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The Geographic History of Cappadocia

 

For millions of years, the mighty volcanoes of the Central Anatolian Plateau erupted and spewed their contents across the land that would become the cradle of civilization. Blessed with a moderate climate and fertile soil, one of the world's earliest known communities was founded 10,000 years ago at Catalhoyuk along the river banks of the Casambasuyu near Konya. Mankind's first nature painting was found here and it portrays the most recent eruption of Hasan Dagi almost 9000 years ago. Today, its snow capped peaks dominate the Konya plain, awash in golden hues where vast wheat fields blend subtly with the ochre colored soil and the monochromatic palette is interrupted only where rivers flow and tall poplars flaunt their greenery.

Another great volcano rises in the distance to the east of Hasan Dagi. Once called Mt. Argeus, the awesome presence of Erciyes Dagi inspired legends as the "Abode of the Gods" and the Persians built a Zoroastrian fire temple nearby. These two ancient volcanoes mark the western and eastern boundaries of a region known for its curious volcanic landscape that has been relentlessly carved by nature and by the people who have lived here. 'Fairy chimneys,' cones and strange rock formations have been sculpted by wind and rain while subterranean towns were excavated by a populace seeking shelter from the conquerors and would-be conquerors who crisscrossed the wide open steppes of the Central Anatolian Plateau. Ancient Anatolian tribes, Assyrians, Hittites, Phrygians, Turkic tribes from Central Asia, Mongols, Persians, Syrians, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Slavs, Greeks, Romans and Western Europeans have all passed through leaving behind some of their traditions as well as their genes and rendering Cappadocians as exotic as their surreal surroundings.

Although the Hellenistic kingdom of Cappadocia once encompassed a much greater area, the name now refers to the region east of Konya that is defined by Aksaray to the west, Kayseri to the east, Nigde to the south and Kirsehir to the north. Guide books and tour buses focus on the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu as well as the rock formations and Byzantine churches found within the triangular area bounded by Avanos, Nevsehir and Urgup. For those who take the time to explore the less traveled byways, Cappadocia is a land of discovery. Away from Goreme, Zelve and the major tourist sites, there are partially excavated Hittite centers, cavetowns and hundreds of churches that are rarely seen, gorges to explore and some of the most vivid, pastoral scenes to be captured in all of Turkey.

Aksaray is located on the Melendiz Cayi (Melendiz River) along the old trade route that connected Persia to the Aegean Sea. It was once the city of Garsaura that was later renamed Archelais but little of its ancient past survives. During the Seljuk era (1071-1300), Aksaray was transformed into an exemplary Muslim city where a hospital and schools were built. One of the first two Islamic theological schools, the Ibrahim Kadiroglu Medrese was built here in the 12th century. The other was built in Konya, one of Turkey's oldest continuously inhabited cities and the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. These and later schools attracted some of the greatest Islamic scientists, philosophers and theologians of the age including Jelaluddin who escaped the Mongol invasion of Afghanistan. He is better known as Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, a renowned mystical Master and favorite saint of Konya.

The reign of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I (1219 - 1236) brought prosperity to the empire when he renovated the long neglected road system and constructed a series of hans (inns) along the way. Generally, they are massive fortress-like structures with impressive entrances framed by intricately carved honeycomb portals. Inside, a large courtyard with a central mescid (small mosque) is surrounded by arched porches where animals were tended. Another portal leads to the living quarters for travelers. Hans were located about a days distance apart by camel and they provided travelers with food, lodging, entertainment and protection. Twenty four miles to the west of Aksaray, the Sultanhan Caravanserai was the last overnight stop before reaching Konya. It was built about 1229 and has been partially restored. The Agzikarahan Caravanserai nine miles to the east of Aksaray retains its original features and is one of the best preserved in the area. This somnolent farming town now serves as a base for exploring the Ihlara Valley or as a rest stop on the way to Cappadocia but during the 13th century, it was an enclave of culture, refinement and scholarship that attracted visitors from all over the known world including the great Spanish scholar and mystic, Ibn El-Arabi.

