Turkey’s ancient cities shine a light on the vast Mesopotamian history

The 9,000-year-old Çatalhöyük of Konya, the Hittite ruins of Çorum and its Alacahöyük cultural and artistic center, Anatolia’s first executive military center, and the Kayseri Kültepe, which houses thousands of clay tablets, are ancient sites included in Turkey’s vast heritage, highlighting thousands of years of Anatolian and Mesopotamian history.


The former Çatalhöyük site – located in the Çumra district of Konya (central Turkey) – is one of the earliest models of urbanization in the history of Mesopotamia. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the clearest windows into the 9,000-year-old Anatolian way of life.

Archaeologist Numan Arslan, from the Çatalhöyük excavation project team, explained that the site was discovered in 1958, with the first excavations starting in 1961, and that the site was dated to the Neolithic period 9,000 ago. years.

“Çatalhöyük offered some very intriguing data to the archaeological world. The art, the symbolism, their complex societal structure, these types of settlements were known to exist in the Near East but not in Central Anatolia,” Arslan said. at the Anadolu Agency (AA).

The ancient city of Çatalhöyük, a 9,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site, in Çumra district of Konya, central Turkey, April 19, 2021. (Photo AA)

Arslan then said that the transition from hunting and gathering to the first urban model happened in Çatalhöyük. “We now live in metropolises. We have to follow the urban culture given by these overcrowded metropolises, but the people of Çatalhöyük first tried an urban culture here, 9,000 years ago,” he said. declared.

Arslan also noted their societal system. “There was a completely egalitarian social structure. There were no public spaces, no common meeting places. Lots of houses. It shows us the importance of working together and supporting each other. “

Hattusas and Alacahöyük

Çorum is home to many “firsts” of Anatolia thanks to its vast ancient history with its ruins of Hattusas, which served as the capital of Hittite civilization for 450 years, and Alacahöyük, which was the cultural and artistic center of the Hittites and the first administrative and military center of Anatolia, all located within the borders of the province of northern Anatolia.

The ancient city of Hattusas, located in the Boğazkale district and host of the cultural heritage of the Hittites, is the only ancient city in the world to be considered both a UNESCO World Heritage List site and also a part of Memory of the World. Program.

The Ancient Hittite Sphinx, a special statue from the ancient city of Hattusas, stands at the entrance to the Boğazkale Museum, Çorum, Turkey, April 19, 2021 (AA Photo)
The Ancient Hittite Sphinx, a special statue from the ancient city of Hattusas, stands at the entrance to the Boğazkale Museum, Çorum, Turkey on April 19, 2021 (AA Photo)

Hattusas is also home to the first known written treaty in history in the form of a ceasefire agreement between the Hittites and the Egyptians, known as the Kadesh Peace Treaty.

The city is the source of many historical artifacts obtained during archaeological excavations that have been going on for over a century in the region, most of which are on display at the Boğazkale Museum.

The Hittite Sphinx, a special type of statue belonging to the royal family dating back to 1300 BC, could be considered the jewel of the museum’s exhibits.

The limestone sphinx – 258 centimeters (101.5 inches) long, 175 centimeters wide, and about 1,700 kilograms (3,747 pounds) – greets its visitors at the entrance to the Boğazkale Museum.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism returned it to its home country in 2011 after 94 years of living in Germany, where it was taken for restoration in 1917.


Finally, there is Kültepe – also known as Kanesh – who helped experience history from a different perspective with its thousands of clay tablets illuminating trade and culture in Anatolia, barely 4 years ago. 000 years old.

The first scientific excavations at the site began in 1948 under the direction of Tahsin Özgüç. They have lasted for 73 years about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from downtown Kayseri in central Turkey.

The ancient town of Kültepe, also known as Kanesh, located 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Kayseri in central Turkey on April 19, 2021 (AA Photo)
The ancient town of Kültepe, also known as Kanesh, located 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Kayseri in central Turkey on April 19, 2021. (Photo AA)

The cuneiform clay tablets discovered at Kültepe – and exhibited in Ankara, Kayseri, and Istanbul – present a story of Assyrian merchants traveling from Mosul to Anatolia and accepting Kayseri as their capital, thus introducing the Anatolian people to commerce and writing. 4000 years ago.

“Assyrian merchants traded in the region stretching from Eskişehir to Kütahya, from the lakes region to Samsun,” said Fikri Kulakoğlu of Ankara University. He stressed that the center established in Kayseri has played an important role in opening Anatolia to the world.

“The Assyrians paid part of the profits they made from their trade here as a tax and ensured the development of local towns. The Assyrians made it possible for the Anatolian people to meet the global world of the time. At the end of this period, the Hittite Kingdom, which was the first state of Anatolia, was created, ”noted Kulakoğlu.

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