[This entry provides a broad survey of the history of Anatolia as known primarily from archaeological discoveries. It is chronologically divided into four articles:

In addition to the related articles on specific subregions and sites referred to in this entry, see also History of the Field, article on Archaeology in the Anatolian Plateau.]

Prehistoric Anatolia

V. Gordon Childe places the origins of his Neolithic Revolution in hypothesized “nuclear zones” where climate, environment, and human experience came together to catalyze the transition of human society from a food-gathering organism to a food-producing one (Childe, 1952, p. 23). These nuclear zones were limited to an arc of land from Egypt to Mesopotamia, the so-called Fertile Crescent. Although later scholarship considered Anatolian sites such as Çatal Höyük and Çayönü to be peripheral developments of the Levantine Neolithic tradition, the growing evidence from sites such as Aşıklı Höyük points to an autochthonous development within Anatolia. [See Çatal Höyük; Çayönü.] As a result, Anatolia has begun to take its place as one of the primary areas of prehistoric investigation in the Near East. It was in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods that humans acquired the capacity to manipulate their surroundings in ways still observable in the archaeological record.

Climate, Environment, and Domestication.

Much of Anatolia is situated along a broad plateau that stretches from the Aegean Sea to Iran. While this plateau may seem, at first glance, to be little more than monotonous highlands, careful inspection reveals a complex landscape composed of numerous microenvironments, each with its own peculiar set of ecological features (Yakar, 1991). Within the context of this ecological framework, the basic elements of soil, temperature, and precipitation had much to do with the success or failure of human habitation on the plateau (cf. Gorny, 1995b). Environmental studies indicate that the climate of Anatolia in the era preceding the Neolithic may have differed significantly from what it is today, with large areas inhospitable to human habitation (Butzer, 1970, 1982; Cohen, 1971). Climatic conditions seem to have ameliorated in Anatolia during the eighth millennium, making it conducive to settlement at sites such as Hacılar and Çatal Höyük. [See Hacılar.] Whether this climatic change was the prime catalyst behind the innovations of the Neolithic period is still uncertain, but what stands out is the dramatically different direction human culture took from that point onward.

Although humans had already begun to observe and experiment with the plants (and animals) in their environment, it was not until this moderating change in climate occurred that the “incipient agriculture” of the Epipaleolithic period finally gave way to a more formalized system of settlement and cultivation. [See Agriculture.] The system was characterized by dry-farming communities in which the inhabitants practiced cereal cultivation and animal husbandry. [See Cereals.] While village communities apparently sprang up before the development of plant domestication, there are indications that, in at least some cases (see below), animal domestication also preceded that of plants, especially in central Anatolia (cf. Yakar, 1991; M. Özdoǧan, 1995). [See Villages.] Other developments in social organization, ideology, architecture, and craftmanship followed on the heels of the food-producing revolution; exchange is also evident, even from earliest times. These cultural developments, however, represent only a small segment on a long and not necessarily straight continuum.

Neolithic Period

(c. 11000–5500 BCE). The earliest evidence of settled life in Anatolia dates to the Neolithic period (Singh, 1974; Mellaart, 1975; Todd, 1980; Yakar, 1991; Joukowsky, forthcoming), with settlement divided into two phases based on the absence or presence of pottery technology. Prepottery or aceramic settlements have been identified at Çayönü, Hallan Çemi, Nevalı Çori, Gritille, Aşıklı Höyük, and Suberde, with additional evidence coming from surveys (cf. Voigt, 1985; Todd, 1980; Meriç, 1993; Algaze, 1994; M. Özdoǧan 1995). [See Nevalı Çori.] Together they provide a broadening vista of Neolithic settlement in Anatolia.

Radiocarbon dating of the evidence of the Neolithic at Hallan Çemi places it in the ninth millennium, making it the oldest known permanent settlement in Anatolia (Rosenberg, 1994). Circular houses appeared in each of the two levels of occupation, whose economy was typical of a food-collecting site. Nearly all the faunal and botanical remains appear to have come from wild species—the exception being the pig, which may have been domesticated. [See Pigs.] This suggests that, contrary to earlier opinions, animal domestication probably occurred here (in the form of pig domestication) prior to the domestication of plants. Querns, grinding stones, and pestles, many of which were festooned with zoomorphic decorations, demonstrate that wild grains were processed. Other evidence points to fishing and nut and legume gathering supplementing the diet. [See Fishing.] While most of the chipped-stone industry is to be attributed to obsidian derived from the Van region, the microlithic repertoire has little in common with contemporary cultures—which may point to outside influences. Obsidian, copper (or perhaps just copper ore), and Mediterranean shells suggest that exchange also formed part of the Hallan Çemi economy.

The well-documented settlement at Çayönü (c. 8000 BCE) provides revealing data regarding the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to a village-farming economy (cf. Braidwood and Braidwood, 1982; A. Özdoǧan, 1995). Four phases of settlement cover some five hundred years and display unusual standardization in their plans. The phase I prehistoric settlement covered approximately 30,000 sq m at its peak and was occupied by several thousand inhabitants. The earliest structures in subphase I were primarily oval and set on virgin soil. Subphase II showed evidence of town planning, with a central square and buildings on a south–south-easterly axis. The dominant building style is the so-called grill building, which encourages ventilation. A terrazzo floor found in subphase III represents another innovation of the Çayönü inhabitants, and the “cell building” is the featured architectural type. The advanced style and arrangement of these architectural types may eventually provide some of the first real evidence of stratification and specialization (their architectural antecedents are still to be discovered).

Phases I and II at Çayönü yielded wild cereals, vetch, and nuts, supplemented by wild pig, goat, sheep, and deer. [See Sheep and Goats.] Evidence of domestication begins to appear by phases III–IV, with plants such as peas, lentils, and emmer joined by domesticated animals such as sheep, goat, and pig. The economy of Çayönü may have been augmented by copper production from a nearby mine. The site's pins, awls, and fishhooks represent the first known use of copper for fashioning tools; whether this copper was used in trade is unclear, but the increased use of obsidian from the Nemrud Daǧı region in phase IV does suggest that it could have been imported in the exchange.

Evidence regarding mortality for the site's inhabitants comes from the remains of more than five hundred individuals found at Çayönü. Of interest are the skeletal remains found associated with the so-called skull house, where the discovery of numerous skulls suggests a cult in which the skull played an important role. [See Cult.] Additional evidence revealing the religious and artistic sensibilities of the inhabitants is demonstrated by clay figurines found at the site, especially those that are early manifestations of the mother-goddess motif so prominent in later cultures. Although true pottery was absent, white plaster vessels occurred in the upper levels.

Nevalı Çori is the site of an aceramic village whose excavation was occasioned by the Atatürk dam project on the Euphrates River (Hauptmann, 1993). [See Euphrates.] Four levels of aceramic remains were recovered. Many of the twenty-seven tripartite structures excavated are of interest, but several are of particular note. House 13 yielded a terrazzo floor with several limestone stelae, one of which is 2.50 m high and portrays a human figure. The preceding level of the house produced several more carved stelae. The monumental sculptures are said to indicate the presence of a sanctuary. Several other buildings were constructed with cross channels running under the walls. Cattle was domesticated and cereals cultivated. [See Cattle and Oxen.] Flint was the stone of choice, but no obsidian has been discovered. Artistic motifs on several stone vessels may link the site with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B sites on the Levantine coast.

Farther to the west, in the heart of the plateau, is Aşıklı Höyük, one of Anatolia's most important Neolithic sites (Esin, 1991, 1995). The settlement displays thickly clustered houses and a double wall, one of stone and one of mud brick. Faunal remains indicate that wild sheep and goat were consumed, but there is no evidence of agriculture in the 15-meter-deep deposit. Ceramics were introduced in its later levels. The sophistication of the Aşıklı assemblage is evidence that Neolithic settlement in Anatolia was more than just an afterthought of Levantine developments.

The appearance of pottery at Neolithic sites in Anatolia is dated to about 6500 BCE. Çatal Höyük (East), perhaps the best-known site of the Ceramic Neolithic (Mellaart, 1967), was composed of buildings with contiguous walls and entryways through the roof. The solid exterior face of the village probably served as a simple defensive device. Utilitarian pottery is found in all thirteen of its excavated levels. Aceramic levels were not found but are thought to lie beneath the ceramic levels. The chipped-stone assemblage from Çatal Höyük is notable because the inhabitants made exclusive use of obsidian from local sources. The importance of this obsidian resource cannot be overemphasized, as discoveries of central Anatolian obsidian in places such as Jericho in Syria-Palestine are indicative of Early Neolithic exchange. [See Jericho.] Mediterranean shells, metal ores, and pigments not found locally provide additional evidence of an exchange network. Animal husbandry appears to have been important to the town's overall economy, with most of its meat coming from cattle. Hunting was still an important factor, however, as indicated by the bones of wild animals and hunt scenes depicted on the walls of buildings. [See Hunting; Wall Paintings.] Cult figurines, shrines with bucrania, plaster reliefs, and wall paintings reflect the town's religious disposition. The site comes to an end in about 5400 BCE but is succeeded by a settlement in the Early Chalcolithic period.