A few miles past Aksaray, a good road leads to the main Nevsehir-Nigde highway by way of the Ihlara Valley and Guzelyurt. Rick Steves highlighted Guzelyurt in his Turkey travel video for television and now, even 'the pension where Rick Steves stayed' is offered as a place of interest for tourists! Guzelyurt is one of the most tourist friendly communities in Cappadocia with a multi-lingual aide who seems to materialize out of nowhere and whose job it is to assist visitors with practicalities like parking, food and lodging. Villagers and children will stop to chat and give directions to the 'antique city' of the old Greek quarter where the mosque was once an old Byzantine church that honored St. Gregory Nazianzus. He was born and died nearby and is prominent as one of the 4th century Cappadocian Fathers who defended the Nicene Creed against Arianism which denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Formerly known as Karballa then Gelvere, Guzelyurt means 'beautiful land.' It is built on the cliffs surrounding a narrow gorge that is but a small appendage of the more impressive Ihlara Gorge. There are over fifty rock cut churches inside Monastery Valley which lays beyond the old village, past semi-troglodytic houses that line a narrow, winding road. People still live in these old cave dwellings and visitors are apt to see women baking bread in 400 year old communal ovens or children making mud pies on the roofs of their cliff houses carved in the rocks below. Guzelyurt has been declared a conservation area requiring new buildings to be constructed of natural stone so as to maintain its distinct Cappadocian architecture. The boxy, stone buildings with flat roofs and large arched doorways are more similar to houses of Northern Syria and Upper Mesopotamia than to structures in other parts of Turkey. This is hardly surprising because the earliest mention of Cappadocians by Herodotus in the 5th century BC refers to them as 'Syrians.'

The Melendiz River finds its source in the numerous springs of the Melendiz Daglari and the adjacent Hasan Dagi to its west. These mountains comprise a series of currently inactive volcanoes that, over millions of years, deposited a thick layer (1500 feet) of volcanic lava, ash and mud. This material hardened to form a soft volcanic rock known as tufa which was overlaid with a thinner layer of hard basalt. With the passing of time, the Melendiz River has carved a steep sided gorge on its way toward the marshes of Toz Golu (Salt Lake) leaving behind expanses of flat, basalt topped plateaus that characterize this region. Further erosion of the basalt layer expresses itself in the surrealistic landscape of Cappadocia but in the Ihlara Valley (Peristrema), rock cones are only seen near Yaprakhisar and Selime.

Throughout the years, this verdant valley has remained relatively untouched by the tides of invaders that have swept the land. Sheltered by a natural barrier, the massive Hasan Dagi to the south, the valley is located away from the major travel routes that are still evidenced by the main roads from Aksaray to Kayseri and Kirsehir to Nigde. It has therefore served as a physical and an intellectual oasis for the people who have lived here. Hittites found refuge from the Phrygian invaders while early Christian monks sought its isolation in a remote corner of the kingdom during the 2nd century Roman persecutions and were later sheltered from the Arab invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries.

The valley became an important center of monasticism that lasted from the 4th to the 14th centuries. There are an estimated 150 churches and several monasteries in the canyon between the villages of Ihlara and Selime. A walk through the tranquil 14 km gorge is a delight. The dappled light under poplars and wild olive trees as well as the constant murmur of the water provide relief from an unrelenting sun and the monotony of endless wheat fields that make up the Cappadocian landscape. Near villages, the river continues to be the focus of village life: women wash their laundry amid chatter and laughter, children splash nearby and shepherds bring their animals for a drink.

The main churches are marked although a few have been closed to the public. The most popular churches are those in the canyon area between the villages of Belisirma and Ihlara. However, Yaprakhisar and Selime are more interesting architecturally with stone houses that extend into the rock caves. The village of Selime is named after the sultan whose conical tomb stands on the river's bank and numerous facades are carved into the cliffs at Yaprakhisar. For the adventurous, the entire length of the Ihlara Valley is a wonderful place for exploration. The children know the hidden entryways and they offer some of the most incredible 'tours' to be found in Cappadocia as they share their extraordinary playground, scampering up tracks through the rocks to a labyrinth of caves and tunnels that open to unexpected hideaways.

