Early Beginnings

The story of Anatolia is one of people. The Anatolian peninsula  a vast expanse of highlands and mountain ranges, sloping gently to the sea in the West  has been inhabited since the first dawn of man. The tele is a human drama that has taken scores of thousands of years to unfold, carrying us from the very beginnings of man, the Old Stone Age peoples of the bleak Pleistocene, very evenly up to the age of modern Turkey. The region has served, throughout history, as a ¡and bridge linking the continents of Europe and Asia over which the migrations of peoples have flowed uninterruptedly. Its marked influence on the development of western civilization has been great.

Starting with the Palaeolithic period or Old Stone Age in Anatolia, we find implements fashioned by man that are characteristic of the Levallois-Mousierian cevemen. These date to the Middle Palaeolithic period 100,000 to 40,000 B.C. More numerous are finds from the Middle and New Stone Ages, the archaeological Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. A limestone cave at the site of Karain has yielded parts of the skeleton and teeth of Neanderthal man along with hand-axes, bone tools and other evidences of man’s existence during these early ages. Archaeologists have found at Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic site near Konya, as many as fourteen separate building levels, Carbon 14 dating places the objects found at Çatalhöyük ca. 6500-5650 B.C. These include weapons, tools, fertility goddess figurines and large stone seals. Çatal Höyük has produced a wealth of information about how Neolithic man lived, as well, A replica of a religious shrine from this period may be seen at the Archaeological Museum of Ankara aş well as many of of the prehistoric objects that have been uncovered throughout Anatolia.

The third millennium B.C. ushered in the Bronze Age. Representative works from this period have been discovered across the face of the region. Very fine examples have come down to us from the Royal Graves of Alacahöyük and Horoztepe. Bronze figurines and the famous Anatolian sun-disks that were set into the ends of staffs for funeral processions and ceremonies have been recovered in abundance. Also found in large numbers were stamp seals and pieces of hand-mode monochrome pottery. The most dramatic finds?* dating from this period were the gold, silver, copper and iron objects brought out of the Royal Tombs. The hardening of copper with the-addition of small amounts of tin, with the resultant bronze, did not come into widespread use in Anatolia, however until much later.

The Hatti peoples were well established in Anatolia in the beginning of the second millennium B.C. We have learned about them mainly through the great numbers of cuneiform tablets left by Assyrian merchants who established a string of nine trading centers in the region between the years 1950 and 1750 B.C. The Hattis and Assyrians mixed very little with each other. The indlge nous Hattis collected taxes on goods that the merchants brought into Anatolia by donkey caravan from Assur in Mesopotamia The Assyrians introduced a system of writing and book-keeping in Anatolia-cuneiform, a method in which wedge-shaped marks were inscribed on tablets of wet clay. Thousands of these have been found at the major Assyrian center, the ancient Kanesh. This Is colled Kültepe today. The old stamp seals of Anatolia were replaced by cylinder seals during this time, which is generally referred to as the Assyrian Colony Period. Pottery manufacture changed dramatically, as well, with the introduction of the potters wheel.

The Assyrians remained in Anatolia until 1700 B.C., when they apparently moved out completely. For two hundred years prior to this, a steady migration of Indo-European speaking peoples had been seen flowing into the region of Central Anatolia, These were the Hittites.

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