Hacılar (Mellaart, 1970) illustrates a Late Neolithic tradition somewhat farther west of Çatal Höyük and provides a key link with other Late Neolithic traditions. The Early Aceramic period (of which there were seven sublevels that ended in about 6700 BCE) ended with an abandonment of approximately one thousand years. The succeeding six levels (IX–VI), which span a period from about 5700 to 5600 BCE) represent typical Neolithic agricultural settlements that cultivated wheat and barley along with lentils. Only the dog was domesticated, and hunting still provided a supplement to the local diet. Pottery appears for the first time in level IX, and exquisite clay figurines, probable domestic cult statues, appear in Neolithic levels IX–VI.

In Cilicia the sites of Mersin and Tarsus maintained their close links with the Syro-Mesopotamian plain. [See Cilicia.] Central Anatolian obsidian found at Mersin illustrates the contact between Cilicia and the plateau. Köşk Höyük, located near Niğde, is again close to the obsidian sources (Silistreli, 1989). Not surprisingly, 90 percent of its chipped-stone assemblage is composed of obsidian. Its strategic situation leading to the Cilician gates, along with the obsidian and crafted pottery and figurines that parallel the Çatal Höyük assemblage, suggests an exchange of materials and ideas among Cilicia, the ῾Amuq, and the Levant. [See ῾Amuq; Levant.] Höyücek, near Lake Burdur, is important as a site that was a predecessor to the Late Neolithic (levels IX–VI) at Hacılar (Duru 1993). In the northwest, the earliest levels at Hoca Çeşme Höyük in Thrace also show connections with Hacılar levels IX–VI and provide clues about the widespread character of the Anatolian Late Neolithic (Özdoğan, 1993).

Neolithic innovations occurred in Anatolia over an extended period and in widely differing regions—establishing a tradition that was both rich and complex. Early on, settlements practiced a mixed economy composed of food gathering, food production, and exchange, with surplus goods leading to social complexity at places like Çayönü and Çatal Höyük. Pyrotechnological industries were in their initial stage of development, as evidenced by metals and pottery (Esin, 1995; Schmandt-Besserat, 1977). Artistic representations at Çatal Höyük and Nevalı Çori provide evidence of religious sensibilities and the ability to think in the abstract. Evidence of exchange provides a window to a complex extraregional perspective that must already have been taking shape at this early date (Yakar, 1991).

Chalcolithic Period.

The innovations and technologies that originated in the Neolithic period were expanded in the Chalcolithic period. Excavations and surveys bear witness to a widening network of settlements across a broad range of environmental settings (cf. Yakar, 1985; Summers, 1993; Efe, 1993; Parzinger, 1993; Algaze, 1994; Gorny et al., 1995c). The Chalcolithic is generally delineated into three chronological phases: Early (5500–5000 BCE), Middle (5000–4500 BCE), and Late (4500–3000 BCE). The emergence of the Anatolian plateau as an important center of settlement in the prehistoric period means that discussions regarding the Anatolian Chalcolithic must take into account not only chronological factors, but an expanded geographic range in which contemporary developments occur alongside each other on both the Syro-Mesopotamian plain and in the Euro-Anatolian regions.

Anatolia and the Syro-Mesopotamian plain.

The three phases of the Chalcolithic period in the Syro-Anatolian region developed gradually from the Neolithic period onward, with no indication of cultural upheaval. Hacılar I–V (Mellaart, 1970) remains the principle site for the Anatolian Early Chalcolithic. Animal husbandry probably existed at Hacılar just as it did at Can Hasan, where sheep, goats, cattle, and perhaps pigs were kept (French, 1972). The dog is the only animal for which there is evidence of domestication. Paleobotanical research discovered emmer and einkorn wheat, along with barley, lentils, pea, bitter vetch, pistachio, and almond. What set Chalcolithic Hacılar apart from other Anatolian settlements, however, was the red-on-cream pottery of levels II–V; its quality is unparalled throughout both Anatolia and the ancient Near East until much later times. In addition to the ceramics, a later phase of figurines was uncovered at Chalcolithic Hacılar. They lack the creativity and zest found in the earlier Neolithic examples and eventually degenerated into schematized violin-shaped examples in level I. The early levels remained unprotected, but a defensive perimeter was formed in level II by the construction of a fortification wall 1.5–3 m thick. The village showed evidence of specialization, with various industries located in their own sectors. Shrines in the site's northeast corner, along with the presence of mother-goddess figurines, indicate continuing religious sensibilities. The settlement was destroyed and then resettled. Its new inhabitants built an even stronger fortification wall. Hacılar I came to a violent end in about 4800 BCE and appears to have left no heirs to its rich traditions.

The Cilician towns of Mersin and Tarsus again represent the northernmost extension of the Syro-Mesopotamian cultural zone and provide a potential interface for connecting the Syro-Mesopotamian and Euro-Anatolian worlds. Early Chalcolithic Mersin (levels XXIII–XX) shows Halaf inspiration in its ceramic sequence, but the Middle Chalcolithic is poorly represented. The ceramic repertoire begins to show Ubaid influences in the Late Chalcolithic (level XVI), when the town was defended by a wall, a fortified gate, and a glaci (Garstang, 1953). A large residence and outbuildings give the settlement the appearance of a military quarters. The town was leveled by attack in about 4300 BCE.

The Middle Chalcolithic, is best represented by a string of settlements stretching along the Euphrates River from Lower Mesopotamia to the Middle Euphrates. Late Ubaid evidence found at sites along this route, such as at Değirmentepe, suggests that Mesopotamians expanded into the area in order to exploit the resources of the Middle Euphrates (Esin, 1989; Hendrickson and Thuesen, 1989). While the Taurus Mountains are generally considered to have been a barrier to intercourse between the Syro-Mesopotamian and Euro-Anatolian cultural zones, the presence of Ubaid pottery at Fraktin suggests that Mesopotamian influences could have penetrated into central Anatolia at this very early date. [See Taurus Mountains.]

In northeastern Anatolia there is increasing evidence of Trans-Caucasian culture by the end of the Late Chalcolithic (Sagona, 1984). The group's unique red-black polished pottery provides a reliable means of tracing this culture from the Caucasus into Anatolia; however, the sparcity of secure data makes it difficult to provide assess the group's impact on Anatolia's cultural development. The Late Chalcolithic period is best documented by another Mesopotamian intrusion. Following the lead of their Ubaid predecessors, Uruk elements settled in Anatolia as far north as the Middle Euphrates, at numerous sites along the river: at Habuba Kabira, Carchemish, Kurban Höyük, Samsat Höyük, Hacinebi Tepe, Noršuntepe, and most notably at Arslantepe (Frangipane, 1988–1989). [See Habuba Kabira; Carchemish; Arslantepe.] The widespread Uruk system collapsed suddenly in about 3000 BCE (Algaze, 1993; cf. Stein, forthcoming).

Euro-Anatolian zone.

Some studies postulate that at roughly the same time in which important developments were shaping Neolithic and Chalcolithic traditions on the Syro-Mesopotamian plain, intensive interaction between Europe and Anatolia was establishing independent links between the two regions. Prehistoric connections between Anatolia and the Balkans assume internal development rather than external influence, with a geographic range extending from the Hungarian plain to the southeastern stretches of Anatolia, where it is effectively cut off from contact with Mesopotamia by the Taurus Mountains (Özdoğan, 1993).

Evidence suggests two phases of contact: the first, beginning in about 5500 BCE (Thissen, 1993; Todorova, 1993)—or roughly contemporary with the Early Chalcolithic of the Syro-Mesopotamian region—and continuing until the beginning of the fourth millennium, when several elements may have been responsible for a cultural break. Among these elements were tectonic activity, higher temperatures resulting from climatic change, long periods of drought, erosion, changing sea levels, and/or nomadic invasions (Todorova, 1993; Lichardus-Itten, 1993). The resulting breakdown of existing social structures lasted approximately eight hundred years, during which time the affected areas witnessed mostly local development (Makkey, 1993; Todorova, 1993). The second phase, beginning at the end of the fourth millennium, saw a stabilization of environmental conditions, which led to the renewal of cultural interaction between southeast Europe and Anatolia (Todorova, 1993).

Evidence for the spread of Euro-Anatolian culture into central Anatolia comes first from sites in the northwest, such as Yarımburgaz (Özdoğan, 1991) and Ilıpinar (Roodenberg, 1993). It is also apparent at central Anatolian sites such as Alişar Höyük and Gelveri, where curvilinear-decorated pottery of the so-called fruchenstich technique is dated to between 4000 and 3500 BCE (Esin, 1993; Thissen, 1993; Gorny, 1995a). Graphite-slipped pottery found at Çadır Höyük and Alişar is linked with the Karanova VI Vinça D culture and provides a date between 3000 and 3500 BCE for settlement at both Alişar and Çadır (Thissen, 1993; Gorny, 1995a). Further evidence for the breadth of Late Chalcolithic culture comes from southwestern sites such as Elmalı (Eslick, 1992), Beycesultan (Mellaart, 1962), and Aphrodisias (Joukowsky, 1986), where cultural development may have some connection with earlier influences from Hacılar. [See Aphrodisias.]