Only nine miles from Ihlara, the village of Helvadere sits among the foothills of Hasan Dagi. Its peaks are both over 10,000 feet high and its northern face is threaded with ribbons of snow where ravines have etched the mighty volcano. The mountain beckons for it abounds in secrets and legends. It has witnessed the comings and goings of Central Anatolia since the dawn of civilization. Roman ruins, Byzantine churches and Seljuk graves lay scattered along its northern slopes and mountain villagers tell tales of intriguing snake legends. In his book, Caves of God: Cappadocia and Its Churches, Spiro Kostof interprets the symbolism of the paintings in the Yilani Kilise (Snake Church) located across the bridge from the Tourist Pavilion in the Ihlara gorge. For one painting, he suggests that a woman is being punished for not nursing her children because 2 snakes are attached to her nipples. It seems likely that the real meaning may be hidden within the snake legends of these mountain people. While we long to uncover the secrets of Hasan Dagi, there is only enough time for a half an hour hike behind Helvadere to visit the ruins of Viransehir (Destroyed City). There was a large monastic complex here and remnants of a Byzantine fortress and two churches can be seen.

A drive through the region to the north of the Aksaray-Nevsehir road is to visit the true heart of Turkey. Numerous farming communities are located along the streams and rivers that empty into the stalwart Kizilirmak, Turkey's longest river that is over 800 miles in length. Farming in Turkey is generally highly mechanized, but here, reapers still wield the scythe and plants are sometimes hand-watered with scoops dipped into nearby irrigation canals. When the sun reaches its zenith, workers gather under shade trees for their midday meal and a well earned rest in a scene reminiscent of Bruegel's 16th century painting, "The Harvesters." This centuries old way of life continues, seemingly indifferent to the encroachment of mass tourism.

There are cavetowns and rock formations scattered within this area. Tatlarinkoy boasts an extensive semi-troglodytic complex but only a few caves are available to the public. The small Byzantine church has not been vandalized and its original colors remain rich and vibrant. A typical cave dwelling with several rooms can be explored and it is complete with 'telephone' (a special chute for talking to those on another level), toilet, kitchen, shelves and a large, solid, wheel-shaped rock that serves as a rolling door. Above the doorway is a compartment from which to attack an intruder who may have broken through the barrier. The main features of this cave dwelling are duplicated throughout Cappadocia. In Tatlarinkoy, cave entrances speckle the surrounding cliffs carved by the Acisu River. Some caves are used by farmers for food storage and animal shelters but many seem to have been completely abandoned.

Kayseri was already an ancient Hittite settlement called Mazaca when it was renamed Caesarea of Cappadocia by the Romans in the 1st century AD. Nearby, archaeological excavations at Kultepe have revealed that the area was first occupied around 4000 BC and known as Kanesh in ancient times. It was a powerful commercial trade and mining center around 2000 BC and 4000 year old Assyrian silver mines can still be seen there. Most of the artifacts from Kultepe are housed in the Archaeological Museum in Kayseri.

During Byzantine times, Caesarea Mazaca maintained its prominence as a city of commerce and trade as well as a major metallurgical center that specialized in the manufacture of heavy cavalry armor. Its schools were ranked with those of Athens, Alexandria and Constantinople. It must have been an affluent city because historical references have been made to its beautiful homes, elegant cuisine and the many almshouses that were built by St. Basil the Great, another Cappadocian Father and friend of St. Gregory Nazianzus. Much of its Byzantine years has been lost because the city was razed in the 11th century when it was captured by the Seljuk Turks and it lay abandoned for fifty years. Ruins of a 4th century monastery and Justinian's 6th century citadel that has been extensively renovated by the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, still remain. Surprisingly, one of Caesarea Mazaca's culinary traditions has survived. They developed a type of cured beef called paston which was introduced to Hungary and Romania as pastirma by the conquering Turks. It was then adapted and carried to New York as pastrami by Jewish immigrants.

Under the Seljuks, Kayseri became prominent once again as the second most important city in the empire with many architecturally important structures. Theological schools, a medical school and hospitals were built here. As an important center of learning and commerce, Kayseri attracted an intellectual elite, merchants, tradesmen and skilled artisans. Today, Kayseri is a university town, a major agricultural center and enjoys a bustling trade in carpets and kilims.

Birds of the Reed Forests
To the south of Kayseri and Erciyes Dagi, the Sultansazligi or the Sultan Marshes is an extensive wetland area that envelops the Develi Plain. The road from Kayseri to the town of Develi affords a very scenic drive following the Karasu River to Tekir Yaylasi where a popular ski center is located on the eastern slopes of Erciyes Dagi. The road then descends the southern slopes of the mountain where the entire Sultan Marshes ecosystem spreads itself beneath the majestic, snow-capped mountain. On closer view, reeds sway to gentle breezes, iridescent blue waters shimmer in the sunlight and masses of pink flamingoes cavort in Yay Golu.

