Pro-Hittite And Assyrian Trade Colonies Periods (3000bc-1750bc)

Mining reached its peak of development in Anatolia during the Early Bronze Age. Major developments were observed in Northern Anatolia towards the end of this period.

Between 2000BC and 1750BC Assyrian merchants from northern Mesopotamia formed the first commercial organizations by establishing trade colonies in Anatolia. The center of these colonies was at Kanesh Kharum near Kültepe in Kayseri province. Another important commercial market place referred in documents is the Kharum Hattush at Boğazköy.

Anatolia was rich in gold, silver and copper, but lacked tin, essential for the manufacturing of bronze as an alloy. For this reason tin was one of the major trading materials, as well as textile goods and perfumes. The merchants had no political dominance, but were protected by the regional Beys.

Fortunately for the Assyrian merchants, writing was seen for the first time in Anatolia. From the 2Cappadocia tablets”, cuneiform clay tablets on which ancient Assyrian was written, it has been learned that merchants paid a 10% road tax to the Bey, received a 30% interest for their debths, and paid a 5% tax to the Anatolian kings for goods they sold. The same tablets tell us that they sometimes married Anatolian women, and the marriage agreements contained clauses to protect the women from their husbands.

Assyrian merchants also introduced cylinder seals, meatallurgy, their religious beliefs, Gods and temples to Anatolia. Native Anatolian art flourished under the influence of Assyrian Mesopotamic art, eventually developing an identity of its own. During the following ages this developed into the fundamentals of Hittite art.

Hittite Period (1750-1200bc)

The Hittites, coming from Europe via the Causcasus, and settling in Cappadocia around 2000BC, formed an Empire in the region merging with the native people of the area. Their language was of Indo-European origin. The capital of the Hittite kingdom was at Hattushash (Bogazkoy), and the other important cities were Alacahöyük and Alisar. In the Cappadocia region, engraved stone monuments dating back from the Imperial Period can be found near water sources and strategic routes. By means of these rock monuments the routes used by the Hittite kings to reach the southern countries can be determined. Within the borders of Kayseri, located to the south of Mount Erciyes, are the rock monuments of Fraktin, Tasçı and İmamkulu, serving several purposes; they were intended to venerate the gods, to show the gratitute of the great King (Hattusili III) and Queen (Puduhepa) to the Gods; as well as to show the extend of the Empire’s power.

Late Hittite Kingdom (1200-700 Bc)

After the Phrygians destroyed all the important towns in Central Anatolia eliminating the Hittite Empire, fragments of the Late Hittite Kingdoms sprang up around central and Southeast Anatolia.

The Late Hittite Kingdom in Cappadocia was the Tabal kingdom which extended over Kayseri, Nevşehir and Niğde. Rock monuments from this age, with Hittite hieroglyphics can be fonud at Gülşehir-Sivasa (Gökçetoprak), Acıgöl-Topada, and Hacıbektaş-Karaburna.

Persian Period And The Kingdom Of Cappadocia (585bc-332bc)

The Cimmerians ended the Phrygian reign in Anatolia, and were then followed by the Medes (585BC) and the Persians (525BC). The Persians divided the empire into semi autonomous provinces and ruled the area, using governors who were known as “Satraps”. In the ancient Persian language, Katpatuka, the word for Cappadocia, meant “Land of the well bred horses”. Since the religion they were devoted to was the Zoroastrian religion and fire was considered to be divine, the volcanoes in the area, Erciyes and H asandağ were sacred for them. The Persians constructed a “Royal Road” connecting their capital city to the Aegean region passing through Cappadocia. The Macedonian King Alexander defeated Persian armies twice, in 34 and 332 B.C., and conquered this great Empire. After bringing the Persian empire to an end, King Alaxander met with great resistance in Cappadocia. When Alexander tried to rule the region through one of his commanders named Sabictus, the people resisted and declared Ariarthes, a Persian aristocrat, king. As an industrious ruler, Ariarthes I(332-322 B.C.) extended the borders of the Cappadocian kingdom.

The kingdom of Cappadocia lived in peace until the death of Alexander. Fron then until 17AD, when it became a Roman province, it fought wars with the Macedonians, the Galatians, the Pontus nation and the Romans.