The Chalcolithic period witnessed the dramatic development of earlier Neolithic themes. Food production began to take on a standard appearance across the plateau, with most of the major categories of plants and animals domesticated. Horticulture, however, does not seem to have made its appearance until the third millennium (Gorny, 1995a). The hunting and gathering of foodstuffs still augmented the Anatolian diet, but they were declining. Artistic expression reached a height in the pottery of Hacılar, and cosmological themes are recognizable in such religious motifs as mothergoddess figurines. Increasing social complexity seems to have fueled the competition for limited resources, which may account for the evidence of fortifications and major defensive systems at Mersin and Hacılar—evidence that betrays an ability to coordinate massive amounts of labor and capital.

By the beginning of the third millennium (Early Bronze Age I) there were increasing points of contact along the Euro-Anatolian and Syro-Mesopotamian interface. That barrier gradually broke down, however, and an increasing orientalization of the Anatolian plateau took place that greatly influenced interaction between Anatolia, Syria, and Mesopotamia in the historical periods.


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Ronald L. Gorny

Ancient Anatolia

Archaeological discoveries in the modern era have brought to light a remarkable series of indigenous civilizations that arose in Anatolia during the Bronze Age (c. 3000–1200 BCE) and in subsequent centuries before the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 330s BCE. Nourished by the region's rich subsistence base and coveted metal resources, these civilizations developed distinctive forms of material culture, religion, and writing. At the same time, they were influenced and enriched by ongoing contacts with their neighbors. As with other areas of the Near East and Aegean, the initial impetus for exploring Anatolia's pre-Roman past came from European and American interest in tracing civilizations known from the Bible or from Greek epic and historical tradition. Organized archaeological investigations thus began in the nineteenth century with searches for Homer's Troy, the Greek cities and Anatolian kingdoms of Herodotus's accounts, and the biblical Hittites. The rediscovery and documentation of other native and of prehistoric cultures followed during the twentieth century, together with efforts to explore areas once considered peripheral or provincial.

Writing, and hence the earliest evidence for linguistic, ethnic, and historical labels, is first attested in Anatolia shortly after 2000 BCE. [See Writing and Writing Systems.] These records, the archives of Assyrian merchants from northern Mesopotamia, document several ethnic and linguistic groups residing in central Anatolia, and they also tie the archaeological sequences of the region to Mesopotamian absolute chronologies. For the Early Bronze Age (c. 3000–2000 BCE), dates in years are obtained by radiocarbon dating and by cross-dating sites using isolated artifacts that supply synchronisms with the absolute chronologies of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt. Throughout the period, archaeological sequences recovered from stratified sites furnish relative chronologies.

Bronze Age metal technologies had a profound impact on the location and organization of settlements, material culture, and commercial networks in Anatolia. [See Metals, article on Artifacts of the Bronze and Iron Ages.] Bronze, silver, and gold were highly prized for weapons, tools, and personal ornaments, and the influence of these prestige materials can be seen in the metallic shapes, colors, and highly burnished surfaces of contemporary ceramic vessels. Stimulated by the demand for metals, trade in both raw materials and finished goods supplemented the settled subsistence economy based on dry farming and animal husbandry already established in Neolithic times.

Sites of this period display distinctive regional styles in architecture, ceramics, metalwork, and burial customs, perhaps reflecting different ethnic groups organized in small states. The site of Hisarlik, near Çanakkale, illustrates the material culture of northwestern Anatolia in this period. Long identified as the Troy of Homer's Iliad, the site is located in rich farmland, with access to the sea; its fortified citadel enclosed several buildings of a particular plan known as a megaron. [See the biography of Schliemann.]

Quantities of gold and silver vessels and jewelry preserved in a number of “treasures” testify to a highly developed metalworking industry and a wealthy elite. [See Jewelry.] Many of Troy's important commercial and cultural contacts were clearly by sea, for similar forms of architecture, ceramics, and metalwork are found at sites along the western coast and on offshore islands. On the southern coast, at the site of Karataş-Semayük near Elmalı, west of Antalya, a fortified citadel enclosed structures of megaron plan. In contrast to Troy, where no third-millennium burials have yet been found, Karataş yielded an extensive cemetery of inhumations placed in large ceramic storage jars, or pithoi. This form of burial was also customary in west-central Anatolia, where it continued into the early second millennium BCE. [See Jar Burials.] Still farther east, at the coastal site of Tarsus (Gözlü Kule), near Adana, architecture, ceramics, and metalwork similar to styles attested at Troy and Karataş demonstrate the range and importance of seagoing contacts in this period. [See Seafaring.] In north-central Anatolia, at the site of Alaca Höyük, stone-lined cist burials richly equipped with metal vessels, jewelry, and weapons probably belonged to the ruling elite. Elsewhere in central Anatolia, as at Alişar Höyük and Kültepe, fortification walls enclosed settlements with modest architecture and simple inhumation burials; large-scale buildings served as residences and administrative centers for the rulers or communal functions, such as temples. In eastern Anatolia, little-known archaeologically in this period, ceramics and metalwork reveal links with northern Mesopotamia and the Caucasus Mountains.

No written records explain the religious beliefs or practices of EB Anatolian cultures. Ceramic or metal sculptures of bulls, stags, and felines, among other animals, are often interpreted as representations of deities or of animals associated with particular deities. Illustrations of deities and their animals, or textual descriptions of such images, are found in central Anatolia in the second millennium BCE. Some of the same animals appear to have been worshipped in central Anatolia in Neolithic and Chalcolithic times, indicating a remarkable continuity in cultic expression over a period of several millennia.

A series of destruction levels at sites in western Anatolia from the mid- and late third millennium has been thought by some scholars to indicate the arrival of peoples speaking Indo-European languages, whose presence in central Anatolia is first documented by personal names mentioned in the Assyrian merchants' archives. [See Indo-European Languages.] However, where the homeland of the Indo-European speakers was located, and hence the route or routes by which they entered Anatolia, and when, are issues currently under debate.

Beginning in the Middle Bronze Age (2000–1600 BCE), and continuing into the Late Bronze Age (1600–1200 BCE), written records supplement archaeology in documenting political and economic organization, as well as ethnic and linguistic makeup. The earliest written records found in Anatolia are the commercial archives of merchants from northern Mesopotamia. Written in the Old Assyrian dialect of Akkadian, one of the Semitic languages of Mesopotamia, in cuneiform script, the records consist of small clay tablets and the clay envelopes in which they were originally enclosed. [See Cuneiform.] By far the largest merchant archives have been excavated at Kültepe, ancient Kaneš, near Kayseri in central Anatolia, furnishing evidence for the organization of the trade. [See Kültepe Texts; Kaneš.] Private, family-based firms established in Aššur, the capital of the Assyrian state of northern Mesopotamia, arranged for the export via donkey caravan of textiles and garments and a metal, probably tin, in exchange for silver and gold. [See Aššur; Textiles; Transportation.] This trade was conducted by Assyrian commercial representatives, who established permanent residence at some twenty centers in central and southeastern Anatolia and northern Syria; the trade continued for at least three generations. [See Assyrians.] The texts also provide a glimpse of the local communities with whom the foreign merchants did business and occasionally intermarried. References to local Anatolian rulers suggest a political framework of small, independent states, occasionally united in temporary alliances through the efforts of a powerful individual. The merchants and their families lived in houses and used furnishings and utensils indistinguishable from those of the local residents.

Imported from Mesopotamia, the Akkadian language and cuneiform script seem not to have been adopted for use by native Anatolians. Many documents are sealed with cylinder seals, however, a Mesopotamian invention that spawned a native Anatolian style depicting local deities and scenes of worship. [See Seals.] Impressions of these seals are found on clay envelopes alongside those of Mesopotamian and North Syrian glyptic styles. The indigenous form of seal was the stamp, which was used along with the cylinder, and continued after trade with Assyria ended.

In about 1750 BCE, the merchant settlements and local communities were destroyed and abandoned. Perhaps a century later, a people known as the Hittites established a new political order from their capital city, Ḫattuša, today called Boğazköy. [See Hittites; Boğazköy.] Earlier the site of an Assyrian merchant colony and local settlement, Ḫattuša served as the capital of the Hittite Old Kingdom (1650–1400 BCE) and Empire (1400–1200 BCE) almost continuously for more than four hundred years. From this regional base, the Hittite kings gradually expanded their domain by frequent military campaigns and came to rule over most of central and southeastern Anatolia.

