Tag Archives: Pergamum


It can be said that Ephesus is one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the world. In ancient times its favorable location at the mouth of the Cayster River made it the foremost commercial city of a coastal region that also included the cities of Miletus, Smyrna and Pergamum, but the silting up of its harbor gradually resulted in the loss of this preeminence. The city has been excavated for more than one hundred years; the extensive remains are predominantly from the later Roman period.Ephesus formed a focal point in the ancient world because of its protected harbor and as a starting point for the Royal Road via Sardis to Susa. It was also a cult center attracting thousands of pilgrims for traditional worship of the female, first Cybele, then Artemis and finally the Virgin Mary. Ephesus was also home for the early philosopher Heraclitus.

(c.540-470 BC)

Heraclitus of Ephesus was one of the most fascinating of the early philosophers. He introduced into philosophy a new self-consciousness about method and language and a self-critical interest in the faculties used to attain knowledge. He developed a theory of the human soul; he praised its creative resources and spoke of the importance of self-exploration. “The death of souls is to become water, the death of water to become earth; but from the earth water wins life, and from water the soul also wins life.”

When he said that the universe is ruled by logos, he was probably speaking of the ordering of the shifting, changing world that is imposed by human beings in their discourse and thought. He always urged that close attention be given to the polarities and concealed structures embodied in language.

His famous claim that an individual can and cannot step into the same river twice reveals an interest in the criteria of unity and identity: even though all material constituents have undergone a change, it is still, in a sense, the same river. Preoccupied with change, he declared that fire is the central element of the universe and he postulated a world with no beginning and no end. Heraclitus’s influence can be seen in Stoicism and, most recently, in the style and thought of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

History of Ephesus
According to ancient historians the myth of the foundation of Ephesus goes back to the period before the Ionian colonization. As it was customary in ancient times to consult the oracle before any important event, Androclus, the son of Codrus, the legendary King of Athens did this about where to settle or found a settlement. The answer was simple: “at the place which will be indicated by a fish and a wild boar”. After colonists landed in Anatolia, they were camping somewhere near Ephesus and were grilling fish. A burning fish set a bush on fire causing a boar to leap out of the bush and run away. Remembering the words of the oracle the colonists decided to found their settlement there.Some sources say that the city was founded by the Amazons. In mythology, the Amazons were a race of woman warriors who lived in Anatolia and fought with the Trojans against the Achaeans in the Trojan War. At that time, their queen was killed by the Achaean hero Achilles. According to legend the Amazons dealt with men for only two reasons, procreation and battle, and they reared only their female young. The Amazons were frequently depicted by artists as being in battle with men.

The city was an Ionian colony formed sometime after 1000 BC. Some authorities have suggested that the history of the city goes back to the Hittite period, c. 1400 BC, and it was the city which the Hittites called Apasas. The earliest archeological evidence is the Mycenaean ceramics found on the Ayasuluk Tepesi (Hill). This does not imply that there had been a Mycenaean settlement in the region of Ephesus. Mycenaean ceramics were popular and found in many other places.

Ephesus has been located at different places in different times. Ephesus I was located on Ayasuluk Hill and inhabited by ancient Anatolians, Carians and Lelegians. At that time there was a cult of the Great Earth Mother which acted like a magnet attracting pilgrims and settlers even before the Ionian migration. Ephesus II was on the north slope of Panayir Dagi (Mount Pion). As with other cities of the Aegean coast of Anatolia, Ephesus came to be ruled by Croesus of Lydia in the mid-6C BC, before passing to the Persians after 546 BC. It joined the Delian League after the Persian Wars. In 334 BC it fell to Alexander the Great and subsequently to his successors: Lysimachus and Seleucid rulers. In the 4C BC the harbor threatened to silt up the settlement and it was moved to a new location between Panayir Dagi and Bulbul Dag (Mount Coressus) by Lysimachus to form Ephesus III. The remains of city walls from this period can still be seen at the foothill of Bulbul Dag (The Nightingale Mountain). Later it was controlled by Pergamum, eventually passing into Roman hands in 133 BC. During this period Ephesus became the capital of province of Asia Minor and the population reached a quarter of a million. After the 6C AD, due to the persistent silting up of the harbor and repeated raids by Arabs, the city changed its location back to Ayasuluk Hill forming Ephesus IV.

The Artemis Temple or Artemision was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and located in Ephesus. Throughout the excavations in Ephesus, the actual location of the temple was presumed in different places.

Its ancient cult dedicated to Artemis was famous in antiquity and made ancient Ephesus a much-visited pilgrimage place. Each year one month was considered a holiday and set aside for the religious ceremonious observations. The first temple was built in the 6C BC and was Ionic dipteros with two rows of columns on both sides and three rows in the front and rear. There were totally 127 Ionic columns with a height of 19 m / 62 ft each. 36 of columns were bearing sculptures in relief. In 356 BC a madman known as Herostratus set fire to the temple in order to make his name immortal. On the same night in Macedonia Alexander the Great was born. Later when he came to Anatolia he offered to make an endowment for the temple on the condition that his name should be associated with it. However his offer was refused with a polite and tactful answer; “it was unseemly for one god to build a temple for another”.

The second temple was built in the 4C BC on the same ground plan but this time being on a base with 13 steps. The fact that the temple faced West while Greek temples faced East as a rule is some proof of it being of Anatolian origin. This is the same in the temples of Sardis and Magnesia on Meander. The columns were shorter and more slender. The famous sculptor Scopas made the column reliefs while the relief on the altar was of Praxiteles. In the beginning of the 5C AD the temple was destroyed by a fanatical mob which was regarded as the final triumph of Christianity over paganism. Out of the magnificent temple only one of the 127 Ionic columns and foundation stones can be seen today. This was erected in 1972-3 out of different pieces of different columns without reaching its original height.

There was an archaic Processional Road stretching to the Artemis Temple around the Panayir Dagi (Mount Pion) through the Magnesian Gate. This was the route of the ancient processions which was flanked along its whole length with graves. Library Square was an important stopping point on the processional route in archaic times. The stretch from the Magnesian Gate to the Artemis Temple on the processional route was roofed over in the 2-3C AD by T. Flavius Damianus, a rich Ephesian and sophist. This was called Stoa of Damianus.

Ephesus and Christianity
Ephesus is vividly alluded to in Acts 19-20 in connection with St. Paul’s extended ministry at Ephesus. Apostle Paul probably spent two and a half years in Ephesus during his third missionary journey, until a riot forced him to leave the city rapidly. Some authorities believe that St. Paul was imprisoned in the so-called Prison of St. Paul in Ephesus. Eventually the belief in Christ and the veneration of his Blessed Mother replaced the worship of Artemis and the other deities.Ephesus was the site of the third ecumenical council of 431 AD at which the question of the Virgin Mary being the Mother of God was debated. In this council it was decided that Christ had a double nature as God and man, and the Virgin Mary was theotokos, god-bearer.

Ephesus, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation
The Seven Churches of Asia are all located in Anatolia; Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna (Izmir), Laodicea ad Lycum (Goncali), Sardis (Sart), Pergamum (Bergama), Philadelphia (Alasehir) and Thyatira (Akhisar).

These churches are associated both with Saint Paul and with Revelations (the Apocalypse); letters written in c.95 AD to the Seven Churches by John. For some people John is a visionary who lived on the island of Patmos. But some people say he is the Apostle John.

