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Day 3 - Museum of Anatolian Civilisations


After the museum I had to split at 3 in order to catch the inconveniently situated tourist office before it shut, which was a pain because the museum lay uphill right in the shadow of the beckoning Citadel. The girl on the desk had basic English but knew next to nothing about the parade I wished to catch taking place tommorrow, it had basically been a wasted journey and I had blown the chance to see the Citadel or another of the museums for nothing. Perhaps it showed something about the power of my enquiring mind though that every backpacker I met had relegated Ankara as only being worth a day. I was now struggling to fit all the distractions into 4. I wasnt sure if I was being thorough, obsessive or just plain daft. Later that night at one of the dodgy beer dens I watched Galatasaray beat Genclerberligi, the Istanbul boys won 1-0 but it should have been 5. It was also the night the clocks went back an hour and boy was I glad for it.


The Paleolithic gave way to the Neolithic circa 8000 BC, warmer climes allowing animal domestication and crops instead of hunter gathering (7250-5500BC). Started to make pottery and cook food. Wall paintings of hunting scenes and the earliest known plan of human settlement. Textiles created. During the Paleolithic 4 ice ages known as the Pleistocene Period occurred, Anatolia was not affected but remained cold. Neanderthal Man gave way to Homo Sapiens circa 40,000 years ago, better adapted to climate change but life expectancy was only 20-25.

Catal Hoyuk, near Konya, 6500-5600BC.

One of Anatolia's most ancient sites. Buildings of sun dried mud brick. No party walls, all houses were separate but no streets, people walked over the roofs where the entrances were also located. No external city walls. Walls plastered and white washed, some paintings. Buried dead under the houses once their flesh had been removed by vultures, known as excarnation, for the sake of hygiene. 40 shrines tell us they had beliefs. All Anatolian sites revered the naked female figure (not the only ones!) and pregnancy in particular. A mother goddess was the main idol, they were believed to be matriarchical societies. A well known figurine found at Catal Hoyuk shows the mother goddess giving birth on a throne of leopards. Nearby volcanoes provided obsidian (black glass) for nearly all weapons and tools. Bull heads were found in shrines which symbolised man gods. They used woolen cloth and made fish nets with it.

Chalcolithic Period

Copper tools developed, agriculture developed, first urban civilisations, first religious leadership who controlled the agriculture. First appearance of regional cultural variation, individual identity forming. Trade begins. Outer walls developed 4th millenium BC, oldest known fortress in Anatolia. First graveyards. First copper alloys eg. bronze. Silver was later discovered. Highly painted pottery and complex shapes become a form of art. Best site is Hacilar, Lake District. Male figurines first appear. Mother goddess figurines at Canhasan show matriarchical society continued in the Chalcolithic.

Alaca Hoyuk, Early Bronze Age (3000-2000BC).

Start to see bronze idols especially the stag statuettes, held up upon staffs. Gold also in much use, high quality craftsmanship becomes evident. Jewellry, gold jugs and goblets. Gold swastikas show it to be a very old symbol. Also worked in Electrum, an alloy of silver and gold. Painted pottery appeared at this time.


Kultepe/Kanis-Nesa near Kayseri, centre of the ancient Cappadocian Kingdom, important city of the Seljuk State. First capital of the Hittite state, the oldest international commercial centre. Assyrian merchants established them, paid tax to the Anatolian kings 1950-1750BC. Cuneiform tablets introduced to Anatolia, mainly trade records. Many Rhytons, animal cult figurines discovered, lions, kestrels, deer, bulls.


Stories of Sargon the Akkadian king. Starts "King Sarra-kin, the Akkadian king, king of the whole world, mighty king". Recounts how he conquered 70 "cities" in one day, then destroyed them. Also a legal report on the "Water Ordeal". The accused is thrown in the river and the river god allowed to judge. Those who survive are considered innocent. Wills quoted wives as the main beneficiaries, emphasising their important social status. Marriage documents decreed divorce punishable by fine for the husband and monogamy enforcable also. There was equality though and divorce permissible by mutual consent. In the slave trade, a boy Irna was sold by his family, to be released upon payment. Nae luck pal. Guitar shaped idols like the one I saw in situ at Vouni, depicts the mother goddess in curvy abstract form. Start to see mainly wheeled formed pottery. Stone moulds for metallurgy used.