The language of the Hittites has been preserved in extensive cuneiform records on clay tablets recovered from Ḫattuša. Known in the texts as Neshite, it belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. Two other languages preserved in the archives, Luwian and Palaic, are closely related to Hittite. [See Luwians.] The archives also include texts written in Akkadian, the Semitic language of Mesopotamia; Hurrian, a non-Indo-European language spoken by the Hittites' neighbors to the southeast; and Hattian, another non-Indo-European language apparently spoken by the pre-Hittite inhabitants of central Anatolia. [See Akkadian; Hurrian.] Among the contents of the archives are royal laws, decrees, edicts, treaties, and letters; annals; literary works, epics, and myths; and a vast number of religious texts relating to festivals, rituals, and incantations. The cuneiform script continued as the principal writing system until the end of the empire. In addition to cuneiform, the Hittites also employed a hieroglyphic writing consisting of pictographic signs. A writing system of Anatolian invention, the hieroglyphic script was used on personal seals and on stone monuments carved with figured scenes. The language of the hieroglyphic script was not Hittite but Luwian, its close kin also written in cuneiform script on texts found at Ḫattuša.

From their political heartland in north-central Anatolia, the Hittite kings ruled over an ethnically and linguistically diverse empire. At its maximum extent, in the thirteenth century BCE, Hittite influence—if not outright political control—reached far into west-central Anatolia. In this region, the Hittites came into conflict with a power called the kingdom of Arzawa, which seems to have occupied the coastal regions of western and southern Anatolia, and whose language was Luwian. Arzawa was destroyed by the Hittites in about 1350 BCE. Farther west lay the state known in Hittite texts as Aḫḫiyawa, which has long been identified by some with the Mycenaean (Achaean) Greeks. The Hittite kings maintained active diplomatic exchanges with the great empires to the south and east: the Mitanni, centered in northern Syria and Mesopotamia; Egypt; Babylonia; and Assyria. Egyptian doctors and Babylonian sculptors were invited to the Hittite court by the king himself, and diplomatic marriages were arranged among the immediate members of these empires' ruling families. The close relationships the kings enjoyed with their counterparts in neighboring empires are richly illustrated by the Amarna letters, royal correspondence written in Akkadian and found at the site of Amarna in Egypt, dating principally from the reigns of pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhenaten (c. 1360–1330 BCE). [See Amarna Tablets.] Yet, at the same time, the Hittites fought with Egypt over control of Syria's rich farmlands and thriving coastal ports. Finds of raw materials, such as ingots, together with luxury finished goods, demonstrate that extensive trade and perhaps also diplomatic contacts flourished in the Aegean region. The Hittite Empire, through its important port at Ugarit, was an active participant. [See Ugarit.]

Ḫattuša housed impressive buildings of administrative and religious function, surrounded by monumental fortification walls pierced by a few elaborate gates with carved sculptural decoration. Massive stone foundations, hewn with harder stones or iron tools, also secured mud-brick walls with timber framework for palace structures, in which the extensive archives mentioned previously were found. On higher ground, above the palace-citadel, a religious precinct housed some thirty temples almost identical in plan, probably built in one massive phase of construction during the thirteenth century BCE. Below the palace-citadel a monumental temple adjoined by extensive storage facilities was apparently dedicated to the Hittites' chief deities, the storm god, Tešub, and sun goddess, Hepat (see below). Outside the capital few sites have been intensively excavated, but at least several smaller cities boasted architecture and sculpture emulating imperial fashions: modest palaces, city walls decorated with figural relief sculptures, and guardian gate figures. Ceramic styles throughout the empire are virtually identical to those found at Ḫattuša, perhaps suggesting a centrally administered industry.

Texts found in the Ḫattuša archives, together with remains of temples and other cult sites, furnish information on the religion of the Hittites. Their pantheon consisted of male and female deities personifying forces of nature, but it also included deities of the Syrian and Mesopotamian religions. The iconography of the pantheon is known from relief preserved at cult sites, especially the rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya, near Ḫattuša. The deities were often associated with a particular animal, whose image could be worshipped as a representative of the deity. Iconographically, some are closely related to deities depicted in the native Anatolian seals of the Assyrian merchant colonies (see above). Cult sites, usually consisting of a stone monument or rock face carved with a scene of worship, have been found over a wide area of Anatolia, supplementing textual documentation for an extraordinarily active calendar of religious festivals celebrated by the Hittite king and queen throughout the empire.

In about 1200 BCE, Ḫattuša was destroyed. The reasons for the destruction of this and other Hittite cities, and the subsequent collapse of the empire, are not well understood. Presumably, there were significant movements of peoples throughout Anatolia that succeeded in disrupting the empire's established political and military authority. Whatever the cause, the site of Ḫattuša was virtually abandoned for some time and never again supported a major city.

For the period beginning in about 1200 BCE, known in archaeological terms as the Iron Age, almost everywhere in Anatolia a “dark age” followed the end of the Hittite Empire. Yet, many imperial traditions lived on in southeastern Anatolia and northern Syria, formerly border provinces. There, small kingdoms were established, probably by 1000 BCE, when hieroglyphic inscriptions in the Luwian language again appeared on stone monuments. As with the hieroglyphic script of Hittite imperial times, these texts were mostly official and highly restricted in content, consisting primarily of commemorative and dedicatory inscriptions, boundary markers, and land grants. The Neo-Hittite states also continued imperial traditions of monumental stone architecture and reliefs decorating city walls and gates. Also beginning in about 1000 BCE, the Arameans, a Semitic-speaking people, moved into northwest Syria and established neighboring, and sometimes rival, states. [See Arameans.] The Arameans wrote their language using the Phoenician alphabetic script, but drew on Hittite traditions for monumental stone architecture and sculpture. [See Phoenician-Punic.] Located on or near the Euphrates River and in control of the lucrative trade routes between Mesopotamia and the Syrian coast, the Neo-Hittite and Aramean states were well suited to prosper. Beginning in the ninth century BCE, they came under the influence and then the political control of the Neo-Assyrian Empire centered in northern Mesopotamia. By the end of the eighth century BCE, the states were forced to pay tribute to the Assyrians.

In eastern Anatolia, the Bronze Age traditions of cuneiform script and interaction with Mesopotamia and Syria continued in the first millennium BCE in the kingdom of Urartu. [See Urartu.] Centered around Lake Van, this kingdom came to power in the early first millennium BCE, a rival state on the northern frontier of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Its non-Indo-European language, apparently related to Hurrian, was written in cuneiform and has survived in many official and commemorative inscriptions. At its greatest extent, in the ninth century BCE, Urartu extended well into the regions occupied now by the Republic of Armenia and Iranian Azerbaijan. Like the Neo-Hittite states, Urartu was conquered and destroyed as a political entity by Assyrian armies in the eighth century BCE. Urartu also engaged in diplomatic and commercial exchanges with Phrygia, and perhaps also with North Syria.

By contrast, in the first millennium BCE, the kingdoms of central and western Anatolia borrowed alphabetic scripts to write their Anatolian languages. Inscriptions in Phrygian, Lydian, Lycian, and Carian are mostly dedicatory or commemorative, and for narrative accounts scholars depend on the writings of Herodotus (fifth century BCE), a native of the Greek town of Halikarnassos on the southwest coast of Anatolia. [See Lycia.] During the early first millennium BCE, settlers from mainland Greece established colonies on the western and southern coasts of Anatolia, and later along the Black Sea coast. While closely tied to their mother cities, these colonies prospered through their economic interaction with Anatolian states, with whom they were also linked culturally.

West-central Anatolia came under the control of the Phrygians, an Indo-European-speaking group that seems to have migrated there from the far northwest, probably originally from Thrace, reaching central Anatolia perhaps in about 1100 BCE. Phrygian inscriptions, mostly votive, are found on rock facades, altars, and small objects. Excavations at the Phrygian capital of Gordion, west of Ankara, have uncovered remains of fortifications, monumental buildings, and impressive tumulus burials whose rich contents suggest that their occupants were members of the ruling family. [See Gordion; Tumulus.] Cremation seems to have been the more typical burial form. Herodotus and later Greek tradition are the principal written sources on the Phrygians and their kings, especially Midas, who may also be the ruler, Mita, mentioned in Neo-Assyrian records. In outdoor cult places and in city temples, the Phrygians worshipped above all Cybele, an earth goddess of longstanding Anatolian tradition. Gordion was destroyed in about 700 BCE, apparently by invading Cimmerians from the north, whose attacks on Anatolia were recorded in both Greek and Neo-Assyrian sources.

The downfall of the Phrygians enabled another Anatolian kingdom to extend its domination toward the plateau. Until its conquest by the Achaemenid Persians in the 540s BCE, the Lydian kingdom of western Anatolia was ruled from its capital at Sardis, east of Izmir. [See Sardis.] During the seventh century and into the first half of the sixth century BCE, the kings of Lydia, especially Croesus, acquired wealth and status that became legendary in later Greek tradition. The history of Lydia and its links with the coastal Greek cities under its control are known principally through Herodotus's accounts; inscriptions in the native language are few and mostly votive in content. Lydia also exchanged diplomatic envoys with the Neo-Assyrian court.

