Anatolian Civilizations in
A n a t o l
i a n C i v i l i z a t i o n s / P r e h i s t o r i c P e
r i o d / H i t t i t e / U r a r t u / P h r y g i a n
L y d i a n / H
e l l e n i c / R o m a n / B i z a n s / S e l j u c k s / O t t o m a n
A n a t o l i a n C i v i l i z a t i o
Anatolia, the land of sun and history, is one of the rare places in the
world which have been inhabited ever since the first man was seen on the earth. The
Palaeolithic Age, which we call the Stone Age, reigned between the years 600.000-10.000
B.C. in Anatolia and was followed by the Mesolithic and Neolithic Ages. The men began to
leave their caves between the years 8000-5500 B.C. during the Neolithic Age, and to
establish villages on the meadows. We can conduct studies on this culture in ancient
localities of habitation such as Diyarbakir, Çatalhöyük, Konya and Burdur Hacilar. The
men lived the Chalcolithic age, which we call the metal-stone, after Neolithic Age. The
early Bronze Age followed the metal-stone age and it was lived through very gloriously in
Anatolia. An indigenous tribe called Hatti lived in central Anatolia during this age. We
see the golden works of art of this magnificent civilization belonging to the years
2300-2000 B.C., in the royal tombs in Alacahöyük. A civilization similar to this one was
lived in Troy II during the same age in Anatolia.
The Hittites who came to Anatolia in the ears of 2000 B.C. lived in
principalities for a while, and then in the years of 1800 B.C., they, established a state
and made Hattusas the capital. We can study the art of the Hittite people who created a
great civilization in Anatolia between the years 1800-1200 B.C. in the localities such as
Hattusas (Bogazköy), Yazilikaya and Alacahöyük.
The Hittites were destroyed by the unceasing attacks of the sea tribes
during the years 1200 B.C., But their usage and customs survived until 650 B.C. in the
south Anatolian cities such as Malatya, Maras, Kargamis, Zincirli, which are called the
late Hittite city-states. When the Hittite State ceased to exist, the Urartu people
founded a state in eastern Anatolia, made Van the capital city and stepped on the scene of
history (860-580 B.C.). The works of art made of ivory and bronze which showed their
master workmanship were discovered as a result of the excavations carried on in the
Fortress of Van, in Urartu cities such as Toprakkale, Altintepe and Çavustepe. When the
Urartus were utterly destroyed by the Ischits in the year 580 B.C., the Phrygians founded
a state in central Anatolia, with Gordion as the capital, but they also disappeared from
the scene of history at the beginning of the 8th century B.C. by reason of the raids of
the Kimmers. The Phrygian works of art found in the tomb of their legendary King Midas,
are exhibited at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. The Lydians succeeded
the Phrygians by founding a state in western Anatolia and made Sardes the capital. When
the Lydians were defeated by the Persians in the year 546 B.C., the whole Anatolia was
conquered by the Persians.
Anatolia was taken over by Alexander the Great when he defeated the
Persians in 333 B.C., and by his inheritors after his death. So, Anatolia was the site of
the Hellenistic period between the years 330 and 30 B.C. We observe that the Kingdom of
Pergamum developed and became more powerful during this period. Many works of art created
during the Hellenistic Period were inspired by the style of art, called the Pergamum
style. Since Attolos III. the king of Pergamum, had no inheritors, he ceded his territory
to Rome in 133 B.C., and Anatolia was wholly integrated to Roman territory in this way.
Anatolia was furnished with magnificent structures during the Roman period, too. The
structures of the Hellenistic Period and those of the Roman Period are seen to exist in an
intermingled manner with each other in antique cities.
When Rome was divided into two as the Eastern Rome and Western Rome in
the year 395 A.D., Anatolia was left in the possession of the Eastern Roman Empire. The
most important works of art belonging to this empire. briefly called Byzantium, are the
magnificent works in such as Hagia Sophia, Chora and Hagia Irene. The exquisitely
beautiful Anatolia mosaics are seen here. In many localities of ruins, the works of art
belonging to the Anatolia period are seen to have succeeded the works of art belonging to
the Roman period.
The Seljukians who defeated the Anatolia people in 1071 during the
pitched battle in Malazgirt, took possession of Anatolia gradually. They founded the
Seljukian State of Anatolia and made Konya the capital. Medresses with magnificent stone
doors, caravanserai inns and mosques have also survived until today from the time of the
Seljukians. The most famous ones among these are Buruciye in Sivas, The Medresse With
Double Minarets in Sivas. Yakutiye in Erzurum, The Medresse With Double Minarets in
Erzurum, the Medresse With Fine Minarets in Konya, the Medresse of Karatay Saib Ata. The
mosques such as the Grand Mosque of Divrigi, the Grand Mosque of Malatya, the Mosque of
Alaaddin in Konya, the Grand Mosque of Beysehir are some of the mosques belonging to the
Seljukian period. In addition to these, many caravanserais built in order to provide
halting places for the caravans and monumental tombs which have survived standing
magnificently until today, are the most beautiful examples of the Seljukian art. Owing to
the fact that the Seljukiyans were left powerless by the Mongolian invasion and ceased to
exist officially later, the principalities subjected to the Seljukians declared themselves
independent in certain places. One of them was the Ottoman principality which declared
independence in Sö§¼t in the year 1299. The Ottoman principality became more powerful
day by day and enlarged its territory continually thus transforming itself from
principality to an empire. The Ottomans ruled over Anatolia for 600 years between the
dates 1299 and 1923 and they provided training facilities for architects, like Sinan the
Architect, leaving behind magnificent works of art such as the Mosques of Selimiye,
Süleymaniye, Sultanahmet and many other architectural works such as palaces, kiosks and
fortresses. They created wonders in handicrafts of carpet making, tile-making and
miniature, besides the architectural works.
The Ottoman State collapsed after the World War I and the young
Republic of Turkey was founded in its place in 1923, with Ankara the capital city. In
addition to many antique cities that can be visited in Turkey there are other interesting
places which have a varied history, namely Cappadocia, the Mount Nemrut, Lycian Region.
The Black sea is a land of greenness in itself.
T h e P r e h i s t o r i c P e r i o d
Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze
Ages: It is not enough to describe the age of Anatolia by saying Anatolia is as
old as history, since history starts with the discovery of writing. As it was,
civilization started in Anatolia 600,000 years before writing first appeared on the scene.
After a long period of gradual evolution, human beings developed into
Homo Sapiens and he came to dominate the world with his superior intelligence. He first
struggled against nature, and then against the savage beasts in his environment. He
learned to make flint blades from polished stones and turn them into weapons to protect
himself while securing food by hunting and foraging. Just as they have been excavated in
several other places around the world, we can also find numerous examples of the first
stone tools made by primitive people that lived in Anatolia.
The epoch in which human beings hunted prey and defended themselves
with stone weapons is referred to as the Paleolithic or Stone Age (600000-10000 B.C.).
Excavations have revealed the presence of primitive life in Anatolia where we may also see
the creativeness of these incredulous beings that stemmed from the development of
intelligence. As we have found the presence of primitive man in Anatolia, this land had
been continuously populated and many cultures had been created ever since first footfall
of these primitive humans.
We can see man's development continuing past the Paleolithic Age, which
has been divided into three sections, Upper, Middle and Lower, into the Mesolithic Age
The Neolithic or Late Stone Age proceeded (8000-5500 B.C.) the
Paleolithic. Following the end of the final Ice Age, man began to move away from being
merely hunters or gatherers and took up sowing and harvesting crops from the earth and
began settlement life. These people had learned how to make utensils and crafted them into
pleasant shapes and painted them in order to make their utilization more enjoyable.
Excavation sites in Diyarbakir, Çayönü and Malatya, Caferhöyük,
which represent the pre-ceramic period in Anatolia, show that Anatolian man had passed
over to a producer lifestyle during this age. As we can clearly see from Late Stone Age or
Neolithic Age artifacts found in Çatalhöyük, near Konya in Central Anatolia, it took
mankind hundreds of thousands of years of development to arrive at this position.
Culture had advanced so far in Çatalhöyük that it is impossible to
come across any resemblance in the Near East or Aegean regions. In looking at the female
figurines found at Çatalhöyük and Hacilar, we see that the gods of that period were
considered to have taken human form. We may follow the continuation of Çatalhöyük
Neolithic culture at Hacilar Höyük, near Burdur. Also, Yümüktepe in Mersin and
Gözlükule in Tarsus were important centers for the spreading of Neolithic culture
throughout Anatolia. Following the Stone Age culture came the Metal Age, otherwise known
as the Chalcolithic Age (5500-3000 B.C.). Man had discovered metal in the Stone Age, but
he was not able to process it and could not benefit from it in daily life. It is in this
age, that man discovered copper and in processing it, put it to use. Artifacts from the
Chalcolithic Age may be seen in Hacilar, near Burdur. While following the customs and
traditions of the Neolithic Age, people felt the need to surround their villages and towns
with walls, as they were now living in communities and had the desire to extend their
lands and govern other groups. Again, we may see that they worshipped communally by
structures thought to be religious structures in Alisar and Alacahöyük. The other
centers of the Chalcolithic Age in Anatolia are: Canhasan in Karaman, Beycesultan in
Denizli and in Southern Anatolia Yümüktepe in Mersin and Gözlükule in Tarsus.
Following this we begin to see traces of the Early Bronze Age in Anatolia between
3000-2000 B.C. This period heralds the discovery of various metals and the extensive use
of copper, silver and gold. By blending gold with silver to form an alloy known as
electrum and blending copper with tin, they formed bronze, a stronger alloy in which the
period is named. This age is divided into three parts; Early, Middle and Late Bronze Age
and was also the age prior to the Hittites. By now, small principalities had been formed
around fortified towns. Excavations at Alacahöyük site were begun under the orders of
Atatürk, and revealed first the Chalcolithic level, followed by early Bronze Age
settlements. The 13 royal burial graves found here revealed some of the finest artifacts
of the period, including golden crowns, golden buckles, jewellery and drinking vessels.