There should have been more than seven cities with major Christian congregations in Anatolia at the time that John wrote and it is unknown why he addressed only these seven. These were possibly the most important ones at that time or letters to other churches were lost.

These churches were not church buildings as such but congregations. These early congregations had their meetings in private homes as there had been no original church buildings until the 3C AD. St. Paul possibly founded some of the Seven Churches on his missionary journeys between 47-57 AD, as he was thought to have visited all seven cities.

(Revelation 2:1-7)

(1) “Write a letter to the leader of the church in Ephesus and tell him this:

“I write to inform you of a message from him who walks among the churches and holds their leaders in his right hand.

“He says to you: (2) I know how many good things you are doing. I have watched your hard work and your patience; I know you don’t tolerate sin among your members and you have carefully examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but aren’t. You have found out how they lie.

(3) You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

(4) “Yet there is one thing wrong; you don’t love me as at first! (5) Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before; or else I will come and remove your candlestick from its place among the churches.

(6) “But there is this about you that is good: You hate the deeds of the licentious Nicolaitans, just as I do.

(7) ” Let this message sink into the ears of anyone who listens to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: To everyone who is victorious, I will give fruit from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God.

Basilica of St. John
At his crucifixion Jesus asked his beloved disciple, John, to look after his mother. John and the Virgin went to Ephesus between 42 and 48 AD and lived there. John was martyred under the rule of the Emperor Trajan. There has been much discussion as to whether John the Apostle is confused with St. John the Theologian whose name, Hagia Theologos, gave the Turkish name first for the town and later only for the hill, Ayasuluk. A small church on the Ayasuluk Hill was dedicated to him in the 2C AD. This church was replaced in the 6C by a huge basilica built by the Emperor Justinian, the impressive ruins of which are still visible.The basilica had a cruciform plan with four domes along its longitudinal axis and a pair flanking the central dome to form the arm of the cross. Under the central dome was the sacred grave of St. John. Pilgrims have believed that a fine dust from his grave has magical and curative powers. In the apse of the central nave, beyond the transept is the synthronon, semicircular rows of seats for the clergy. To the north transept was attached the treasury which was later converted into a chapel. The baptistery is from an earlier period and now located to the north of the nave.

The citadel at the top of the Ayasuluk Hill is a 6C AD Byzantine construction which was later extended by the Seljuks. Lower down the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill is the Isa Bey Camisi, a 14C AD mosque of the Aydinoglu Principality period. It was built by Isa Bey, a grandson of the founder of the Principality. This is the earliest known example in Anatolia of a mosque that has an arcaded courtyard and pool. It is also the earliest representative of an Anatolian mosque with columns and a transept. It is the last example of the consecutive different religions; pagan temple, Christian church and Moslem mosque.

Meryemana (The Virgin Mary’s House)
It is known with certainty that the Virgin Mary went to Ephesus and lived there for some time. Whether or not she died in Ephesus was not known until Anne Catherine Emmerich’s vision. The stigmatized German nun who had never been to Ephesus had a vision of the House of the Virgin Mary and described it in detail to the German writer Clemens Brentano who later published a book about it. Catherine Emmerich died in 1884. In 1891 Paul, Superior of the Lazarists from Izmir read about her vision and found a little building which corresponded with Emmerich’s descriptions. Archeological evidence showed that the little house was from the 6C AD but that the foundations were from the 1C AD.This place was officially declared a shrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1896, and since then it has become a popular place of pilgrimage. Pope Paul VI visited the shrine in 1967.

The Site
For the visitor today, there are two entrances to the site, one upper and one lower. As it is slightly downhill, it is a better idea to start from the upper gate. There are no shopping facilities nor toilets inside the site and that is why in summer months it is strongly recommended that the visitor bring drinking water and wear comfortable shoes as well as a hat.At the eastern end of the city, it is possible to see the remains of the Magnesian Gate before coming to today’s entrance. This gate was the point of departure of roads which connected Ephesus with Magnesia and Miletus. After entering the site from the upper gate, at the far right end there is the Bath of Varius, a 2C AD Roman bath complex.

The State Agora was a vast public square laid out and remodeled during the reign of Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). It was a public area where people gathered for political, commercial and social reasons. The north stoa also had the function of a basilica, Ionic in style and divided into two aisles and a nave by two rows of columns. This three-aisled basilica replaced the single-aisled Hellenistic Hall. Meetings of the law courts were probably held there in the basilica. The construction of the basilica in the proximity of the prytaneion would not have been a coincidence.

The foundations of a Peripteros Temple with 6×10 columns were excavated in the axis of the State Market. This was first interpreted to be a shrine of Isis but later a temple of Dionysus.

The building on the south-west side of the agora was identified as the Nymphaeum of Laecanius Bassus. It opens into the road in the west where the Domitian Temple also faces. Among the sculptures which decorated the fountain were Tritons and river gods.

The Odeon in Ephesus was built in the 2C AD and had a double function. First it was a theater for theatrical performances as well as being the Bouleterion. It was the Senate House which was used by the boule, the advisory council of the city. It has always been very difficult to identify bouleterion buildings as they did not have typical characteristics. It was a two-storied building covered with a wooden roof with a seating capacity of 1,400 people. It consisted of three main sections; cavea, skene and proskene.

The Temples of Dea Roma and Divus Julius were Imperial Cult erected in the 1C AD with the permission of Augustus in honor of his adoptive father Julius Caesar, and of Rome. The Imperial Cult never became a true religion. Its aim was to create unity among people.

The Prytaneion was the official administrative building or the city hall which housed the senior city officials. What characterized a prytaneion building as different from a bouleterion was an eternal flame or the sacred hearth of Hestia in the prytaneion which is kept burning eternally by the Curetes, the six (later nine) priestesses of Hestia. From an architectural standpoint it was like a private house. It contained an assembly hall, administrative rooms, the state archives and a dining hall in which officials and foreign visitors were welcomed. In front of the assembly hall there was a Doric courtyard. Some of the stones of the prytaneion were used in the restoration of the Scholastica Baths. Three statues of Artemis, “big”, “beautiful” and “small” were found there. One life-size and the other double life-size Artemis statues are kept in the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk.

Memmius Monument had an inscription which referred to dictator Sulla’s capture of Ephesus in the 1C BC. The monument was a memorial which was dedicated to Memmius, son of Caius and grandson of Sulla.

The Polio Fountain was a 2C AD building which was later restored in the 3C AD. Water brought by aqueducts is distributed from this fountain by a branching system of baked clay pipes. Richly decorated sculpture from the Hellenistic period was excavated there. The sculpture depicts Odysseus while he was blinding Polyphemus (cyclops) in order to escape from his cave.

During the Roman period, Ephesians erected many buildings and temples, and dedicated them to emperors in order to secure good relations and the support of Rome. The Domitian Temple is one of them and is a 1C AD building. In the substructure of the building, parts of a huge statue which is four times larger than life were excavated and interpreted to be Emperor Domitian’s. This is the reason that the building was named as the Domitian Temple. But according to more recent research the statue is of the Emperor Titus. Before this recent research it was believed to be the first temple erected in the name of a Roman emperor who referred to himself as “ruler and god”. At the end of the 1C AD, when he was assassinated, his statue was smashed to pieces on the ground by a mob as he was not well-liked. The name of the temple might change anytime but still, it is believed to be the first temple of the cult of emperors in Ephesus.