This wetland area consists of two reed-covered freshwater lakes, Egrigol and Col Golu, to the north and south of the Develi Plain, Yay Golu, a saltwater lake between them as well as the surrounding marshlands. It is the largest wetland ecosystem in Turkey and is fed by numerous springs and streams from the surrounding mountains. Its location at the juncture of three continents makes it an important breeding ground for birds and over 250 species are found here. While the Sultan Marshes are of special interest to ornithologists, the pink flamingoes of Yay Golu are as impressive to most travelers as those on Lake Nakuru in Kenya or Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

There is a lookout tower at Ovaciftlik just east of the Kayseri-Nigde highway along the connecting road to Yahyali, a village where local women weave distinctive patterned carpets of world renown. The villages of Sindelhuyuk near Develi and Ovaciftlik are convenient for making arrangements to view the flamingoes of Yay Golu but boat rides on the various lakes can generally be negotiated from any of the villages that surround the area.

Underground Cities
Although referred to as "cities," the underground communities of Cappadocia probably served as temporary shelters rather than as permanent hidden cities. The incessant darkness is hardly conducive to life and some of the passageways are little more than crawling spaces that would have been intolerable in long-term situations. No one is certain as to the number of underground communities that exist or even by whom they were built.

The two largest communities that have been unearthed are located at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, 20 and 30 kms. south of Nevsehir on the Nevsehir-Nigde road. It is thought that the Hittites may have excavated the first few levels in the rock when they came under attack from the Phrygians around 1200 BC. However, some archaeologists believe that the oldest caves, those hewn with stone rather than metal tools, are substantially older. These chambers were later expanded into an extensive troglodytic complex by Christians escaping the Arab invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries.

Discreet entrances give way to elaborate subterranean systems with air shafts, waste shafts, wells, chimneys and connecting passageways. The upper levels were used for living quarters while the lower levels were used for storage, wine making, flour grinding and worship in simple chapels. Everywhere, walls have been blackened from the use of torches. There is a connecting tunnel between Kaymakli and Derinkuyu that allowed three people to walk through at the same time but it is not available to the public as parts of the tunnel have collapsed.

0nly 10 kms. to the east of Kaymakli is another cavetown at Mazikoy that may be connected with Derinkuyu but this remains to be proven. This community was built within the walls of a cliff. Unlike Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, there are no stairs or grades that pass from one level to the next. Instead, the different levels are well defined with connecting tunnels through which people climbed up or let themselves down by means of footholds carved into the walls of the shafts. Mazikoy is often bypassed because it is a smaller community, its location is away from the main road and a certain agility is required to fully appreciate its features.

Rock Cut Churches and Monasteries
Many settlements in Cappadocia were established primarily as monastic communities. As Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in the 4th century, St. Basil the Great wrote the rules for monastic life that are still followed by monks and nuns of the Greek Orthodox Church. He advocated community life, prayer and physical labor rather than the solitary asceticism that was popular at the time and it was under his guidance that the first churches were built in Goreme Valley. Here, a number of small communities with their own churches formed the large monastic complex that is now the Open Air Museum. Hundreds of churches are reported to have been built in this valley but no churches from St. Basil's time remain. In Goreme, the Tokali Kilise or the "Buckle Church" is easily the loveliest of the churches with graceful arches and beautiful frescoes.

The most impressive monastery in Cappadocia is the Eskigumus Monastery to the east of Nigde off the Kayseri-Nigde road. It is the most southerly of the Cappadocian monasteries and lies close to the route taken by the invading Arabs who traversed the Tarsus Mountains from the south to plunder Kayseri in the 7th century. This route follows the Tarsus River through a precipitous defile called the Gulek Bogazi. It was known in the ancient world as the Cicilian Gates and was used by Alexander the Great in his eastward campaign against the Persians. The nondescript entrance to the Eskigumus Monastery was designed to shield the monastery complex from invaders passing by. It was so successful that the monastery was not discovered until 1963, having escaped the vandalism to which many of the Cappadocian churches and monasteries were subjected. The large inner courtyard boasts high walls surrounded by monastic rooms and storage chambers. The main church is spacious and airy and its well-preserved frescoes are considered to be the best example of Byzantine art in all of Cappadocia.

