Anatolia - History - Antiquity


Anatolia has been proposed to be the origin of the Indo-European language family. Using Bayesian phylogeographic analysis, a multi-disciplinary research team has proposed that the Indo-European language expansion coincided with the migration of Anatolian farmers occurring about 9000 years ago.

Eastern Anatolia contains the oldest monumental structures in the world. For example, the monumental structures at Göbekli Tepe were built by hunters and gatherers a thousand years before the development of agriculture. Eastern Anatolia, along side Mesopotamia and the Levant, is also a heart region for the Neolithic revolution, one of the earliest areas in which humans domesticated plants and animals. Neolithic sites such as Çatalhöyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori and Hacilar represent the world's oldest known agricultural towns.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia stem from the south east of the region, and are from the Mesopotamian based Akkadian Empire during the reign of Sargon of Akkad in the 24th century BC. Scholars generally believe the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians. The Hattians spoke a Northwest Caucasian language, and there is debate as to whether the Hurrian language was a Northeast Caucasian language, or a Language Isolate. The region was famous for exporting various raw materials, and areas of Hattian and Hurrian populated south east Anatolia were colonised by the Akkadians. After the fall of the Akkadian empire in the mid-21st century BC, the Assyrians who were the northern branch of the Akkadian people, colonised parts of the region between the 21st and mid-18th centuries BC and claimed the resources, notably silver. One of the numerous cuneiform records dated circa 20th century BC, found in Anatolia at the Assyrian colony of Kanesh uses an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines.

Unlike the Semitic Akkadians and their descendant Assyrians, whose Anatolian possessions were peripheral to their core lands in Mesopotamia, the Hittites were centred at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia by 2000 BC. They were speakers of an Indo-European language known as the "language of Nesa". Originating from Nesa, they conquered Hattusa in the 18th century BC, imposing themselves over Hattian and Hurrian speaking populations.

The Hittites adopted the Cuneiform written script, invented in Mesopotamia. During the Late Bronze Age circa 2000 BC, they created an empire, the Hittite New Kingdom, which reached its height in the 14th century BC, controlling much of Asia Minor. The empire included a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syria and north west upper Mesopotamia. They failed to reach the Anatolian coasts of the Black Sea however, as another Indo-European people, the Kaskians, had established a kingdom there in the 17th Century BC, displacing earlier Palaic speaking Indo-Europeans. Much of the history of the Hittite Empire was concerned with warring with the rival empires of Egypt, Assyria and the Mitanni.

The Mitanni Empire was also an Indo-European (and Hurrian) speaking and Anatolian based empire. The Mitanni appeared in the 17th century BC and spoke an Indo-Aryan language related to the Indo-European languages eventually to be found in India.

The Egyptians eventually withdrew from the region after failing to gain the upper hand over the Hittites, and becoming wary of the power of Assyria, which had destroyed the Mitanni Empire. The Assyrians and Hittites were then left in the field to battle over control over eastern and southern Anatolia and colonial territories in Syria. The Assyrians had better success than the Egyptians, annexing much Hittite (and also Hurrian) territories in these regions.

After 1180 BC, the Hittite empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" states, subsequent to losing much territory to the Middle Assyrian Empire and being finally overrun by the Phrygians, another Indo-European people who are believed to have migrated from The Balkans. The Phrygian expansion into south east Anatolia was eventually halted by the Assyrians, who controlled that region.

Ancient Anatolia is subdivided by modern scholars into various regions named after the various Indo-European (and largely Hittite, Luwian or Greek speaking) peoples that occupied them, such as Lydia, Lycia, Caria, Mysia, Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Paphlagonia, Cilicia, and Cappadocia.

Semitic Arameans encroached over the borders of south central Anatolia in the century or so after the fall of the Hittite empire, and some of the Neo-Hittite states in this region became an amalgam of Hittites and Arameans. These became known as Syro-Hittite states.

In central and western Anatolia another Indo European people, the Luwians came to the fore, circa 2000 BC. Their language was closely related to Hittite. The general consensus amongst scholars is that Luwian was spoken—to a greater or lesser degree—across a large area of western Anatolia, including (possibly) Wilusa (= Troy), the Seha River Land (to be identified with the Hermos and/or Kaikos valley), and the kingdom of Mira-Kuwaliya with its core territory of the Maeander valley. From the 9th century BC, Luwian regions coalesced into a number of states such as Lydia, Caria and Lycia, all of which had Hellenic influence.

