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The history of Anatolia encompasses the region known as Anatoliamarker (Turkish: Anadolu), known by the Latin name of Asia Minor, considered to be the westernmost extent of Western Asia. Geographically it encompasses what is most of modern Turkeymarker, from the Aegean Seamarker to the mountains on the Armenianmarker border to east and by the Black Seamarker and the Taurus mountainsmarker from north to south.

The earliest representations of culture in Anatolia can be found in several archaeological sites located in the central and eastern part of the region. Although the origins of some of the earliest peoples are shrouded in mystery, the remnants of Hattian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Hittite culture provides us with many examples of the daily lives of its citizens and their trade. After the fall of the Hittites, the new states of Phrygia and Lydia stood strong on the western coast as Greek civilization began to flourish. Only the threat from a distant Persian kingdom prevented them from advancing past their peak of success.

As Persia grew, their system of local control in Anatolia allowed many port cities to grow and to become very wealthy. Their governors did revolt from time to time, but it did not really pose a serious threat. Alexander the Great finally wrested control of the whole region from Persia in successive battles and achieved marked victories over his Persian foe Darius III. After his death, his conquests were split amongst several of his trusted generals and survived under constant threat of invasion from both the Gauls and other powerful rulers in Pergamon, Pontus, and Egyptmarker. The Seleucid Empire, largest of the divided territories of Alexander, eventually was bled off by Roman interest in Anatolia and conquered or given away piecemeal.

Roman control of Anatolia was strengthened by a 'hands off' approach by Romemarker, allowing local control to govern effectively and providing military protection. During the reign of Constantine the Great, a new eastern empire was established at Constantinople, known as the Byzantine Empire. It succeeded initially due to its vast wealth and judicious rulers, but soon suffered from widespread neglect and a new empire borne from the earlier Mongol advance, the Turks. Seljuk and Ilkhanate armies soon whittled down the wide scope of Byzantine influence and trade by the gradual overrun of vital trading centers. The most powerful Turkish empire, that of the Ottomans, finally dealt the Byzantine Empire its death blow when Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinoplemarker in 1453.

The Ottoman Empire in Anatolia allowed other religions to maintain themselves long after 1453, and built upon their success by enlarging their territories, from North Africa to Europe beyond Thrace. Wars with Russia and other peoples in revolt prevented the Ottomans from taking advantage of their powerful position, and declined under ineffective leadership. Even their highly skilled army, the janissaries, were eventually disbanded after an attempted revolt. Reforms designed to improve the economy backfired as burdensome taxes and levies turned away profitable trade, and desperation allowed the Empire to be sucked into World War I on the side of Germanymarker and Austriamarker. Following their defeat in the war, the Ottoman Empire was carved up and was now limited to Anatolia, but Greek aims in the region caused new tensions that boiled over into full-scale war. It was this war that allowed Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to make Anatolia into the new Republic of Turkeymarker by defeating the Greeks and abolishing the Ottoman government for good in 1922. Since that time, Turkey has grown into a modern state that has enjoyed relative peace in Anatolia.


Because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe, Anatolia has been the center of several civilizations since prehistoric times. Neolithic settlements include as Çatalhöyükmarker, Çayönü, Nevali Cori, Hacilarmarker, Göbekli Tepemarker, and Mersinmarker.

Bronze Age

Early Bronze Age

By this time, bronze metallurgy spread to Anatolia from the Transcaucasian Kura-Araxes culture in the late 4th millennium BCE. Anatolia remained fully in the prehistoric period until it entered the sphere of influence of the Akkadian Empiremarker in the 24th century BCE under Sargon I. The interest of Akkad in the region as far as it is known was for exporting various materials for manufacturing. Akkadmarker suffered problematic climate changes in Mesopotamia, as well as a reduction in available manpower that affected trade. This led to the fall of the Akkadiansmarker around 2150 BCE at the hands of the Gutians.

Middle Bronze Age

The Old Assyrian Empire claimed the resources for themselves after the Gutians were vanquished, notably silver. One of the numerous Assyrian cuneiform records found in Anatolia at Kanesh uses an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines.