Pigeon Houses
Near Uchisar is a valley that has become quite popular with hikers. It is known by many names (Valley of the Pigeon Lofts, Dovecote Valley, Pigeon Valley) but they all refer to the thousands of pigeon houses that have been carved into the soft tufa since ancient times. Although they can be found throughout Cappadocia, they are especially plentiful in this valley which must have one of the greatest collections of pigeon lofts in the world. They were carved wherever space allowed including abandoned caves and the walls of collapsed churches. They lack the architectural interest of the doocots of Scotland or the elaborate Persian pigeon towers but their sheer numbers are astonishing. In Cappadocia, pigeons have long been a source of food and fertilizer. The advent of chemical fertilizers has reduced the use of pigeon fertilizer. However, some farmers still maintain their lofts because they insist that the reputation of Cappadocian fruits as the sweetest and most succulent in Turkey is entirely due to the pigeons' droppings.

Best Times to Go:
Cappadocia is generally cooler than the popular coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the Aegean. April to mid June and September to October are the best months for avoiding the intense heat and crowds of summer.

Getting There:
Turkey has excellent bus and dolmus (minibus) service. Bus service to Cappadocia is available from Istanbul, Ankara, and the major cities of Turkey. Drop off points differ according to the city of origin so take a bus from wherever you are to whatever destination in Cappadocia is available then use a taxi or the dolmus service to get to the towns that you may want to visit.

Travel agents in major cities in Turkey all offer tours to Cappadocia. If time is an issue and you have no other options for visiting the area, it is better to take the tour rather than to forgo the region but be aware of the limitations of such tours which have a propensity for spending too much time at the carpet shops.

The main airport of the region is located in Kayseri and there are regular flights from Istanbul by Turkish Airlines (THY). Buses are available from Erkilet airport to the otogar in Kayseri. Argeus Tours (Tel. 90-384-214-2800) has a shuttle service from the Airport to Goreme and Urgup.

Clothing/Gear:
Modest, season appropriate clothes are suggested for visits to Cappadocia. Immodest clothing for women (shorts, short skirts, tank tops, tight fitting clothes) still invites unwanted attention in this conservative region, especially in the less visited villages. Long pants are recommended for those who want to explore cave dwellings as some crawling may be necessary and the tufa surfaces can be quite rough. Be sure to bring a wide brimmed hat, sun tan lotion, and comfortable shoes.

When traveling in Turkey, it is a good idea for women to bring a long skirt, light sweater and pretty shawl. They can quickly be slipped on over casual clothes to dress up for dinner or to become appropriately dressed when visiting the mosques.

General Information:
Those who plan to visit other areas of Turkey should consider flying since distances are so great between the different areas of interest. Bus travel within Turkey is easy and inexpensive. Smoking is prohibited but this is not always the reality, especially on long trips.

It is easy to get around the main areas of Cappadocia by dolmus service which is inexpensive and offers regularly scheduled trips. However, service to the less traveled areas is sporadic and not always convenient. A variety of one day tours are offered by numerous local tour companies at a cost of about $75 - $100 per person per day. It is better to rent your own vehicle or to hire a car and driver. A rental car costs $60 - $100 per day and hiring a car and driver costs about $75 - $125 per day. Putting together a small group will make this option more cost effective. Avis has an office in Urgup (tel. 90-384-341-2177) while local car rental companies or a car and driver may be found by asking at your hotel.

The excellent hotel rates of the Aegean coastline do not extend to Cappadocia where modern, western style hotels exist but are substantially more expensive. Fortunately, there is a good selection of reasonably priced pensions and small hotels, some of which provide unique lodgings such as cave dwellings and converted monasteries. Restaurants are plentiful and if you cannot read the menu, you are welcome to peer into the pots to make your selection.

Planning Tips:

  • Allocate more than two or three days to experience this truly unique area.

  • Do include Konya in your Cappadocian itinerary. It was the once known as Iconium under the Romans and later became the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. The best examples of Seljuk architecture and calligraphy can be seen here.

  • The culture of rural Turkey is conservative so modesty and polite manners are always appreciated.

  • Be sure to keep yourself hydrated and to pace yourself in the summertime as the heat can be quite fierce.

  • Try to vary your activities. Unless you are a Byzantine specialist, visiting the 50th rock cut church on the same day becomes a blur.

  • It is worthwhile to explore the area around Guzelyurt. Particularly interesting is the nearby Kizil Kilise (Red Church), a 6th century cruciform church with a dome that sits on top of an unusual, octagonal structure. This graceful, little church was constructed from red trachyte, a type of volcanic rock.

