites

The Hittites were one of the major civilization of the ancient world and presented a major challenge to the Egyptian New Kingdom. They rose in Anatolia on the perifery of Mesopotamia from mysterious origins. The Empire expanded and contracted , but the power center was always central Anatolia. The Hittites like the Egyptian fielded chariot-based armies. While the Eguptians fought the Hittites to a draw, the Hittites conquered large areas of Mesopotamia, including Babylonian Empire. Despite their historical importance, they are one of the least studied ancient civilizations. With a Anatolian hearland the Hittite kingdom stretched from Mesopotamia into Syria and Palestine which it contested with Egypt. It was with Egypt that the Hittites fought the first well-recorded battle of history--Qadesh (1274 BC). Ancient Troy seems to have been influenced by Hittite culture. They spoke an Indo-European language. They conquered Mesopotamia, but were strongly influenced by Mesopotamian culture. The Hittites adopted the laws, religion, and the literature of Babylonian thus represented a continuation of Sumerian culture. The Hittites civilization was at its peak (1600-1200 BC). They lost control of Mesopotamia to Assyria, but continued on for many centuries. Their Anatolian capital finally fell (717 BC). It is believed the Hittite Empire was weakened by internal divisions. The Hebrews say little about the Hittites, but the Canaanites are believed to have been a surviving Hittitite people. The Hittites were a trading empire. There importance lies primarily in transmitting Sumerian culture through its far-flung empire and even wider trading contacts to the Aegean/ Mediterranean world--the cradel of Western civilization.

Persian Empire

The expanding Persian Empire gained control over Anatolia. Anatolia was the eastern extension of the Persian Empire. It was but one small part of the vast empire, but it brought the Persians in contact with the Greeks. The revolt of the Ioania Greeks led to the Persian Wars. The Greeks portrayed the Persian Empire as a tyrany. Actually the Persians permitted conquered people to retain their culture and religion and often their leaders. It was Cyris the Great who founded the Empire that freed the Jews from the Basbylonian Captivity. The Persian Empire by the time pf Amexanbder had begun to decline. Satraps appointed as govenors had begun to acquite inherited status and varying degrees of autonomy. Thus Alexander encountered a a weakened Empire when he launched his seemingly quixotic campign.

Hellinistic Era (750-31 BC)

The earliest Greeks (Achaeans or Mycenaeans) were a force throughout the Aegean, inclusing eastern Analolia. From an early point, eastern Anatolia became an imprtant part of the Greek cultural world. The Trojan War, long believed to have been alegnd, was fought there. Achaeam merchant princes and adventurers eeking booty clashed with the remnants of the Hittite Empire. Homer created the Iliad and the Odyssey along the shores of Anatolia. Alexander's great vuctories were largely fought in Anatolia. This led to destruction of the Persian Empire and the Helinistic Era. Important Greek thinkers (Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Thales) lived and wrote in easern Anatolia. After Alexander's unexected death (323 BC), the Emore was in the hands of the Alexander's generals which becane knwn as the Diadochi (Successors). Perdiccas attempted to hold the empire united for Alexander's son, but was assassinated while he was on a campaign against Ptolemy in Egypt (321 BC). The Empire splintered. Antigonus I (Monophthalmos-the one eyed) took control of Macedonia and Greece. Ptolemy I sized Egypt. Seleucus I was left with the largest partof the Empire, Anatolia, Syria and Parthia and the rest of Alexander's empire in Asia. It was also the most difficult to control, especially the eastern area with virtually no Greek poulation. Problems developed in Analolia. Lysimachus, another of Alexander's generals, joined the Seleucids and Ptolemies against Antigonus in the battle of Ipsus (301 BC). Lysimachus gained control over Thrace and claimed himself king with a capital at Lysimacheia, sttegically placed on the Dardanelles. The Tracian kingdom did not last long. A lieutenant, Philetaerus, founded a new kingdom-- Pergamon (281 BC). Philetaerus and his sucessors allied themselves with the Romans. Pergamon with Roman support drove the other Diadochi kingdoms from Anatolia. Pergamene kings remained in control of Western Anatolia until the Romans formally annexed it (133 BC). The borders of the Diadochi kingdoms were not stable and changed considrrably over time as a result of both political maneuveing or warfare. Antigonus' expended enormous energy to hold the empire togetger, but failed. The Diadochi kings as well as others had to learn to accomodate each other to a degree. The end of the Hellinistic Age is diddicult to date with precision, but Ocravian's vivtory at Actium ensured the supremecy of Western rather the eastern ingluences (31 BC).