The Hittite Old Kingdom emerges towards the close of the Middle Bronze Age, conquering Hattusamarker under Hattusili I (17th century BCE).

The Anatolian Middle Bronze Age influenced the Minoan culture on Cretemarker as evidenced by archaeological recovery at Knossosmarker.

Late Bronze Age

The Hittite Empire was at its height in the 14th century BCE, encompassing central Anatolia, north-western Syriamarker as far as Ugaritmarker, and upper Mesopotamia.Kizzuwatna in southern Anatolia controlled the region separating Hatti from Syriamarker, thereby greatly affecting trade routes. The peace was kept in accordance with both empires through treaties that established boundaries of control. It was not until the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliumas that Kizzuwatna was taken over fully, although the Hittites still preserved their cultural accomplishments in Kummanni(now Şar, Turkeymarker) and Lazawantiya, north of Cilicia.

After 1180s BCE, amid general turmoil in the Levant associated with the sudden arrival of the Sea Peoples, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BCE. The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their empire, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Egypt and the Middle East.

Early Iron Age

Phrygia at the height of its power and Assyria, 9th-7th century BCE.
The Phrygian Kingdom essentially came into being after the fragmentation of the Hittite Empire during the 12th century BCE, and existed independently until the 7th century BCE. Possibly from the region of Thrace, the Phrygians eventually established their capital of Gordiummarker (now Yazılıkayamarker). Known as Mushki by the Assyrians, the Phrygian people lacked central control in their style of government, and yet established an extensive network of roads. They also held tightly onto a lot of the Hittite facets of culture and adapted them over time.

Shrouded in myth and legend promulgated by ancient Greek and Roman writers is King Midas, the last king of the Phrygian Kingdom. The mythology of Midas revolves around his ability to turn objects to gold by mere touch, as granted by Dionysos, and his unfortunate encounter with Apollo from which his ears are turned into the ears of a donkey. The historical record of Midas shows that he lived approximately between 740 and 696 BCE, and represented Phrygia as a great king. Most historians now consider him to be King Mita of the Mushkis as noted in Assyrian accounts. The Assyrians thought of Mita as a dangerous foe, for Sargon II, their ruler at the time, was quite happy to negotiate a peace treaty in 709 BCE. This treaty had no effect on the advancing Cimmerians, who streamed into Phrygia and led to the downfall and suicide of King Midas in 696 BCE.

Classical Antiquity

Maeonia and the Lydian Kingdom

For the main article, see Lydia.

Lydia, or Maeonia as it was called before 687 BCE, was a major part of the history of western Anatolia, beginning with the Atyad dynasty, who first appeared around 1300 BCE. The succeeding dynasty, the Heraclids, managed to rule successively from 1185 BCE to 687 BCE despite a growing presence of Greek influences along the Mediterranean coast. As Greek cities such as Smyrnamarker, Colophon, and Ephesusmarker rose, the Heraclids became weaker and weaker. The last king, Candaules, was murdered by his friend and lance-bearer named Gyges, and he took over as ruler. Gyges waged war against the intruding Greeks, and soon faced by a grave problem as the Cimmerians began to pillage outlying cities within the kingdom. It was this wave of attacks that led to the incorporation of the formerly independent Phrygia and its capital Gordiummarker into the Lydian domain. It was until the successive rules of Sadyattes and Alyattes II, ending in 560 BCE, that the attacks of the Cimmerians ended for good. Under the reign of the last Lydian king Croesus, Persiamarker was invaded first at the Battle of Pteria ending without a victor. Progressing deeper into Persiamarker, Croesus was thoroughly defeated in the Battle of Thymbra at the hands of the Persian Cyrus II in 546 BC.

Achaemenid Empire

For more information, see Achaemenid Empire.

By 550 BCE, the Median Empire of eastern Anatolia, which had existed for barely a hundred years, was suddenly torn apart by a Persian rebellion. As Lydia king, Croesus had a large amount of wealth which to draw from, and he used it to go on the offensive against the Persianmarker king Cyrus the Great. In the end, Croesus was thrust back west and Cyrus burned the Lydian capital Sardismarker, taking control of Lydia in 546 BCE.