Other remains of the period include the burial mounds of Ahlatlibel near Ankara and
Horoztepe near Tokat. In the graves dating back to 2300 B.C., in addition to the golden
ornamental articles, a large amount of bronze sun discs were also recovered.
At Horoztepe, located in the principality of Tokat, where the modern
day cemetery was dug up, an Early Bronze Age cemetery was also excavated. Numerous
artifacts of the same type were uncovered, making it easier to identify the period. Among
the findings in the graveyard dating back to 2300 B.C. were metallic fruit dishes, spouted
jugs, mirrors, sun discs and musical instruments, such as castanets. On the other hand,
molded sculpture works such as the Horoztepe figurine of a mother breast-feeding a child
and the Hasanoglan figurine display interesting features of this period.
The prominent Eastern Anatolia centers of this Age were Aslantepe,
Pulur and Nursintepe. The most important center in Western Anatolia was Troy. In addition
to these sites, the other major Anatolian centers were Beycesultan, Semahöyük, Alisar,
Kültepe, Ikiztepe in Samsun, Mahmatlar in Amasya, Kuruçay, Kusura and Demircihöyük. To
whom did all of the artifacts uncovered at Alacahöyük, Horoztepe and the other centers
belong to? They were the masterpieces of a tribe called Hatti, the name given also to the
local people of Anatolia. When the Hittites arrived in Anatolia around 2000 B.C. after
crossing over the Caucasian Mountains, they found the native Hatti already settled there,
and were gradually absorbed into their culture.
The bronze sun symbol, one of the most outstanding cult images of the
period, consisted of a central solar figure surrounded by radial lobes, said to represent
the planets. This symbol shows the Hatti's sophisticated astrological knowledge. Even
though the Hatti succumbed to the more powerful Hittites, many of their cults and social
structures lived on during the Hittite period. Even the name of the capital city,
Hattushash came from the word Hatti, and during the Hittite period Anatolia was called
"the land of the Hatti."
Previously seen in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, the central
figure of a bull stag framed with symbols and decorated with discs was the sign of Hatti
hegemony. These very finely wrought symbols were used during religious ceremonies and were
carried on the ends of long poles by priests during processions. When these poles were
shaken, rhythmic sounds emanating from the rings set upon the discs either regulated the
tempo or else were a signal to commence or terminate the procession.
The royal graves found at Alacahöyük were rectangular shaped and
covered with wooden beams. Bones found on top of the beams were of sacrificial animals and
were an indication that the dead had undergone a large ceremony. The dead were buried with
their knees bent, and next to them were placed funerary objects, such as golden crowns,
belts, necklaces, earrings, silver combs and mirrors, cups and jugs and many other similar
articles for everyday use. Fine diadems and sacred bells symbolizing the universe and the
stars complete the image of a sophisticated early culture.
30 km north of Alacahöyük lies Pazarli, where a mound revealed levels
from the Late Bronze age, the Hittite period and the Phrygian era, while excavations
conducted by the Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum five km from Alacahöyük at
Eskiyapar have revealed ornamental artifacts from gold, electrum and silver and thus have
enriched findings from the Late Bronze Age.
A number of settlements from this period existed at Alisar, Kalinkaya,
Kalehisar, further north at Mahmatlar, Horoztepe, near Ankara at Karaoglan, Karayavsan,
Ahlatlibel. These settlements indicate to us that the Late Bronze Age was centered in this
Towards the end of the Late Bronze Age in Anatolia, at the beginning of
the second millennium, there existed several other small local kingdoms, including those
of Kanesh, Hattushash, Zalpa and Kushaurra, which all traded with Assyria. Sometimes these
kingdoms held good relations and other times they were on bad terms with each other.
Today, a palace determined to have belonged to a King Warshama has been uncovered at the
Kültepe excavation site, located near Kayseri.
Kanesh was a commercial center inhabited by Assyrian traders and it was
from here that perfume, tin and clothing arriving in caravans of 200-250 donkeys from
Assyria were distributed to Anatolian towns such as Alacahöyük, Alisar, Bogazköy and
Acemhöyük. In exchange for goods, the Assyrian merchants traded for gold, coins or
The local prince under whose hegemony they traded and the Assyrians
themselves became very prosperous over a period of 100 to 150 years, while the local
people were unable to pay their debts due to the high interest rates demanded by the
Assyrians. Finally, the discontented populace overthrew the local prince and expelled the
Assyrians, thus ending what was known as the Assyrian Colonial Trading Period.
The King Warshama's palace at Kanesh was burnt down, hence the hill of
ashes near Kayseri (Kültepe) explains this collapse.
T h e H i t t i t e C i
v i l i z a t i o n
During the 18th century B.C., towards the end of the Assyrian Colonial
Period and while the Hittites were still a small principality, they took control of
Hattushash while under the command of Anittash. By securing sovereignty among the other
principalities, the Hittites established a state. After Anittash, came Tudhalish I,
Pusharummash, who was followed by King Labarnash.
When Labarnash died in 1660 B.C., he was succeeded by Hattushilish I,
and during his reign the boundaries of the Hittites extended as far as Aleppo.
Hattushilish left a will in which he bequeathed his kingdom to his grandson Murshilish,
thus disinheriting his own eldest son, Huzzihash. Murshilish I, who became king in 1660
B.C. in accordance with the will, captured Babylon by defeating King Shamsu-Ditana and
extended the Hittite boundaries to include annexed Syria as well. However, a revolt that
occurred back in Hattushash while he was in Syria eventually ended with his dethronement.
However, he then recovered the throne from Hantilish, who had
overthrown him together with Zidantash and he was killed by his son Ammunhash. During the
period of this patricidal ruler, famine was rampant and there were several revolts. Cities
such as Arzawa, Adanuya and Shalappa were the first to revolt, and these were joined by
the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna, with whom the Hittites were finally forced to sign a treaty on
equal terms. Northern Syria fell under Mitanni domination, while the state continued to
diminish in power and began to shrink. Continuous struggles for the throne lingered on
until Shuppilulima came to power in 1375 B.C. thus putting an end to the struggles for
supremacy that had begun in 1590 B.C. Telipinush, who took the throne between the years
1535-1510 B.C. also tried to put an end to conflicts over succession, for which purpose he
issues his famous proclamation, the Telipinush Decree. After his reign the entire ancient
Near East was engulfed in a period of darkness until 1450 B.C. During this period, the
area was inundated by new influxes of migrating tribes, of which we have little
The reign of Telipinush was followed by several brief reigns in
succession. These were the reigns of Alluwamnash, Hantilish II, Zidantash II, Huzzihash
II, Tudhaliyash II, Arnuwandash I, Hattushilish II, Tudhaliyash III and Arnuwandash II.
The once-powerful Hittite state lost its power and influence in the south and southeast.
The Hurrians took advantage of this situation by setting up the Mitanni
state and for a period of almost 100 years, it was the period's second most powerful
political entity after Egypt. After the reign of Huzzihash II, which lasted between
1460-1440 B.C., Tudhaliyash II sat on the Hittite throne and became the founder of the
great Hittite Kingdom. This ruler had campaigned against Syria, Kizzuwatna, Kargamysh and
Halpa and brought them back into the Hittite realm. After King Tudhaliyash II, Arnuwandash
I came to power between 1440-1420 B.C. while his wife Queen Asmunikal managed the throne.
This was followed by Hattushilish II taking over the throne between 1420-1400 B.C. and who
was followed by Tudhaliyash III. This ruler protected the benefits of the Hittites against
the Aleppo kingdom in the Southeast, the Kasga Kingdom in the north and Arzova Kingdom in
the south. However due to his illness, he sent his son Shuppiluliuma I as commander of the
expeditions. Despite the fact that Shuppiluliuma took the throne by disregarding the laws,
he went on to become the most powerful commander and most successful statesman in Hittite
history. (1380-1345 B.C.). On the death of Shuppiluliama in 1345 B.C., the throne was
taken over by his son Arnuwandash II, but due to his death from plague in the same year,
Murshilish II succeeded to the throne at a very young age. This ruler considerably
extended the borders of the Hittite state, and when he died of the plague after a reign of
thirty years, in 1315 B.C., he was succeeded by his oldest son, Muvattali. He first
strengthened the borders of his country, like his father, before beginning preparations
for an assault on Egypt. The Hittite Army, comprised of 35,000 infantry and 3,500 battle
chariots, marched against Egypt, who retaliated with four army battalions. The two armies
clashed at Kadesh and it was after this battle, which ended as a stalemate, that Amurru
was handed back to the Hittites. The war that began in 1286 B.C. ended in 1269 B.C. with
the signing of the first peace treaty ever written in history, known as the Treaty of
Kadesh. The war's architect, Muvattali died in battle and the agreement was thereby signed
by Hattushilish III. Prior to becoming ruler, Hattushilish III had succumbed to the abuse
of his nephew, Urhi Teshup. The territory that Hattushilish once controlled was away from
him. Finally, he could not put up with the situation any longer and decided to declare war
against his nephew. The people of the country supported the sensible Hattushilish III,
whereas he won the war and was proclaimed king (1275-1250 B.C.). At first, the monarch
skillfully managed to put his internal and foreign politics in order and the country
attained a sense of peace and tranquillity. This climaxed with the Treaty of Kadesh. The
silver slabs on which the original treaty was etched upon are lost. However, there are two
copies of the treaty that were found engraved upon the walls of the Karnak Temple in two
different languages, complete with translations of the opposing party's conditions for
peace. In this treaty, it was written that the Hittites got the better end of the deal and
giving the daughter of Hattushilish III to Ramses proved to be the icing on the cake. One
of the copies of the treaty that was originally engraved on the wall of the Karnak Temple
in Egypt, was uncovered in the Bogazköy excavations and is presently on display at the
Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.
When the Hittite ruler Hattushilish III, who was a fine soldier and
skillful diplomat, finally died, he left behind a peaceful country. His successor was the
child king Tudhalish IV, who reigned over the Hittites together with his mother, the
dowager Queen Puda-Hepa (1250-1220 B.C.). Queen Puda-Hepa was so highly respected and her
name mentioned so often, her seal was stamped everywhere together with that of the king's.
