Overview and Key Events of
Anatolia and the Caucasus
and the Caucasus (8000–2000 B.C.)
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ca. 11,000–6400 B.C.
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ca. 6000–4000 B.C.
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ca. 4000–2200 B.C.
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mid-3rd millennium B.C.
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ca. 2350–2150 B.C.
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Anatolia and the Caucasus (2000–1000 B.C.)
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ca. 2200–1500 B.C.
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ca. 1950–1750 B.C.
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ca. 1700–1000 B.C.
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ca. 1380–1340 B.C.
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ca. 1200–800 B.C. and later
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Anatolia and the Caucasus (Asia Minor) (1000 B.C.–1 A.D.)
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late 2nd–early 1st millennium B.C.
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ca. 730–?696 B.C.
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7th–early 6th century B.C.
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7th–4th century B.C.
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Asia Minor (Anatolia and the Caucasus) (1–500 A.D.)
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25 B.C.–235 A.D.
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1st–early 4th century A.D.
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ca. 1 A.D.–5th century A.D.
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late 3rd–4th century A.D.
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5th century A.D.
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Anatolia and the Caucasus (500–1000 A.D.)
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ca. 9th century.
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Anatolia and the Caucasus (1000–1400 A.D.)
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Anatolia and the Caucasus (1400–1600 A.D.)
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Anatolia and the Caucasus, 1600–1800 A.D.
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Asia Minor - Anatolia - Anatolie - Anatolië.
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Discover Turkey, Türkiye, Asia Minor, Anatolia, Anatolie, Anatolië, Turquie,
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Explore Anatolia (Turkey-Türkiye-Asia Minor): The Heartland of Civilisations
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Discover the Homeland of Civilizations - Turkey: Explore Turkey with
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A universally accepted chronology for the entire ancient Near East remains
to be established. On the basis of the Royal Canon of Ptolemy, a
second-century A.D. astronomer, regnal dates can be determined with
certainty in Babylonia only as far back as 747 B.C. (the accession of King
Nabonassar). Through the use of excavated royal annals and chronicles,
together with lists of annually appointed limmu-officials, the chronology of
Assyria can be confidently extended back to 911 B.C. (the accession of King
Adad-nirari II). The earliest certain link with Egypt is 664 B.C., the date
of the Assyrian sack of the Egyptian capital at Thebes. Although it is often
possible to locate earlier events quite precisely relative to each other,
neither surviving contemporary documents nor scientific dating methods such
as carbon 14, dendrochronology, thermoluminescence, and archaeoastronomy are
able to provide the required accuracy to fix these events absolutely in
time. The West Asian portion of the Timeline therefore employs the common
practice of using, without prejudice, the so-called Middle Chronology, where
events are dated relative to the reign of King Hammurabi of Babylon, which
is defined as being ca. 1792–1750 B.C.
Between ca. 11,000 and 9000 B.C., hunters and gatherers settle the first
permanent villages in southeastern and central Anatolia. They produce
sophisticated utilitarian tools from readily available resources of animal
bone and stone. Perhaps to meet the demands of a growing population, a shift
to an economy based largely on farming occurs in the Neolithic period (ca.
11,000–6400 B.C.). The period is divided into an early phase without pottery
and a later phase when pottery is present. Obsidian (volcanic glass) from
Anatolia is widely traded across the Near East.
In the Chalcolithic period (ca. 6400–3800 B.C.) there is a continuity of
Neolithic traditions with an increase in the use of copper. In the Early
Bronze Age (ca. 3000–2000 B.C.), the region’s rich resources in such metals
as tin and silver attract new populations, customs, and artistic styles from
the surrounding regions of Mesopotamia, Syria, and the Caucasus Mountains.
The Neolithic period in Anatolia is divided into the Pre-Pottery and Pottery
Neolithic, to distinguish settlements that do not have pottery vessels from
those later ones that do. The Neolithic is the period during which humans
live in villages and first domesticate plants and animals. In Anatolia in
the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, nondomestic buildings contain large stone
sculptures of human figures, and in the later Neolithic, the site of Çatal
Höyük has buildings with elaborate wall paintings and modeled reliefs, with
animal skulls attached to the walls.
The southeastern part of Anatolia is settled by peoples from Mesopotamia,
who bring ceramics and everyday objects different from those of the local
populations. The Mesopotamians move into this area apparently to acquire
agricultural products and raw materials such as metal. The Shulaveri-Shomu
and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local
obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops,
Eastern Anatolia, the Southern Caucasus, and part of the Northern Caucasus
are occupied by people of the Kura-Araxes culture (also called the Early
Transcaucasian Culture), who make distinctive handmade pottery with
burnished black exteriors and red interiors, portable andirons of clay for
use in hearths, and new kinds of bronze tools, weapons, and pins. At least
in the Caucasus Mountains, these people probably herd cattle.
