Turkey and The Ottoman Empire by Susan Daly
The area known as the Ottoman Empire lasted from the early 1200’s until its fall in 1923 during a rebellion led by the Young Turks. This group was led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and was made up of army officers who wanted a more democratic government. Ataturk established modern Turkey as a republic.
The history of Turkey goes from Neolithic times to the present day. When visiting any area in Turkey you are visiting history, seeing Neolithic remains, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk Turk, Ottoman Turk sites as well as important places for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Modern Turkey has also been known as Anatolia,Phrygia,Troy,part of the Assyrian empire, Galatia, Asia Minor, and Cappadocia. In Christian times it became the Diocese of Pontus and of Asia. It was part of the Byzantine and Seljuk Empires and finally the Ottoman lands
For approximately 1600 years , starting in 8,000 BCE, a large Neolithic settlement existed in central Turkey. It is one of the largest Neolithic sites in the Middle East and had a population of 2,000-8,000 people during its occupation. Rebecca Daly, a 1994 graduate of Arcadia is doing her PhD research as an archaeologist here.
Catal residents lived in mud brick homes built close together. They entered their homes from holes in the roof.
Although Catal Huyuk was abandoned about 6,500 BCE, the area became very important again with the rise of Mesopotamia. Southeastern Turkey was the bread basket for the cities of Sumer and Ur. It had fertile soil and abundant water from the Euphrates river.
Northern Mesopotamia and the Euphrates river is today the city of Birecik
This food was shipped using the Euphrates river down south to Sumer. The modern city of Birecik is where the Euphrates river becomes navigable and was one of the busiest ports on the Euphrates. The river widens here and flows very fast in deep water.
All across Turkey, there are many sites from the Bible. In the city of Sanliurfa, in a cave, the prophet Abraham was born. This site is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims since Abraham is a prophet for all three faiths. The cave is a place of pilgrimage and is part of a mosque today.
When Abraham left for the promised land, he left from the city of Harran
People in Harran have lived in these mud brick beehive homes for over 6,000 years. It is only within the last 25 years that people here moved in ordinary homes. This is the type of home that Abraham would have lived in while he was in Harran.
PergamumThis spectacular city high on a cliff was built by a general of Alexander the Great. It was later added to by the Romans.
When the Egyptians refused to export papyrus to them, the people of Pergamum invented a new type of writing surface made from beaten animal skins. This became known as vellum. They had a huge library until it was burned by the Byzantines because the authors were pagans.
One Roman city which is well known by most Christians is Ephesus. This is the city that St. Paul was writing to in his Letter to the Ephesians. It was a prosperous Roman trading city.
The library at Ephesus is one of the most beautiful buildings in the ancient world. It was also one of the largest collections of scrolls. This library contained over 125,000 scrolls making it a huge collection for its time. This city really showed off its wealth!
Turkey has had waves of occupations throughout history. After the fall of the western Roman empire, the Byzantine empire ruled here until 1453. There are many Byzantine churches across Turkey which show their style of religious art.
In Cappodocia, in central Turkey, 3 volcanoes left a soft layer of tufa covered by a harder layer of basalt. The tufa layer was easier to carve into and many Christian hermits came here to live and carved rock churches.
Emperor Constantine is very important in Byzantine history because he accepted Christianity as the state religion. His mother returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with pieces of “the true cross”. Her interest in Christianity influenced Constantine. In 312, he issued the Edict of Milan granting equal rights to all religions.
Under the great Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the great Church of St. Sophia was built in Constantinople. It was an architectural marvel with its huge dome built between 532-537.The name ,Haia Sophia ,means holy wisdom. After 1453, it was converted into a mosque by Mehmet II.