Meanwhile, the Assyrians were constantly gaining power and were turning into a dangerous
risk. They caused rebellions all along the southern boundary and Tudhalish IV spent his
the rest of his life trying to surpress these rebellions. Upon his death, in 1220 B.C., he
was succeeded by his son Arnuwandash IV. According to documents uncovered during an
excavation, Arnuwandash was succeeded by his brother Shuppiluliuma II (1200-1190 B.C.).
However, during the reign of this king, continuous streams of migrant hordes, called
"the people of the Aegean," began flowing into Anatolia from Europe. These
hordes disrupted the empire by burning everything in their path and advancing as far as
Egypt. These influxes wiped out the Hittite Empire, which had evolved into a highly
sophisticated civilization over 600 years in Anatolia. We can find examples of Hittite
architecture and sculpture at the Bogazköy site as well as two open-air temples located
nearby, one of which is in Yazilikaya and the other in Alacahöyük. Other significant
works that reflect the magnificent artistic skills of the Hittites are found at sites such
as Gavurkale, Hanyeri, Karabel, Niobe, Sirkeli, Fraktin, Eflatun Pinar and the Tasçi Kaya
One can also find numerous examples of Hittite ceramic art on display
in several museums. Some of more important pieces that have provided us with priceless
knowledge about Hittite ceramic handicrafts are bull-shaped pots, spouted jugs, and two
vases. One of them, the Bitik vase, depicts a marriage ceremony, and the other, known as
the Inandik vase, depicts musicians and religious ceremonies.
After the collapse of the Hittite State in 1200 B.C., their culture
continued in the Late Hittite city states until the year 650 B.C. These were centers like
Meliddu and Kummuhi near Malatya, and Gurgum, Kargamis, and Samal (Zincirli) near Maras.
T h e U r a r t u
C i v i l i z a t i o n
After the fall of the Hittite empire, at the beginning of the first
millennium B.C., a new kingdom was formed in eastern Anatolia, which was to survive for
three hundred years. This was the kingdom of the Urartu, who were related to the Hurrians
and were closely related to the Hittites in origin. However, the Urartu are historically
looked upon as a civilization that had its own particular set of characteristics. The
Urartu carried many of the customs and traditions of the Hittites into the first
millennium, and can be said to have been a typically Anatolian culture. During the Early
Urartu period, they were grouped in a series of emirates known as the Nairi, but in 900
B.C., they formed a confederation under a central monarch.
We know from inscriptions that the first Urartu ruler was Aramu
(860-840 B.C.), followed by Sardur I (840-830 B.C.). Sardur I was responsible for adding a
tower to the fortress of Van, which was completed during his reign. The inscription refers
to him as the ruler of the Nairi, suggesting that the other emirates had rallied around
him by this time. During the reigns of Sardur I and his successor Ishpuinis, (830-810
B.C.) the capital of Urartu was Van, which became steadily larger and more prosperous.
Ishpuinis appointed his son Menuas as co-administrator during his reign and extended the
Urartu frontiers, taking the city of Mushashir near Gevas. This made the Urartu a
significant threat to the Assyrians. King Ishpuinis died in 810 B.C. and was succeeded by
his son Menuas (810-780 B.C.). He was followed by Argishtish I (780-760 B.C.). The latter
extended the Urartu frontiers even further and built up a chain of fortresses against
After the death of Argishtish I, Sardur II came to the throne (760-730
B.C.), and it was during his reign that the Urartu state reached its greatest proportions.
Upon his death, he was succeeded by Rusas I (730-713 B.C.), during whose reign the Urartu
were confronted with fierce opposition from the Assyrians. The frontiers of Urartu were
threatened on several occasions, and to combat this, the Urartu built buffer towns on the
edges of their territory that were abandoned in times of danger, and later inhabited.
Rusas I was succeeded by his son Argishtish II (713-685 B.C.) after
whom Rusas II (685-645 B.C.), Sardur III (645-625 B.C.), Erimena (625-605 B.C.), and Rusas
III (605-590 B.C.) reigned in turn. He was followed by Sardur IV, who reigned between
590-585 B.C. The Urartu were weakened by the constant raids of the Assyrians, Medes and
Scythians. In the end, the state of Urartu was annihilated in 585 B.C. by the Scythian
invasion. The Urartu, a tribe of powerful warriors in times of war, were farmers in times
of peace. They were ruled by monarchs who also bore the title of chief-priest or envoy of
Haldi, the major deity. Other deities in the Urartu pantheon included Teisiba, god of the
heavens, who was known as Teshub among the Hittites and the Hurrians, and Siwini, the sun
goddess. Many temples dedicated to Haldi, some of which were adjoining royal palaces,
while others were free-standing structures, have been unearthed in excavations at
Altintepe, Toprakkale, Patnos and Çavustepe.
Urartu excavations have revealed not only palaces and temples of the
Haldiye period, but also houses of the period, complete with windows and balconies. The
interiors of these houses were decorated with various motifs. However far away the water
source may have been, each settlement had a complete water supply and drainage system. One
feature of Urartu architecture that was to be very influential in the Near East was the
blind arch, and we can see that the layout of Urartu buildings was the precursor to that
of the Iranian apadana layouts. Urartu fortresses, solid structures of dressed stone
blocks were thought to have numbered thirty in all. The most important of these were the
fortresses at Van, Anzaf, Çavustepe and Baskale. The art of metalwork was certainly
highly advanced in Urartu, and perhaps the greatest proof of this was the fact that Urartu
artifacts were exported to Phrygia and Etruria. This is how the magnificent bull-headed
cauldrons of the Urartu came to be found in Italy.
T h e P h r y g i a n C
i v i l i z a t i o n
The Phrygians arrived in Anatolia in 1200 B.C., among the migrating
tribes known as the "people of the Aegean Sea." At first they lived in Central
Anatolia, building settlements over the ashes of cities of the Hittites such as
Hattushash, Alacahöyük, Pazarli and Alisar. At the beginning of the eighth century B.C.,
they set up their capital at Gordion.
We are familiar with King Midas from his epic, and from the discovery
of his burial chamber. Midas, who succeeded to the throne in 738 B.C., defended the
eastern and western frontiers of Phrygia quite well, but could not resist the attacks of
the Cimmerians advancing from the Caucasian region. After his defeat by this tribe in 695
B.C., it is said that he committed suicide by drinking bull's blood. Without a doubt, the
largest mound in Gordion was that covering the tomb of King Midas. It is 53 m (174 ft)
high and 300 m (984 ft) wide.
The large, almost square-shaped burial chamber is 6.2 m (20 ft) long
and 5.15 m (17 ft) wide. The skeleton of King Midas was laid on a large bench, surrounded
by other benches on which lay various gifts for the afterworld. Close observation of the
skeleton revealed that King Midas died when he was around 60 years old, and that he was
quite short in stature, 1.59 m (5 ft). Found on the floor of the tomb chamber were 166
bronze funeral gifts that most likely fell off the nine tables and walls. In addition,
there were also 145 bronze fibula laid at the head of the deceased.
The lack of gold reveals that it was not a custom among the Phrygians
to present funerary gifts crafted from gold. Influenced by Hittite art, Phrygian art, in
turn, influenced Etruscian art in Italy. However, they were also directly influenced by
the Urartu in Eastern Anatolia. For instance, they imported the Urartu figure of a bull's
head and worked it on a cauldron of strictly Phrygian form. Metal ores were known and used
in metalwork during the Early and Mid-Bronze Ages, from 2500 B.C. onwards. However, it was
only around 1000 B.C. that Phrygian metalwork forms borrowed from pottery and metal
vessels entered popular use. Phrygian art can be divided into three categories: 1- Local
Phrygian ware; 2- Urartu import ware; 3- Assyrian import ware. These groups are again
divisible into two major phases consisting of artifacts found in mounds dating before 695
The pottery of the Phrygian period was fine polychrome ware, which can
be distinguished basically as early and late ware. Because of the Lydian domination of
Anatolia during the late period, it bears western Anatolian influence (after 695 B.C.).
As a contrast to the Hittite-based motifs of the early period, in later
ware we see studded patterns within lozenge-shaped frames, and again studded motifs on
animal forms. Complicated motifs took the place of very simple and geometric motifs from
the old period. Instead of one color painted over another color, they started to be
painted in many colors. Where animal shapes previously took on a schematic look to them,
pieces from the late period showed evolvement. In addition, the late period witnessed
motifs of meander, dots and plaited hair. Filtered vessels that had little application in
daily life were seen to be popular as a funerary gift. Today, Phrygian works of art are on
exhibit at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. Apart from their capital Gordion,
Pessinus was also a major Phrygian settlement. Examples of Megaron planned,
semerdam-roofed houses were carved into the rock tombs. These may be seen around Afyon and
Eskisehir. The Aslantas rock monument near Afyon and the ruins of Midas, near Eskisehir
are among the most important monuments of the Phrygian period in Anatolia, and are where
the Phrygians worshipped their major deity Cybele and her lover Attis. The Phrygian
language belonged to the Indo-European group of languages and as it has not been
deciphered yet, our knowledge of the Phrygians is still quite limited.
T h e L
y d i a n C i v i l i z a t i o n
Subsequent to the downfall of Gordion, the Phrygian capital that was
obliterated by the Cimmerian hordes in 676 B.C., the Lydians took control of the Meander
plains and Gediz, which had been heavily influenced by the Hittites and Phrygians. The
Lydian State was soon established in Western Anatolia, with Sardis as its capital. During
the reign of King Gyges, Lydia established trade and good relationships with other states,
increasing its own wealth at the same time. It was he who had the famous royal road built
from Ephesus, through Sardis to the east. Heredotus of Halicarnassos wrote in detail the
history of the origins of this king in Caria, to which he himself belonged. His story
reveals much about the Lydians. Heredotus also recounts the history of the rulers before
Gyges, stating that these were of 22 generations, and ruled for a total of 505 years. This
shows us that the Lydians lived within a principality in this region for a long time
before establishing a state.