The Hercules Gate can easily be identified by two reliefs of Hercules wearing lion’s skin. The pillars date from the 2C AD but were taken there to be used in the construction of a narrow gate house only in the 6C AD having originally stood elsewhere. The gate was made narrow to prevent wheeled vehicles which came from the Magnesian Gate going into the city.

The Curetes Street lies between the Hercules Gate and the Celsus Library. Some name lists of the Curetes were inscribed on marble columns found on the north side of the street. The modern name of the street derives from these inscriptions. In literary sources the street was called Embolos.

The Nymphaeum of Trajan is a 2C AD building with two stories built by an Ephesian in memory of the Emperor Trajan. In front of the building there was a pool with water cascading from beneath the colossal statue of Trajan. One foot of his statue can still be seen. The pool was flanked by the building on three sides. The facade of the building is highly ornate with Corinthian columns on the upper story and Composite columns on the lower. Statues of other emperors, gods and heroes stood in niches.

The Terrace Houses on the Curetes street belonged to the rich people of Ephesus. They date back to the 1C AD and some of them were used up to the 7C AD. Many of them were three-storied and had peristyles surrounded by rooms without windows but included frescoes and mosaics of mythological scenes. Some of the frescoes were scenes from the comedies of Menander and the tragedies of Euripides. The fresco depicting the fight between Hercules and Acheloos and the glass mosaic of Dionysus and Ariadne with birds in a vineyard are among the best preserved wall decorations. They were luxuriously furnished private houses with fountains and central heating. Between the street and houses was a portico with a mosaic floor, behind which were shops.

A protective roof has been built to prevent valuable frescoes and mosaics decaying. Maximum care has been paid for keeping the original appearances of the rooms during the reconstruction of the atriums.

The Scholastica Baths, together with latrines and the public house, are part of a large complex on the north side of the Curetes Street between the two side streets of Bath Lane and Academy Street. It was built in the beginning of the 2C AD and restored with stones brought from the Prytaneion by a rich Christian lady named Scholastica in the beginning of the 5C AD.

With the fact that there is not any palaestra and the arrangement of its chambers is not symmetrical, the Scholastica Bath differs from the other bath complexes. The building consists of an L-shaped apodyterium, a frigidarium, a tepidarium and a caldarium. In the first two rooms there were cold pools and in the last two hot pools. The whole building was heated by a hypocaust-a furnace with flues that channeled hot air through the walls and under the floors. The furnace also heated the boiler that supplied hot water.

The Hadrian Temple was built in the 2C AD and renovated in the 4C ad in the name of the Emperor Hadrian. It was originally in Corinthian style consisting of a cella and a porch (pronaos). The facade of the porch had a pediment supported by two piers and two columns including an arch in the middle. The columns and the arch remain but the pediment has not survived. The keystone of the arch has a relief of Tyche, the goddess of fortune. In the lunette over the entrance to the cella, there is another relief of a semi-nude girl, probably of Medusa, in acanthus leaves. Friezes were added there from different places in Ephesus during a restoration in the 4C AD. They are scenes relating to the legendary foundation of the city. From left to right: Androclus, the mythological founder of the city, killing a wild boar; Hercules rescuing Theseus, a mythological hero and the first true King of Athens, who was chained to a bench as a punishment by Hades for trying to kidnap Persephone from the underworld; Amazons, Dionysus and his entourage; Emperor Theodosius I, an enemy of paganism, and an assembly of gods including Athena and Artemis.

The Latrines were part of the Scholastica Baths and built in the 1C AD. They were for public use. The Private House (so-called brothel) was also a part of the Scholastica complex. Though it has not been archeologically proven, some archeologists are of the opinion that this was a brothel with two floors, the upper floor being for ladies and the ground floor for visitors. In the main hall there are some remains of mosaics depicting scenes of the four seasons. The statue of Priapus which is exhibited in the Ephesus Museum was found there.

Priapus was the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus. Portrayed as a grotesque little man with a huge phallus, he was associated particularly with fertility rites and also protected crops and gardens from animals, birds and thieves.

Library Square, in addition to being an important stopping point on the processional route in archaic times, was also part of a burial street until the 3C BC with buildings like the Octagon, Heroon, Celsus Library and the Sarcophagus of the sophist Claudius Flavianus Dionysius Rhetor under the ramp of the Marble Road.

Octagon was a vaulted burial chamber placed on a square pedestal with the skeleton of a 20-year old woman in a marble sarcophagus. According to an interpretation Octagon was a monument to Ptolemy Arsinoe IV who was murdered in Ephesus in 41 BC.

Heroon was a 2C BC U-shaped building with an open Ionic upper story. Water ran through a channel in front of the building. The gable and frieze had reliefs depicting Androclus killing a wild boar. The building is thought to have been a monument to Androclus.

Hadrian’s Gate is located at the junction of the Curetes Street and the Marble Road. Because of the limited original substance a complete reconstruction has not been possible. The gate house has three stories. On the first story there are three entrances. The one in the center is wider and spanned by an arch and the other two side entrances are capped by architraves. The second story was formed of four pillars and the third story of six pillars. A gable marks the top of the building.

The Celsus Library was built in the beginning of the 2C AD by Gaius Julius Aquila to be a memorial to his father Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the proconsul of the Province of Asia. In the Roman period all but the bodies of heroes were buried outside the borders of cities. Aquila was granted permission for his father to be buried in a marble grave in a burial chamber in the library. Celsus’s sarcophagus lay inside the building, under the middle apse.

The facade has two stories with three entrances in the lower story and three window openings in the upper story. The columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size. The three entrances are flanked by four niches with statues representing the virtues of Celsus, Sophia (Wisdom), Areté (Valor), Ennoia (Thought) and Epistémé (Knowledge). The semicircular niche on the main floor facing the central portal probably contained a statue of Athena. Although no traces have been found, it is thought that there was an auditorium for lectures or presentations between the library and the Marble Road.

Towards the end of the period when the city was inhabited, the interior room was destroyed and the facade of the building was used as a part of a nymphaeum. Some 2 m / 6.5 ft high marble slabs which were found there formed the front part of the nymphaeum. These slabs originally belonged to the Parthian Monument which was built to commemorate the victory of Lucius Verus over the Parthians. They were taken to Vienna and are exhibited in the Ephesus Museum today.

Between 1973 and 1977, an earthquake-proof reconstruction of the facade of the library was completed. Historical building sequence was well studied with the reconstruction.

The Commercial Agora was an open square with sides 110 m / 360 ft long and surrounded by stoas with two aisles behind which were shops. It was the center of the commercial world in Ephesus. In addition to the marketing of goods there was also a slave market of beautiful girls brought from different places by sea. A water-clock and a sundial as parts of a horologium stood in the middle of the agora.

Mazaeus-Mithridates Gate is the triple gateway next to the Celsus Library which opens into the commercial agora forming its southeast gate. According to the inscriptions in Latin, it was built by two freed slaves Mazaeus and Mithridates in honor of Augustus, his wife Livia, his daughter Julia and his son-in-law Agrippa. According to the inscriptions in Greek, Mazaeus and Mithridates dedicated the gate to their masters.

The reconstruction of the gate was only completed in 1988. Missing parts were replaced with concrete and its surface was plastered. Mazaeus-Mithridates Gate is earthquake-proof like the Celsus Library.