After Croesus’s defeat by Cyrus, king of Persia, the Achaemenid Empire acquired the vast and rich region of Anatolia. The Achaemenid domination of Anatolia introduced new cultural elements, including languages and scripts, religion, and artistic traditions. Aramaic, the bureaucratic language of the Achaemenid Empire, has been preserved in the form of inscriptions carved on grave stelai or on small objects such as cylinder seals. [See Aramaic Language and Literature.] Inscriptions naming Iranian deities or their amalgamations with Anatolian or Greek counterparts demonstrate that Iranian religious beliefs were also introduced into the region. Under Darius (r. 520–486 BCE), the empire was organized into provinces called satrapies, ruled by a governor, or satrap, usually a member of the royal family. In western Anatolia, the satrapies centered at Sardis and Daskyleion are known in part through Greek accounts describing the conflict between the Greeks and Persians. Archaeology has contributed additional information, showing that the satrapal capitals fostered a rich and varied artistic mix combining Greek, native, and Iranian traditions. Farther south, in Lycia, inscriptions in Lycian, Greek, and Aramaic, together with extensive archaeological remains, document a similar cultural flowering under local dynasts who ruled for the Achaemenid Empire.

The invasion of Macedonian armies led by Alexander the Great, which began with the empire's westernmost possessions in Anatolia in the 330s BCE, brought the Achaemenid Empire to an end. In his sweep through western Asia, Alexander attacked and burned many of Anatolia's great cities. In 333 BCE he defeated the last Achaemenid ruler, Darius III, at the battle of Issus, near modern Iskanderun.

[See also Alexandrian Empire; and Persia, article on Ancient Persia.]


  • Akurgal, Ekrem. Die Kunst Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander. Berlin, 1961. Well-illustrated survey of the native arts of Anatolia in the first millennium BCE, with special reference to central and western Anatolia. Find it in your Library
  • American Journal of Archaeology. Includes a yearly illustrated newsletter reporting on excavation and survey results in Turkey, covering the Palaeolithic through Byzantine periods. Initiated by Machteld J. Mellink, “Archaeology in Asia Minor/Anatolia” (1955–1993), the newsletter is now written by Marie-Henriette C. Gates, “Archaeology in Turkey” (1994– ). Find it in your Library
  • Bittel, Kurt. Die Hethiter: Die Kunst Anatoliens vom Ende des 3. bis zum Anfang des 1. Jahrtausends vor Christus. Munich, 1976. Richly illustrated survey focusing on art and architecture, beginning with cultural developments of the Early Bronze Age. Find it in your Library
  • The Cambridge Ancient History. Vols. 1–3.2, 4. Cambridge, 1971–1988. Contains authoritative chapters on the archaeology and history of Anatolia from the Early Bronze Age through the Achaemenid period. See essays by James Mellaart, Hildegard Lewy, R. A. Crossland, Albrecht Götze, R. D. Barnett, Carl W. Blegen, Machteld J. Mellink, J. D. Hawkins, J. M. Cook, and Olivier Masson. Contributions treating the Bronze Age, especially archaeological topics, are out of date and need to be supplemented by preliminary or final publications mentioned in the yearly newsletter of the American Journal of Archaeology (see above). Find it in your Library
  • Gurney, O. R. The Hittites. Rev. ed. London, 1990. Highly readable and useful introduction to the history, languages, and archaeological remains. Find it in your Library
  • Haas, Volkert. Geschichte der hethitischen Religion. Leiden, 1994. Detailed scholarly synthesis. Find it in your Library
  • Sasson, Jack M., et al., eds. Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. New York, 1995. Articles on Anatolian history, art, and archaeology, written by specialists for a general readership; illustrated, with annotated bibliographies. Find it in your Library
  • van Loon, Maurits N. Anatolia in the Second Millennium B.C. Leiden, 1985. Find it in your Library
  • van Loon, Maurits N. Anatolia in the Earlier First Millennium B.C. Leiden, 1991. This and van Loon's volume above examine the rich repertoire of religious iconography in the light of archaeological and textual sources; abundantly illustrated and full of insights. Find it in your Library

Ann C. Gunter

Anatolia From Alexander to the Rise of Islam

The Hellenistic age in Anatolia opens with the arrival of Alexander the Great, king of Macedon, at Troy In 334 BCE, from whence he launched his conquest of the Persians and united the Greeks, or Hellenes, on both sides of the Aegean Sea. Final victory against Darius III was achieved at the battle of Issus, near Syrian Antioch, In 333 BCE. [See Antioch.] Henceforth, Greek culture and institutions, already established to some extent in the western cities, predominated in Anatolia. A uniform culture and the Greek language supplanted local styles and dialects. Predominant was the foundation of cities governed by Greek political institutions, a council, popular assembly, and college of magistrates. The gymnasion was the key cultural and educational institution. The Persian oligarchy was supplanted by principles that were democratic by the standards of the day.

Alexander died In 323 BCE. Within twenty years his empire was divided into four kingdoms ruled by his successors (diadochoi) and Hellenistic monarchy emerged. The attributes of kingship appear on coins and sculpture. [See Coins.] Anatolia north of the Taurus Mountains was ruled by the Seleucids, descendants of Seleucus, one of Alexander's generals. [See Seleucids.] The ruler of Thrace, Lysimachos, rivaled Seleucid control in Anatolia until he was defeated by Seleucus I at the battle of Korupedion In 281 BCE. South of the Taurus, Lycia and Pamphylia belonged to the Ptolemies, who ruled Egypt. [See Lycia; Ptolemies.] The cities on the Aegean coast, descendents of the Greek colonies, remained nominally free. Cappadocia, Pontus, and Bithynia remained independent kingdoms. [See Cappadocia.] In the early third century (c. 280 BCE), a semi-independent kingdom arose in the west, ruled by the local Attalid dynasty established at Pergamon. [See Pergamon.]

These changes had profound cultural effects strongly elucidated by the archaeological record. Inscriptions, many collected before the era of controlled excavation and published in a systematic corpus, Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua, are as important as historical texts in revealing the major players, social and political organization, and changes in religion and occurrence of festivals. The network of roads the Persians established was expanded both for the movement of troops and for travel and trade. [See Roads; Transportation.] Coins were minted by kings and by cities. A single standard for silver and gold prevailed over much of the Hellenistic world, and the issuance of bronze coins in small denominations led to a monetary economy. Coins were also used as propaganda: for example, coins show Alexander with the power and attributes of Zeus. Patterns of overseas trade have been established through analysis of ceramics, their stamps, and graffiti.

A Celtic tribe from Europe, the Gauls, or Galatians, invaded Anatolia In 278 BCE. Within ten years the Galatians had acquired extensive territories and wealth through plunder and extracting protection money from cities. In the mid-third century BCE, the Galatians and their allies in Bythinia were defeated in a decisive battle by the king of Pergamon, Attalus I. In celebration of this victory, a great altar decorated with reliefs and two sculptures—a dying Gaul by Epigonus and a warrior and his wife committing suicide—were set up in the precinct of the Temple of Athena at Pergamon, establishing it as an artistic center that rivaled Athens and extended far-reaching influence into the Roman imperial period.

The majority of the Gauls moved into Phrygia, which was renamed Galatia. Although partially hellenized, they retained their own material culture, a distinctive political and social organization, and their own language, still spoken in Late Antiquity. Their customs included human and animal sacrifice, which has been graphically confirmed by skeletal finds at Gordion. [See Gordion.]

Hellenistic Cities.

In the Troad, Alexander instructed that Ilyum be rebuilt. It was later overshadowed by Alexander Troas and joined in the Ilian foundation with Assos, Parium, and Lampsacus. Cyme, Myrina, Gryneum, and Elea (the port of Pergamon) were established. The Ionian cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Priene, and Colophon were moved, largely because silt had filled in the harbors and created unhealthy marshes. [See Assos; Ephesus; Priene.] The new cities show the development of planned complexes in which individual buildings were designed to fit a visually unified whole and the streets followed the rectilinear grid plan named for Hippodamus of Miletus. Open spaces were provided by sanctuaries, the palaestras of the gymnasia, and rectilinear agoras with stoas, often two-storied, on all four sides, except where they were built into the hillside, as at Assos and Pergamon. In some cases shops were built behind the colonnade; the east stoa of the South Agora at Miletus has back-to-back shops and at Alinda and Aigai shops and storerooms were built below the colonnade on the downhill side of the agora. [See Miletus.]