The reign of Gyges was indeed a remarkable one. Unfortunately, the
Cimmerians, who had meanwhile conquered Phrygia, then attacked the Lydians. King Gyges
managed to repulse the first attacks, but during the second onslaught, in 652 B.C., he
died on the battlefield. The affluent and prospering Lydian towns were plundered and razed
to the ground. The son of Gyges, Ardys took his place, who was succeeded by Sadyattes, who
in turn was succeeded 12 years later by Alyattes. The latter was to restore Lydia to its
former glory, and to banish the Cimmerians from Anatolia. He captured cities such as
Ephesos and Miletos, and extended the western frontiers as far as the Aegean Sea, and to
the east as far as the Kizilirmak River and the western border of Persia. The Lydians and
Persians then commenced a frontier struggle that was to go on for a very long time. In the
middle of this long lasting war, an agreement was reached in 585 B.C. By this time, the
greatest of the hawk kings, Croesus (575-546 B.C.) was on the throne of Lydia. During his
rule, the wealth of the state reached its peak. The treasury was filled with gold, and
Lydia minted its own coins for the first time in history whereas trade was steadily
increasing the wealth of the state. However, this wealth decreased the Lydian's interest
in defense, which was given over to mercenary soldiers.
As history recalls, the armies of the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great
marched into Anatolia and confronted the troops of Lydia on the banks of the Kizilirmak.
The Lydian monarch lost the battle, and was forced to retreat to Sardis in order to
regroup his forces. Not having estimated that the Persians would pursue them with such
speed, they were forced to defend their capital. The Persians were ordered to swarm the
city walls, and the camel-riding Persian soldiers charged the Lydian cavalry. The horses
were frightened by the camels, and so the Lydians, deprived of their most powerful
defense, the cavalry, retreated into the city. Just two weeks later, the finest city in
the Near East was in the hands of the Persians, and was looted and razed to the ground.
Cyrus the Great had Croesus tied to a stake and gave orders for him to be burned. However,
he later felt sorry for the monarch, and tried to have the fire extinguished. No attempts
could put out the flames, but just then a downpour doused the fire. The Persian sovereign
became convinced that Croesus was favored by the Gods, and had him called to his side. He
asked, "Croesus, who told you to attack my land and meet me as an enemy instead of a
The King replied, "it was caused by your good fate and my bad
fate. It was the fault of the Greek gods, who with their arrogance, encouraged me to march
onto your lands. Nobody is mad enough to chose war whilst there is peace. During times of
peace, the sons bury their fathers, but in war it is the fathers who send their sons to
the grave." Cyrus liked these words, and having Croesus untied, he drew him near.
Croesus looked at the city of Sardis, which was being looted at the time and begged
permission to speak. When Cyrus gave him permission, he asked what the mobs were doing.
Cyrus replied that they were looting the city, whereupon Croesus replied, "The city
is no longer mine, it is your city they are looting." So, the dynasty of Lydia, the
kingdom and all its major cities were razed to the ground and the whole of Anatolia
entered into a period of Persian rule. Burial mounds found along the shore of the Marmara
Lake near Salihli belong to the Lydia Kings and are called "Bintepeler" (1000
hills). Ninety of these mounds are known to have been the burial sites of Lydian
aristocracy and royal families. It is understood that a mound of 69 m (226 ft) high
belonged to King Alyattes. The priceless works of art known as the Treasure of Karun,
which were first smuggled to America and then returned to Turkey to be exhibited at the
Usak Museum, show us how far Lydian art had advanced.
T h e H e l l e n i c P
e r i o d
By defeating the Lydians in 546 B.C., the Persians dominated over all
of Anatolia. Though complete sovereignty lasted for almost 200 years, Anatolian art and
traditions continued to survive. Meanwhile, twelve Ionian towns scattered around Western
Anatolia such as Ephesus, Miletus and Priene got together to form the Ionian Civilization,
leading the way to the most brilliant period since the Early Egyptian and Mesopotamian
People from the Ionian towns of Miletus and Kolophans ventured forth to
spread their culture and set up colonies in the Marmara and Black Sea regions. Around 550
B.C., two great philosophers of the period, Anaximandros and Anaximenes mentioned that it
was the `atom' that was at the core of all materials. In 585 B.C. Thales of Miletus
calculated the eclipse of the sun an entire year before it occurred. In Ionia, which was
nourished by the epic works of the Smyrna (modern day Izmir) poet Homer around 750 B.C.,
there were new poets like Anakreon of Teos and Hipponax of Sardis reciting their poems in
the free Ionian towns. Xenophones of Kolophan and Herakleitos of Ephesus acted as
representatives of free thinking between the years 540-500 B.C. Heredotus of Bodrum
travelled the world and put to pen famous histories for the benefit of humanity. From
Miletus, there was Hippodamos, the expert on town planning who reconstructed Priene and
Miletus with a new concept. While the Persians ruled all parts of Anatolia not under the
control of the Ionians, there also existed the Lycian Civilization with its own
characteristics, reaching from the Dalaman Stream to as far as the region surrounding
Antalya. Today we can come across several 5th century B.C. Lycian towns with rock cliffs
carved into wooden house-shaped structures, serving as tombs and stone monuments.
The years 545-475 B.C. are known as the Archaic period. Instead of the
small carved statuettes that were notable in previous periods, the Archaic period is the
first time that large sized statues appeared on the scene. The figural Kouros and Kore
sculptures of this period pose with a monumental atmosphere, with their frontal poses, one
foot slightly ahead of the other, large eyes and furrowed brows. The serious, calm and
fixed face smiles are typical characteristics of the Archaic Age. The years between
475-334 B.C. are called the Classic Age. In this age, one of the seven wonders of the
world was selected, the Artemis Temple in Ephesus. The century's four most famous
sculptures such as Phidias, Polylet, Kresilas and Phradmon all competed for the Amazon
statue. Towards the end of the Classic period, around 350 B.C., four of the greatest
artisans of the period, Skopos, Timotheos, Leochares and Bryaxis worked to complete the
Bodrum Mausoleum, thus creating one of the seven wonders of the world. Praxiteles created
a revolution in art by making the naked Knidos Aphrodite. In the year 334 B.C., Alexander
the Great who could not suffice with Europe, set out on his Eastern Conquest and by
defeating the Persians, desired to rapidly proceed with setting up a world empire. The
Hellenic Age culture, which Alexander formed by blending the culture of the west with that
of the east, survived until 30 B.C. The culture and politics of the Hellenic Period hold a
special place in the history of civilization. The flow of Hellenism spread deep into Asia
and Africa, mixing with many native people that lived on large expanses of land.
It becoming a very effective way of forming a cultural collection of
universal qualities. Alexander the Great, the creator of the Hellenic Age was born in 356
B.C. He became King at 20 years of age and expanded the frontiers as far as Iran and India
in the East, and as far as North Africa, Mesopotamia and Syria in the south. At the age of
33, and while returning from his Asian conquest, he died in Babylon in 323 B.C. Upon his
death, the widespread lands were shared among his generals and several independent
Hellenic Kingdoms were formed, in which an endless struggle ensued. Finally, the Pergamum
Kingdom was established, which ruled over a major part of Anatolia for quite a long time.
Instead of the clumsy Doric order of the Archaic period, use of the Ionian order continued
along with the Corinthian order, which was a combination of the two and was commonly used.
During the period of the Persian occupation, the previously destroyed
Didyma Temple was planned to be rebuilt towards the 3rd century B.C. by Paionios of
Ephesus and Daphnis of Miletus. Construction had actually begun, however this magnificent
temple was never completed and remains in the same condition today. There were several
temples of which construction and repair work had continued, such as the Magnesia Artemis
Temple in Alabanda, which was constructed by Hermogenes and the Artemis Temple in Ephesus,
which was slated to be rebuilt with Alexander's assistance.
The most wonderful work of art of the Hellenic Period is the Pergamum
Zeus Altar, which was constructed in 180 B.C. to immortalize Eumenes II, who scored a
great victory over the Galatians. This grand altar emphasized the antique age of this
period's art of sculpture. In this temple, which was dedicated to the major deity Zeus and
his daughter Athena, we may see the struggle between the Gigants and Gods that was etched
upon the friezes. The intense feelings such as joy, pain and anxiety that are seen on the
faces in the friezes convey a Baroque concept. The exceedingly sharp movements of the
bodies causing the flow of hair and the helter-skelter of loosely fit clothing brings
about a play of the shadows and exaggerated body muscles that all reflect the
characteristics of the period's defined sculpture. Unfortunately, it is a pity that this
unique work of art of the Hellenic Period is not found in its original place, but sitting
in the Berlin Museum. In addition to temples, theaters were also constructed in this
period. For example, we can visit the Bergama Theater, which was the steepest theater of
the ancient world. Another of the most important developments of the Hellenic Period was
sculpture. The statues of this period show that realism was the dominant theme as opposed
to the prominence of idealism of the Classic Period. For this reason, instead of god
sculptures of the Classic Period, statues of men and women began to be made. At the
beginning of the Hellenic Period, the Lysippos style was the most prominent. In the
Hellenic Period, apart from the first school of sculpture, located in Bergama, another
sculpture center was established in Tralles, Aydin. Today, as we walk through the ruins of
ancient cities, we can see the Hellenic temples, theaters and other monuments standing
right next to these made in Rome.
T h e R
o m a n P e r i o d
During the Hellenic Period, when the Pergamum King Attalos II turned
over his territory to the Romans in 133 B.C., Rome gained control over Anatolia. In
addition to the immense territory around the Mediterranean that they governed, the Romans
had also established rich city states in regions such as Egypt, the Palestine, Syria and
Anatolia. Together with the Roman state concept came social, economic and political
conditions, which all gained large dimensions for art. As for the fact that Eastern
Mediterranean cities becoming Roman states, they blended in with previously existing local
sculptural and architectural traditions for balanced richness. Amongst the large statues
that decorated the monumental buildings were figures of gods, loved, powerful leaders and
From the standpoint of trying to gain control of the other states, the
Romans gave a lot of importance to Anatolia. The Roman Empire was made up of free cities.
