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 mans development continuing past the Paleolithic Age, which has been
divided into three sections, Upper, Middle and Lower, into the Mesolithic Age (10000-8000
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, Cayonu and Malatya, Caferhoyuk, 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 Catalhoyuk, 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 Catalhoyuk that it is impossible to come across any
resemblance in the Near East or Aegean regions. In looking at the female figurines found
at Catalhoyuk and Hacilar, we see that the gods of that period were considered to have
taken human form. We may follow the continuation of Catalhoyuk Neolithic culture at
Hacilar Hoyuk, near Burdur. Also, Yumuktepe in Mersin and Gozlukule 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 Alacahoyuk. The other centers of the Chalcolithic
Age in Anatolia are: Canhasan in Karaman, Beycesultan in Denizli and in Southern Anatolia
Yumuktepe in Mersin and Gozlukule 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 Alacahoyuk site were begun under the orders of
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
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,
Semahoyuk, Alisar, Kultepe, Ikiztepe in Samsun, Mahmatlar in Amasya,
and Demircihoyuk. To whom did all of the artifacts uncovered at Alacahoyuk, Horoztepe
and the other centers belong to? They were the masterpieces of a tribe called
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
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 Hattis 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 Alacahoyuk 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 Alacahoyuk 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
Alacahoyuk 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,
further north at Mahmatlar, Horoztepe, near Ankara at Karaoglan, Karayavsan,
These settlements indicate to us that the Late Bronze Age was centered in this region.
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 Kultepe
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 Alacahoyuk, Alisar, Bogazkoy and
exchange for goods, the Assyrian merchants traded for gold, coins or silver.
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 Warshamas palace at Kanesh was burnt down, hence the hill of ashes near
Kayseri (Kultepe) explains this collapse.
Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Ancient Civilizations and Treasures of Turkey".
You can purchase "Ancient Civilizations and Treasures of Turkey" book and other Turkey related books from Explore Turkey Bookstore.