(some suggest a date in the second half of the fourth millennium B.C.) A
group of large tumulus graves (burial pits placed under mounds of earth) in
the northern Caucasus Mountains belong to the Maikop culture. In the best
known of these elite tombs, a person is buried under a canopy held up by
poles topped by gold and silver bull figurines that appear similar in
artistic conception to some standards from the burials of Alaca Höyük in
Central Anatolia. Some scholars see similarities between objects from the
Maikop graves and some from Mesopotamia as well.
At the site of Alaca Höyük is a group of burials called the Royal Tombs,
which contain elaborate gold jewelry, vessels of precious metal, and stag
and bull standards of bronze. Though we may be able to identify the people
buried here as Hattians, a local Anatolian population, the significance and
function of their art remains enigmatic.
Precious metals such as silver, gold, and tin attract merchants to the
Anatolian plateau, particularly from the northern Mesopotamian city of Ashur.
These merchants establish trading centers (karum)—such as the one at Kanesh
(modern Kültepe)—and the details of their transactions are documented in
cuneiform tablets, the earliest texts found in the region. During the
fourteenth century, the Hittite kingdom, with its capital at Hattusha
(modern Bogazköy) and religious center at Yazilikaya, creates an empire
extending into northern Syria. By around 1200 B.C., Hattusha is violently
destroyed and the Hittite empire collapses.
In the Caucasus, the earlier culture of Kura-Araxes gives way to the
Trialeti culture, known for its particular form of burial. Large mounds with
extensive underground graves contain bronze weapons, tools, and unique
artifacts in gold and silver.
In Georgia and part of Armenia, the Trialeti culture develops from the
earlier Kura-Araxes tradition. Because their settlements are today difficult
to find, some think that the peoples of the Southern Caucasus are
pastoralists around this time. The elite are interred in large, very rich
burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contain four-wheeled
carts. The precious materials in these tombs reflect influences from
Anatolia; pottery from the Trialeti culture is found in simple burials in
Assyrian merchants from northern Mesopotamia establish trading colonies (karum)
in Anatolia at sites including Kültepe (ancient Kanesh). The presence of
these merchants is known primarily from the large number of clay tablets
(66.245.5b) that record the commercial transactions and correspondence
between the merchants in Anatolia and those at home in Assyria.
In Homer’s Iliad, the site of Troy, in Anatolia, is known as “Troia” or “Ilios.”
Archaeologists dispute which level of settlement at Troy is specifically
referred to by Homer, but it is considered to be either late level VI (ca.
1700–1250 B.C.) or level VII (ca. 1250–1000 B.C.). In both levels, pottery
from Mycenaean Greece is found, demonstrating connections between this part
of Anatolia and Greece. In period VI, Troy is an enormous settlement, among
the largest trading centers in Anatolia at this time.
After many years of successful military campaigning, the Hittite empire,
with its capital at Bogazköy (ancient Hattusha, founded ca. 1650 B.C.),
reaches its maximum extent in central and southeast Anatolia as well as
lands to the south, which border on Egyptian-controlled territory. The ruler
Shuppiluliuma I (r. 1370-1330 B.C.) is both a great general and a master
builder of large stone structures decorated with stone reliefs. It is during
this time that concepts of the sacred nature of royal leaders develop. The
influence of Hittite language, art, and ideas continues after the fall of
the empire in independent states in southeastern Anatolia.
In West and Central Anatolia, this is a time of great social and political
change, marked by invasions of many foreign groups, including the “Sea
Peoples,” Thracians, and Phrygians. Mycenaean settlements in the coastal
areas come to an end, and the Hittite empire is destroyed.
In Anatolia, the first millennium B.C. begins in a period of disruption and
decentralization: new states form and regroup. Greek colonies are
established in southern and western Anatolia and, later, on the Black Sea
coasts. By the late eighth century B.C., the Neo-Assyrian empire, with its
capital cities in Mesopotamia, confronts small kingdoms in both Anatolia and
the Southern Caucasus, including Urartu, Phrygia, and (later) Lydia. From
the mid-sixth century B.C., the area is ruled by Persian satraps (governors)
as part of the vast Achaemenid empire. In 333 B.C., the armies of Alexander
of Macedon launch their successful attack on the Persian empire. Within
twenty years of Alexander’s death (323 B.C.), his empire is divided into
four kingdoms. Control of Anatolia is divided between the Seleucids—who
dominate Syria and Mesopotamia—and the Ptolemies of Egypt. Cities on the
Aegean coast remain independent. By 200 B.C., Rome‘s imperial ambitions fuel
eastward expansion; by the first century B.C., the remaining Hellenistic
kingdoms become vassal states. Emperor Augustus annexes Anatolia to Rome.