The classical orders were used freely for nonstructural decoration. [See Architectural Orders.] The Temple of Zeus at Olba in Cilicia, begun in about 170 BCE by Antiochus IV, ranks with the Olympeion in Athens as the earliest Corinthian temples. The Council House at Miletus exemplifies the new secular architecture and the use of composite orders. All cities had a theater with stage buildings and a stadium with seating supported by stone vaulting. [See Theaters; Stadiums; Building Materials and Techniques, article on Materials and Techniques of the Persian through Roman Periods.] Portrait statues stood in the theater, in the agoras, and along the streets, a reversal of earlier custom, which prohibited the representation of an individual before death. [See Architectural Decoration.] Although few statues have survived, many bases and dedicatory inscriptions remain to tell of the benefactions of individual citizens. [See Inscriptions, article on Inscriptions of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods.]

As a wealthy class of merchants and officials arose, grand residences were built, typically focused on an inner court and decorated with mosaic pavements, painted walls, and marble statues and furnishings. [See Mosaics; Wall Paintings.] These are known best through the well-preserved houses excavated at Priene. Furnishings were lavish, with marble stands and tables, ivory inlay, and bronze and silver embellishment. Terra-cotta figurines were much favored as ornaments and as dedications, and they reveal a great deal about styles of dress and daily activities (Myrina).

Post-and-lintel construction remained basic, but the arch and vault were introduced. [See Arches.] Sloping vaults covered the interior passages in the Temple of Apollo at Di-dyma. [See Didyma.] The tradition of fitted stone masonry without the use of mortar persisted.

A new style of city planning developed that was rooted in the ancient Anatolian acropolis palace. [See Palace.] It featured vertical planning and conformity rather than resistance to the topography. Pergamon demonstrates the most adventurous and dramatic development of this new concept of exploiting the terrain but regularizing it with terraces supported by retaining walls of large ashlars—once believed to be a Hellenistic innovation but now known to have occurred much earlier, at Sardis. [See Sardis.]

The deification of kings and the heroization of nobles and local potentates gave rise to the building of grand tombs. [See Tombs.] The most splendid is the tomb at Belevi, near Ephesus, begun after 300 BCE, possibly for Lysimachos. The tomb was reused by Antiochus II. In Lycia, rock-cut tomb chambers are faced with Greek facades, some showing Persian burial customs combined with Greek figural styles. [See Burial Techniques.]

Each city controlled the surrounding territory with farms, towns, sanctuaries, and landed estates. On the coast and along the east-west river valleys these territories were contiguous, but the density of urbanization diminished inland. Although many surveys have been carried out, analysis of country life is the area least elucidated by archaeology.

Hellenistic Temples and Religion.

Temples and their estates were central to the religious and economic life of Anatolia; temple states, ruled by priests, became strong centers of settlement in the interior and in the south, where cities were slow to develop. Temple estates were not secularized until the Roman period, but under Seleucid rule land was often taken from them to found cities. The ancient fertility gods worshiped at these cult centers gradually acquired Greek names and associations: for example, Attis at Pessinus, Zeus of Olba, and the many shrines to Artemis. [See Cult.]

In the west, cult centers flourished, some traditionally attached to the cities. One of the largest building projects was the Temple of Apollo, patron deity of the Seleucid kings, at Didyma (see above). The rebuilding of the huge Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was to make it one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Roman Rule.

The pressure of the expanding power of Rome was felt as early as 200 BCE, and by the first century BCE, after the conquest of Pompey, the remaining Hellenistic kingdoms were vassal states. Augustus annexed most of Anatolia to Rome, and under his reign the growth of urban institutions, a permanent military presence, and radical changes in the pattern of land ownership were witnessed. The institutions and ideals of the Hellenistic monarchs were continued and evolved as Anatolia was integrated into the social and economic organization of the Roman empire. Although Latin was the language of empire, the language of the educated classes in which official notices and dedications were inscribed remained Greek. [See Latin; Greek.]

From 25 BCE to 235 CE, Anatolia was organized into five major provinces—Asia, Bithynia and Pontus, Galatia, and Cappadocia, from which Tres Eparchiae was split In 140 CE—with the Euphrates River forming the eastern frontier. [See Euphrates.] The boundaries of the province of Asia remained firm, but the others, especially Galatia's, fluctuated. Administration depended on a network of cities and their dependent territories. Tax collection, provision of supplies, and transport for the armies and officials were all organized through the administration of the cities. Urbanization spread through the imperial foundation of cities and the consolidation of their territories. By the end of the Julio-Claudian period (68 CE), a network of cities was established in central Anatolia for the first time. For two centuries there-after, the Anatolian cities grew in size and importance and became the wealthiest in the empire.

The wealth of the Anatolian cities was, however, always derived from the land and the expansion of agriculture and stock raising. [See Agriculture.] Timber was brought down from the mountains and marble was one of the principle exports throughout the empire. Both the sculptors and sculpture from the workshops at Aphrodisias were found at Rome and other centers. [See Aphrodisias.] Salted fish (tunny), olives, grapes, and wine (Cappadocian wine rivaled that from Greece), grain, wool and skins from stock raising, and flax and linen woven in Cilicia were all widely exported. [See Olives; Viticulture; Cilicia.] Additional wealth was derived from silver and iron deposits, semiprecious stones, mica, and other mineral resources. [See Metals, article on Artifacts of the Persian through Roman Periods.] The huge harbor buildings at Aegean and Mediterranean ports bear witness to the extent of maritime trade. Underwater archaeology has just begun to reveal rich information from ship-wrecks and submerged harbors. [See Seafaring.]

In the Taurus/Pisidia, the Julio-Claudian emperors built roads to link the highland cities with the coast. By the end of the first century CE, a network of paved roads that was maintained until the fourth century crisscrossed the peninsula. The roads were built primarily by Vespasian for the military, but they facilitated travel and trade. In the second and third centuries, a system of rest houses and post stations developed. Vespasian established the limes on the frontier—forts linked by paved highways and auxiliary forts between them—and established garrisons, the most important at Ancyra.

Roman cities.

There was absolute continuity of the Hellenistic tradition in architecture and city planning under Roman rule, but the emphasis was more on secular than religious building. [See Cities, article on Cities of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods.] Changes in construction materials especially the use of vaulting and concrete, were not as dramatic as in the West. The notable contribution of Roman planners was to connect urban spaces with colonnaded thoroughfares that transected the city between well-defined gateways. Sagalassos exemplifies the Roman embellishment of the city with monumental entrances added to both agoras under Tiberius and Claudius, the building of a sanctuary of Apollo Clarius, probably under Augustus, and the building of triumphal arches, symbolic of Roman rule.

In 17 CE, an earthquake leveled twelve of the great cities in the west; hardest hit was Sardis. Rebuilding was on a strictly Roman plan under imperial direction. As the cities grew, new buildings and neighborhoods were connected by major streets having colonnaded sidewalks with shops behind them. The streets opened into colonnaded plazas that served as the commercial agoras and as gathering places. Statuary in every conceivable context—along the roadways, on facades and monuments, and on tombs and sarcophagi—celebrated the power of the emperor and the prestige of rich citizens. [See Sarcophagus.] Portrait sculpture became a major industry (e.g., at Aphrodisias). Recent evidence suggests Sagalassos was an equally important center for sculpture. Stonecutters of all types were required to chisel inscriptions and elaborate architectural ornament and to cut marble and other colored stones to be set in patterns on walls and floors. Schools of painters and mosaicists appear to have moved from city to city.

By the end of the second century every throughway had a fountain, some set in exedras (as at the great nymphaion at Miletus), some with elaborate aedicular buildings (e.g., at Hierapolis, Side). The bath-gymnasium became the architectural symbol of imperial culture. [See Baths.] Baths and fountains required vast amounts of water, which were provided by aqueducts. [See Aqueducts.] Placing the water supply outside the fortification walls was only made possible by the pax romana. Adequate drainage and waste disposal were the responsibility of the civic administration.

Entertainment was taken for granted by the populace. Theaters were modified to accommodate animal contests and many cities had an amphitheater. The best-preserved theater, at Aspendos, has a seating capacity for seventy-five hundred spectators.

Housing, needed for a vastly increased population, is best studied at Ephesus, where terraced houses reached five stories and were arranged in blocks, or insulae. They were richly furnished and decorated with mosaics, paintings, and cut-marble inlay.

Inscriptions document some key aspects of city life. Patriotism is revealed by dedications to the patris. Family members were celebrated through the naming of privately donated buildings, as the libraries at Sagalassos and Ephesus demonstrate. [See Libraries and Archives.] Pre-Roman cultural heritage was often celebrated: Tarsus and Aigai in Cilicia claimed Perseus as their founder, Nicaea was founded by Herakles, other cities claimed relationships with Argos, Athens, and Sparta. Under the Severan emperors building reached a zenith, and the network of cities attained its maximum geographic extent.

Imperial cult.

The imperial cult played an important role in the development of urbanism. In newly annexed areas the cult provided traditions that unified the populous: public sacrifices, festivals, games, wild-animal fights (venationes), and gladiatorial shows at which feasts were enjoyed and corn and oil distributed. Before taking the name of Augustus In 27 BCE, Octavian authorized dedications to Rome and the deified Julius Caesar at Ephesus and Nicaea and to himself at Pergamon and Nicomedia. At Aphrodisias the Sebasteion, the most elaborate temple complex to the imperial cult presently known, was established during the reign of Claudius (41–54 CE) through a private donation. The temple itself and the public buildings connected to it were often the first Greco-Roman buildings in the new cities of the interior.