The remaining kingdom of Ionia and several cities of Lydia still refused to fall under Persianmarker domination, and prepared defenses to fight them and sending for aid from Spartamarker. Since no aid was promised except for a warning to Cyrus from their emissary, eventually their stance was abandoned and they submitted, or they fled as in citizens from Phocaeamarker to Corsicamarker or citizens from Teosmarker to Abderamarker in Thrace.

The Achaemenid Persian Empire, thus founded by Cyrus the Great, continued its expansion under the Persia king Darius the Great, in which the satrap system of local governors continued to be used and upgraded and other governmental upgrades were carried out. A revolt by Naxos in 502 BCE prompted Aristagoras of Miletusmarker to devise a grandiose plan by which he would give a share of Naxos's wealth to Artaphernes, satrap of Lydia, in return for his aid in quashing the revolt. The failure of Aristagoras in fulfilling his promise of rewards and his conduct disturbed the Persians, so much so that he resorted to convincing his fellow Ionians to revolt against the Persians. This revolt, known as the Ionian Revolt, spread across Anatolia, and with Athenianmarker aid, Aristagoras held firm for a time, despite the loss in the Battle of Ephesus. The burning of Sardismarker in 498 BCE enraged Darius so much that he swore revenge upon Athensmarker. This event brought down the hammer upon Aristagoras as the Persian army swept through Ionia, re-taking city by city. It was the eventual Battle of Lade outside Miletusmarker in 494 BCE that put an end to the Ionian Revolt once and for all.

Although the Persian Empire had official control of the Carians as a satrap, the appointed local ruler Hecatomnus took advantage of his position. He gained for his family an autonomous hand in control of the province by providing the Persians with regular tribute, avoiding the look of deception. His son Mausolus continued in this manner, and expanded upon the groundwork laid by his father. He first removed the official capital of the satrap from Mylasa to Halicarnassus, gaining a strategic naval advantage as the new capital was on the ocean. On this land he built a strong fortress and a works by which he could build up a strong navy. He shrewdly used this power to guarantee protection for the citizens of Chiosmarker, Kosmarker, and Rhodesmarker as they proclaimed independence from Athenianmarker Greecemarker. Fortunately, Mausolus did not live to see his plans realized fully, and his position went to his widow Artemisia. The local control over Caria remained in Hecatomnus's family for another twenty years before the arrival of Alexander the Great.

Hellenistic period

Alexander before the Battle of Issus, the best representation of his likeness

Alexander the Great

For the main article, see Alexander the Great.

In 336 BCE, King Philip of Macedon was unexpectedly killed, making his son Alexander the new ruler of Macedon as he was very popular. He immediately went to work, raising a force large enough to go up against the Persiansmarker, gathering a navy large enough to counter any threats by their powerful navy. Landing on the shores of Anatolia near Sestosmarker on the Gallipoli in 334 BCE, Alexander first faced the Persian army in the Battle of the Granicus, in which the Persians were effectively routed. Using the victory as a springboard for success, Alexander turned his attention to the rest of the western coast, liberating Lydia and Ionia in quick succession. The eventual fall of Miletusmarker led to the brilliant strategy by Alexander to defeat the Persian navy by taking every city along the Mediterraneanmarker instead of initiating a very high-risk battle on the sea. By reducing this threat, Alexander turned inland, rolling through Phyrgia, Cappadociamarker, and finally Cilicia, before reaching Mount Amanusmarker. Scouts for Alexander found the Persian army, under its king Darius III, advancing through the plains of Issus in search of Alexander. At this moment, Alexander realized that the terrain favored his smaller army, and the Battle of Issusmarker began. Darius's army was effectively squeezed by the Macedonians, leading to not only an embarrassing defeat for Darius, but that he fled back across the Euphrates river, leaving the rest of his family in Alexander's hands. Thus, Anatolia was freed from the Persian yoke for good.