For this reason, as many Anatolian cities informed Rome of their loyalty and friendship,
the Roman Emperors would pay visits to these cities. It was for this reason that Roman
Emperors were perhaps better known in Anatolia than back in Rome. During this period,
large buildings were being built in Anatolian cities, not on hills as they used to be, but
in places supported with rows of arches. In the Roman period, many of the theaters were
also built in the same fashion. The two-storied walls forming the theater stage were a
characteristic of Roman architecture. In the Hellenic Period, the orchestra pit was shaped
like a horseshoe, whereas it was transformed into a semi-circle in the Roman period. While
magnificent theaters like Aspendos were being constructed, theaters such as Pergamum,
Ephesus and Priene were repaired and utilized additional sections. After 80 B.C., once the
Romans had discovered central heating by passing hot air under the floor and through holes
in the brick walls, they constructed large thermal facilities. Today, the magnificent
Roman baths that can be found in all of the ancient cities were important from the point
of their once serving as sports schools. The Vedius Gymnasium and Miletus Faustina Bath in
Ephesus and the baths now used as museums in Side and Hierapolis are the best examples. In
addition, the mosaics decorating the floors of the baths also reflected the Roman art of
painting. Aqueducts were also a Roman invention.
The best examples of these architectural structures that once carried
water into town from distant places can be seen in Side, Aspendos, Phaselis and Ephesos.
Another typical Roman structure was the Triumphal Arch of which there are few examples of
these in Anatolia. However, magnificently constructed city entrance gates are quite common
throughout Anatolia. In the Roman Age, the sides of libraries the walls of stage entrances
and especially monumental fountains were ornately carved and decorated with statues.
Constructing roads with columns to protect people from the sun and rain was another Roman
discovery. Examples of these may be seen in the ancient cities of Ephesus, Miletus, Side
and others. In addition to the previously constructed temples that were repaired and used,
new temples such as the Augustos Temple in Ankara, the Zeus Temple in Aizanoi and the
Apollo Temple in Side were all newly constructed.
Today, it is possible to view these temples and theaters in our ancient
cities. The portrait art form was popular as a way of immortalizing historic Roman
personages. Instead of the idealistic lines of the old period, the art of Roman portrait
making reflected an individual's characteristic appearances.
Not only were portraits made for the emperor and his family, but for
those respected in society, clerks and thinkers. Ephesus, Miletus, Pergamon and
Aphrodisias were all important Anatolian sculpture centers in the Roman period. In
particular, masterpieces that were made from the white and blue-grey marble quarried from
Mt. Babadag near Aphrodisias were so fabulous that they were shipped to Greece and Italy.
T h e B y z a n t i n e
C i v i l i z a t i o n
When the last Roman Emperor Theodosios I died in the year 395 A.D.,
Rome was divided into two parts, the East and the West. Anatolia remained in the Eastern
Roman Empire. In contrast to the Western Roman Empire, which collapsed before too long,
the Eastern Roman Empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire, was remain on the scene
until 1453. The history of the Byzantine Empire showed a rise or fall according to the
successes or difficulties faced by the ruling emperor.
The Tribal Migration formed a danger for the newly established
Byzantine Empire. The Hun Turks proved to be a dangerous enemy for the empire under
Theodosios II (408-450 A.D.). However, the Byzantines reached a peaceful settlement with
the Huns by means of money. In the meantime, religious struggles shook the empire. The
competition for authority between the Roman and Byzantine churches started around this
time. One group of Christians supported the divinity of Jesus while another group valued
him more as a person than a god.
Marcianus took over the throne from Theodosios II, whom had the high
walls built around Byzantium. In 451, Marcianus held a religious council in Kadiköy in an
attempt to peacefully resolve ongoing religious strife, but the disputes did not end. The
tension escalated rapidly, whereas two Byzantine groups appeared, called the Blues and the
Greens. Justinianos I, who was Orthodox, took control of the empire and promptly reached
an accord with the Pope, thereby eliminating all dissension between the churches of the
west and east. Under the long rule of Justinianos I, the Byzantines experienced their most
productive period. In 532 A.D., the Blues and the Greens rebelled against the emperor in
the Hippodrome. This rebellion, known as the Nike Revolt, spread through the town rapidly,
whereas the town was plundered, houses burned to the ground, and the Hagia Sophia Church
was also totally devastated in a massive fire. Justinianos set out immediately to have
Byzantium reconstructed, the Hagia Sophia restored, had St.Irene Church and the
Underground Cisterns built, and had water brought to Byzantium through a network of
aqueducts. Besides Byzantium, he is also known to have the St.John Basilica built in
Ephesus. By adding the lands of Sicily and Corsica in Italy and North Africa to the
empire, Justinianos had turned the Mediterranean into a Byzantine lake. Following
Justinianos I, the Byzantine Empire passed through very difficult times between 565-1025.
In a decree handed down by Emperor Leo III in 726, it was forbidden to
worship icons, and all paintings of religious character were destroyed. This ban lasted
all the way through the reigns of Constantine V and Leo IV and it was only with
Constantine VI that a solution to the ban was presented. Although it was Empress Eirene
that had taken his post in state affairs and was the one in 787 that allowed the faithful
to offer respect to the icons, it was only in the year 842 when the ban was completely
removed. While these religious conflicts dragged on, Arab raids continued to be a thorn in
the side of the empire. Also, the Bulgarians made it as far as the outskirts of Byzantium,
and plundered the surrounding towns.
In the year 927, hunger and epidemic diseases rampaged through the
city. While the Turks were settling down in Anatolia, the plot continued to thicken in
Byzantium. Alexius I Comnenus (1180-1183) had the infamous Anamaz dungeons in Ayvansaray
erected to imprison those who revolted against him. It was during the reign of this
emperor that discontent has risen to an extreme level. It was only with the violent deaths
of both Alexius I Comnenus and his successor, Andronikos Comnenus I, that the public riots
While internal hostility for the throne persisted, the Fourth Crusade
(1201-1204) was diverted to Byzantium by Venetians and claimants to the Byzantine throne
from Egypt. The Crusaders pillaged the city, and set up the Latin Empire of
Constantinople. They looted all of the beautiful works of art from Byzantium and carried
them off to their country, and shared the valuables pillaged from the churches and palaces
amongst themselves. The lower hall of the Byzantine Palace was converted into a stable.
Bronze reliefs upon the Constantine VII columns were removed to mint money, statues of
horses in the Hippodrome, church doors and everything else of value was plundered and
The Byzantines fled to Iznik and made it the capital. By taking
advantage of the French and Venetian rivalry for the throne, they returned 57 years later,
in 1261, to chase the Franks from Byzantium. The Byzantine Emperor Mikhail Palaiologos
(1282-1328) came to Byzantium to sit on the Byzantine throne, but found the city looted,
destitute and in a miserable state. During the reign of Constantinos Palaiologos XI,
Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror conquered the city in 1453, and renamed it Istanbul.
Byzantine art is an exclusive product of the Eastern Empire. It is
totally medieval in form but developed in a peculiarly Byzantine way. In Byzantine art we
see Greek and Roman forms exposed to the stylistic influence of ancient Anatolian cultures
and eastern art. It reached a totally Byzantine synthesis within the religious framework
of the empire. Specific examples of this art, which took its main source from Anatolia may
be seen in several places around Anatolia.
The transition phase between the years' 400-500, when Christianity made
its biggest impact, is known as the Early Byzantine art. Byzantine art, which is divided
into three phases, the First, Middle and Late, lived through its first brilliant period
was the Justinianos period (527-565). Without a doubt, the most important work from this
period that has survived to this day is the Hagia Sophia Church. The architects Anthemios
of Tralles from Aydin and Isidoros of Miletus were commissioned to rebuild the church
after the Nike Revolt. It was reopened in 537 with a basilica plan and a central domed
One of the most beautiful examples of Byzantine art in the city of
Istanbul are the surrounding walls. The walls were constructed during the reign of
Theodosios II (408-450) and conveyed a military purpose as well as aesthetic beauty. Apart
from these, there are numerous works of Byzantine art that are scattered around Istanbul.
Among these are the Çemberlitas (Hooped Column), Kiztasi (Maiden Column), Dikilitas
(Planted Column), Yilanli Sütun (Snaked Column), Gotlar Sütunu (Goths Column), Örmeli
Sütun (Knitted Column), Büyük Saray (Grand Palace), Blakernal Sarayi (Blakernal
Palace), Tekfur Sarayi (Tekfur Palace), cisterns, aqueducts, and several churches, the
majority of which have been converted into mosques.
The well-preserved mosaics found inside both the chapel of Theotochos
Pammacharistos (Fethiye Mosque) and the Church of St. Saviour (known today as the Kariye
Museum) are important works that represent the Late Byzantine Period. Constantinople was
positioned as the art center of the empire. However, the source of its main influences was
Anatolia. For this reason, the most widespread and various examples of Byzantine art can
be seen in Anatolia. It is possible to come across Byzantine masterpieces in ancient
cities outside Istanbul. In particular, several temples in Anatolia had been restored and
converted into churches. The fact that there was an archbishop's palace in Aphrodisias,
Byzantine basilicas uncovered in Side, the formation of St. Philip's Martyrium in
Hierapolis (Pamukkale) and other ancient cities like these show us that after the Roman
Age, the Byzantine Age was a powerful entity.
Today, examples of small Byzantine handicrafts can be seen in museums.
If we take into consideration the many pieces of artwork that were smuggled to Europe
during the Latin Crusade of 1204, we may have a better understanding of the high quality
of these works. The treasure of masterpieces of the church found in Kordalya near modern
day Kumluca gives support to this idea. Some of these are found today in the Antalya
Museum. Constantinople was a city of splendid sacred buildings, frescoes, manuscripts,
fabric and valuable artifacts and adornments made of precious metals. This was an empire
which survived for an astonishing 1100 years, steeped in the mysteries of medieval
Works of art made with a mosaic technique were floor and wall mosaics.
The finest examples of wall mosaics are those of the Grand Palace, which date back to the
5th century and can be seen in the Istanbul Museum of Mosaics.
T h e S e l j u k
C i v i l i z a t i o n
The Turks of the Oguz tribes first converted to Islam during the 10th
century, when they conquered Iran and defeated the Gaznavids. Tugrul Bey's conquest of
Isfahan and Baghdad between 1050 and 1055 ensured their dominance in the Islamic world.
