Tag Archives: Sardis

Izmir (Smyrna)-(Sardis)-(Philadelphia)


Size Third largest city in Turkey
Altitude Sea level
Industry Textiles, cigarettes, soap and food processing plants
Agriculture Wheat, barley, potatoes, cotton, tobacco, olives, grapes, figs
Animal husbandry Not very common
History Aeolian, Ionian, Lydian, Persian, Alexander the Great, Lysimachus, Roman, Arab, Seljuk, Ottoman and Turkish Republic

Izmir (formerly Smyrna) is a city in west central Turkey on the Aegean Sea at the eastern end of the Gulf of Izmir. The ancient name Smyrna was believed to be the name of an Amazon woman warrior. The epic poet Homer was born in Smyrna.

The excellent port facilities and the introduction of the railroad contributed to early industrialization.

Agricultural products and carpets are major exports. The city is the home of the Aegean University (1955) and an archaeological museum. There are not many archeological remains to see except an agora, the ancient aqueducts and the exhibits in the Museum of Archeology. The splendid beaches in the Izmir area attract lots of tourists to the city.

At the end of World War I Izmir was occupied by Greek forces and the Treaty of Sévres (1920) awarded the city and its surroundings to Greece. Turkish nationalist forces captured the city in September 1922 and its large Rum population fled. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) gave Izmir to the new Turkish Republic.

Smyrna, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation

(Revelation 2:8-11)

(8) “To the leader of the church in Smyrna write this letter:

“This message is from him who is the First and Last, who was dead and then came back to life.

(9) “I know how much you suffer for the Lord and I know all about your poverty (but you have heavenly riches!). I know the slander of those opposing you, who say that they are Jews —the children of God—but they aren’t, for they support the cause of Satan. (10) Stop being afraid of what you are about to suffer—for the devil will soon throw some of you into prison to test you. You will be persecuted for “ten days.” Remain faithful even when facing death and I will give you the crown of life—an unending, glorious future. (11) Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: He who is victorious shall not be hurt by the Second Death.

Homer was the author of the earliest and finest epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Although modern scholars hold conflicting theories on the authorship of these poems, the ancient world believed that a blind poet named Homer had composed them. Tradition has it that he lived in the 12C BC, around the time of the Trojan War, in an Ionic settlement, Smyrna, where he made his living as a court singer and storyteller.

Modern archaeological research has uncovered artifacts similar to those described in the poems, providing evidence that Homer wrote at a later date. Because the poems display a considerable knowledge of the East or Ionia and are written in the dialect of that region, most scholars now think that Homer was Ionian of the 8-9C BC. Homer wrote nothing of himself in his poems.

The question of how the poems were composed remains a matter for debate. It is likely that Homer and his audience were members of a preliterate, oral culture and that his poems were written down long after their original composition. 19C scholars argued that one person could not memorize so long a text and that the poems must have been compiled by an editor, who merged several independent works into a consistent whole. This view is supported by scholars’ opinions concerning the occasional inconsistencies of narrative and awkward transitions from subject to subject.

The 20C studies of preliterate societies have shown, however, that lengthy works can be composed orally by poets whose recitations belong to a long tradition of storytelling. Homer was probably a practitioner of an inherited art, retelling a story that his audience had heard many times before. Differences of language and style between the Iliad and the Odyssey have led some critics to argue that each is the work of a different poet.

A literary critic suggested, however, that the Iliad was the work of Homer’s youth and the Odyssey of his maturity.

The Iliad portrays a universe marred by moral disorder, but the Odyssey shows gods punishing men for their sins and granting a good man his just reward. His influence on later literature may be traced from Hesiod to the present day.

Sardis was an ancient political and cultural center of Anatolia, and the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia. The King of Lydia was Croesus and he was very rich. He is even referred to in the saying “as rich as Croesus”. Much of the wealth of Sardis is thought to have come from a gold-bearing stream that ran through the city called the Pactolos River (Sartcay).

History of Sardis
Sardis was the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia. After prosperous days of Lydian period, Sardis fell to Cyrus the Great of Persia in 546 BC. The city continued to flourish through the periods of Alexander the Great, Romans and Byzantines until it was inhabited by the Turks and then deserted. It was here at Sardis that one of the “Seven Churches” had been founded. Investigations begun in 1910 by an American expedition exposed a well-preserved temple of Artemis along with a series of Lydian tombs dating from the 7C BC and later. Since 1958 ongoing archaeological research at the site has uncovered, in addition to important Lydian-period finds, several later monuments, notably a gymnasium and synagogue of the 2-3C AD and several Byzantine shops. Sardis also became the westernmost terminus of the Royal Road from Susa.