Later Empire.

In the mid-third century, incursions by the Goths from the north and the Sasanian Persians and breakaway dynasts of Palmyra from the east and south caused the collapse of the empire's frontiers. [See Sasanians; Persians; Palmyra.] Throughout the peninsula hasty fortifications were built around the cities, often with material taken from public buildings. Widespread plague also contributed to an economic crisis. In response, Diocletian, who ruled from Nicomedia (284–305, instituted radical administrative changes: he created smaller provinces composed of the contiguous territories of the cities. Frontiers were strengthened and troops, who were paid in kind as well as in coin, were stationed in and near the cities. The authority of the city councilors gradually diminished under the strain of increased taxation, and the ancient autonomy of the cities was gradually lost. The transfer of lands to the church and consequent loss of taxes also contributed to urban decline.

The countryside, with its villages and landed estates, became the key factor in economic recovery in the fourth century. [See Villages.] When grain supplies from Egypt were inadequate, the capital was supplied from Anatolia, especially from Bithynia and Phrygia. Stock raising continued to be the predominant use of land on the central plateau. Neither erosion nor deforestation from the overexploitation of the land appears to have altered settlement patterns—the only geomorphological change to have done so was the silting up of the great harbors.

Scholarship has relinquished the old concept of “decline and fall,” largely as a result of the archaeological evidence, which shows continued urban life and even growth during the fourth and fifth centuries. The survival of classical culture is seen in writing and in the arts, especially sculpture (e.g., at Nicomedia, Nicaea, Ephesus, and Sardis). In the sixth century, the picture changed. Plague struck again and pressure from the Persians intensified. Treaties with them were made at an enormous price in gold. Justinian's building programs caused a further strain on local economies and manpower, while earthquakes disrupted the water supply and the aqueducts fell into disrepair. In general, the subdivision of and encroachment on monumental buildings and thoroughfares was widespread (e.g., at Sagalassos, Sardis, Ancyra). However, streets were repaired late into the century and a lively local commerce and small industry continued with the manufacture of pottery, glass, gilded jewelry, and utilitarian metal items—albeit often from recycled materials (e.g., at Sardis, Sagalassos). [See Glass; Jewelry.] Of continued scholarly debate is whether the evidence demonstrates an actual decline in society or a new pattern of settlement that was concentrated less in the city, foreshadowing the medieval society that emerged after the dark age that followed the Persian invasions in the seventh century (see below).

Judaism and Christianity.

The single most provocative development in Late Antiquity was the rise of Christianity, which was introduced into Anatolia by St. Paul in the first century CE. After the Christian church was legalized in the early fourth century, churches and other ecclesiastical buildings were built rapidly, sometimes preempting civic space such as the agora (e.g., at Sagalassos). [See Churches.] Pagan temples slowly went out of use or were converted to churches (e.g., at Aphrodisias). Burials were made in and around the churches, a change from the Roman prohibition of burial within the city. [See Burial Sites.] Political power transferred from the civic centers to the ecclesiastical realm. Excavation has enhanced the picture of personal piety through rich finds of seals and amulets, small flasks from pilgrimage sites, and Christian symbols on domestic pottery, glass, metal, gravestones, and sarcophagi. The material culture also demonstrates the persistence of pagan cult and superstition, especially the practice of magic.

The conditions under which Christianity spread so rapidly in Anatolia are complex. Archaeological evidence has illuminated the size and civil status of Jewish communities (e.g., the great synagogue at Sardis, an inscription at Aphrodisias, coins from Apamea in Phrygia showing Noah's ark). Jews had been resettled in Lydia and Phrygia by Antiochus III at the end of the third century BCE, and imperial directives had protected Jewish law and customs since the reign of Caesar. As is clear from the story of Paul’s visits to Galatia, related in Acts, the status of the Jewish communities was undoubtedly basic to the spread of the Christian message. Concurrently, a strong tendency to monotheism had developed in paganism with the rise of a “super god” (Theos Hipsistos, a term used also by the Jews to describe their God). Thus, the worship of an abstract god who dwelt above or replaced the anthropomorphic pantheon was fertile ground for the spread of Christianity even before Constantine, when it was accepted as the official religion, supplanting the imperial cult.

End of Antiquity.

The Sasanian Persians, under Chosroes II, took Antioch and Jerusalem In 614 CE, Alexandria In 617, and then turned on Anatolia. [See Jerusalem; Alexandria.] Coin finds at several Anatolian cities stop with the issues of 616/17, and there is evidence of destruction, burning, and population dispersal. Heraclius counterattacked and reestablished the eastern frontier, but the cities of Anatolia had suffered to such an extent they never recovered.

The history of central Anatolia during the seventh and eighth centuries is little known; excavation shows that churches were repaired and enlarged (e.g., at Amorium, Sardis, Aphrodisias), but little is known about the life of the inhabitants. A genuine dark age apparently ensued until the ninth century, for which some evidence is available. When recovery did occur, the cities that survived had retracted to walled acropoleis. The vast urban culture established under Greco-Roman domination was to some extent a thin veneer that disappeared after imperial rule was weakened and Anatolia became once again a land of villages and country estates.

[See also Alexandrian Empire; and Roman Empire.]


  • Brown, Peter. The World of Late Antiquity. New York, 1971. Social history, especially the deep effects of religious change rooted in Anatolia. Find it in your Library
  • The Cambridge Ancient History. Vols. 7.1, 8, and 9. 2d ed. Cambridge, 1984–1994. The best historical overview of the Hellenistic and early Roman period; the relevant sections are clear from the outline/contents. The separate plates to volume 7.1 provide notes and illustrations on sites and finds. Additional volumes of this edition are planned. Extensive bibliography. Find it in your Library
  • Cameron, Averil. The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity, 395–600. London, 1993. Provides extensive critical bibliography and analysis of the state of scholarship, situating Anatolia in a broader context. Find it in your Library
  • Foss, Clive. History and Archaeology of Byzantine Asia Minor. Aldershot, 1990. The articles reprinted here form the seminal study of the “disappearance” of the great Greco-Roman cities and the importance of archaeological evidence to historical reconstruction. Find it in your Library
  • Gates, Marie-Henriette. “Archaeology in Turkey.” American Journal of Archaeology 99 (1995): 207–255. The most recent summary of current fieldwork and new bibliography for sites in Anatolia, published annually (previously “Archaeology in Asia Minor” by Machteld Mellink). Find it in your Library
  • Hanfmann, George M. A. From Croesus to Constantine: The Cities of Western Asia Minor and Their Arts in Greek and Roman Times. Ann Arbor, 1975. Still a stimulating treatment of the creative synthesis of Greek and Anatolian contributions to the plastic arts and city planning. Find it in your Library
  • Lloyd, Seton. Ancient Turkey: A Traveller's History of Anatolia. London, 1989. Extraordinarily clear narrative history imbued with the author's close experience of the ancient sites, routes, and countryside. See especially chapters 12–20. Find it in your Library
  • MacDonald, William L. The Architecture of the Roman Empire, vol. 2, An Urban Appraisal. New Haven, 1986. The reciprocal relationship of Rome and its provinces in the development of urbanism and the imagery of empire. Limited in its point of view; see the review by Frank B. Sear, Journal of Roman Archaeology 1 (1988): 160–165. Find it in your LibraryFind it in your Library
  • Magie, David. Roman Rule in Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century after Christ. 2 vols. Princeton, 1950. Fundamental to the study of the Roman period. Find it in your Library
  • Mitchell, Stephen. Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 1, The Celts and the Impact of Roman Rule; vol. 2, The Rise of the Church. New York, 1993. Definitive treatment of the period from the conquest of Alexander through the fourth century CE. Thorough synthesis of textual and archaeological evidence, concentrating on central Anatolia. Extensive bibliography. Find it in your Library
  • Price, S. R. F. Rituals of Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor. Cambridge, 1984. Remains the basic work. Find it in your Library
  • Ramage, N. H., and Andrew Ramage. Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1991. Lucid and well-illustrated account. The authors' long experience working in Turkey results in more than usual emphasis on the artistic centers in Anatolia. A new edition is in press. Find it in your Library
  • Syme, Ronald. Anatolica: Studies in Strabo. Edited and completed posthumously by Anthony R. Birley. Oxford, 1995. Studies in the historical geography of Anatolia and adjacent regions, with reference to the Geography of Strabo. Find it in your Library

Jane Ayer Scott

Anatolia in the Islamic Period

Three phases mark the history of medieval Anatolia. From the seventh to the ninth century CE urban life and economic exchange shrank drastically; from the tenth until the twelfth century recovery occurred in towns, cities, and the countryside until the disruptions of Turkish immigration; and from the twelfth century onward an influx of pastoral nomads, a growth of regional trade, and the processes of conversion to Islam accompanied the splintering of political authority and the end of Byzantine power in the peninsula. During the first era, Byzantium ruled the peninsula supreme; in the second, central Anatolia became the home of the Seljuks of Rum; and in the third, Byzantium lost control over the coastal lands and the Seljuks ultimately disappeared before the Mongols and the Turkish beyliks (area ruled by a bey).