Wars of the Diadochi and division of Alexander's empire

For the main article, see Diadochi.

In June of 323 BCE, Alexander died suddenly, leaving a power vacuum in Macedon, putting all he had worked for at risk. Being that his half-brother Arrhidaeus was unable to rule effectively due to a serious disability, a succession of wars over the rights to his conquests were fought known as the Wars of the Diadochi. Perdiccas, a high-ranking officer of the cavalry, and later Antigonus, the Phrygian satrap, prevailed over the other contenders of Alexander's empire in Asia for a time.

Ptolemy, the governor of Egypt, Lysimachus, and Seleucus, strong leaders of Alexander's, consolidated their positions after the Battle of Ipsus, in which their common rival Antigonus was defeated. The former empire of Alexander was divided as such: Ptolemy gained territory in southern Anatoliamarker, much of Egyptmarker and the Levant, which combined to form the Ptolemaic Empire; Lysimachus controlled western Anatoliamarker and Thrace, while Seleucus claimed the rest of Anatoliamarker as the Seleucid Empire. Only the kingdom of Pontus under Mithridates I managed to gain their independence in Anatoliamarker due to the fact that Antigonus had been a common enemy.

Seleucid Empire

For the main article, see Seleucid Empire.

Seleucus I Nicator, namesake of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucus I Nicator first created a capital city over the span of 12 years (299 BCE to 287 BCE) worthy of his personage, Antiochmarker, named after his father Antiochus. He concentrated also on creating a large standing army, and also divided his empire into 72 satrapies for easier administration. After a peaceful beginning, a rift occurred between Lysimachus and Seleucus that led to open warfare in 281 BCE. Even though Seleucus had managed to defeat his former friend and gain his territory at the Battle of Corupedium, it cost him his life as he was assassinated by Ptolemy Keraunos, future king of Macedon, in Lysimachia.

After the death of Seleucus, the empire he left faced many trials, both from internal and external forces. Antiochus I fought off an attack from the Gauls successfully, but could not defeat the King of Pergamon Eumenes I in 262 BCE, guaranteeing Pergamon's independence. Antiochus II named Theos, or "divine", was poisoned by his first wife, who in turn poisoned Berenice Phernophorus, second wife of Antiochus and the daughter of Ptolemy III Euergetes. Antiochus II's son from his first wife, Seleucus II Callinicus, ended up as ruler of the Seleucids after this tragedy. These turn of events made Ptolemy III very angry, and led to the invasion of the empire (the Third Syrian War) in 246 BCE. This invasion leads to victory for Ptolemy III at Antiochmarker and Seleuciamarker, and he grants the lands of Phrygia to Pontus's Mithridates II in 245 BCE as a wedding gift.

Parthia and Pergamon before 200 BCE

Events in the east showed the fragile nature of the Seleucids as a Bactrian-inspired revolt in Parthia begun by its satrap Andragoras in 245 BCE led to the loss of territory bordering Persiamarker. This was coupled with an unexpected invasion of northern Parthia by the nomadic Parni in 238 BCE and a subsequent occupation of the whole of Parthia by one of their leaders, Tiridates. Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucids failed to end the rebellion, and therefore a new kingdom was created, the Parthian Empire, under Tiridates's brother Arsaces I. Parthia extended to the Euphrates river at the height of its power.

The kingdom of Pergamon under the Attalid dynasty was an independent kingdom established after the rule of Philetaerus by his nephew Eumenes I. Eumenes enlarged Pergamon to include parts of Mysia and Aeolis, and held tightly onto the ports of Elaia and Pitane. Attalus I, successor of Eumenes I, remained active outside of the boundaries of Pergamon. He refused protection payment to the Galatians and won a fight against them in 230 BCE, and then defeated Antiochus Hierax 3 years later in order to secure nominal control over Anatolia under the Seleucids. The victory was not to last as Seleucus III reestablished control of his empire, but Attalus was allowed to retain control of former territories of Pergamon.