The Marble Road is another main street between the library and the theater, but it was originally part of the processional road stretching to the Artemis Temple. Traces of wheeled vehicles can be seen here. On the west side somewhere in the middle of the marble road, on the pavement is a piece of marble with graffiti showing a woman with a crown, a heart and a left foot. This is accepted as being the earliest advertisement in the world probably of a lady in the so-called brothel for sailors. Among its various interpretations is that “if you want to make love with this particular lady (her name was written there) who was as beautiful as queens, keep going in this direction and she is on the left-hand side of the street”.

The Theater is one of the most impressive buildings in Ephesus. It was originally a 3C BC Hellenistic theater which was later restored, adapted and expanded in the 1C AD by the Romans until it reached its present seating capacity of 24,000 people. It was used for the meetings of the demos as well. The cavea has a horseshoe shape of 220 degrees and a diameter of 151 m / 495 ft. The uppermost row of the cavea is 30 m / 100 ft above the orchestra. Staircases outside were originally vaulted and provided access to the upper rows. The skene, the ruins of which are seen today, was a three-storied ornate building of the Roman period. Nothing was left from the Hellenistic period in the stage building. The facade was subdivided with many highly ornate niches. The ground floor of the skene consisted of a long corridor with 8 rooms and five large doors leading to the stage. Niches replace these doors in the second and third stories. The third story was rebuilt in the 2C AD to form an attic with pillars and an entablature.

This theater was the place where St. Paul preached. However, a goldsmith by the name of Demetrius provoked his fellow-craftsmen to a public outcry against Paul, with the cry “Great is Artemis of Ephesians”. He did it because he thought this new religion could ruin their businesses. They made their living by selling statues of Artemis to pilgrims visiting there from far and wide.

The Arcadiane was a great colonnaded avenue which was renovated at the beginning of the 5C AD in honor of Emperor Arcadius. It was 530 m / 1740 ft long and 11 m / 36 ft wide leading from the harbor to the theater. It was paved in marble and had shops behind the colonnades. The two pedestrian walks in the colonnades were 5 m / 16 ft wide and paved with mosaics. At night the Arcadiane was lit by torches, making Ephesus, along with Rome and Antioch, one of the three ancient cities known to have had street lighting. Somewhere in the middle of the avenue stood a monument of four Corinthian columns probably erected in the 6C AD which supported the statues of the four apostles.

The Ephesus Museum is in the town of Selcuk at the eastern foothill of Ayasuluk Hill. The two best finds exhibited in the museum are the marble statues of Artemis. One is from the 1C AD and the other 2C AD. Rows of egg-shaped marble pieces on the goddess’s chest have been interpreted differently as breasts, eggs, grapes or dates. In 1978 a new interpretation suggested that these pieces on the goddess’s chest were bulls’ testicles offered to her on feast days as symbols of fertility. Later excavations proved that the bull cult was really important. Similarly to Mother Goddess of Anatolia, she has two feline animals standing next to her.

The Vienna Ephesus Museum was started to be established after the first excavation started in 1895 by Austrians. According to the situation at that time during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamit II, Austrians were able to export finds from Ephesus. In 1907, a new law on antiquities was implemented in Turkey. According to this new law finds were not allowed to be taken away altogether.

Among the most important exhibits in the Vienna Ephesus Museum are the 40 m / 131 ft long frieze of the Parthian Monument and the bronze statue of an athlete from the Hercules-Centaur Group.

The river is 175 km / 109 miles long and originates from the east of Bozdag and flows into the Aegean Sea after Selcuk. The harbor city of Ephesus which is today 8 km / 5 mi from the sea was built upon the abundant alluviums from the Kucuk Menderes River.

Bergama (Pergamum)-Akhisar (Thyatira)


With a length of 401 km / 250 miles, the Gediz is 2nd longest river in the Aegean region. It originates from western central Anatolia and flows into the Gulf of Izmir near Foca. In the 19C there was a danger of the port of Izmir being blocked by its alluviums which is why another channel was dug in the northern part.


Pergamum was an ancient city founded by colonists on the Aegean coast of Anatolia at the site of the present-day city of Bergama. It was on a tributary of the Bakircay (Caicus River), enclosed by high mountains. Fertile, self-contained and easily defended, it provided the perfect setting for the maintenance of a city state.

History of Pergamum

In the era following the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s generals, chose Pergamum as the depository for his vast wealth, placing here 9,000 talents of gold under the guardianship of his lieutenant, Philetaerus. Upon Lysimachus’s death, Philetaerus used this fortune and founded the independent dynasty of the Attalid Kings. Pergamum later became the capital of a flourishing Hellenistic kingdom and one of the principal centers of Hellenistic civilization. Under Kings Attalus I and Eumenes II, Pergamum reached the height of its independent powers. At the same time, however, it began to look to Rome for alliance against the warring Hellenistic rulers. After signalizing himself as a friend of Rome, Attalus I was awarded the Seleucid dominions, making Pergamum a powerful kingdom, comprising of Mysia, Lydia, Caria, Pamphylia and Phrygia. In addition to extending the kingdom, Attalus I adorned his capital with architectural splendors. Eumenes II also brought the city to the climax of its cultural prominence. During the reigns of these two prominent kings, the city so flourished that it could only be compared to Antioch and Alexandria.

King Attalus III bequeathed (133 BC) his domains to the Romans, under whom the city retained its position as the preeminent artistic and intellectual center of Anatolia but declined in political and economic importance.

The city went through the Arab, Byzantine and finally the Turkish period in the 14C.

Pergamum attained a high culture in the Hellenistic era, boasting an outstanding library that rivaled in importance that of Alexandria, a famous school of sculpture and excellent public buildings and monuments of which the Zeus Altar is the best example.

In the Roman period, Pergamum played an important role in the early history of Christianity. It was also numbered among the Seven Churches of Revelation.

Pergamum, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation

(Revelation 2:12-17)

(12) “Write this letter to the leader of the church in Pergamos:

“This message is from him who wields the sharp and double-bladed sword. (13) I am fully aware that you live in the city where Satan’s throne is, at the center of satanic worship; and yet you have remained loyal to me and refused to deny me, even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s devotees.

(14) “And yet I have a few things against you. You tolerate some among you who do as Balaam did when he taught Balak how to ruin the people of Israel by involving them in sexual sin and encouraging them to go to idol feasts. (15) Yes, you have some of these very same followers of Balaam among you!

(16) “Change your mind and attitude, or else I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

(17) “Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: Every one who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.

Archeological Evidence

A young German engineer Carl Humann, who was engaged in building a road in Bergama in 1875 was told that a great quantity of loose stone was available among the ruins at the top of the hill behind the city. That which started as the need for road construction resulted in Humann’s archeological studies and the uncovering of many beautiful pieces including the Zeus Altar and Gateway to the Sanctuary of Athena which were subsequently taken to the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.


The function of the acropolis in Pergamum was never the same as the function of the acropolis in Athens. In Athens everything was focused on religion, whereas in Pergamum it was on social and cultural activities, or in other words, daily life. As a result of this contrast, major buildings in Pergamum were reserved for public use in daily life. Even in the temples, religion was of secondary importance. Buildings had large areas for the public where they could meet, walk or join in social affairs. Pergamum was the first city to react against functional urbanism of Hippodamus preferring ornamental urbanism. Pergamenes agreed that functionalism was necessary, but that aesthetics were to be given even more consideration. The buildings of the Acropolis were designed to be seen from below and to impress those viewing the city from the valley.
Except for the Trajan Temple all the buildings were built in the Hellenistic period during which constructions were made of andesite and very rarely in marble.