Despite the utility of such public works as the great bridge over the Sangarius (completed In 560) and the church of St. John at Ephesus of the emperor Justinian (527–565), the cost of his campaigns, as well as outbreaks of plague (beginning In 542), burdened his subjects and led to a pause in the prosperity of towns and cities. This prosperity came to an end following the destructive invasions of the Persians (613–626), who practically ended classical urban life in this corner of the Mediterranean. Once prosperous cities (Sardis [c. 616] Ephesus [c. 614], Ankara [622], Pergamon, for example) shrank to fortifications and villages, occasionally on nearby hills. Coin finds and the evidence from such sites as have been excavated or surveyed point to a substantial decline in economic life and the end of public works and social services.

A full recovery from the Persian devastation remained impossible for two full centuries because of Muslim raids that began In 641. Ankara in the center and Amorion in the southwest became centers of Byzantine defense, and many cities became walled or had their existing walls strengthened. The raids were disruptive but did not result in Muslim occupation of lands north and west of the Taurus range, and in areas untouched by Muslim raids there was a relative continuity, as in the monastic communities in Bithynia. Nonetheless, there is little Byzantine construction on the plateau beyond repairs that may be securely dated to the period from the Persian invasions to the Macedonian dynasty, and thus the era is justly termed a “dark age.” Cities became fortified, housing shrank in size and quality, and many settlements removed to better defensible hills: external threat and internal defense became key concepts.

Beginning in the mid-ninth century, the emperors of the Macedonian dynasty managed to stop the raids (after 863 they went on the offensive) and to restore peace and predictability to life on the plateau. Consequently, there is evidence of economic expansion and urban revival. A broad recovery may be posited from the restoration of the church of the Dormition at Nicaea (after 843), the church of St. Nicholas at Myra, the building, perhaps in the late ninth century, of the (pilgrimage?) church at Dereağzi (Lycia), a very large building for a remote hill country, and the tenth- or eleventh-century church of Üçayak. In the ninth century there also began an era of construction and elaboration of the rock-cut churches and monasteries of Cappadocia, in the Peristrema valley near Aksaray and the area centered on Göreme, where new building flourished from around 900 to about 1060.

Turkish migration into Anatolia began in the mid-eleventh century, and after the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan (1063–1073) defeated the Byzantines at Manzikert (1071) no line of defense prevented the Turks from raiding the plateau and even establishing a short-lived emirate at Nicaea. During the First Crusade, Alexios Komnenos (1081–1118) managed to reconquer Nicaea and to retrieve the coastal plains and the hill country of western Anatolia for Byzantium. During the twelfth century Seljuk and Danishmend leaders warred over the possession of central Anatolia, and only after the defeat of the Danishmendids (1178) and the crushing of a Byzantine army at Myriocephalon (1176) were the Seljuks, now established at Iconium/Konya under the leadership of Kılıj Arslan II (1155–1192), able to devote themselves fully to the elaboration of Perso-Islamic civilization in the peninsula; In 1156 the construction of the ῾Ala ed-Din mosque at Konya began, but no great resources were available for monumental building. The Seljuks began to strike silver dirhams in the 1180s, and their silver coinage, of a fineness superior to other Muslim coinages in the Levant, continued to expand until the end of the thirteenth century. To their west, during the early and middle years of the twelfth century the Komneni built a number of fortifications and walled many of their Anatolian towns (e.g., Achyraous 1139, Dorylaion 1175, Laodikeia [Laodicea] c. 1119, Lopadion 1130), and as the frontier stabilized on the western confines of the plateau after the Fourth Crusade, there was further economic development, including the growth of long-distance trade throughout the peninsula and across the political frontiers. Even during the period of Byzantine exile in Anatolia, from 1204 to 1261, there is evidence of an increase in wealth both in the “empires” of Nicaea and Trebizond: building of churches (e.g., Nicaea) and fortifications (such as Nymphaion, Pegai) resumed on a modest scale. There was, however, much more Turkish than Byzantine construction in Anatolia.

The fullest flowering of Seljuk civilization in Anatolia occurred in the generation before the Mongol defeat of the Seljuk armies at Köse Dağı (1243). The monumental constructions of the Seljuks, superior in number, quality, and size to Byzantine Anatolian architecture, reflect the wealth of their society; indeed, no fewer than ten Anatolian silver mines were in operation (and were Seljuk mint sites) during the century. The Seljuks conquered important ports (Antalya In 1207, Sinope In 1214) that allowed them to establish and reinforce commercial routes. The extent of trade, and its extension across the peninsula from Constantinople to Konya and from Konya to the Mediterranean or to Sivas and the east is best measured by the forty or more caravanserais built during this era (no Byzantine caravanserai is known). There was a great deal of mosque and tomb construction, and excavation of the country palaces of the Seljuks at Kubadiya and Kubadabad has begun (M. Zeki-Oral, 1949–1951; Katharina Otto-Dorn and Mehmet Önder, 1965–1966). The Rum Seljuk constructions of this era are known for their extensive use of calligraphic ornamentation and “stalactites” (muqarnas). During the entire century much of the monumental architecture was ordered by high officials of the government, and there was a good deal of building (besides at Konya) in Sivas, Tokat, Amasya, and Erzurum. The patronage of the sultans was either military or devoted to commercial use; and there was some patronage from the women of the royal family. The Mongols extracted an enormous tribute from the Seljuks, and after 1277 administered eastern Anatolia as a province of the Ilkhanate, but the economic expansion of the peninsula did not suffer greatly; In 1299 there were well over thirty mints striking silver dirhams, a figure not attained before or since. After 1243, however, there is little architectural patronage from the sultans, and most comes from the officials of state; there was, then, no letting up in construction. The Mongols were able to control eastern Anatolia into the fourteenth century, but the collapse of Byzantine defenses at the edge of the plateau after the recovery of Constantinople In 1261 led to the Turkish infiltration of the entire coastal areas, except for Trebizond and the eastern shores of the Marmara, by 1300, and the division of Anatolia into a number of beyliks, usually founded by independent chiefs, which lasted until the later Ottoman conquests. The mosques and other structures of the early beylik era are small, and among early Ottoman monuments they display Byzantine influence in building style (“Byzlamic,” in the terminology of Clive Foss).

Despite the political, cultural, and religious changes during this era, there were some constants. The incursions of the Turks before and with the Mongols strengthened the pastoral segment of Anatolian agriculture, but it had long been polycultural. Agricultural technology remained based upon earlier practices. By 1300, the conversion of Greek Christians to Islam was well under way but by no means complete, and there were inheritances from Christianity in the form of Islam practiced in the countryside.

[See also Byzantine Empire.]


  • Cahen, Claude. La Turquie pré-Ottomane. Paris and Istanbul, 1988. Standard survey of the Seljuks of Rum; the English version (New York, 1968) has fuller coverage but lacks documentation. Find it in your Library
  • Crane, Howard. “Notes on Saldjūq Architectural Patronage in Thirteenth-Century Anatolia.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 36 (1993): 1–57. Contains a full list of patrons and buildings, with helpful commentary. Find it in your Library
  • Foss, Clive. “Archaeology and the ‘Twenty Cities’ of Byzantine Asia.” American Journal of Archaeology 81 (1977): 469–486. Convenient summary of important work published in detail in later articles and monographs. Find it in your Library
  • Foss, Clive, and David Winfield. Byzantine Fortifications: An Introduction. Pretoria, 1986. Important study of method. Find it in your Library
  • Hendy, Michael. Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy c. 300–1450. Cambridge, 1985. Landmark study (to be used with caution) of the interaction of Byzantine economic, social, and monetary history. Find it in your Library
  • Mango, Cyril. Byzantine Architecture. New York, 1976. Authoritative, well-illustrated survey. Find it in your Library
  • Meinecke, Michael. “Ḳubādābād.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., vol. 5, pp. 285–286. Leiden, 1986. Find it in your Library
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. 3 vols. Oxford, 1991. The best digest of information on individual sites. The Encyclopaedia of Islam is uneven, as is its Turkish version, the Islam Ansiklopedisi, which is fuller on Anatolian cities. Find it in your LibraryFind it in your Library
  • Rodley, Lyn. Cave Monasteries of Byzantine Cappadocia. Cambridge, 1985. Emphasizes architecture rather than decoration. Find it in your Library
  • Tabula imperii byzantini. Vienna, 1976– . The best site surveys and discussions of sources bearing upon particular locales; profusely illustrated with excellent maps. Find it in your Library

Rudi Paul Lindner