The dealings with Attalus proved to be the last time the Seleucids had any meaningful success in Anatolia as the Roman Empire lay on the horizon. After that victory, Seleucus's heirs would never again expand their empire.

Roman period

Roman intervention in Anatolia

In the Second Punic War, Rome had suffered in Spain, Africa, and Italy because of the impressive strategies of Hannibal, the famous Carthaginianmarker general. When Hannibal entered into an alliance with Philip V of Macedon in 215 BCE, Rome used a small naval force with the Aetolian League to help ward off Hannibal in the east and to prevent Macedonian expansion in western Anatolia. Attalus I of Pergamon, along with Rhodesmarker, traveled to Romemarker and helped convince the Romans that war against Macedon was supremely necessary. The Roman general Titus Quinctius Flaminius not only soundly defeated Philip's army in the Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BCE, but also brought further hope to the Greeks when he said that an autonomous Greece and Greek cities in Anatolia was what Rome desired.

During the period just after Rome's victory, the Aetolian League desired some of the spoils left in the wake of Philip's defeat, and requested a shared expedition with Antiochus III of the Seleucids to obtain it. Despite warnings by Rome, Antiochus left Thrace and ventured into Greecemarker, deciding to ally himself with the League. This was intolerable for Rome, and they soundly defeated him in Thessaly at Thermopylaemarker before Antiochus retreated to Anatoliamarker near Sardismarker. Combining forces with the Romans, Eumenes II of Pergamon met Antiochus in the Battle of Magnesia in 189 BCE. There Antiochus was thrashed by an intensive cavalry charge by the Romans and an outflanking maneuver by Eumenes.

Because of the Treaty of Apamea the very next year, Pergamon was granted all of the Seleucid lands north of the Taurus mountainsmarker and Rhodesmarker was given all that remained. This seemingly great reward would be the downfall of Eumenes as an effective ruler, for after Pergamon defeated Prusias I of Bithynia and Pharnaces I of Pontus, he delved too deeply into Roman affairs and the Roman senate became alarmed. When Eumenes put down an invasion by the Galatians in 184 BCE, Rome countered his victory by freeing them, providing a heavy indicator that the scope of Pergamon's rule was now stunted.

The interior of Anatolia had been relatively stable despite occasional incursions by the Galatians until the rise of the kingdoms of Pontus and Cappadociamarker in the 2nd century BCE. Cappadociamarker under Ariarathes IV initially was allied with the Seleucids in their war against Rome, but he soon changed his mind and repaired relations with them by marriage and his conduct. His son, Ariarathes V Philopator, continued his father's policy of allying with Rome and even joined with them in battle against Prusias I of Bithynia when he died in 131 BCE. Pontus had been an independent kingdom since the rule of Mithridates when the threat of Macedon had been removed. Despite several attempts by the Seleucid Empire to defeat Pontus, independence was maintained. When Rome became involved in Anatolian affairs under Pharnaces I, an alliance was formed that guaranteed protection for the kingdom. The other major kingdom in Anatolia, Bithynia, established by Nicomedes I at Nicomediamarker, always maintained good relations with Rome. Even under the hated Prusias II of Bithynia when that relationship was strained it did not cause much trouble.

The rule of Rome in Anatolia was unlike any other part of their empire because of their light hand with regards to government and organization. Controlling unstable elements within the region was made simpler by the bequeathal of Pergamon to the Romans by its last king, Attalus III in 133 BCE. The new territory was named the province of Asia by Roman consul Aquillius Manius the Elder.

The Mithridatic Wars

For the main article, see Mithridatic Wars.

The Mithridatic Wars were precluded by infighting that drew Rome into a war against Italian rebels known as the Social War in 90 BCE. Mithridates VI of Pontus decided that it was time to strike in Anatolia while Rome was occupied, overrunning Bithynia. Though he withdrew when this was demanded of him by Rome he did not agree to all Romes demands. As a result, Rome encouraged Bithynia to attack Pontus but Bithynia was defeated. Mithridates then marched into the Roman province of Asia, where he persuaded Greeks to slaughter as many Italians as possible (the Asiatic Vespers). Despite a power struggle within Rome itself, consul Cornelius Sulla went to Anatolia to defeat the Pontian king. Sulla defeated him thoroughly in and left Mithridates with only Pontus in the Treaty of Dardanos.