  • Do visit the rock fortress of Ortahisar, the spectacular Devrent Valley, the lush Soganli Valley and other well known sites. These areas have not been mentioned only because substantial information is already provided in most guidebooks.

  • Purchase a good road map prior to leaving home. They are difficult to find in Turkey, especially outside the main cities.

 

 

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         HISTORY OF CAPPADOCIA

 Cappadocia is the ancient name of a large region in the center of Anatolia, although when we speak of Cappadocia today we refer specifically to the valleys of Goreme and Urgup, with their natural pinnacles and rock churches. In this survey of Cappadocia’s historical geography, the region will be examined in its entirety.

          Ancient Anatolia or Asia Minor, the large peninsula where modern Turkey is located, consists of several regions. One of the most important was Cappadocia. Originally this region encompassed today’s provinces of Kirsehir, Nevsehir, Aksaray, Nigde, Kayseri, Malatya, the eastern part of Ankara, the southern parts of Yozgat and Sivas, and the northern part of Adana.

          Cappadocia was neighbor to the Commagene to the southeast, Armenia to the east, Galatia to the northwest, Pontus to the north, Cilicia to the south, and Phrygia and Lycaonia to the west. According to the geographer Strabo (STRABO 539), who was born in Amasya and lived about 63 BC, Cappadocia measured 1800 stadia (332 kilometers) north to south, from Pontus to the Taurus mountains, and 3000 stadia ( 552 kilometers ) west to east from Lycaonia and Phrygia to the Euphrates. In other words, the region was demarcated geographically by the Black Sea to the north, the Taurus Mountains to the south, the Kizilirmak River to the west and the Euphrates to the east. The Tatta (Tuz Golu, Salt Lake) to the southwest marked the border between Phrygia and Lycaonia.

          ASIKLI HOYUK ACERAMIC NEOLITHIC PHASE. 5900 – 3200 BC.
          The best representative of the Aceramic Neolithic culture in the region is Asikli Hoyuk, in which excavations have been conducted since 1989. Asikli is a medium-sized settlement on the banks of the Melendiz River, which emerges from the slopes between the Hasan Dagi and Mt. Melendiz and makes its way northwest where carving out the famous canyon-shaped Ihlara Valley. At the present day, Asikli and its vicinity enjoy a continental climate. The economy of the region is based mainly on the cultivation of cereal crops, market gardening, viniculture and dairy products.

          CAPPADOCIAN TABLETS OF KULTEPE / MOUND OF ASHES 1900 B.C.
          The settlement mound here, known as Kultepe, is one of the largest in Central Anatolia, measuring 550 * 450 meters and 20 meters in height. The first excavation of Kultepe mound was carried out by the French scholar E. Chantre, using the methods of his time. This was followed by the excavations made in 1906 and 1925. Apart from 1952, these excavations have continued every summer up to the present day, and until 1980 were financed by Turkish Historical Society. The exciting finds uncovered here have thrown remarkable light on ancient Anatolian History and have been one of the focal points of world archaeological literature ever since.

          PERIOD OF THE ASSYRIAN COLONIES 1900 B.C
          Mesopotamia exerted economic and political power over central Anatolia before the arrival of the Assyrians. During the third millennium BC the Arkadian King Sargon from Mesopotamia advanced into the heart of Anatolia to protect merchants from his country.

          The beginning of the second millennium was a prosperous time for Anatolia. The Assyrians had learned of this region's riches and subsequently established trade centers called karums, meaning "port" or administrative center. Eventually at least thirteen karums were established as part of the Assyrians' extensive network of commercial activities, which spread from the Aegean Sea to the Indus valley. Trade between the people of Anatolia and the Assyrian merchants continued for about 150 years. The "Cappadocian tablets" reveal that the Assyrians were experienced traders who maintained daily business correspondence with their capital, Asur. Other documents such as trade agreements, receipts, wills, and marriage contracts were also found among the clay tablets.

          Kultepe, known in ancient times as Kanesh, was the most important karum. Before the karum was fully developed houses identical in plan to those later built in the karum were built on the eastern edges of Kanesh.

          The karum was a separate town outside and below the walled city itself, which overlooked it from its hilltop site. Two archaeological levels (Kanesh karum I b and II) have been found in this densely occupied site. They have been subjected to close scientific examination, with the result that the architecture, materials and fittings of these houses are known in detail. The second level of the karum covered a wide area and consisted of building complexes closely spaced together.