The cultures of the Northern and Southern Caucasus create enormous
quantities of bronze weapons and ornaments. Settlers come to Anatolia from
mainland and island Greece and establish colonies first on the western and
southern coasts, and later on the coast of the Black Sea. Initially, these
settlements are impelled by political forces outside of Greece and the
growing density of Greek populations. By the eighth to seventh centuries
B.C., colonies provide fish, grain, and other goods to the city-states of
Greece, and Greek culture, art, and architecture spread to the coastal
regions of Anatolia, influencing nearby cultures.
King Midas rules the kingdom of Phrygia, which comprises the whole of
Central and West Anatolia, from the Urartian frontier in the east to Lydia,
with the capital at Gordion. The wealth of this kingdom, due to its position
at the crossroads of many first-millennium trade routes, is reflected both
in the myth of Midas, whose touch turns all to gold, and the richly
appointed burials of the kings, located in wooden chambers under large
The earliest coinage is invented by a Lydian ruler, possibly Croesus (r. ca.
The successive Median and Achaemenid empires conquer Anatolia and the
Southern Caucasus from their capitals in Iran.
Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.) defeats the Achaemenid Persian king
Darius III (r. 336–330 B.C.) in a battle at Issus near modern Iskenderun,
Turkey. The Alexandrian conquest brings Hellenistic Greek art and culture to
Anatolia and the Southern Caucasus, through the rule of Alexander and his
Seleucid successors. Greek traditions continue until the Roman conquest of
much of the same area, beginning in 133 B.C, when western Asia Minor becomes
a Roman province.
Attalus III, king of Pergamon, bequeathes his realm to the Roman people,
providing Rome with its first foothold in Asia.
From 25 B.C. to 235 A.D., five Roman provinces are established in Anatolia:
Asia, Bithynia, Pontus, Galatia, and Cappadocia. During this period,
numerous roads are built linking the highland cities to the Anatolian coast.
Primarily designed for military use, they become important communication and
trade routes. By the mid-third century, the expanding power of the Sasanian
empire to the east, along with rebellious dynasts in the desert city of
Palmyra to the south, threaten the collapse of the empire’s frontiers. In
response, fortifications are hastily built around major cities. During the
fourth and fifth centuries, urban life prospers with a revival of classical
forms in literature and the arts, especially sculpture. Christianity becomes
the official religion of the Roman empire in the fourth century, and
churches and other ecclesiastical buildings are rapidly built.
At the height of its power, the Roman empire controls Anatolia from the
western coast to the Euphrates River, an area divided into five Roman
provinces. The Roman cities of Anatolia, with their fertile farmland and
extensive trade networks, become the richest in the empire. A vast road
system marked by milestones and many new bridges is in place by the end of
the first century A.D. throughout Anatolia and remains in good repair for
about 300 years.
Christianity transforms the vocabulary of artistic expression, including new
subjects for representation and new media such as church architecture. In
the first century, Saint Paul introduces Christianity into Anatolia, where
it becomes a recognized religion in the early fourth century. Armenia is a
Christian state by 314 A.D. and Georgia converts in the late 330s A.D.
Christianity is recognized as the official religion of the imperial
territories in 380 A.D.
The political situation in the area of the Southern Caucasus is in a state
of flux for several centuries as the Roman and then Byzantine empires fight
with the Parthian and Sasanian empires for control of the Near East.
Independent states exist intermittently in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
An earthquake levels twelve cities in western Anatolia, including Sardis.
The rebuilding of these cities under the direction of the Roman emperor
Tiberius results in their transformation from Greek or Hellenistic to Roman
plans, including Roman architectural forms such as the hippodrome and the
monumental arch, as well as long, broad main streets. Roman architecture and
city planning are not restricted to these rebuilt cities, but are introduced
in many other cities in Anatolia and the Southern Caucasus, as well as
elsewhere in the empire.
Catacomb burials may be those of the Alans, a tribal group new to the
Caucasus. The burials contain ceramics similar to those of the urban centers
to the south, as well as iron weapons. Bronze belt plaques covered with gold
are decorated with stylized snakes, birds, and human figures.
The emperor Constantine moves the capital of the Roman empire to the site of
Byzantium, which is now referred to as Constantinople or New Rome.
Upon the death of the emperor Theodosius, the empire is formally split in
half. The Eastern Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, becomes
the Byzantine empire.
