History of Anatolia

The land of Anatolia has seen many civilizations, signs of which are spread all around, beginning from the earliest ages of humanity.

Paleolithic times dating back approximately 500,000 years ago, constitute the first period from which findings from the lives of oldest humans exist. Discoveries have been made by archeologists at Belbasi and Beldibi near Antalya, bringing this age to light.

The period 8000-5000 BC, saw the Neolithic age, when the first settlements with the first communities occurred. Catal Hoyuk in Konya, which is the world's first town in this sense, is in Turkey. The more sophisticated characteristics of this period are easily observed from the findings at this settlement and in Hacilar.

Next comes the Bronze Age, between 2500-2000 BC, during which the Hatti culture developed, and the Hittites followed from 1800 to 1200 BC. During these two periods, Anatolia witnessed more advanced social systems and the establishment of great monuments. Hattusas, (Bogazkoy) near Ankara, was the capital of Hittites, and at Yazilikaya, another Hittite center, hieroglyphic tablets from this period have been found.

Several centuries later, about 800 BC; the Carian, Lycian, Lydian and Phrygian Empires were established, as well as Greek colonies. The cultural signs from this age still remain all over the Aegean Coast.

Between 33 - 323 BC, the Greeks conquered the Persian states founded in the 6th century BC. The Greek (Hellenistic) Empire spread over the land, from which period city walls, gymnasiums, theaters and stadiums remain.

By 230 BC, Romans were crossing the Aegean towards Anatolia, and from this period onwards, the Anatolian lifestyle influenced the Romans. Many changes took place in the land of Turkey during these times, the Cappadocia region still bearing the imprint of Rome to this day.

After the advent of Christianity, the Roman Empire was divided into two in AD 395; the Western Empire eventually collapsed and the Eastern evolved into the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople (Istanbul) was the capital, which was conquered by the Latin incursion in AD 1204. By this time, Islam had been brought to Anatolia with the invasions of Arab AD 654. They passed their religion onto the Seljuk Turks who occupied most of the land following them and Konya became the Seljuk capital in this period.

After AD 1243, Mongols invaded Anatolia, while soon after, the Ottoman Turks, advanced and founded the Ottoman Empire in 1299. With the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire enlarged its borders in Europe, Africa & Middle East. Until its official end in 1918, this empire saw many periods of growth, retrenchment, and flourishment, leaving its heritage and treasures all around.

In 1923, Republican Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the national hero of Turkey, and after witnessing such a vast parade of civilizations over its land, Turkey now constitutes a modern country, working to attain integration with the whole world.