In 74 BCE, another Anatolian kingdom passed under Roman control as Nicomedes IV of Bithynia instructed it to be done after his death. Making Bithynia a Roman province soon after roused Mithridates VI to once again go after more territory, and he invaded it in the same year. Rome this time sent consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus to take back control of the province. The expedition proved to be very positive as Mithridates was driven back into the mountains.

The failure of Lucius Licinius Lucullus to rid Rome once and for all of Mithridates brought a lot of opposition back at home, some fueled by the great Roman consul Pompey. A threat by pirates on the Roman food supply in the Aegean Seamarker brought Pompey once again to the forefront of Roman politics, and he drove them back to Cilicia. The powers granted Pompey after this success allowed him to not only throw back Mithridates all the way to the Bosphorusmarker, but made neighboring Armeniamarker a client kingdom. In the end, Mithridates committed suicide in 63 BCE, and therefore allowed Rome to add Pontus as a protectorate along with Cilicia as a Roman province. This left only Galatia, Pisidia and Cappadociamarker, all ruled by Amyntas in whole, as the last remaining kingdom not under a protectorate or provincial status. However, in 25 BCE, Amyntas died while pursuing enemies in the Taurus mountainsmarker, and Rome claimed his lands as a province, leaving Anatolia completely in Roman hands.

Christianity in Anatolia during Roman times

Jewish influences in Anatolia were changing the religious makeup of the region as Rome consolidated its power. In about 210 BCE, Antiochus III of the Seleucid Empire relocated 2,000 families of Jews from Babylonia to Lydia and Phrygia, and this kind of migration continued throughout the remainder of the Empire's existence. Additional clues to the size of the Jewish influence in the area were provided by Cicero, who noted that a fellow Roman governor had halted the tribute sent to Jerusalemmarker by Jews in 66 BCE, and the record of Ephesusmarker, where the people urged Agrippina to expel Jews because they were not active in their religious activities.

The blossoming religious following of Christianity was evident in Anatolia during the beginning of the 1st century. The letters of St. Paul in the New Testament reflect this growth, particularly in his home province of Asia. From his home in Ephesusmarker from 54 AD to 56 AD he noted that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word" and verified the existence of a church in Colossaemarker as well as Troas. Later he received letters from Magnesiamarker and Tralleismarker, both of which already had churches, bishops, and official representatives who supported Ignatius of Syriamarker . After the references to these institutions by St. Paul, Revelations of the Bible mentions the Seven Churches of Asia: (Ephesusmarker, Magnesiamarker, Thyatiramarker, Smyrnamarker, Philadelphiamarker, Pergamon, and Laodicea). Even other non-Christians started to take notice of the new religion. In 112 the Roman governor in Bithynia writes to the Roman emperor Trajan that so many different people are flocking to Christianity, leaving the temples vacated.

Anatolia before the 4th century: Peace and the Goths

From the rule of Augustus onwards up until that of Constantine I, Anatolia enjoyed relative peace that allowed itself to grow as a region. The emperor Augustus removed all debts owed to the Roman Empire by the provinces and protectorates there, making advanced progress possible. Roads were built to connect the larger cities in order to improve trade and transportation, and the abundance of high outputs in agricultural pursuits made more money for everyone involved. Settlement was encouraged, and local governors did not place a heavy burden upon the people with regards to taxation. The wealth gained from the peace and prosperity prevented great tragedy as powerful earthquakes tore through the region, and help was given from the Roman government and other parties. Through it all was produced some of the most respected scientific men of that period- the philosopher Dio of Bithynia, the medical mind of Galen from Pergamon, and the historians Memnon of Heraclea and Cassius Dio of Nicaea.