Sardis, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation

(Revelation 3:1-6)

(1) “To the leader of the church in Sardis write this letter:

“This message is sent to you by the one who has the seven-fold Spirit of God and the seven stars.

“I know your reputation as a live and active church, but you are dead. (2) Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains—for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. (3) Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to me again. Unless you do, I will come suddenly upon you, unexpected as a thief and punish you.

(4) “Yet even there is Sardis some haven’t soiled their garments with the world’s filth; they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. (5) Everyone who conquers will be clothed in white and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that he is mine.

(6) “Let all who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

The Site

The ruins of Sardis can be divided into four areas: the Acropolis on Bozdag (Mount Tmolos), the Pactolos Valley where the Artemis Temple was built, the city located on both sides of the modern highway between Ankara and Izmir and finally Bintepeler (the Thousand Hills) consisting of hundreds of Lydian tombs.

The ruins to the north of the highway are what were then public toilets, gymnasium and a synagogue. To the south of the synagogue was the main road of the city which had various shops, including a hardware store and a paint shop. The road once formed the westernmost stretch of the Royal Road. These ruins are of Byzantine period and have been dated to the 4C AD.

The Synagogue is from the 3C AD and once was a part of the gymnasium and restored to be a synagogue. Sardis has the largest known ancient synagogue. Its size and grandeur are a testimony to the prosperity of the Jews in Sardis during Roman times and to their eminent position in the city. It was probably not originally planned to be a synagogue as it has a very different layout. It faces the direction of Jerusalem and the entrance is also from the same side through three gates, which open from the courtyard into the main assembly hall. After entering, one has to turn back to see the two shrines between the gates. At the opposite end of the hall there is a semicircular apse with three rows of marble seats which were thought to be for the elders. The floors were mostly covered with mosaics.

The Gymnasium is a large complex consisting of a palaestra next to the synagogue, colonnades on three sides and the main building with the recently-restored ornate facade. According to its inscription, it was dedicated by the people of Sardis to Geta and Caracalla, the sons of Septimus Severus and to their mother Julia Domna.

It was a complex of symmetrically arranged rooms.

The Artemis Temple is located in the Pactolos Valley and was one of the seven largest ancient temples with eight columns at each end and twenty along each side. It was believed that an altar dedicated to Artemis had existed there as early as the 5C BC. The temple was built in stages, the first part being constructed in 300 BC. Later further construction took place in the 2C BC. Again only part of the project was completed. The third stage started in the 2C AD. At this stage the cella was divided into two halves by an internal cross-wall, the western half dedicated to Artemis and the other half to the Empress Faustina, who was deified after her death.

The fact that many Artemis temples in the Aegean region face west is testimony to Ekrem Akurgal’s conclusion that all these temples were connected to each other by an earlier Anatolian religious cult.

Ruins of a small building at the southeastern corner of the temple belong to a 4C AD church. According to some sources it is referred to as one of the Seven Churches of the Revelation. However, this cannot be correct as congregations not the actual buildings were meant by churches at that time.

Philadelphia was founded by Attalus II of the Kingdom of Pergamum in 189 BC. It was a relatively young city when compared to similar cities of Anatolia. It was built upon an elevated terrace above the valley which lay on the Persian Royal Road.Because of its founder’s love and loyalty for his brother Eumenes II, the city was called Philadelphia which meant “city of brotherly love”.

There is not much to see from the early days of the city except some ruins of city walls composed of rough stone blocks of coarse workmanship and a basilica. The workmanship, the type of arches and materials used in the construction indicate that the building dates from the late Byzantine period.

Philadelphia achieved its fame as one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

Philadelphia, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation

Philadelphia and Smyrna were the only two churches about which nothing negative was said by John.

(Revelation 3:7-13)

(7) “Write this letter to the leader of the church in Philadelphia:

“This message is sent to you by the one who is holy and true and has the key of David to open what no one can shut and to shut what no one can open.

(8) “I know you well; you aren’t strong, but you have tried to obey and have not denied my Name. Therefore I have opened a door to you that no one can shut.

(9) “Note this: I will force those supporting the causes of Satan while claiming to be mine (but they aren’t—they are lying) to fall at your feet and acknowledge that you are the ones I love.

