Asia Minor’s Most Prominent Ancient...


Asia Minor’s Most Prominent Ancient Cities: The History and Legacy of the Influential Cities that Dominated the Region in Antiquity

Book Details

Author  Charles River Editors
Publisher  Charles River Editors
Publication Date   December 9, 2018


*Includes pictures
*Includes ancient accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading

The pages of world history textbooks contain a litany of “lost” empires and civilizations, but usually, upon further review, it is revealed that these so called lost empires are often just lesser known cultures that had a less apparent impact on history than other more well-known civilizations. When one scours the pages of history for civilizations that seem inexplicably lost but had a great impact during its time, a number of places in Asia Minor pop up.

For example, Troy is unquestionably one of the most famous and legendary cities of antiquity, yet it is also the most mysterious. While ancient cities like Rome and Athens survived, and the destruction of others like Carthage and Pompeii were well-documented, the fame of Troy rested entirely on Homer’s epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey. The poems were so famous in the ancient world that Augustus had Virgil associate Rome’s foundation with the destruction of Troy and Aeneas’s own odyssey in the Aeneid. Augustus went so far as to have a new settlement, New Ilium, built in the region.

Although it is no longer quite as well remembered as it was thousands of years ago, one of the most important cities in the ancient world was Ephesus, a city that dates back nearly 3,000 years and can lay claim to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Moreover, while Sparta and Athens were often the centers of power in ancient Greece, Ephesus, located in present-day Turkey on the coast of Ionia, was an instrumental part of the Ionian League, which wielded power for a substantial period of time before the Classical Era.

In 1595 BCE, a mysterious new army struck Babylon without warning, spreading terror throughout the city. These warriors would cross the ancient Near East, destroying anything in their way with ruthless efficiency. In a time of war and conquest, they were the mightiest military power of their age. They were the Hittites, a warlike civilization that rose in central Anatolia from the capital city of Hattusa. At its height from around 1400 to 1200 BCE, the Hittite empire extended over a wide area of modern day Turkey and northern Syria. Hattusa was different from the other major cities of the ancient Near East in one major respect: it was landlocked and not located on a major river. At first glance, such a situation may seem like a liability, which it was in terms of trade, but for the most part its central position meant that the Hittites could move their armies more efficiently from one theater of operations to another (Macqueen 2003, 56). As a landlocked capital, Hattusa was also safe from naval attacks from other kingdoms, so if the Hittites’ enemies wanted to invade their capital, they would have to trek through the middle of the kingdom to get there, which was most unlikely. As Hittite power grew during the Old Kingdom, the royal city of Hattusa became more important and even wealthier. From his citadel overlooking Hattusa, Hattusili I launched the first major Hittite attacks into the Near East, first conquering the cities between Hattusa and the Mediterranean (Macqueen 2003, 36).

Miletus was an ancient city located on the west coast of present-day Turkey. It was the main city in the land of Ionia, a territory that stretched over 2,000 square kilometers of western Anatolia. With its four great harbors and a strategic location, Miletus became one of the most important coastal cities of western Anatolia, linking the Hellenistic world with the great civilizations of Babylon, Egypt, and eventually Persia. Over time, Miletus was ruled by the Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Ionians, Persians, Seleucids, Attalids, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, and Ottomans. Western civilization is directly linked to the incredible things that happened in Miletus during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.

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