Roman Period (17ad-395ad)

The wars came to an end in 17AD when Tiberius conquered Cappadocia and placet it under Roman rule. After the conquest, the Romans reconstructed the road to the west which was of both commercial and military significance. During the Roman era the area saw many migrations and attacks from the east. The area was defended by Roman military units known as “Legions”.

During the reign of Emperor Septimus Severus Cappadocia’s economy flourished, but later teh capital, Kayseri (Caesera) was attacked by Sassanid armies from Irna. emperor Gordianus III ordered the construction of defensive city walls.

During this time some of the first Christians were moving from the big cities to villages. In the 4th century, when Kayseri was a flourishing religious centre, the rocky surroundings of Göreme were discovered and adopting the teachings of St.Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (Kayseri), teh Christians began to lead a monastic life in the carved out cliffs and fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

Byzantine Period (397ad-1071ad)

When the Roman Empire divided into west and east, Cappadocia fell under the Eastern Roman Empire. In the early 7th century there were severe wars between the Sassanid and Byzantine armies, and for 6 or 7 years the Sassanids held the aera. In 651 Caliph Omer ended the domination of the Sassanids, and the Arab Ommiades began to attack. The long lasting religious debates among sects reached a peak with the adoption of the Iconoclastic view by Leon III, who was influenced by Islamic traditions. Christian priests and monks who were in favour of icons began to take refuge in Cappadocia. The Iconoclastic period lasted over a century (726-843). During this time although several Cappadocian churches qere under the influence of iconoclasm, the people who were in favor of icons were able to continue to worship comfortably.

The Seljuk Period (1071-1299)

The native land of the Seljuks, established by Seljuk Bey from Oğuz Turks, was central Asia. The Seljuks, who converted to Islam spreading towards north in the 10th century, tried to extend their power fighting against the tribes which had not been converted. The defeat and the capture of teh Byzantine Emperor Romanos Diogenes in 1071 by Alparslan, the great grandson of Seljuk By resulted in the decline of the Byzantine Empire and the beginning of a new era in the history of Anatolia.

In 1075 the Anatolian Seljuk State was founded. In 1082 Kayseri was conquered by Turks and Cappadocia came under Seljuk rule. Anatolia, which was an important region where Christianity had spread, became part of Islamic world which covered a large area; from North Africa, to Middle Asia and to the Near East. The conquest of Anatolia by Seljuk Turks did not influence the administrative authority of the patriarchy. We know this because in inscriptions from the 13th century found in the church of St George in the Ihlara region, names of the Seljuk Sultan Mesud II and the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus are treated with admiration. As a result of the decline of the Anatolian Seljuk State at the end of the 13th century, small beyliks (domains of minor rulers) came into being in different parts of Anatolia. In 1308, the IIkhanids, of Mongolian origin, invaded Anatolia and destroyed Kayseri, one of the important cities in the Cappadocia Region. Seljuk Sultans were controlled by the Mongolians and could not act independently. From then on, Anatolia was administered by the beyliks founded by different Turkish tribes.

Ottoman Period

The Region of Cappadocia was very peaceful also during the Ottoman Peiod. Nevşehir was a small village in the province of Niğde until the time of Damat İsrahim Pasha. At the beginning of the 18th century, especially during the time of Damat İsrahim Pasha, places like Nevşehir, Gülşehir, Ozkonak, Avanos and Ürgüp prospered and mosques, külliyes (a collection of buildings of an institution, usually composed of schools, a mosque, mental institutions, hospital, kitchen, etc.) and fonutains were built. The bridge in the centre of the town of Özkonak, which was built during Yavuz Sultan Selim’s campaign to the east (1514), is important in terms of being an early Ottoman Period building in the province of Nevşehir.

The Christian people living in the aera were treated with tolerance in the Ottoman Period as in the Seljuk Period. The 18th century church of Constantine-Helena in Sanosos-Ürgüp, the 19th century church built in honor of Dimitrius in Gülşehir and the Orthodox Church in Derinkuyu are some of the best examples of this tolerance.