By the middle of the 3rd century, everything that had been built by peace was being threatened by a new enemy, the Goths. As the inroads to central Europe through Macedonia, Italy, and Germania were all defended successfully by the Romans, the Goths found Anatolia to be irresistible due to its wealth and deteriorating defenses. Using a captured fleet of ships from the Bosphorus and flat-bottomed boats to cross the Black Seamarker, they sailed in 256 around the eastern shores, landing in the coastal city of Trebizondmarker. What ensued was a huge embarrassment for Pontus- the wealth of the city was absconded, a larger amount of ships was confiscated, and they entered the interior without much to turn them back. A second invasion of Anatolia through Bithynia brought even more terror inland and wanton destruction. The Goths entered Chalcedonmarker and used it as a base by which to expand their operations, sacking Nicomediamarker, Prusa, Apamea, Cius, and Nicemarker in turn. Only the turn of the weather during a fall season kept them from doing any more harm to those outside the realm of the province. The Goths managed a third attack upon not only the coastline of western Anatolia, but in Greece and Italy as well. Despite the Romans under their emperor Valerian finally turning them away, it did not stop the Goths from first destroying the Temple of Diana in Ephesusmarker and the city itself in 263.

Byzantine Empire

Creation of the Byzantine Empire

For the main article, see The Origin of the Byzantine Empire.

The constant instability of the Roman Empire as a whole gradually made it more and more difficult to control. Upon the ascension of the emperor Constantine in 330, he made a bold decision by removing himself from Rome and into a new capital. Located in the old city of Byzantium, now known as Constantinoplemarker after the emperor, it was strengthened and improved in order to assure more than adequate defense of the whole region. What added to the prestige of the city was Constantine's favor of Christianity. He allowed bishops and other religious figures to aid in the government of the empire, and he personally intervened in the First Council of Nicaea to prove his sincerity.

Over the course of the next forty years after the death of Constantine in 337 saw a power struggle amongst his descendants for control of the empire. His three sons, Constantine, Constans, and Constantius were unable to coexist peacefully under a joint rule, and they eventually resorted to violent means to end the arrangement. A short time after taking power, a purge of a majority of their relations began and the blood of Constantine's progeny flowed. Eventually Constans came after and killed Constantine II near Aquileiamarker, but was soon removed and himself murdered by his own army. This left Constantius II as the sole emperor of the Byzantines, but even this would not last. Despite supporting his cousin Julian as commander of the armies in Gaul, events soon forced Julian to ignore Constantine's orders to move eastward with his armies and to head straight for Constantinoplemarker to claim the imperial purple. The death of Constantius II in Tarsusmarker resulted in a bloodless transfer of power in 361. Julian did not survive but a scant year and a half thanks to a Persian spear, but during that time he tried to revert what progress Christianity had made after the founding of the empire. Even on his deathbed he was supposed to have said "Thou hast conquered, Galilean.", a reference to Christianity besting him.

The threat of barbarian invasion and its effects upon the Roman Empire in the west carried over into the east. After a short rule by the emperor Jovian and a joint rule of both empires by Valentinian II in the west and Valens in the east, the young emperor Gratian made what was to be a very fortunate decision. He chose the favored general Theodosius I to rule with his as a co-emperor, granting him authority over all of the domains of the Byzantine empire in 379. This proved to be a wise decision with regards to the survival of his newly obtained dominion, for he immediately set about healing the religious rifts that had emerged during the insecurity of past years. The practice of Arianism and pagan rites were abolished, and the standards set by Constantine in Nicaea were restored by law. By 395, the year in which the Roman Empire was officially divided in half and the aptly named Theodosius the Great died, the east was so strong that it could now be considered an equal.

The Byzantine Empire at its height

The themata of the Byzantine Empire at the death of Basil II in 1025.
See the main article Justinian I.

Justinian I managed to enlarge the Byzantine Empire while quashing internal and external pressures.

Persian intervention

See the main article Sassanid Empire.

The Persians paved the way for a new threat to enter onto the scene, the Arabs.

Arab conquests and threats

See the main article Byzantine-Arab Wars.

