Anatolia is a melting pot where cultures from Sumer, Babylon andAssyria interacted, for centuries with peoples such as the Hattis, Hittites and Hourrites.
The result was a unique Anatolian civilisation which has long inspired the thoughts and legends of the West.
The ancient Bronze Age witnessed the establishment of the first independent City States.
At that time, the centre and Southeast of Anatolia were inhabited by the indigenous Hattis.
The most spectacular findings from this time are those of Alaca Hoyuk in the Kizilirmak region and of Horoztepe near Tokat, in the Black Sea region.
They are contemporary with the royal tombs of Mycenae in Greece.
THE HITTITES ARRIVE
They absorbed much or the Babylonian civilisation and long enjoyed a monopoly of iron in Asia.
This, combined with the use or the chariot, gave the Hittites a military superiority over Egypt and other Mesopotamian states.
The victorious raid against Babylon in 1590 BC was the climax or the first Hittite Empire, followed by period or decline.
Then, in the first half or the fourteenth century, came a revival or power.
This second era saw a Hittite hegemony stretching from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.
The Mitanni kingdom was a contemporary and the enemy of the Hittites.
It was founded by the Hourrites, a people originally from the South Caspian Sea.
The Hourrites exercised considerable influence over the religion of the Hittites, and spread the use of two-wheel chariots and the breeding or horses throughout the Near East.
THE URARTIAN STATE
The Urartus were masters in hydraulic works and skilled in irrigation, drainage and the construction or canals and artificial lakes.
They were also known for their horse breeding and formidable cavalry.
THE PHRYGIANS AND KING MIDASTHE PHRYGIANS AND KING MIDAS
Their civilisation met its apogee in the second half or the 8th century BC, under the famous King Midas whom, according to Greek mythology, Apollo ridiculed by having him grow ears or a donkey, and whom Dionysus invested with the power to turn everything he touched into gold Gordion fell to Persian.
These monumental Lycian tombs carved inside rocks in South-western Turkey date from 700-500 BC, and still impress visitors with their lonesome, yet overpowering presence Domination around 550BC and was liberated in 333 BC by Alexander the Great.
THE LYDIANS INVENT M O N E Y
The centre of the Empire there after became the Orient, in particular Anatolia, inhabited by the descendants or Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks and others.
Byzantium became the Eastern Roman Empire; its official religion was proclaimed to be Christianity in 380 and in 392 paganism was banned.
In 476, Rome collapsed and Constantinople remained the sole capital of the empire.
Byzantium was both a state and a civilisation, built along the lines or the Roman state, the Greek culture and the Christian faith.
The emperor enjoyed divine power and relied heavily on the Church.
THE GOLDEN AGE
One thousand years of Roman jurisprudence were gathered together in lour volumes, a work which had a lasting influence for many centuries.
Justinian was also a great builder.
The Basilica of St Sophia (AD 532-7) was constructed during his reign. The history or Byzantium is one or alternating periods or glory and decay, of religious dissent or conflicts and wars with Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans and Peoples of the North.
ENTER THE SELJUK TURKS
In 1071, his nephew Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines in Malazgirt, near Lake Van.
The doors of Anatolia were thus opened to the Turks, and Anatolia went through a profound transformation ethnically, politically, and in the religious, linguistic and cultural spheres.
The Seljuk Sultanate in Anatolia continued until the beginning of the 14th century.
The zenith or the Seljuk civilisation came in the first half of the 13th century with Konya as its political, economic, religious, artistic and literary centre.
The Seljuks created a centralised administration organised around the Sultan, his ministers and provincial governors.
Science and literature blossomed, as did mystic poetry.
Anatolia was crossed by the great routes linking the east and west, and many or the Caravanserais built along these routes still stand today.
Agriculture, industry and handicrafts expanded and the country was suddenly rich in Mosques, Medreses and Caravanserais.
After the mortal wound of 1204 , when the Crusaders occupied Constantinople, sacked the city, forced the emperor to leave and established a Latin kingdom, she was a small state.
Bulgaria declared her independence and a new maritime power, Venice took for herself the whole Aegean Byzantines had regained possession or their capital, hut there were new threats.
Roman Emperor Justinian had this hill-side church built for St John in Ephesus where he is believed to have lived and been buried in the 2nd century AD.
COLLAPSE OF THE SELJUK SULTANATE
Anatolia was again fragmented into rival independent principalities, one of which came under Ottoman rule.
Anatolia, though divided, had been united by language, religion and race, offering an opportunity for statesmanship and courage.
This would be the task of Osman and his successors.
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE GAINS GROUND
During the rule or his son Osman, Bursa and Iznik were captured and soon the whole south-eastern coast of Marmara was under Ottoman control.
The many conquests and diplomatic successes of Orhan were not the only achievements of his reign.
He had encouraged and promoted art, literature, science and commerce. He also established a regular standing army, known as the Janissaries.
Well paid and disciplined, the Janissaries provided the new Ottoman state with a patriotic force of trained soldiers. Built upon such solid foundations, the Ottoman Empire spread apace.
In the reign of Murat, this expansion was still in a westerly direction and it was not until the frontiers were extended to the Adriatic, the Danube and Thessaly, that the Sultan turned his attention towards Eastern Anatolia. Now that his rule was established in Europe and Asia, Beyazit turned towards Constantinople in 1402.
The city was almost within his grasp when he was called to meet the west ward march of Timurlane which delayed the conquest of Istanbul for several decades.
In 1453, under Mehmet the Conqueror, the Ottomans took Constantinople, a momentous event for the whole world and a great feat of arms.
But the banner of Ottoman success was to be rising much higher and by the late 16th C. the Ottomans were deep into EUROPE.
In the following centuries, however, the Ottoman Empire lost its momentum entered a period of stagnation and gradually a period of decline.
WORLD WAR ONE
Great Britain reversed the until then, and undertook with France, Russia and Italy to dismember the Empire.
At the end of the war in 1918, the Ottoman government, under the occupation or the allied forces, was in no position to resist a peace treaty embodying the partition of Turkey.
In May 1919, the Greeks, who had been promised a part of Anatolia, landed at Izmir and started an offensive to occupy Western Turkey.
THE VISIONS OF ATATURK
Ataturk wanted a clean break with the past, to unite the nation in the quest for modernism and to lift Turkey to the level of European countries.
On October 29,1923 the republic was proclaimed and Ataturk was elected president.
Secularism was established by separating religious and state affairs.
The Latin alphabet replaced the Arabic script and women were given the right to vote and to be elected as members of parliament.
These reforms, as well as many others in all aspects of social life, put Turkey on the track towards becoming a thoroughly modern country.
A PROUD NATION
This is now a nation that has regained confidence in itself and is ready to confront challenges; a society determined to preserve the political, intellectual, cultural and social values he had bequeathed.
The Turkish Republic has now been a member of the international community for over 70 years.
During this period, great changes have occurred and many difficulties have been encountered. But the country remains firmly attached to the policies initiated by Atatürk. It has established a democratic multi-party political system, developed a vibrant civil society, and embanked on the path or industrialisation and market economy.
It has consolidated its ties with the west and with the European Union through membership in NATO and the Council of Europe and Customs Union.
These trends mark a radical change from the days or the Ottoman Empire. Yet there is also continuity. The Turks have inherited both the Islamic past and their Ottoman past.
They have also inherited from their western past, as well as forming a part of the Western present.
All these heritages, Eastern and Western, Asian and European are intermingled in the civilisation or modern Turkey.
A symbol or this union is the two bridges that span the Bosphorus, linking the two continents with many pasts and one future.