(10) “Because you have patiently obeyed me despite the persecution, therefore I will protect you from the time of Great Tribulation and temptation, which will come upon the world to test everyone alive. (11) Look, I am coming soon! Hold tightly to the little strength you have—so that no one will take away your crown.

(12) “As for the one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; he will be secure and will go out no more; and I will write my God’s Name on him and he will be a citizen in the city of my God— the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from my God; and he will have my new Name inscribed upon him.

(13) “Let all who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

0s because of the intensive migration from the rural areas to the urban centers.

Only 40% of the current population of Istanbul and 60% of Ankara or Izmir consist of people who were originally born in those cities. These figures also include the children of newly migrated people.

From the religious point of view, although there is no official religion, 99% of the people living in Turkey are Moslems, the majority of whom are Sunnis. The remaining 1% are of different religions or indeed irreligious.Under the frames of the Lausanne Peace Treaty signed on July 24, 1923, the definition of the minorities was made as “non-Moslems” and their rights were granted as follows:

  • The freedoms of living, religious beliefs and migration
  • The rights of legal and political equality
  • Using the mother tongue in the courts
  • Opening their own schools or similar institutions
  • The holding of religious ceremonies

Minorities enjoy equal legal rights under the Constitution, which describes Turkey as a secular state and guarantees “freedom of conscience, religious faith and opinion” to all citizens, each of whom is legally a Turkish citizen.

a) Armenians of Anatolia

Armenians have lived in Istanbul since 1197 AD. New settlements appeared in Kumkapi, Yenikapi and Samatya after Mehmet II’s conquest of the city (1453).

The Armenians started to emigrate worldwide from 1896 onwards, however many returned after the inauguration of the first Turkish Parliament (1908) and took part in political life. Their population fell from around 240,000 in the 1850s to 150,000 at the turn of the century.

Today a total of 55,000 Armenians live within the boundaries of Turkey. They contribute to the country’s culture, science and the arts by continuing their traditions, intermarriages and trades (particularly as printers, jewelers and coppersmiths).

b) Jews of Anatolia

The history of the Jews in Anatolia goes back to the 4C BC. Some ancient synagogue ruins have also been found in Sardis, dating from 220 BC.

When the Ottomans captured Bursa in 1324 and made it their capital, they found and welcomed a Jewish community which had been oppressed under Byzantine rule.

The Balkan Jews were aware of the Ottoman tolerance towards other religions and migrated to Murat I’s territories. Later Ashkenazi Jews fled to Anatolia, followed by Byzantine Jews and received by Mehmet II. It was Bayezit II who offered safety for the refugees of the Spanish Inquisition in 1492.

Throughout history, Jews have not only found religious asylum in Turkey, but also become part of its society and assumed important roles in different fields.

Today 26,000 Jewish people live in Turkey. The vast majority live in Istanbul, with a community of about 2,500 in Izmir and other smaller groups are located mainly in Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Canakkale, Iskenderun and Kirklareli.

The Jewish minority is more complex than other minorities because it lacks homogeneity in language and history.

Most Jews are Sephardic whose ancestors fled from the Inquisition or were expelled from Spain and Portugal during and after 1492. In general they speak different mother tongues, such as Turkish, Ladino or French.

c) Rums (Greeks of Anatolia)

Rums in Turkey today are of Byzantine origin. In the 1970s they formed the largest non-Moslem minority in the country. Their number, however, is decreasing and according to recent estimates there are less than 25,000 Rums most of which are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Istanbul Rums are successfully engaged in business and finance and some live on the two islands of Gokceada and Bozcaada, off the entrance to the Dardanelles.

Anatolia, an Ethnic Mosaic
As previously discussed, Anatolia has been a melting pot of racially and culturally distinct groups since early prehistoric times. Throughout history, because of its location and fertility of the land, it has always attracted the attention of various peoples. These people, with different origins, have always lived in peace providing a good example for other countries.The policies of the National State, without taking into consideration the ethnical or historical differences, encourage people to unite under a “national identity”. In other words, the ethnic-historical identity will not always be identical to the official-national identity.

The number of the ethnic groups that take part in today’s Turkey is about 50. The major ethnic groups are Turks, Kurds, Circassians, Laz people of the northern coast, Caucasians, Georgians, Bosnians and Albanians.

The majority of these ethnic groups have lost their ethnic identity within the unity of Anatolia. However, there are some who still continue to preserve and nurture their identities, traditions and language.