On the death of Tugrul Bey, his place as chieftain of the Seljuks was
taken by his nephew Alpaslan, who was responsible for the defeat of the Byzantine army at
the battle of Malazgirt in 1071. This decisive battle, at which the Byzantine commander
Romen Diogenes was taken by the Turks, was the turning point for the Seljuks as it marked
the beginning of migration by the Turks to Anatolia.
On Alpaslan's death, the succession passed to Melik Sah, but this was
the commencement of a battle for the throne. Süleyman Sah led an army of Turkmens
gathered from the Anatolian regions towards Konya, to seat the Seljuks, in 1075, capturing
the city and region. He also took Iznik, taking advantage of the Byzantine weakness in the
area, and declared it his capital. It was here that the Great Seljuk (Iranian Seljuk) gave
Süleyman the sultanate of Anatolia. 1077 was the date of the foundation of this new
Soon after his death, the Iranian Seljuk Meliksah captured Süleyman's
sons during the battle of Aleppo in 1086 and held them in Iran until his death in 1092.
The Anatolian throne remained vacant during those years, but was claimed by Kiliçarslan
I, one of Süleyman Sah's sons on his release, when he ensconced himself in his father's
capital of Iznik. Later, the capital was transferred to Konya when the Byzantines
recaptured Iznik, at a time when the sultan was engaged in enlarging his territories to
the east. After defeating the Crusaders at Konya Ereglisi in 1102, the Seljuk sultan
declared a truce.
The Seljuk commanders responsible for the major part of their success
against Byzantium and the crusaders during the reign of Kiliçarslan I subsequently
established themselves in the various Anatolian regions and staked out their own emirates
- the Türkmen principalities such as the Saltukids, the Mengujeks, the Danishmendids and
Artukids. These emirates later amalgamated with the Seljuk state. After Kiliçarslan I,
Meliksah came to rule (1107-1116) and the Sultan to reign after him was Mesud I
(1116-1156), who defeated both the Byzantine and Crusader armies and reduced the
Danishmendid chieftain Yagcibasan to the state of vassal.
The sultan who took his place in 1156 was Kiliçarslan II (1156-1192),
after a struggle for the throne, resulting in the death of Kiliçarslan's brother and the
defection of his younger brother to the Danishmendids near Ankara. During the subsequent
confrontation between the Seljuks and Danishmendids, the Byzantines made an alliance with
the Atabek of Mosul and marched on the Seljuk territories, only to be rebuffed by
The subsequent treaty between Byzantium and the Seljuks in 1159 allowed
Kiliçarslan to concentrate on the conquest of Anatolia with his western borders secured.
He also absorbed his brother's territory around Ankara and Çankiri, and finally dissolved
the Danishmendid state with the annexation of Sivas, Niksar and Tokat in 1178.
Following this, Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev I who ruled from 1192-1196,
managed to secure partial solidarity for the Seljuk state. He was succeeded by Süleyman
II who brought the Saltukid rule over Erzurum to an end in 1201. Süleyman Sah died in
1204, leaving the throne to his son Kiliçarslan III, who was still a child. Upon the
invasion of Byzantium by the Franks, Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev I advanced on Konya and
dethroned his nephew with the help of Türkmen coastal tribes, re-establishing himself as
Seljuk sultan for the second time in 1204.
He was to die during a battle with Laskaris, the king of Iznik in 1211,
to be succeeded by his son Izzeddin Keykavus (1210-1220). Izzeddin Keykavus I died in 1220
during a campaign against the Ayyubids, to be succeeded by Alaeddin Keykubad (1220-1237).
After establishing the security of the Seljuk state on its southern
borders with a number of treaties, Alaeddin Keykubad then turned his attention towards the
advancing threat of the Mongols, re-building and reinforcing the defenses of towns and
cities while adding a string of conquests to his achievements.
During his reign, the empire became the world's most powerful, richest
and built up state. Alaeddin Keykubad, who was poisoned at a banquet in 1237, was
succeeded by the unimposing figure of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II, a weak figure who left the
administration of the state to his vizier, Sadeddin Köpek. It was then that the decline
of the Seljuk state began. At this time, the Mongols became a great threat. After the
Battle of Kösedag, which was held in 1243, they took all of Anatolia under their
dominance for half a century.
On the death of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev in 1246, the fight for succession
between his children, still very young, was exacerbated by the Mongolian involvement in
this struggle, a further blow to the independence of the Seljuk state. At this time, the
Ilhanid ruler, Abaka Han entered Anatolia and assassinated a number of Seljuk statesmen
suppressing the Seljuks to such a degree that the sultans retained little authority and
Anatolia little independence. Subsequent to this, the Seljuks were ruled by Keykavus II
(1246-1257), Kiliçarslan IV (1248-1265) Keykubad IV (1249-1257) and Keyhüsrev III
The Seljuk state, practically a nonentity by then, was finally
destroyed upon the death in Konya of the Seljuk sultan Mesud II in 1308.
Artwork of the Seljuk Period
The first Turkish mosque in Anatolia was the Diyarbakir Ulu Mosque.
This mosque is still in use today, having been restored on several occasions. It was
followed by the Siirt Ulu Mosque, which was repaired in 1129 and is notable for its thick
cylinder shaped minaret.
The gate knockers of the Silvan Ulu Mosque, which was constructed by
the Artukids, are preserved in the Turkish Museum of Islamic Art, and are a shining
example of their metal workmanship. Among other Artukid works of art are the Mardin Ulu
Mosque, the Harput Ulu Mosque and the Kiziltepe Ulu Mosque.
Erected by the Danishmendids in 1197, the Sivas Ulu Mosque is thought
provoking with its written inscriptions and porcelain tiles found at the base of its
minaret. The Saltuks erected a brick tower next to a small mosque in Içkale, Erzurum, and
called it the Tepsi Minare (Tray Minaret). The Mengujek's greatest surviving artwork is
the incredible stone masonry work found on the crown gates of the Divrigi Ulu Mosque,
which was built in 1228-1229. The first Anatolian Seljuk mosque was that of the Konya
Alaeddin Mosque, which was erected in the year 1219. Several carpets which reflected the
Seljuk art of carpetmaking were found in this mosque as well as on the Beysehir Esrefoglu
Mosque and are currently on display at the Turkish Museum of Islamic Arts.
Other prominent Seljuk mosques include the Nigde Ulu Mosque, the
Malatya Ulu Mosque (1224), the Burmali Minaret in Amasya, which was constructed entirely
from cut stone (1237-47), the Sinop Ulu Mosque (1267) and the Gök Medrese Mosque, which
is also in Amasya.
After the fall of the Seljuks, mosques were built to reflect the
characteristics of the period as well as those found in the principalities. Two examples
of this are the Adana Ulu Mosque, which is a remnant of the Dulkadirogullari and the
Antalya Yivli (Grooved) Minaret Mosque, which is a remnant of the Hamitogullari.
Besides mosques, the religious theology schools also played an
important role. As the mosques first appeared in the Danishmendid and Artukid regions, so
did the theological schools. They gradually developed from the middle of the twelfth
century until the end of the fifteenth century, 15 examples of which have managed to
survive in part or in whole to the present. These schools developed into two styles, domed
and antechambered and were based on a certain preplanned diagram.
The activities in these schools were not completely based on religion,
but had various teaching facilities such as an observatory, a health clinic, etc. The
surviving examples of the domed-type theology schools are as follows; The Gümüstekin
Bursa School (1136), the Ertokus School in Atabey Isparta (1224), the Turan Melik Health
Clinic built by the Mengujeks (1228), the Konya Karatay School, which holds the finest
examples of Seljuk porcelain tiles (1251), the Ince Minaret School in Konya, which was
built by the Seljuk Vizier, Sahip Ata (1260), the Çay School (1270) and the Cacabey
School in Kirsehir (1272).
The finest existing examples of the antechambered schools are the
Hatuniye in Mardin (1185), the Zinciriye School in Diyarbakir (1198), and the Mesudiye
School in Mardin (1198).
The earliest surviving Seljuk work is the Kayseri Çifte School,
constructed in 1205. This school was combined with the Nesibe Health Clinic to become a
structure with four antechambers. The other Seljuk theology schools were the Sirçali
School in Konya (1217), the Tas (Stone) School that Sahip Ata had constructed in Aksehir
(1250), the Huand School in Kayseri, the Seracettin School and the Sahibiye School.
The most advanced structure to have emerged from the Anatolian Seljuk
school of architecture was the Gök School in Sivas (1271), with its stone ornamentation,
entry, facade, porcelain tiles and plan. Examples of existing structures that conveyed
characteristics of the period are the Buruciye School in Sivas (1271), the Çifte Minaret
School in Erzurum, of which only the facade remains, and the Gök School in Tokat (1270).
The final works from the Seljuk Period are the Health Clinic in Amasya that was
constructed in honor of Sultan Olcayto and his wife, Yildiz Hatun (1308), and the Yakutiye
School in Erzurum that was constructed in honor of Sultan Olcayto and Bulgan Hatun (1310).
Caravanserai, which took the name Sultanhan or Han in Anatolia, were
constructed entirely of cut stone and were placed one day's distance apart along the roads
in which caravans passed. These structures which reached tremendous sizes, resembled
palaces and reflected the great power that the Seljuk Sultans embodied over Anatolia.
The first of the Seljuk caravanserai was the Alay Han, which was
constructed along the Aksaray-Kayseri road by Kiliçarslan II in 1192. The Altinapa Han,
which was constructed along the Konya Beysehir road in 1201 and the Angit Han, which was
constructed along the Konya-Aksehir road in the same year were both built on orders of a
Seljuk statesman, Semsettin Altinapa. Between the years 1214-18, Izzeddin Keykavus I had
built the Evdir Han on the Antalya-Isparta road (the modern day Korkuteli Highway), the
Tas Han on the Sivas-Malatya road (1218), and the Kadinhan along the Konya-Aksehir road
(1223). The Sultan Han, which was constructed along the Konya-Aksaray road, was rather
advanced for its day and proved to be a fine example for later caravanserai that were yet
to be built. According to two existing inscriptions, it was built by Alaeddin Keykubad I
in 1229. Alaeddin Keykubad was responsible for two other caravanserai, one of which had
practically the same layout but on a smaller scale, and was constructed between 1232-36
along the Kayseri-Sivas road at the 50 km point. The other was constructed in 1232 along
the Alara Stream near Alanya and was called the Alara Han.