Capital moved from Kanis-Nesa to Hattusa by Hattusili I after the Syrian trading colonies disappeared. Wained due to infighting for a while then became a renewed empire alongside Babylon and Egypt. Art flourished 1400BC until the empire collapsed 1200BC. One record found at Boyazkoy was the Treaty of Kades, the oldest ever. The bull was their weather god. An original bronze tablet was also found citing a border agreement between the Hittites and Tarhuntassa, the only original found. Upheaval circa 1200BC, Phrygians and "Sea People" arrived. The Phrygians created tumuli, over 100 to be found at Gordion. The largest, known as the Midas Mound is about 53 metres high, second largest in the ancient world. Too early to be Midas though, it may be Gordios. The skeleton inside was a man about 60, 1.59 metres high. Many bronze vessels including 3 large cauldrons accompanied him.


They came from SE Europe and founded their capital Gordion, believed to be from Macedonia. Became powerful until invasion of the Cimmerians circa 700BC. Came under control of the Kingdom of Lydia until falling to the Persians in 550BC. They worshipped Cybele, continuing the mother goddess tradition, usually represented together with lions. They introduced the cult to the Greek and Roman civilisations at Sardis. Their art was influenced by Assyrian, Hittite and west Anatolian styles eg. sphinxes, griffons. Fibulae (dress pins) are their most common and distinctive legacy, usually in bronze. Their bronze work is very accomplished. The earliest Anatolian glass vessel was found in one of the Gordion tumuli. Inlaid wooden furniture, largest and finest collection of wooden artifacts from the Near East. Phrygian script resembles Greek but it is not yet fully deciphered (thus the Macedonian heritage).


Established a state (Urartu) around Lake Van circa 1000BC, united to resist Assyrian attacks. The capital was Tushpa, modern day Van. Neither Semitic or Indo-european, they spoke a dialect of the Hurrian lingo, probably descended from it. Also used heiroglyphic script. Renowned for canal building and irrigation/drainage. Feudal system, city states under a ruler. They carved ivory and used sarcophogi. Stretched from Caucases to NW Iran, south to Malatya and Urfa. One of the finest metal producers.


Gilgamesh (meaning Master of Animals). Friezes of the Herald's Wall, Carchemish, Late Hittite period. Lion men, bull men, a chimera, griffons, winged horses, scorpion men, a winged demon. The Lion Gate, twin lions in top nick.


The Hittite Empire ended circa 1200BC, invaded by "Sea People", the "Aegean Migrations". They moved South and East until they disappeared after Assyrian incursion. Small city states didnt manage to centralise eg. Carchemish. They built walled cities with sculptured facades. They no longer used cuneiform but Hittite hieroglyphics instead.


The Hittite Empire fell due to the Aegean Migration. In its place Neo-Hittite, Urartian and Phrygian kingdoms took over. Greek peoples arrived in the West due to the Dorian invasion of Greece. They founded the Ionian civilisation. The Carian and Lydian civilisations flourished in SW Anatolia between 700-300BC. Lydia expanded east and incorporated Phrygia. Persia defeated Lydia in 546BC and ruled until 334BC. Eck the Great kicked them out and started the Hellenistic period. Upon the 4 way split on his death another area became the Kingdom of Pergamom. Strangely when the king died he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Since there was no invasion, regional identity was preserved. Costantinople was founded in AD330 and became the Eastern capital when the Roman Empire split. The Byzantine civilisation merged Roman, Christian and Anatolian art and lasted nearly 1000 years. The Turks raided them in the 10th Century to spread Islam and poured into Anatolia after the victory of Malazgirt in 1071. The Seljuk Turks swept west, made Iznik their capital and made it a province of the great Seljuk state. It collapsed and a new capital was founded in Konya. It was destroyed by the Mongols then Anatolia split into dynasties during the Beylik Period (1071-1300). Among the Turkic tribes were the "Descendants of Osman", the Ottomans. They increased their territory and founded their capital Bursa, then later Edirne. In 1453 they captured Istanbul and held their empire until World war I.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Turkey

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