Heroon, in general, is a shrine dedicated to a deified hero. The Heroon in the Acropolis of Pergamum was the imperial cult or the shrine in which kings of Pergamum, especially Attalus I and Eumenes II, were worshipped.

It was a peristyle building made of andesite from the Hellenistic period.

The Sanctuary of Athena was entered through a propylon which was built by Eumenes II. As written in its inscription, it was dedicated to victory-bringing Athena by King Eumenes. The entrance opens into a courtyard surrounded by three stoas of the Doric order. This also dates from the same period. At the corner near the theater was the Athena Temple in Doric order which was built earlier, in the 3C BC. It was built of andesite and stood on a crepidoma with two steps.

The Library of Pergamum, built by Eumenes II, was the second of the three famous ancient libraries. It contained 200,000 volumes. A century later Mark Antony gave them to Cleopatra as a wedding present to be added to the collection of the library in Alexandria. The library building was next to the north stoa of the Athena Sanctuary. Most probably, the second floor of the stoa was at the same level with the first floor of the library. It had a large reading hall with many shelves all around, leaving an empty space between walls and shelves for the circulation of air to prevent humidity. Manuscripts were written on parchment then rolled or folded and put on shelves.

When the Egyptians prohibited the export of papyrus, the King of Pergamum ordered that a new material be found. The new discovery was “parchment”, a fine material from sheep or goat skin, highly polished with pumice stone and slit into sheets. Therefore the name of Pergamum has been perpetuated and seen as synonymous with the word “parchment”.

The Temple of Trajan was a 2C AD temple in Corinthian order, dedicated to Trajan, built by his successor Hadrian. Both emperors were worshipped there. The temple was built of marble, probably on the site of a previous Hellenistic building. Before the construction, the area was leveled off by using a successful arched and vaulted substructure. The temple is flanked by stoas on three sides, the one at the back being higher than the others. It was in Corinthian order to have a peripteros plan, with 9 by 6 columns.

It is said that the Theater in the acropolis of Pergamum is the steepest raked Hellenistic theater in the world. The cavea of the theater which consists of 80 rows of seats is divided into three sections by two diazomas. The capacity was 10,000 people. The construction material is andesite. Because it was originally a Hellenistic theater, there was not a permanent stage building and people sitting on the cavea could see outside and beyond the playing area. In the Hellenistic period, performances were held in a festive atmosphere and took a long time. People spent a lot of time in the theater, usually the minimum of a full day. Therefore, they never wanted to block their view of outside and the stage building, being made of wood, was portable. Square holes at the back of the orchestra were for the portable stage building. The theater was also used during the Roman period with some alterations.

The finest altar ever built can be accepted as the Zeus Altar at Pergamum, of about 180 BC, which stands in its own precinct but, most unusually, without a temple. The altar, a marble offering-table, stood on an enormous stone plinth, which also supported the double colonnade of Ionic columns enclosing it on three sides. On the fourth side it was approached by a fine stairway, nearly 20 m / 65 ft wide.

Much of the structure and almost all of the friezes are now in Berlin. Decorated with vigorous friezes of life-size figures depicting a battle between gods and giants, its contemporary context is probably King Eumenes II’s celebration of his recent victories over the Gauls in Pontus and Bithynia. If this is so, then the context incorporates within its apparently straightforward mythology the King’s assertion of his own triumphant role as the defender of traditions against barbarianism.

Kizil Avlu (The Red Court)

This building was a 2C AD temple dedicated to Egyptian gods and goddesses from the time of the Emperor Hadrian. In the Byzantine period it was converted into a basilica. Because of the red bricks used in the construction and its court-like area, it was named the Red Court.


Asclepieum was a sanctuary and a healing center built in the name of the god of healing, Asclepius. It was similar to the one in Epidauros in Greece. Although this place was set up in the 4C BC, it had its peak in the Roman period.
Asclepius, son of Apollo, the god of healing, was a famous physician. His mother, Coronis, a princess of Thessaly, died when he was an infant. Apollo entrusted the child’s education to Chiron, a centaur, who taught Asclepius the healing arts. Asclepius, when grown, became so skilled in surgery and the use of medicinal plants that he could even restore the dead back to life. Hades, ruler of the dead, became alarmed at this and complained to Zeus, who killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt. The healing center, Asclepieum, had been something very similar to a modern natural healing clinic. Patients were given exercises, drugs, herbal remedies, or could take the honey cure, drink the waters of the spring or be treated by suggestion. They could walk among the trees and be calmed by the scent of pine. Over the gate had been inscribed the words: “In the name of the Gods, Death is forbidden to enter”. Snakes were sacred to Asclepius because of their power to renew themselves. That is why there was a relief of snakes at the entrance to the sacred area of the medical center symbolizing health. Among the famous physicians of the Asclepieum was Galen.

Galen (c.129-199 AD)

Galen was the most outstanding physician of antiquity after Hippocrates. His anatomical studies on animals and observations of how the human body functions dominated medical theory and practice for 1400 years. Galen was born in Pergamum. A shrine to the healing god Asclepius was located in Pergamum and there young Galen observed how the medical techniques of the time were used to treat the ill or wounded. He received his formal medical training in nearby Smyrna and then traveled widely, gaining more medical knowledge.

Galen dissected many animals, particularly goats, pigs and monkeys, to demonstrate how different muscles are controlled at different levels of the spinal cord. He also showed that the brain controls the voice. Galen showed that arteries carry blood, disproving the 400-year-old belief that arteries carry air. Galen was also highly praised in his time as a philosopher. He closely followed the view of the philosopher Aristotle that nothing in nature is superfluous. Galen’s principal contribution to philosophic thought was the concept that God’s purposes can be understood by examining nature. Galen’s observations in anatomy remained his most enduring contribution. His medical writings were translated by 9C Arab scholars.

The Site

The Colonnaded Road connected Asclepieum to the city. Originally it was 820 m / 2,700 ft. Today only a small part of this road is visible. The Propylon was located at the end of the colonnaded road and dates from 2C AD. It had 12 steps and opened into a large courtyard which was surrounded by stoas on three sides. It had beautiful acroteriums one of which can be seen in the Bergama museum. Stoas originally had Ionic capitals but after an earthquake in the 2C AD, some Corinthian capitals were also used. The Library was for both educational and entertainment purposes with many medical books for the physicians and other books for use by the patients. The Theater is a small building in Roman style with a capacity of 3,500 people. It was mainly used for performances to entertain the patients when not receiving treatment. The Sacred Fountain provided water believed to have had healing power. Sleeping rooms were used to make the patients sleep and analyze their dreams. The Tunnel is a vaulted subterranean passageway. It is 80 m / 262 ft long. Under the floor ran water which provided relaxing sounds. On the ceiling there are 12 windows to provide sunlight inside the tunnel. The Round Treatment Center was a two-storied building with six apsidal sections. Today only the lower floor remains. The walls and the floor were covered with marble and the roof was made of wood. Water coming through the tunnel, recesses for washing and the sun-terrace show that this room was also used for the treatment of patients. The Temple of Asclepius was erected by the Consul of the time in the 2C AD. The main part of the temple was cylindrical and covered by a dome. The floor and the walls were decorated with marble mosaics. There were many statues of gods and deities related to health including those of Asclepius himself. This building can be accepted as one of the earliest structures with a dome in Anatolia. 


It is a 129 km / 80 miles long river originating from mount Omer which is in the south of Balikesir. It pours into the sea at the Gulf of Candarli. 3 main tributaries unite on Bakircay plateau to form the river.