          THE HITTITES 18th to 12th CENTURIES B.C.
          The entry of the Hittites into the sphere of scholarship and archaeological literature dates from the late nineteenth century when the Akkadian tablets at Tel-el-Amar in Egypt were deciphered, and when A.H. Sayce set about deciphering the pictographic inscriptions on stone discovered at Hama in Syria and identified them as the work of the Hittites, before the existence of Hittite remains in Anatolia was even guessed at Scholars and travelers extended their searches and discovered similar pictographic inscriptions. They made a deep impression on Cappadocia to whose ancient history knowing Hittite civilization and art is the key. The fascinating culture of the Hittites is at least as colorful as the rock churches of Cappadocia.

          TABAL KINGDOM 11th CENTURY B.C.
          In the mid-eight century BC the name Tabal begins to occur more frequently in Assyrian documents. The Tabalian rulers evidently tried to resist the Assyrians, but with little success. The exact extent of the powerful Tabalian kingdom which the Assyrians of the reign of Sargon II knew is unknown. Its inscriptions are largely located near Kayseri and Nevsehir, the most famous being the Sivasa, Topada, Kululu and Sultanhani inscriptions.

          PERSIANS IN CAPPADOCIA 6th to 4th CENTURIES B.C.
          Unlike Lycia, Lydia and many of the other ancient countries of Anatolia, Cappadocia was not named after a people. The name is thought to have derived from the ancient Persian word tukha or dukha, and to mean the Land of Beautiful Horses. The form Katpatuka appears in an inscription listing the countries which paid tribute to Persia under Darius I (522 – 486 BC) carved on the Behistun cliffs at the end of the sixth century BC. The horses of Cappadocia were indeed famous, and the both Assyrians and Persian empires received horses and mules in tribute from here.

          ALEXANDER THE GREAT IN CAPPADOCIA MID-4th CENTURY B.C.
          In the course of his campaign against the Persians, Alexander the Great advanced from Ankyra towards Cappadocia and, after conquering the territory south of the Halys (Kizilirmak), he appointed a Persian by the name of Sabiktas satrap of Cappadocia. After the death of Ariarathes, Cappadocia was ruled for some twenty years by Macedonian satraps. When, soon after this, Antigonus was defeated in the battle of Ipsus (301 BC), his territories in Asia Minor became subject to Lysimachus, but in a battle fought at Curupedion ( 281 BC ) the 80 year old Lysimachus was defeated by the 77 year old Seleucus Nicator, thus ending the Macedonnian rule in Cappadocia and establishing the Seleucid rule.

          INDEPENDENT KINGDOM OF CAPPADOCIA 4th CENTURY B.C. to A.D. 17
          After the death of Alexander an independent Cappadocian kingdom was established. During this period the history of the region was turbulent and characterized by numerous intrigues. The Ariarathes dynasty traditionally sought political alliances through marriages between powerful families and provincial kings. Cappadocia became a battleground for local power struggles as well as conflicts between the kingdom of Pontus (Black Sea) and the Roman Empire.

          This period in the history of the Cappadocian kingdom was marked by a confused struggle power. The death of Ariarathes VIII left two candidates for the throne. One was Mithridates’ candidate. When Mithritade resorted to force to place his own candidate on the throne this aroused great discontent among the people of Cappadocia whereupon the Roman Senate intervened in opposition to both candidates, declaring that the administration of Cappadocia should be placed in the hands of the people. The struggle for political dominance in the region continued until Cappadocia became a Roman province in A.D. 17.

          ROMANS IN CAPPADOCIA A.D. 17 to 4th CENTURY
          In 20 BC Augustus transferred Armenia minor and Rough Ciliciato Archelaus. According to Strabo, Archelaus spent most of his time on the island of Elaiussa (Ayas, Erdemli) in Rough Cilicia. Here he founded the city of Elaiussa, which allowed him to use the epithet “Ktistes” (founder) on his coins. As an expression of his gratitude to Augustus he changed the name of the city to Sebaste, the Greek form of Augustus which possessed the additional meaning of “sacred”. Archelaus also founded a city bearing his own name (Archelais) (after the conversion of Cappadocia into a province Claudius transformed this city into a Roman colony). On the king’s death very shortly afterwards the kingdom of Cappadocia was officially transformed into a Roman province (Provincia Cappadocia) (17 AD). On assuming the status of a Roman province, Cappadocia began to be ruled by a governor (procurator) chosen from the Equestrian order.