The north western coasts of Anatolia were inhabited by Greeks of the Achaean/Mycenaean culture from the 20th century BC, related to the Greeks of south eastern Europe and the Aegean.

Beginning with the Bronze Age Collapse at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the west coast of Anatolia was settled by Ionian Greeks, usurping the related but earlier Mycenaean Greeks. Over several centuries, numerous Ancient Greek city states were established on the coasts of Anatolia. Greeks started Western philosophy on the western coast of Anatolia (Pre-Socratic philosophy).

Hurrian kingdoms, such as Nairi and the powerful state of Urartu arose in north eastern Anatolia from the 10th century BC, before eventually falling to the Assyrians. During the same period the Georgian states of Colchis and Tabal arose around the Black Sea and central Anatolia respectively.

From the late 8th century BC a new wave of Indo-European speaking raiders entered northern and north east Anatolia, namely the Cimmerians and Scythians. The Cimmerians overran Phrygia and the Scythians threatened to do the same to Urartu and Lydia, before both were finally checked by the Assyrians.

From the 10th to late 7th centuries BC, much of Anatolia (particularly the east, central, south western and south eastern regions) fell to the Neo Assyrian Empire, including all of the Neo-Hittite and Syro-Hittite states, Phrygia, Urartu, Nairi, Tabal, Cilicia, Commagene, Caria, Lydia, the Cimmerians and Scythians and swathes of Cappadocia.

The Assyrian empire collapsed due to a bitter series of civil wars followed by a combined attack by Medes, Persians, Scythians and their own Babylonian relations. The last Assyrian city to fall was Harran in south east Anotolia, this city was also the birthplace of the last king of Babylon, the Assyrian Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar. Much of the region then fell to the short lived Iran based Median Empire, with the Babylonians and Scythians also briefly appropriating some territory.

Anatolia is known as the birthplace of minted coinage (as opposed to unminted coinage, which first appears in Mesopotamia at a much earlier date) as a medium of exchange, some time in the 7th century BC in Lydia. The use of minted coins continued to flourish during the Greek and Roman eras.

Later during the 6th century BC, most of Anatolia was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the Persians having usurped the Medes as the dominant dynasty in Iran. Also, in the 6th century BC, the Indo-European Armenians founded the Orontid Dynasty in Urartu. In 499 BC, the Ionian city-states on the west coast of Anatolia rebelled against Persian rule. The Ionian Revolt, as it became known, initiated the Greco-Persian Wars, which ended in a Greek victory in 449 BC, and the Ionian cities regained their independence.

Following the conquest of Asia Minor by Alexander the Great, the rest of Anatolia was opened up to Greek settlement. Upon the death of Alexander, Anatolia was ruled by a number of Hellenistic kingdoms such as the Attalids of Pergamum. A period of peaceful Hellenization followed, such that the local Anatolian languages had been supplanted by Greek by the 1st century BC. Anatolia was one of the first places where Christianity spread, so that by the 4th century AD it was overwhelmingly Christian. For the next 600 years, Asia Minor and Constantinople, which eventually became the capital of the Byzantine Empire, would be the centers of the Hellenic world, while mainland Greece experienced repeated barbarian invasions and went into decline.

In 334 BC, the Macedonian Greek king Alexander the Great conquered the peninsula. Alexander's conquest opened up the interior of Asia Minor to Greek settlement and influence. Following the death of Alexander and the breakup of his empire, Anatolia was ruled by a series of Hellenistic kingdoms, such as the Attalids of Pergamum and the Seleucids, the latter controlling most of Anatolia. A period of peaceful Hellenization followed, such that the local Anatolian languages had been supplanted by Greek by the 1st century BC. In 133 BC the last Attalid King bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Republic, and western and central Anatolia came under Roman control, but Hellenistic culture remained predominant. During the 1st century BC the Armenians in what had been Urartu established the powerful Armenian kingdom under Tigran who reigned throughout much of eastern Anatolia between the Caspian, Black Sea and Mediterranean. Areas of the south east such as Harran and the Hakkari mountains continued to be inhabited by remnants of the Assyrians, but these regions remained under Parthian and then Sassanid Persian rule.

Read more about this topic:  Anatolia, History

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