The ancient city of Thyatira is occupied by the modern town of Akhisar meaning in Turkish “white castle” named from the ruins of an old castle. Because of modern occupation, not much from its ancient archeological remains is seen.
Thyatira was an insignificant town until it was refounded by Seleucus Nicator in the beginning of the 3C BC. It was originally a military fort but lost this purpose with the Pax Romana and became a wealthy commercial city. The city had a number of trade guilds. Every skilled worker was a member of a union some of which could be listed as tailors, woolworkers, tanners, potters, bakers, etc.

Commercial guilds in Thyatira were connected with the pagan religions of the city and involved participation in pagan ritual, feasts and celebrations.

Thyatira, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation

(Revelation 2:18-29)

(18) “Write this letter to the leader of the church in Thyatira:

” This is a message from the Son of God, whose eyes penetrate like flames of fire, whose feet are like glowing brass.

(19) “I am aware of all your good deeds—your kindness to the poor, your gifts and service to them; also I know your love and faith and patience and I can see your constant improvement in all these things.

(20) “Yet I have this against you: You are permitting that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach my servants that sex sin is not a serious matter; she urges them to practice immortality and to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols. (21) I gave her time to change her mind and attitude, but she refused. (22) Pay attention now to what I am saying: I will lay her upon a sickbed of intense affliction, along with all her immoral flowers, unless they turn again to me, repenting of their sin with her; (23) and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches deep within men’s hearts and minds; I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

(24, 25) “As for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (“deeper truths,” as they call them—depths of Satan, really), I will ask nothing further of you; only hold tightly to what you have until I come.

(26) “To every one who overcomes—who to the very end keeps on doing things that please me— I will give power over the nations. (27) “You will rule them with a rod of iron just as my Father gave me the authority to rule them; they will be shattered like a pot of clay that is broken into tiny pieces. (28) And I will give you the Morning Star!

“Let all who can hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

Anatolia Until Alexander the Great

Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) 600000-10000 BC

Statuette of a seated nude from Catalhoyuk, one of the earliest examples representing the Mother Goddess. Neolithic period, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

Neanderthal man appeared in the middle Paleolithic age. Homo Sapiens, the ancestor of modern man, were first seen in the upper Paleolithic age.
Life, generally in this age, was perilous and at best uncertain. Survival depended largely on successful hunting, but the hunt often brought sudden and violent death. Social organization rather than bravery shaped subsequent success. Therefore man learned to hunt in groups. In the earlier periods rough stone tools were used but later, tools were refined. Flint hand-axes, scrapers, cutters, and chisels are artifacts which served their specific needs.

Edible plants were gathered. They moved on whenever food resources became scarce. Home for the Paleolithic people also varied according to the environment. In cold regions they sought refuge in caves from the weather, predatory animals and other people.

The most important Paleolithic places in Anatolia are in Yarimburgaz near Istanbul and Karain near Antalya. Karain is the only cave known in Anatolia where all the phases of the Paleolithic age are represented without interruption. It contains a number of habitation levels of this age. Teeth and bone pieces of Neanderthal man and Homo Sapiens have been unearthed in this cave.

Neolithic Period (New Stone Age) 8000-5500 BC

The term Neolithic, from the ancient Greek neos “new” and lithos “stone”, was adopted. This age begins with man taking advantage of his environment by cultivating plants and domesticating animals. This is the age in which agriculture started. People did not need to move now as they began to control their conditions. As a result, town life started.

Neolithic farmers usually raised more food than they could consume and their surpluses permitted larger, healthier populations. The surplus of food had two other momentous consequences. First, grain became an article of commerce. The farming community traded surplus grain for items it could not produce itself. The community obtained raw materials such as precious gems and metals. Second, agricultural surplus made the division of labor possible. It freed some members of the community from the necessity of cultivating food. Artisans and craftsmen devoted their attention to making new stone tools for farming, shaping clay into pottery vessels and weaving textiles.

Neolithic farmers domesticated bigger and stronger animals such as the bull and the horse to work for them.

In Anatolia, the earliest evidence of agricultural life was found in Hacilar 25 km / 15 miles SE of Burdur, 7040 BC. Wheat, barley and lentils as well as the bones of goats, sheep and horned cattle were found in the houses of Hacilar. The dog appeared to be the only household animal.

This settlement is best known for its clay female figurines, represented alone or with animals and children.

The most advanced Neolithic center in the Near East is Catalhoyuk, located 50 km / 30 miles SE of Konya and prominent between 6500-5500 BC. Catalhoyuk is a town consisting of rectangular, single-storied houses built of mud-bricks supported by wooden beams and buttresses from the inside. The houses had flat roofs and were built around courtyards. Entrances were through the roofs using ladders. The flat roofs were for defense and provided a working space and passageways from house to house. The houses had the same layout; a living room, a storage room and a kitchen.

Besides animal figures representing fertility, there was also the cult of the mother goddess generally shown with her leopards which was to be repeated many times throughout later Anatolian civilizations.

“Generally speaking, nothing suggests that this precocious culture had its origin exclusively elsewhere than in Turkey and the peoples of the Anatolian plateau may well have played a leading part in the Neolithic Revolution.”

Statuette of a seated nude from Catalhoyuk, one of the earliest examples representing the Mother Goddess. Neolithic period, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

Chalcolithic Period (Copper Stone Age) 5500-3000 BC

As copper started to be used in addition to stones, this period is called the Chalcolithic age which means Copper Stone Age. Man in this age cultivated crops, herded livestock, lived in brick houses, made vessels of clay, stone, wood or basket work and fashioned weapons of bone or flint. He traded for the raw materials to manufacture his weapons and personal ornaments and his religious beliefs found expression in sculpture and painting. The figure of the Mother Goddess continued, but was domesticated and found in nearly all houses.
Hacilar is the most advanced example of the Chalcolithic culture in Anatolia. The difference of the houses of this age is the number of the floors. They become two storied with an entrance at ground level. The most distinguishing feature of Hacilar is its handmade painted pottery decorated with geometric motifs in reddish brown on a pinkish yellow background.

With the increase of the metal industry, trade developed eastwards with Syria and Mesopotamia and westwards with the Balkans and Mediterranean regions.

Canhasan, 13 km / 8 miles NE of Karaman in the province of Konya, is an important Chalcolithic center together with Beycesultan, Alisar and Alacahoyuk.

Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC)

Stag Statuette from Alacahoyuk, Bronze Age, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

The Bronze Age in Anatolia starts with the use of bronze, a mixture of tin and copper. The people of this age made all their weapons, utensils and ornaments from this alloy. In addition to bronze they also used copper, gold, silver and electron; an alloy of gold and silver.
A great advance in metallurgy is notable during this age, especially from the rich finds of gold, silver, bronze and copper excavated. Various vessels, jewelry, bull and stag statuettes, ritual standards, sun-dials (as symbols of the universe) and musical instruments were discovered in the burial chambers of Alacahoyuk. The bull figure plays an important role as a link between the Neolithic and the Hittite religions. Thus, the roots of Hatti and later Hittite religious belief may be inferred as extending as far back as the Neolithic Age in Anatolia.

Men were buried with weapons, women with ornaments and toiletry articles as well as domestic vessels and utensils, many of them in precious metals. The tombs themselves were rectangular pits enclosed by rough stone walls and roofed with timber.