Roman Empire (200 BC-295 AD)

It is difficult to set a precise date as to just when the Romans became the dominat influence in Anatolia. The alliance with Pergamon wa a major factor in ectendg Roman control. Rome formally annexed Anatolia (133 BC). Anatolia was an important part of the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire that followed. Rome built on the foundation of Helinistic culture. Anatolia became one of the most prosperous provinces of the Roman Empire. The Apolstle Paul devoted years to building the Chritian Chirch in Anatolia, it was here it was turned from aHewish sect to a new religion that woukd conquer the Pagan Roman Empire. The Christian Church was not created in the Holy Lands, but more in Roman Anatolia. Allth great ecmenical councils which defined the Chritian Church took place in Anatolia, within the boundaries of modern Turkey. .

Byzantine Empire (395-1453 AD)

Byzantium is somewhat difficult to place chronologically as it spanned noth late-antiquity and the medieval era. It is of course the Eastern Roman Empire which broke off from the Western Empire in a gradual procress (beginning in the 4th century AD). The Byzantines managed to survive the invasion of the German tribes. But there were many other invaders from the North and East. The Bulgars and Slavs presented challenges in the Balkans. But it was first the Arabs and then the Turks that presented the greatest challenge. Thus it is both an Ancient and Medieval civilization with stronger Asian influences that the Western Empire. The Emperor Theodosum I divided the Roman empire when he entrusted his son Arcadius with the Eastern provinces and his other son Honorius with the Western priovinces (395 AD), although a temporary split occurred even earlier. The Western Empire headed by Honorius was soon to be overwealmed by Germanic Barbarians and Huns. The Eastern Empire while sorely pressed first by the Germans and Huns and later by Islam was to endure and often prosper over an amazing span of 1,000 years. The Arabs qonquered the Levant and reduced the Empire to its Anatolian core. The Seljuk Turks thgen seized Anatolia. The Byzantines remainedthe most advamnzed civilization of medieval Christendom. The Byzantines even when significantly reduced saved classical literary works and shielded Europe from mounted nomadic invaders. The Empire was finally ovewealmed by the Ottoman Turks (15th century).

Turkic Islamic Era (1071-1919)

The Turkic ara begins only in the medival period. With the transformation of the Steppe tribes from Indo-European groups more Asiatic peoples, the Turkic tribes moved wet and seized Anatolia from the Byzantines, beginning the Turkic and Islamic era of Anatolian history. With the decline of the Caliphate, Turkey, first under the Seljuks and then the Ottomans became the center of the Islamic world. The Turks transformed Anatolia from a Christia to a Muslim society. The Ottoman Empire was for centuries a major power dominating not only Anatolia, but the Christian Balkans and the Muslim Arab lands. The Turks were a minority in their Empire. The modern Turkish Republic rose our of the Turkish heartland of the Empire following World War I. The non-Turkic people, especially the Armenians, were destroyed by the Young Turks in the Armenian Genocide.

Turkish Republic (1919- )

Parts of the Ottoman Empire were occupied and partitioned following the Ottomans' defeat in World War I. The partioned areas were the non-Turkic Arab areas of the Empire. With the creation of the Turkish National Movement (TUH), the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, and the abolition of the sultanate, the long Ottoman era and Empire came to a close. It was not clear what was going to happen to Anatolia. The Turkish War of Independence sometimes called the Salvation War ended the Ottoman Empire and resulted in the creation of a secular republic. It was fought between the TUH and at first the Allies and then the Greeks. At different times battles with the Allies and Greeks flared on several fronts. The Greeks at first with the Allies on the Western Front. France was involved on the southern front. The British and Italians were most interested in Constantinople (now Istanbul). The TUH led by Gen. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues established the Grand National Assembly (GNA/BMM). The Allies were no prepred to fight another War and gradually pulled out of Anatolia. Only Greece was prepared to fight and when the Greeks refused to cooperate with the Brutish, the British withdrew their support. The Greco-Turkish War (1919-22) once the British withdrew their support proved a disaster for the Greeks. Atatürk and the TUH refused to accept the Treaty of Sèvres, The Treaties of Kars (October 1921) and Lausanne (July 1923) were signed. After the Allies began to withdraw the Grand National Assembly voted to establish a Republic (October 1923). The Atatürk's reforms resulted in the creation of the modern, secular Turkish stte. While the Sultanate was ended earlier, the Ottoman caliphate (an Islamic religiious post) was abolished and the last Caliph of Islam exiled (1924).








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Created: 7:42 PM 7/5/2014
Last updated: 12:01 AM 6/6/2018