          After over three centuries of Roman rule over Cappadocia the region was inherited by the Eastern Roman Empire, which came into being with the partition of the empire in 395. Constantinus I (Constantine the Great) had declared Byzantium to be the eastern capital in 330, and the Western imperial line ended in 476, leaving the Eastern Roman Empire to outlive the West by nearly thousands years. This was what came to be known in modern times at the Byzantine Empire.

          BYZANTINE PERIOD 4th to 15th CENTURIES
          In 363 the Persians took the region east of the Euphrates, and in the fifth century incursions by the Huns and Isaurians caused havoc. Under the emperors Anastasius and Justinian walls were constructed around many towns in the region and existing walls repaired. Caesarea was completely rebuilt and the fortified cities of Mokissos and Kamuliani were founded, so creating a formidable defense system.

          The Byzantine emperors and the local inhabitants decided to take measures against sudden attacks and thus devised a system of defense comprised of several elements: governing by "themes" an "optic warning system”, the construction of additional forts, a good network of military and trade roads, and underground cities.

          The system of governing by "themes" provided for the distribution of land to generals, who were directly responsible to the emperor for protecting each "theme," one of which was Cappadocia. The land remained under the control of a general who could act independently with regard to recruiting, commanding, and choosing appropriate defensive strategy. The "optic warning system" was established by placing fires and lanterns on the tops of designated hills and mountains in the provinces. This system relayed messages all the way to the Great Lighthouse in Constantinople so that the capital would be informed about the exact moment of the enemy's attack. Many forts, castles, and watchtowers were placed at strategic positions such as passes and sources of water, and also linked the main towns. In addition to these defensive measures, the local inhabitants carved underground cities for their protection.

          SELJUK'S IN CAPPADOCIA 9th to 13th CENTURIES
          From the 9th century Anatolia witnessed the arrival of nomadic Turkish tribes from Central Asia, which originated in the Ural-Altai region and dispersed over vast areas from China to Europe.

          Byzantines in the region, and relative security prevailed for the next fifty years during the period of Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos (945 – 959) and Konstantinos Doukas (900 – 1070). The overthrow of the iconoclasts with the help of the Cappadocian monasteries, which defended their icons with fierce desperation, played its part in maintaining peace. From the second half of the ninth century until 1071, Byzantine Cappadocia enjoyed a golden age, and most of the churches and frescoes of the region are from this period.

          Then came the Seljuk Turks, pressing westwards from their empire in Iran. In 1057 the Turks attacked Malatya, and in 1059 Sivas, razing both cities. When they razed Kayseri in 1067 the Byzantine emperor Romanus the 4th made a last bid to save Cappadocia. In 1071 he arrived at the head of a huge army and marched eastwards to confront the Seljuk army at Malazgirt that same year. The Byzantines were defeated with heavy losses, and Cappadocia overrun by the Turks, never to be regained.

          In 1071 during the battle of Malazgirt, which occurred in the eastern part of modern-day Turkey, the Selcuk leader Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines, and thereafter the Selcuks gained undisputed control of Anatolian soil. The Seljuk Turks soon established their own centers of learning.

          During the 11th century the Seljuks chose Iznik as their first capital but later moved to Konya after the Crusaders captured Iznik and gave the city to the Byzantines. During the next centuries Anatolia became a battleground for Seljuks, Crusaders on their way to the Holy Lands, and Byzantine armies.

          During the reigns of Keyhusrev and Aladdin Keykubad in the 13th century, the Seljuks enjoyed a golden-age during which they reached both the Mediterranean and Black Seas where they built shipyards. They also constructed magnificent caravanserais, medreses (schools), and mosques throughout the empire. By the mid-13th century the Mongols started attacking various parts of the empire, and eventually they invaded all of Anatolia. Kayseri was captured and looted by the Mongols, under whose domination the Seljuks remained until 1302.

          The Seljuk Empire was the first Turkish empire established on Anatolian soil. Although its rise and fall occurred in less than two centuries, this empire laid the foundations of Ottoman culture and art. The Seljuks brought with them unmistakable influences of the nomadic cultures of Central Asia and enriched and enhanced the history of central Anatolia