The Hatti or Hattians were a race of indigenous people who lived in Central Anatolia. As they lived in the prehistoric age before writing was introduced to Anatolia their name has come through Hittite sources. The Hatti gave their name to Anatolia, which was then called the land of the Hatti. Even the Hittites called their own kingdom the land of the Hatti.

The influence of the Hatti civilization is apparent in Hittite religious rites, state and court ceremonies and their mythology. Although they lacked a native written tradition, these people had reached an advanced intellectual level; a richness and sophistication of their own Anatolian culture. They developed true polychrome pottery and also monumental architecture; for example, the 60-room ground level palace at the Kultepe site. The bronze Hatti sun-disc, with its radial lobes representing the planets, shows the complexity of their cosmic views.


This period is also known as the Middle Bronze Age during which the old Assyrian state in Mesopotamia established a trading system with Anatolia. In this period Anatolia was divided into feudal city states ruled by indigenous Hattians. They established markets out of cities each of which was called “karum”. There were 20 of these karums ruled by one central market, Kanis, located in Kültepe. They paid tax and rent and in return, security was granted by local rulers. Caravans were employed which generally brought tin, perfumes and ornaments in exchange for goods made of silver and gold.

Written history started in Anatolia with the introduction of the Assyrian language, the cuneiform script and the use of cylinder seals by the Assyrian traders.

The tablets which date back to this period are written in cuneiform script in the language of old Assyria. They are written, baked, put into envelopes and then sealed by re-baking; an example of the first use of envelopes in the world. Most of the tablets are about trading activities with some about private lives of people of this age.

“The figurative symbolism has been one of the most revealing aspects of the finds at Kultepe, because it emphasizes the existence of an authentic and indigenous Anatolian culture persisting through the vicissitudes of migration and political change. A fully developed Anatolian iconography persisted into later centuries, reappearing almost unchanged in the art of the Hittites.”


The Hittites are a people mentioned frequently in the Bible (Old Testament). They were immigrant people who arrived in Anatolia in 2000 BC. It took them 250 years to establish a kingdom in central Anatolia after 1750 BC and their powerful Empire flourished in the 14-13CBC until it was destroyed in 1200 BC by the Sea Peoples.

When the Hittites, who lived north of the Black Sea, migrated into Anatolia that region was already occupied by native people, the Hattians. Their arrival and diffusion had been peaceful and accompanied by intermarriage and alliance with the natives. So well did the Hittites integrate themselves into the local culture of central Anatolia that they even adopted the worship of several native deities.

Hittites named their own state as the land of the Hatti. As Naim Turfan argues, this does not show the tolerance of the conquering Hittites, but their meeting of a much higher level of civilization than their own. For approximately 600 years they continued this habit of borrowing from wherever it suited them.

Another argument by language archeologist, Renfrew claims in 1987 that Indo-European languages derived not from the Russian plains but from Anatolia. The Neolithic people of Anatolia carried their languages together with their plows to Europe and India. In this case the language of the Hittites did not need to come from somewhere, on the contrary, Hittites spoke Anatolian languages. So far Renfrew’s argument has been undisputed.

It is generally accepted that Anitta founded the Hittite State in the 18CBC. Hattusilis I established his capital in the fortress city of Hattusha (Bogazkoy), which remained the principal Hittite administrative center. From a strategic point, Hattusha formed an easily defensible mountain stronghold. Hattusilis I’s campaigns were into northwestern Syria and eastward across the Euphrates River to Mesopotamia. Control of that region was to become a permanent objective of the Hittites in order to increase their economic power.

It remained for Suppiluliumas I (1380-1346 BC), an energetic and successful campaigner, to restore Hittite control in Anatolia and effectively extend the borders of his kingdom to the south and east. His major accomplishments were the defeat of Mitanni and conquests in Syria, including the capture of the powerful city-state of Kargamis. His period saw the Empire at its peak, but even so during that time the Hittite Empire was never a single, political unit. Hittite penetration into Syria brought the newly revived state into conflict with Egypt. A major battle between the Hittites under Muwattalis and the Egyptian King Ramses II was fought at Kadesh on the Orontes River c.1286BC with victory going to the Hittites. They were realistic enough to recognize the limits of their power and far-sighted enough to appreciate the value of peace and an alliance with Egypt. Although there was no real victor in this battle, each side claimed to have won.

The battle was one of the first in history of which a tactical description has survived. The Hittite specialist O. R. Gurney summarizes the Egyptian text as follows:

“The Hittite army based on Kadesh succeeded in completely concealing its position from the Egyptian scouts and as the unsuspecting Egyptians advanced in marching order towards the city and started to pitch their camp, a strong detachment of Hittite chariotry passed round unnoticed behind the city, crossed the river Orontes and fell upon the center of the Egyptian column with shattering force. The Egyptian army would have been annihilated, had not a detached Egyptian regiment arrived most opportunely from another direction and caught the Hittites unawares as they were pillaging the camp. This lucky chance enabled the Egyptian king to save the remainder of his forces and to represent the battle as a great victory.”

The Peace Treaty of Kadesh between Hattusilis III and Ramses II insured peace between the Hittites and Egypt on the southern border of the Empire (1284BC). It is accepted as the first recorded international treaty in the world. The ratification of the treaty was followed by a cordial exchange of letters, not only between the two kings but also from one queen to another. Thirteen years later a daughter of Hattusilis was married to the Egyptian Pharaoh.

In Anatolia, the old pattern of unrest and revolt presented continuing dangers for the Hittite state, as vassals sought to reassert their independence. Beset by both internal and external pressures, the Hittites were unable to resist the onslaught of the Sea Peoples, who overran Anatolia about 1200BC.

Hittite Culture

In addition to the cuneiform script imported from Mesopotamia, the Hittites also used a picture writing form (hieroglyphs) which can be seen on their seals and public monuments. Their rapid adoption of a new cuneiform script made the Hittites the first known literate civilization of Anatolia.

Hittite culture was an amalgamation of native Anatolian and Hurrian elements in religion, literature and art. The scribes of imperial Hattusha were familiar with Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian texts and perhaps to some extent with Egyptian materials as well. Hittite culture thus drew to itself a representative sampling of the cosmopolitan perspectives of the ancient Near East. This is reflected in the thousands of cuneiform tablets uncovered in the ruins of the Hittite capital.

The pantheon of Hittite religion included thousands of deities many of them associated with various Anatolian localities. The state cult was dominated by an Anatolian deity called the Sun-goddess Arinna, protectress of the royal dynasty. Her consort was the Weather god Hatti. In the later empire, strong Hurrian influence in Hittite religion appeared with the introduction of the goddess, Hepat, identified with the Sun-goddess and with Teshub, who became identified with the Weather-god. “Zeus’s wife Hera and Adam’s wife Eve are the extensions of Hittite goddess Hepat.”

Hittite literature includes historical annals, royal testaments as well as a number of myths and legends. Many of the latter appear to be of Hurrian origin.

They created the best military architecture of the Near East. Their system of offensive defense works, handed down from the Old Kingdom, grew into a unique type of fortification under the Empire.

The major characteristic of Hittite architecture is its completely asymmetrical ground plan. They employed square piers as supports and had neither columns nor capitals.

Outstanding among examples of Hittite art are the Sphinx Gate of Alacahoyuk and the rock reliefs of Yazilikaya, an outdoor religious shrine in the form of a rock gallery located outside the walls of Hattusha, where two converging lines of male and female deities strikingly depict the major gods of the Hittite Empire.