The Seljuk Vizier Sadeddin Köpek started construction of the Zazadin
Han, which is located along the Konya-Aksaray road at the 25 km point. Construction of
this han was completed in 1237. One caravanserai that has survived completely intact to
this day is the Agzikara Han, located on the Aksaray-Nevsehir road. Construction of this
caravanserai began towards the end of Alaeddin Keykubad's rule in 1231 by Hoca Mesud bin
Abdullah and was completed in 1237 during the reign of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II.
In 1240, Emir Celaleddin Karatay had the Karatay Han built at the 50
km. point along the Kayseri-Malatya road. Like his father, Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II had
three caravanserai built. The first one was built three km. outside the town of Egirdir
(1237-38). The second, called the Incir Han, was constructed along the Isparta-Antalya
road in 1238. The third and final one was named the Kirkgöz Han and was also built on the
Isparta-Antalya road, 32 km outside Antalya. The Sarapsa Han along the Alanya-Antalya road
was also constructed during the reign of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev. Construction of the Susuz
Han, which can be found in a well-preserved state in the village of Susuz, was begun in
the final year of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev's rule.
The Horozlu Han was constructed during the rule of Izzeddin Keykavus
II, who was the son of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II in 1248. It is located along the
Konya-Aksaray road and functions as a restaurant. Constructed in 1240 along the
Nevsehir-Avanos road, the Sari Han was the last of the sultan caravanserai and has been
restored to its former appearance.
As a sign of respect for the dead, the tombs and cupolas found
throughout Anatolia show development in a unique architectural richness and creativity.
These works, which had a square layout and were either domed, polygon or cylindrical
shaped. At first, they were constructed from either brick or stone, whereas later they
were built entirely from stone.
There are no known tombs that date back to the Artukid. However, there
do exist a few cupolas dating back to the 12th century. Today, there are six cupolas that
are known to have been constructed by the Danishmendids.
Of the 12th century Seljuk cupolas, only that of Kiliçarslan II
remains to this day, and can be found next to the Alaeddin Mosque in Konya. According to
inscriptions found on the Döner Cupola, in Kayseri, it was constructed in 1276 for Sah
Cihan Hatun. Kayseri was known to be a major center regarding cupola architecture.
There are a total of eleven cupolas in the town of Ahlat, which is
known to have the most cupolas and the greatest variety of tombstones after Kayseri.
It is regrettable that the Iconoclast Period of 726-842 resulted in the
destruction of practically all early Byzantine pictorial art. Figurative impressions were
prohibited and symbolism became a major influence. For example, as can be seen in the St.
Irene Church, a cross motif symbolizes Jesus Christ. According to the concept of pictorial
art, every scene had its own specific place. Almost all of the icons surviving today date
from the 12th and 13th centuries, and it is these icons which inspired western art. The
Hagia Sophia mosaics do not conform with this system as mosaics made during different
periods in various sites around the structure can be seen.
The mosaics located in the south gallery depicting Deisis, Zoe,
Comnenus are considered the finest in the world. Fine examples of mosaics from the Late
Byzantine Period can be seen in the Kariye Museum. Visitors to the museum are stunned by
the exquisite beauty of these mosaics. The most important mosaics belonging to the Early
Byzantine Period made using the fresco technique may be seen in Yamaçevler in Ephesus. It
is here that animal figures like fish, birds, pigeons and peacocks that expressed concepts
seen in Christian art such as heaven, the Holy Spirit and immortality were frequently
The most important frescoes representing the Mid-Byzantine Period are
found in the Cappadocia region. These belong to the X-XI centuries. The frescoes that
adorn the cemetery chapel of the Kariye Museum represent the Late Byzantine Period.
Several notable historians and foreign dignitaries that have passed through Istanbul have
stated in books they have written that Istanbul is a city rich with incredible
However, the majority of these artworks were plundered during the
Frankish Crusade of 1204. It is for this reason that the most valuable Byzantine
masterpieces are found in Western museums.
Small handicrafts such as ivory tablets, trays made from precious
metals, incense burners, relics and icons can all be seen in our museums.
T h e O t t o m a n C i
v i l i z a t i o n
Following the collapse of the Seljuk State, one of several states to be
established in Central Anatolia was that of the Eretna emirate, which was founded by
Eretna Bey. When Eretna Bey died in 1352, the state was left in the hands of weak
administrators and superceded by a state founded by Burhaneddin, a Kayseri judge. In the
meantime, Türkmen leaders took advantage of the political vacuum that existed to declare
the establishment of their own principalities in the 13th century. Among others were the
Karamanogullari in Central Anatolia, the Esrefogullari in and around Beysehir, the
Germiyanogullari in the Afyon region and the Hamidogullari in the Isparta-Burdur region.
At the beginning of the 14th century, other principalities were set up,
such as the Inançogullari in the Denizli region, the Aydinogullari in the Aydin region,
the Karesiogullari in the Balikesir region, the Saruhanogullari in the Manisa region and
the Candarogullari in the Kastamonu-Çankiri-Sinop region. Oguz tribesmen of the Kayi clan
had migrated to Anatolia during the Seljuk era and it was this clan, under the leadership
of Ertugrul Gazi which was to form the nucleus of the Ottoman principality. Settling first
on the Byzantine frontiers around Sögüt in the region of Bilecik under the direction of
the Seljuks. It was during the final years of the Seljuk State that they declared
themselves an independent principality known as the `Ottoman Principality,' which was
named after Ertugrul Bey's successor Osman Bey (1299-1326). Under Orhan Bey (1326-1362),
who was Osman Bey's successor, they captured Bursa and declared it the Ottoman capital.
The city of Iznik is considered the cradle of Ottoman architecture and
it is here that the first Ottoman mosque was built, the Haci Özbek Mosque. This mosque,
which was constructed in 1334, is notable for its single dome, a wall construction
consisting of one row of cut stone and three rows of brick along with a three-room
congregation area. During the reign of Orhan Bey, Kara Halil Hayrettin Pasha had the Yesil
Cami (Green Mosque) built by architect Haci Musa in Iznik and was completed after his
death by his son, Ali Pasha in 1392, with the exterior covered with marble blocks. The
materials that went into the construction of the minaret showed the continuation of Seljuk
Ottoman architecture, which got its start in Iznik showed development
which reached a monumental scale in Bursa. The mosque that was constructed for Osman
Gazi's son, Alaeddin Bey in 1326 and the Orhan Bey Mosque that was constructed in 1339
have both been restored several times over the years. From their flashy exterior design,
both the Murad Hüdavendigar Mosque and its surrounding complex, which were built in
Bursa-Çekirge, give off a palatial appearance (1385). In 1382, while he was still the son
of the sultan, Yildirim Bayezid had a complex of buildings constructed in the town of
Mudurnu, which consisted of a single-domed mosque, a school of theology and two baths. He
also had the Ulu Mosque of Bergama constructed in 1398. The grand mosque that he is truly
known for is the Ulu Mosque in Bursa, which was constructed between 1396-1400. The pulpit
of the twenty-domed mosque is the masterpiece of Haci Mehmet bin Abdülaziz ibn el Huki,
who was from Antep. The progress of Ottoman architecture was badly shaken and even halted
for awhile at the beginning of the 15th century. It regained some liveliness when
Yildirim's son Çelebi Sultan Mehmed had the architect Haci Ivaz commence with the
construction of the Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) and its surrounding complex (1424).
Subsequently, architectural planning continued to develop without a
break. Construction of this mosque lasted ten years and was built entirely from cut stone
and marble. The marvelous arched gateway, external niche, the ornamentation on the frames
and windows reflect an attentive stone masonry. Subsequent to Bursa and Iznik and prior to
the capture of Istanbul, the temporary capital of Edirne symbolized the highest level of
the art of the Ottoman Empire.
The first monumental construction was that of the Edirne Eski Mosque,
which was started in 1403 by Emir Süleyman Çelebi and completed by Çelebi Sultan Mehmed
in 1414. The architecture of the mosque built with nine domes upon four heavy square
pillars belonged to Haci Alaeddin of Konya. Built by Sultan Murad II in 1436, the Edirne
Muradiye Mosque was named after him and with its porcelain coating and porcelain niche,
constitutes the most important example of Turkish decorative art after the Yesil Mosque in
In 1446, during the rule of Murat II, Yahsi Bey had the Imaret Mosque
built in Tire. This mosque is important in that for the first time ever, it utilized a
half-dome design and a five-room final congregation place in its front section. As far as
architectural development was concerned, the Üç Serefeli Mosque that Murat II had built
in Edirne between the years 1438-1447 was a truly surprising masterpiece. It was here that
flying buttresses were constructed to support the dome for the first time. Another first
was applied here, with four minarets, which were twisted, hollow-grooved, diamond-shaped
and zigzagged. There were two inscriptions that bore the name of Sultan Murad and the
pediments of both the courtyard windows were made with dark blue and white colored
porcelain tiles. The Mezit Bey Mosque, constructed in 1434, along with the Darül Hadis,
which was constructed in 1435, are the other major works that enriched Edirne.
After conquering Istanbul in 1453, Sultan Mehmed opened a new epoch, in
which 300 mosques, eighty-five of which were domed, fifty-seven theology schools,
fifty-nine Turkish baths, twenty-nine covered markets, bridges, palaces, castles and city
walls were constructed in various cities throughout the empire. The first mosques that
were constructed in Istanbul after its conquest followed the layouts of mosques that were
built in Iznik, Bursa and Edirne, but later on, a new style gradually emerged and the
half-dome became more prominent.
The first application of this in Istanbul was seen with the Fatih
Mosque and its surrounding complex, which was constructed by Architect Sinaneddin Yusuf
between 1462-1470. The complex, which consisted of a theology school, health clinic,
printing facilities, caravanserai, Turkish bath and tombs, saw its mosque collapse in the
1765 earthquake, whereas today's existing structure with its four half-domes, was built by
Sultan Mustafa III. However, the mosque's courtyard, bottom part of the minarets and niche
were remnants of the destroyed mosque.