Arab attacks throughout the empire reduced significantly the territory once held under Justinian.

The Crusades and their effects

See the main article The Crusades and the Byzantine Empire.

The four crusades that involved the Byzantines severely weakened their power, and led to a disunity that would never be restored with success.

Breakaway successor states and the fall

The newly-forming states of the Turks gradually squeezed the empire so much that it was only a matter of time before Constantinoplemarker was taken in 1453.

The Seljuk period (1071-1299)

The conquest of Anatolia by Turkic peoples and the rise of the Persianate Seljuk Empire began in the 11th century. Other influences were felt from Seljuk Turko-Persian, Anatolian beyliks, Mongols, and the Ilkhanate.

Very little is known of the 12th century of this region. Eastern Asia Minor was effectively divided into two principalities, Erzinjanmarker and Erzurummarker, which was ruled by the Saltukid dynasty. By 1260, Mongols held real power over Anatolia. Baiju subjugated Seljuks in 1243 and by the order of Hulegu, he moved to the center of Anatolia with his warriors in 1256.

The last Mongol governor of Rum was Eretna, who was an officer of Uyghur origin, in 1323-1335.

Osman and The Ottoman Empire (1299-1922)

The Ottoman conquest of Anatolia was finalized with the 1453 conquest of Constantinoplemarker (modern Istanbulmarker). Its inhabitants espoused many religious beliefs, spanning Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In particular, many Jews emigrated from Spainmarker and Portugalmarker, after the expulsion of Jews and Muslims during the 1492 Spanish Reconquista.
Scene from southern Anatolia

Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century (see Rise of Nationalism under the Ottoman Empire). Its inhabitants were of varied ethnicities, including Turks, Armenians, Kurds, Greeks,Frenchs, and Italians (particularly from Genoamarker and Venicemarker). When the First World War coupled with ethnic tensions devastated Anatolia, it brought about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and ushered in a new era under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Modern Turkey (1922-present)

The official starting point for the Republic of Turkey was on October 29, 1923, founded and first led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Westernization was a primary goal of Atatürk, as the government was completely reformed under a secular structure, the Ottoman fez was abolished, full rights for women politically were established, and most importantly the creation of a new language based upon the Latin alphabet.

See also



Primary Sources

  • Appian. History of Rome: The Syrian Wars.
  • Herodotus. The Works of Herodotus.

Secondary Sources


  • Bevan, Edwyn Robert (1902). The House of Seleucus. E. Arnold.
  • Botsford, George Willis (1922). Hellenic History. The Macmillan Company.
  • Bury, John Bagnell (1913). A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great. Macmillan.
  • Duncker, Max (1879). The History of Antiquity, Volume III. Richard Bentley & Son.
  • Freeman, Charles (1999). Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198721943.
  • Gibbon, Edward (1952). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. William Benton.
  • Hawkins, John David (2000). Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3110148706.
  • Herbermann, Charles George (1913). The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Co.
  • Hornblower, Simon; Antony Spawforth (1996). The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  • Kinross, John (2001). Atatürk: A Biography of Mustafa Kemal, Father of Modern Turkey. Phoenix Press. ISBN 1842125990.
  • Mommsen, Theodor (1906). The History of Rome: The Provinces, from Caesar to Diocletian. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Ramsay, W.M. (1904). The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia. Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Rawlinson, George (1900). Ancient History: From the Earliest Times to the Fall of the Western Empire. The Colonial Press.
  • Saggs, H.W.F. (2000). Babylonians. University of California Press. ISBN 0520202228.

Internet articles

  • Encyclopaedia Brittanica Online, The legends and the truth about King Midas.
  • Jona Lendering, Parthia. Retrieved on 2007-10-16.
  • J.D. Hawkins, Evidence from Hittite Records. Retrieved on 2007-10-18.
  • Garance Fiedler, Phrygia. Retrieved on 2007-10-19.
  • Science Daily(June 18, 2007), Ancient Etruscans Were Immigrants From Anatolia, Or What Is Now Turkey. Retrieved on 2007-10-18.

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