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Turkey: An Endless Poem

Turkey: An Endless Poem

Anatolia has been a cradle of civilisation and culture at every stage of the enchanting adventure of mankind's existence.

In the struggle between mankind and nature, Anatolia has been the scene of man's attempts sometimes to understand what is happening at the periphery and sometimes to dominate it, his revolts and rebellions, and his love and acceptance of the irresistable power of nature, at every stage of his existence.

The Palaeolithic Age, which began around 600,000 BC when man learnt to make sparks by striking pieces of flint together, has left its signature as wall paintings in the caves of Karain in Antalya, while the paintings nearby Beldibi caves are from the Mesolithic Age. From the Neolithic Age, through the Chalcolithic Age to the Old Bronze Age, metals, foods, weaving and ceramics were added during the procession of development in all aspects of hunting and life. The settlements at Hacılar, Çatalhöyük, Tilkitepe, Canhasan, Alişar and Alacahöyük are at the head of this procession.

During the Bronze Age, man came to feel that his limited living space constricted his existence and spirit. With the undying melodies of Anatolia, new dreams were added to the love of the hammer and anvil as metals were being fashioned, the four wheeled cart's longing for the road and the sound of the potter's wheel.

The melodies of Anatolia, which were gathered up and carried in by the wind, were first blended together at Troy, the most importants centre of the "city state". After that, they were heard and felt at Demircihöyük (Eskişehir), Karataş, Kusura, Tarsus, Karaoğlan, Alişar, Aslantepe, Norşuntepe, Keban, Pulur, İkiztepe and Köşgerbaba.

At around 1950 BC, during the age of the Assyrian Trade Colonies, written history began as did trade and cultural exchange between the Assyrians and the city states founded by the Late Hattis in Anatolia.

The first civilisations in Anatolia

The first political union in Anatolia was established in the second millennium BC by the Hittites with its capital in Boğazköy (Hattutaş). With their gold craftwork, pots with bull reliefs, earthenware objects, seals, weapons and sun discs, the knowledge and information that had been received to that point and the art and ergonomics in the spirit of their artwork, which was distilled from their minds and hearts were like flowers opening in different clumps.

After Hittite sovereignty, many principalities, kingdoms, mini-states and empires were established in the history of Anatolian civilisations: the Late Hittites; the Mittani; the Urartians, who were advanced in Eastern Anatolia in architecture and metalwork; the Phrygians with their legendary King Midas, whose centre was in Gordion; the Troy of Trojan-horse fame, the Ionians; who had Homer's Illiad and the temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Lydians; the Carians; the Lycians; the Persians; the Hellenistic civilisation, which built the great altar in the Acropolis at Pergamon and produced Alexander the Great; the Roman civilisation, with its cities of Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Perge and Side; and the Byzantines, with the Hagia Sophia domed Basilica of Emperor Justinian.

Anatolia is a bridge across time to the present from the mysterious depths of the past to the civilisations.

As well as the priceless artefacts in the covered museums, it bears silent withess in all places, which have the quality of an open air museum.

Anatolian Turkish Civilisations

In the cultural mosaic of Anatolia's 600.000 years of history, the Turks reached the doors of Anatolia at the Battle of Malazgirt in 1071 to add in their own turquoise colour. By 1299, the Seljuks added their mind and the feelings of their hearts to every stone of the bridges, roads, caravansarays, palaces and mosques they built, and gave a new identity to the landscape and to the country's culture. They produced the Gök Medrese (theological school) and the Çifte Minare Camii (mosque with two minarets) in Sivas, the Ulu Camii (mosque) in Malatya, and the Alaeddin Camii (mosque), Karatay Medresesi (theological school) and caravansarays of Konya, as well as statesmen such as Alaeddin Keykubat and thinkers such as Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, Yunus Emre and Hacı Bektaş Veli.

After the Seljuks, Anatolia was enriched by the priceless historical works or art of the Germiyanoğulları, the Aydınoğulları, the İnançoğulları, the Suruhanoğulları, the Karasioğulları, the Hamidoğulları, the Eşrefoğulları, the Candaroğulları and the Teke Beyliği (principality).

The Ottoman Empire

In 1299, the Ottoman Empire was established in Anatolia under the administration of Osman Bey of the Turkish Oymak Beyleri. This empire with its power, discipline, justice, its accumulation of culture, and its service of humanity, governed Anatolia for a long period of time that lasted 600 years. With the conquest of İstanbul in 1453 and the destruction by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror of the Byzantine State, which had been the cultural and political inheritor of the Eastern Roman Empire, the 'New Age' was ushered in.

The widening territory of this country was adorned at every corner for the generations to follow with monuments and works of art, which were a sign of the accumulation of power and culture. The thousands of these great works include the Selimiye Camii mosque in Edirne, İstanbul's buildings such as the Süleymaniye Camii and Sultan Ahmet Camii mosques, the Rumeli Hisarı and Anadolu Hisarı castles, and the Topkapı, Beylerbeyi and Dolmabahçe imperial palaces, Bursa's Padişah türbeleri shrines of holy men and other Turkish monuments miles away from Anatolia. The Ottomans also produced great statesmen, and rulers such as the padishahs Yavuz Sultan Selim and Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, great masters such as the architect, Mimar Sinan, caligraphy, Turkish court music, the Mehter military bands, ceramics and rare and precious handicraft.

The Period of the Turkish Republic

The most valuable thing that nature has taught man during his phase of becoming human is undoubtedly the philosophy that "everything is born, grows and dies". This is true even of the states like the Ottoman Empire.

Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the colours of red and white were added to the turquoise blue of the Ottomans in the cultural mosaic of Anatolia, which had been of such a type as to cause wars that started and ended epochs.

The grandchildren of the great state, from the highest to the lowest, from Çanakkale to Erzurum, have proved to the world what a great nation they are.

The date of 29th October 1923, was set for the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. The area of Central Anatolia, from which many years ago the Hittites founded their capital rose to become the greatest state of their time, also raised up another small town, which Mustafa Kemal chose to be the capital. He gave it in faith to the Turkish nation, which has made Anatolia into its own homeland, which from time immemorial to the present has given birth in pain to civilisations and nurtured states in its arms.

To bring this new state to the level of contemporary civilisations, Atatürk created a secular, democratic, youthful, dynamic and modern Turkey by instituting reforms in every domain, from the administration to the alphabet, from industry to clothing.

In this book, Atatürk's Turkey has been photographed at the contemporary level it has reached today in its own distinctive way of life, culture, folklore and natural riches. The Turkey of our times is a country whose values are directed towards the horizon of the 21st century, with Atatürk's motto, "PEACE AT HOME; PEACE IN THE WORLD", with the importance that it gives to international friendship and peace, with the Mausoleum it has constructed for its Great Father, with the bridges that join Asia to Europe, with its dams, with its universities, with its developments in industry and tourism, with its natural richnesses, and with its people who are aware that most importantly of all they own this and are mindful of the 600,000 years of history.