A Regional Problem
The largest of the ethnic groups after the Turks is the Kurds. An estimated 5-10 million people are ethnically Kurdish. The majority of these people speak Turkish and they do not live solely in the east or southeast but in all regions of Turkey.However, the Kurdish terrorist organization, PKK which has been active in the southeast of Turkey, claims:

1. The majority of people living in the southeast of the country are originally Kurds and therefore the region should be granted autonomy.

2. Kurds in Turkey are treated as second class citizens.

3. Kurds cannot use their mother tongue.

4. Kurds in Turkey are deprived of their political rights.

Their mottoes are “Freedom for the Kurdish Nation” and “War on behalf of Identity and Freedom”. Since the beginning of terrorism by the PKK in 1984, thousands of citizens and security staff have been killed or wounded. Thousands of terrorists have been caught.

This outlawed separatist terrorist organization, under the pretense of fighting for freedom, does not recognize any international laws and in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by conducting attacks, killing infants, women, men, old and young. They have also set hospitals and schools on fire and have killed teachers and doctors. The Turkish Armed Forces try to prevent attacks and protect civilians.

The PKK managed to give a false impression both to some people in the region and to the world at large. However this impression is not accepted by many countries and the PKK has been declared internationally as a terrorist organization and all activities of the PKK have been banned in those countries today. It is generally thought that the PKK is a separatist group which should not be confused with the Kurdish people and it is not considered representative of the Kurds.

The 10th article of the Turkish Constitution states that “All citizens are equal before the law with no discrimination as to language, race, color, political leanings, philosophy, religion and similar factors.” All citizens have the right to vote and to be elected. As a result, there have been many Kurdish generals, professors, politicians and citizens of prominence. The eighth Turkish president, Turgut Ozal, was of Kurdish origin.

Speaking Kurdish, publishing books, magazines and newspapers or the singing of Kurdish songs are not prohibited. But for the sake of unity and considering the richness of ethnic origins, the official language is Turkish.

Turks as Citizens of Other Countries
Turks living in other countries can be summarized as follows:

People who, from Central Asia, have not come to Anatolia with others.

People who have stayed out of the borders after the Republic.

People who have gone to other countries as workers.

When the borders of the Ottoman Empire became smaller after World War I and the foundation of the new Republic, many Turkish people chose to stay outside Turkey’s borders. Since then, some of them have migrated to Turkey but there are still many ethnically Turkish people living in different countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Syria and Iraq. Among these are Turkish Cypriots who form a problem on the island.

The Cyprus Problem
The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean is the homeland of two distinct peoples, one is Turkish the other is of Greek origin. The majority of these are Greek and they are the descendants of the people who came to the island in the year 1100 BC. The Turkish people on the island consist of those who came during the Ottoman Empire, 16C and those who migrated afterwards. These two peoples have different national, linguistic, cultural, social and religious characteristics. In 1960, independence and sovereignty were transferred to a joint bi-communal State on the basis of a contractual constitution, which created an equal partnership between the two peoples.

This partnership came to a violent end three years later as a result of disagreements between the two peoples.

The intervention of Greece and Turkey took place in the following years. In 1974, the military junta in Athens instigated a coup in Cyprus in an attempt to unite the country with Greece. Turkey used military force on the island to protect the Turkish population and war between Greece and Turkey was narrowly averted.

In the present political situation, there are two independent governments and administrations belonging to Greek and Turkish Cypriots in each the north and south of the island.

The core of the problem in Cyprus is the relationship between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, which is not one of majority or minority, but one of equal partnership.

The question to which an answer is sought today is this: “Can the Turkish and Greek Cypriots form a new political partnership in federal form through which they will peacefully share power on the basis of political equality?”

Emigration reached its peak between the years 1960-1970. In the beginning it was in the direction of Western Europe but later also to some Arabic countries. The number of people who have emigrated from Turkey, including their families is around 2.5-3 million. 1.6 million of these people live in Germany today.In order to contribute to the postwar reconstruction of Europe, the Turkish people were invited as “guest” workers. Those who were mostly from the so-called backward areas of Turkey did not always create a favorable image of Turkey in the countries to which they went.

Most immigrants in Western Europe are first generation and regard where they live as their home rather than as a temporary place of abode. For the second generation, the tendency to regard Europe as their home is understandably stronger.

Although they are increasingly becoming an important factor in the economies of those countries, in many instances they have not yet been given the right to stand or even vote in local elections.

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.