The inscription etched in the general public gate belonged to Ali bin
Safi. Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror's grandest masterpiece was Topkapi Palace. He was
succeeded by his son Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512) who ordered the architect Hayrettin to
construct a complex of buildings in Edirne, which included a mosque, soup kitchen,
theology school and Turkish bath between 1484-88. The same sultan ordered the architect
Yakup Sah bin Sultan Sah to construct another complex in Istanbul between 1501-1506 known
as the Bayezid complex. It was here that some developments were made, including a second
half-dome to the north and an addition of a small dome on each side.
Bayezid's successor was Yavuz Sultan Selim (1512-1520), who during his
eight years on the throne participated in major campaigns while nothing new appeared on
the architecture front. In the meanwhile, the governor of Diyarbakir, Biyikli Mehmet Pasha
had the first Ottoman mosque with four half-domes built in his province between 1516-20.
Yavuz Sultan Selim was not able to complete the mosque that was to be in his name. His
son, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent completed the half-finished mosque. Ottoman art
lived through its most brilliant period under the rule of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent
(1520-1566). In addition to other artists of this age, it fostered a genius by the name of
Sinan the Architect and it was his splendid works of art that symbolized the power and
energy of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1522, Sinan the Architect completed the half-built Yavuz Sultan
Mosque and in the same year, he also finished the Fatih Pasa Mosque in Diyarbakir. In
1523, he built the mosque and the accompanying complex of the ex-governor to Egypt, Çoban
Mustafa Pasha in Gebze, near Istanbul. It was in 1539 that Sinan the Architect constructed
his first masterpiece in Istanbul, the Haseki Complex. It was comprised of a health
clinic, an elementary school, a theology school, a fountain and a soup kitchen and while
it made up a whole unit, it was built in completely separate place from the mosque.
At the age of 54, Sinan the Architect considered himself to an
apprentice when he built the Sehzade Mosque between 1543-1548, because it was here that he
encountered the problem posed by the half-dome, though he came up with a very nice central
structure with four half-domes. Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent ordered the mosque built
in memory of his beloved son, Prince Mehmet. The Sehzade Complex, the construction of
which was completed before the mosque, was made up the Tomb of Sehzade Mehmed, a theology
school, a soup kitchen and printing house.
In 1548, Sinan the Architect built a mosque and accompanying complex
for the Sultan's daughter Mihrimah Sultan in Üsküdar. Use of three half-domes was the
second innovation of the mosque. In addition, the fact that there was a second final
congregation place outside and an expanded width brought us face to face with a rather
different mosque. Sinan followed this up by building an incredible complex and mosque for
Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, construction of which was started in 1550 and completed
in 1557. It was with the Süleymaniye that two half-domes were utilized in the
construction of a mosque. Along with the courtyard with a big fountain, the mosque's
interior and outer appearance were considered to a unified entity. The grand dome, which
is supported in the middle by four heavy columns, is also supported on both the entrance
side and the southern direction with half-domes. Minarets are in the courtyard's four
corners. The octagon-shaped tombs of both Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and Hürrem
Sultan are situated behind the niche wall. In 1555, Sinan the Architect built a mosque for
Kaptani Derya Sinan Pasha in Besiktas. With rows constructed of cut stone and brick, he
had experimented with a different wall bonding. Sinan the Architect constructed the Vizier
Kara Ahmat Pasha Complex in Topkapi between 1554-58, the Molla Çelebi Mosque in Findikli
in 1561 and a mosque in Edirnekapi that was built between 1562-65 for the daughter of
Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, Mihrimah Sultan.
The domes over the courtyard portico and the final congregation room
were built lower than normal giving this mosque, which had a single minaret, a more
definite appearance. In 1561, he built a mosque in Eminönü for Rüstem Pasha, who was
the Sultan's vizier and son-in-law. Sinan incorporated an eight-legged system, of which
four were built into the walls and four were left standing independently. He also
decorated it with the period's Iznik porcelain tiles.
For the Sultan Süleyman's daughter, Esma Sultan, who was also the wife
of the Grand Vizier Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, he constructed the Sokullu Complex on hilly
terrain in Istanbul Kadirga in the year 1571. Again, he chose to decorate the interior of
the mosque with porcelain tiles. In 1573, Sinan built the Piyale Pasha Mosque in Istanbul
Kasimpasa, in which he reverted to the style of the old Ulu Mosques by using the six equal
dome layout. In 1566, Süleyman the Magnificent was succeeded by his son Selim II
(1566-74), whereas Sinan constructed the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne in his name (1569-75).
Sinan had reached the peak of his profession and it was at this time
that he was heard to say, "I showed that I was an apprentice with the Sehzade Mosque,
an able contractor with the Süleymaniye Mosque and an expert with the Selimiye
Mosque." The towering dome and four minarets of this mosque, which took six years to
built, was planted on the highest hill of Edirne and could be seen from far.
The dome's weight was supported by eight interior columns and
buttressing belts that were situated between the columns. Besides the mosque's
architectural design, there were also the decorative components such as the fine
workmanship that went into the single piece stone pulpit, the porcelain decor of the
window pediments and the walls around the niche, the colorful written works found in the
private galleries and the fine manner in which the portico courtyard presented itself.
Selim II died in 1574 and was succeeded to the throne by his son Murat III (1574-1595).
Up to then, Sinan had been in the service of four sultans, but in spite
his advanced years, he went ahead and constructed the Muradiye Mosque in Manisa between
1583-85 for Sultan Murad III. He continued to wield great influence even after his death
and well into the 17th century.
There were magnificent masterpieces created in this century, which is
known as the Late Classic Age. The first of these was the Yeni Mosque in Eminönü.
Architect Davud Aga had laid the foundations of this mosque and its surrounding complex
for the mother of Sultan Mehmed III, Safiye Sultan in 1598. When he died the following
year from the plague, Dalgiç Ahmed took over and raised the structure up to its lower
windows. When Mehmed III died, his mother, was sent to the old palace where as
construction was halted in 1603. Construction of this mosque was finally completed in
1663, by the mother of Mehmet IV, the Queen Mother Turhan Hatice Sultan. Sultan Ahmed I
succeeded Mehmed III to the throne (1603-17), who commissioned the Architect Sedefkar
Mehmet Aga, who was trained by Sinan the Architect and Davud Aga, to construct the
Sultanahmet Mosque, which for all the blue porcelain tiles that decorated its interior,
was also to be known as the Blue Mosque.
There were a number of changes in the sultanate. For a time, during the
reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730) and under the impetus of his grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha, a
period of peace ensued. In the meantime, due to its relations with France, Ottoman
architecture began to be influenced by the Baroque and Rococo styles that were popular in
Europe. A thirty year period, known as the Tulip Period, in which all eyes were turned to
the West, and instead of monumental works, villas and pavilions around Istanbul were
built. However, it was about this time when construction on the Ishak Pasha Palace in
Eastern Anatolia was going on, (1685-1784). With Ahmed III's death, Mahmud I took the
throne (1730-1754). It was during this period that Baroque-style mosques were starting to
The most important of these was the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, which was
begun by Sultan Mahmud I in 1748 and completed by Sultan Osman III (1754-57) in 1755.
There were eleven steps that one had to walk over in order to reach the porticoed
courtyard, and the interior, which was completely covered in marble, was decorated in a
highly Baroque fashion. A second work in which the Baroque style played a more prominent
role was the Laleli Mosque, in which Sultan Mustafa III (1757-1774) commissioned the
Architect Tahir Aga.
Sultan Mustafa III's successor to the throne was Abdülhamid I, who had
the Beylerbeyi Mosque built for his mother in 1778. Selim III followed Sultan Abdülhamid
I to reign the empire (1789-1807), whereas this sultan had a mosque built in his name, the
Selimiye Mosque in Üsküdar (1805). This mosque had continued with the Baroque style in
Istanbul. Meanwhile, there were some works under construction outside Istanbul that
conveyed the same style. Leaving the 18th century and entering the 19th century, in
addition to the Baroque and Rococo styles, the Empire and Neo-classic styles were also
appearing. Around the time that the Baroque style was starting to catch on in Istanbul,
the Empire style was ruling Europe, whereas this style over to the Ottomans at practically
the same time. Sultan Abdülmecid sat on the throne from 1839-61 who after having the
Mecidiye Villa constructed within the Topkapi Palace grounds, also commissioned to have
the Dolmabahçe Palace built, which was an exact copy of a typical European palace.
He also had both the Dolmabahçe and Ortaköy Mosques commissioned in
the Empire style in honor of Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan. Sultan Abdülaziz succeeded him to
the throne (1861-76) and continued with the construction activities by having both the
Beylerbeyi and Çiragan Palaces built. Handicrafts and decorative arts developed parallel
to architecture in the Ottoman Empire. Without a doubt, porcelain would be at the top of
the list. Besides the most beautiful examples of Iznik porcelain tiles that have decorated
mosques and tombs in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, incredible works of art such as
dishes, cups and oil lamps found in mosques. After the 17th century, the art of Iznik
porcelain was taken over by that of Kütahya.
After the acceptance of Islam by the Turkish people, branches of art
that were quite restricted, such as painting and sculpture, latched onto new
interpretations, one of which was the art of miniature. The developing art of miniature,
which was dependent to the palace during the Ottoman period, brought up some major
artists, such as Matrakçi Nasuh, Nakkas Osman, Nigari and Levni. One of the branches of
art that the Turkish people have always been involved with and developed is that of
precious metal workmanship. Today, the finest examples of the mineral masterpieces that we
can see in the Topkapi Palace are used in special ceremonies. These are masterpieces that
reflect the splendor of the Ottomans, works such as the Topkapi Dagger, goblets, helmets,
quivers, shields and stirrups, all adorned with precious stones. Koran covers adorned with
precious stones form a separate group.
In addition, there are also several fields of art that the Ottomans had
taken to an advanced state, including wood and mother-of-pearl inlaying, gilding,
calligraphy, cloth and carpets.
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