First seen in a relief of 12 gods in Yazilikaya, the number twelve has been repeated often throughout historic and prehistoric times with 12 Gods of Olympus, 12 Apostles, 12 Imams in Islamic mysticism, 12 in a dozen and 12 months in a year.

Finally, a significant feature of Hittite culture is to be observed in the Hittite Law Code, which appears to be more humane than others in the ancient Near East and in the Hittite practice of treaty relations with allies and vassals during the empire period.

A number of major Anatolian sites have now been excavated that have yielded objects or inscriptions of the Hittite period. Among these, in addition to Hattusha, are Alisar, Alacahoyuk and Kultepe, all in the central Anatolian plateau; Karahoyuk, near Konya in the southwest; and Tarsus and Mersin in the Cilician plain of southern Anatolia.

There is no certain typical tradition with regards to their burial customs, but cremation and inhumation can be seen together. What is interesting is that people were buried with their animals, mostly horses.

Stag Statuette from Alacahoyuk, Bronze Age, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

Orthostat Relief From Kargamis Depicting a Chariot Battle, Noe-Hittite period, Museum of Anotolian Civilizations, Ankara

Iron Age (1200-700 BC)

The Iron Age marks the period of the development of technology, when the working of iron came into general use, replacing bronze as the basic material for implements and weapons. It is the last stage of the archaeological sequence known as the three-age system; Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age.


Following the collapse of Hittite power, Anatolia entered a dark age, not to recover substantially until about 800 BC. The territories previously held by the Hittites in Syria were also pillaged and burned by invaders, but they quickly recovered and reorganized into more than a dozen small independent kingdoms, with a Hittite culture modified by Syrian-Semitic influences. These are known as the Neo-Hittite states. Many of their inhabitants were probably refugees or descendants of refugees from the Hittite homeland. These Neo-Hittites are the Hittites, or “Sons of Heth,” referred to in the Bible. The Neo-Hittite states among them Aleppo, Kargamis, Arpad and Maras were absorbed into the Assyrian Empire by the late 8CBC.


The Urartians established a state around Lake Van in 1000BC. They were the descendants of the Hurrians who were contemporary to the Hittites in the east and southeast Anatolia. Tushpa near Lake Van, was the capital, with the massive fortress of Van as the citadel.

For about 300 years, from 860-580BC until the invasion of the Medes from the north, Urartu was a formidable regional power. Assyria in Mesopotamia competed with the Assyrian foe for complete hegemony over eastern and south-eastern Anatolia.


The Phrygians were among those migrating peoples known as the “Sea Peoples” who were responsible for the final destruction of the Hittite Empire.

During the period of Midas (8CBC), they rose to be a powerful kingdom and dominated central and southeastern Anatolia. Actually, for the Hellenistic people, this Midas period is the subject of mythology. Midas’s name was perpetuated in epics; for example, the stories of how he became king and how his Gordian knot was cut through and also how his ears were transformed into those of an ass.


From the 11C BC to the 6 BC, three Hellenic tribes of Hellas Ionians, Dors and Aeolians faced with a growing population that could not be fed from the hinterland or the sea, sent out colonies to western Anatolia and some Aegean islands. Out of these three colonies, Ionians became prominent by developing important cities under the influence of the preexisting Anatolian culture.

The term Ionia refers strictly to the central part of the west coast of Anatolia where Ionic Greek was spoken, although the term is usually applied to the entire west coast. Many Mycenaean Greeks emigrated to Ionia in order to escape the invading Dorians (c.1100 BC). Their close contact with the more advanced civilizations of Anatolia; Lydians, Carians, Lycians, Phrygians, even Hittites and Urartians, quickly raised the level of their culture. Trade along with the arts and sciences flourished in Ionia, especially in Miletus.

In 800BC, a league of religious and cultural organization; Panionium was established among 12 principal Ionian cities: Miletus, Myus, Priene, Samos, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Erythrae, Chios, Clozomenae and Phocaea.

The Ionians were subjugated by Croesus, ruler of the expanding Kingdom of Lydia, to the north of Ionia. In turn, the Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered Croesus by 546BC, which resulted in the subjugation of the Ionians. They attempted a revolt against Darius I in 499-494, but they were defeated and Miletus was destroyed.

When the Ionian cities fell under the domination of the Persians, all the philosophers and artists migrated to Athens and Italy. Thus, as Professor Ekrem Akurgal argues, the Ionian golden age passed from Anatolia to Athens. In other words, the foundations of the highly admired Greek Civilization were built much before in Anatolia. The first steps of democracy which had been taken in Ionia, were later established in Athens in 508BC.

The Ionians regained their freedom by becoming members of the Delian League.

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire (334-325) freed Ionia, but its cities soon became the prey of contending Hellenistic monarchs. When one of them, Attalus III of Pergamum, died in 133 BC, he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Pergamum became the province of Asia and the Ionians became Roman subjects. The Ionian cities continued to be important economic and cultural centers.

Orthostat Relief From Kargamis Depicting a Chariot Battle, Noe-Hittite period, Museum of Anotolian Civilizations, Ankara

Anatolia’s Dark Age (700-490 BC)

After 2,000 years of great civilizations, the eastern world fell into the dark ages in the 8CBC. This was the time that civilizations passed to the western world. At this turning point of world history, the civilized eastern world was represented by the Egyptians, Hittites, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Urartians. The Urartians were the last civilization of this age.


In ancient times Lydia was the name of a fertile and geologically wealthy region of western Anatolia. It extended from Caria in the south to Mysia in the north and was bound by Phrygia in the east and by the Aegean in the west. Lydia first achieved prominence under the rule of the Mermnad in 680 BC. They underwent some Cimmerian attacks on several occasions. During the reign of Croesus, powerful King of Lydia (560-546 BC), the borders of the state in the east reached as far as Halys (Kizilirmak River). In 546, Croesus was defeated by the Persian King Cyrus and Lydia was dominated by the Persians until Alexander the Great. The country passed to the Romans in 133 AD.

The most important city in Lydia was Sardis (Sart), N of Mount Tmolos (Bozdag), where the Pactolos River (Sartcay) passed through to reach the Hermos River (Gediz). The rich gold deposits of the Pactolos Valley were very important for Lydia’s economy. This wealth was obtained from the alluviums of the mythological Pactolos River.

Lydians claimed to have invented games like knucklebones and dice which they passed on to their Greek neighbors and through them to the rest of the world.

In 640 BC, the first time in history, coins made of electrum (a natural mixture of gold and silver) were used in exchange for goods and facilitated regularization of commercial transactions by the Lydians. This was Lydia’s most significant contribution to human history.


The Carians, from the hinterland of Miletus and Halicarnassus, enter history as mercenaries in the service of the Egyptian king along with their Ionian neighbors in the 7CBC.

In the 5CBC, Caria was ruled by tyrants and princes, some of whom chose the Persian side at the time of the Ionian insurrection. At the end of the 5CBC Caria belonged to the Delian League. It seems to have been constituted as a separate Persian Satrapy. The Carian Satrap Mausolus took part in the great insurrection of the western satraps but later changed sides and conquered Phaselis and western Lycia for the Persian King. Mausolus made Halicarnassus the metropolis of Caria. The architecture of the city included the Satrap’s tomb and the Mausoleum (another of the Seven Wonders of the World). The Mausoleum was planned by Mausolus himself but was actually built by his wife and successor, Artemisia.