The Georgian and Armenian alphabets are created, initially for
Anatolia remains one of the most important territories of the Byzantine
empire during this period. Eastern Anatolia becomes increasingly militarized
in the 600s due to Persian and Arab invasions. The Iconoclastic controversy
affects all of the empire, including this region, until around 850, when
Byzantium restores economic prosperity and military security. During this
period, the Armenians and Georgians establish themselves as relatively
independent Christian states on the empire’s eastern frontier. In Anatolia,
Byzantine art and architecture flourishes, particularly in the sixth-century
cities along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts—including Ephesus, Sardis,
and Aphrodisias—and in the region of Cappadocia, notable for its medieval
Beginning in the early sixth century, monumental rock-cut architecture
flourishes in the Byzantine region of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia. Large
basilica churches as well as domestic dwellings are hewn from the soft
volcanic tuff. Modern travelers describe these sculpted edifices as “fairy
Sasanian Persians conquer the independent kingdom of Caucasian Albania, a
state converted to Christianity in the fourth century by Armenian
missionaries. Following closely upon these conquests, in 523, eastern
Georgia and Armenia again fall to the Sasanians. By the early seventh
century, eastern Byzantine centers such as Sebasteia (modern Sivas) and
Caesarea Mazaca (now Kayseri) are under Persian control.
The cruciform basilica of Saint John at Ephesus is rebuilt by the emperor
Justinian I (r. 527–65), who adds six domes to the original design in
emulation of the Holy Apostles Church in Constantinople. As an important
seaport and seat of the metropolitan bishop, Ephesus continues to prosper
into the early seventh century, when large areas of the city are destroyed,
the result of the Persian invasion and earthquakes.
The churches of Georgia and Armenia split. While the Armenian church remains
independent, the Georgian church unites with the Byzantine. This
ecclesiastical union deepens political and cultural contact between the two
states. As a sign of Georgia’s status vis-à-vis Byzantium, Georgian princes
are vested with honorific titles of the Byzantine court, including
kouropalates, or “minister of the imperial palace.”
The Byzantine emperor Maurice (r. 582–602) extends the empire’s eastern
border, absorbing portions of western Armenia. In the same period, the
Byzantine church unsuccessfully attempts to bring the church of Armenia
under its authority.
Islam makes inroads into the region as Arab forces begin to occupy eastern
Georgia and Armenia, and western territories are organized as a military
frontier. In response, an extensive system of fortifications is added along
Byzantium’s eastern border in Anatolia.
Citing Old Testament warnings against idolatry, certain bishops in Byzantine
Anatolia, including Thomas of Claudiopolis and Constantine of Nakoleia,
argue against the use of icons in religious worship. Their objections
contribute to the development of the Iconoclastic controversy (726–843).
The Byzantine emperor Leo III (r. 717–41) initiates the first Iconoclastic
legislation. Four years later, Leo orders the removal of figural images from
As the power of the Abbasid caliphate declines, elite Armenian families
establish kingdoms independent of both Abbasid and Byzantine rulers: the
Bagratid dynasty in the north (now Armenia and northeastern Turkey), and the
Vaspurakan dynasty in the south (present-day southeastern Turkey). Native
Armenian goods exported for sale include precious metals such as silver and
copper, and red-dyed, embroidered textiles.
Aristocratic life in ninth- and tenth-century eastern Anatolia inspires the
Byzantine epic-romance Digenis Akritas, or “Two-Blooded Border Lord.” The
surviving text of this verse poem, compiled sometime during the twelfth
century, tells the story of Anatolian communities situated on the borders
between Byzantium and Arab emirates. Digenis’ father is an Arab amir who
marries the daughter of a Byzantine general. Digenis’ magnificent palace and
church, as well as his tomb monument, are vividly described in the poem.
The city of Edessa (modern Urfa in Turkey) is recovered by the Byzantine
army and the renowned relic of the Holy Mandylion, a textile bearing the
impression of Christ’s face, is conveyed from the city, where it had been
kept since the first century, to Constantinople. There the miraculous relic
is deposited in the Pharos chapel of the Great Palace of the Byzantine
Local magnates in Cappadocia revolt against Byzantine central authority,
threatening the emperor’s control over Anatolia. Basil II (r. 976–1025)
restores imperial power in the region, seizing the wealth of local
aristocratic families who had inspired the rebellion.
With the ascension of Bagrat III (978–1019), all of Georgia is united under
a single ruler.
After the collapse of Hagia Sophia’s dome in Constantinople, the Armenian
architect Trdat is commissioned to repair damages. The tradition of domed
architecture in Armenian building provides a training ground for architects
such as Trdat.
The period from 1000 to 1400 in Anatolia and the Caucasus is a time of
Turkic and Muslim expansion at the expense of the Byzantine empire’s eastern
territories. The arrival of the Crusaders from the west, especially the
conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, further undermines
the civil authority of the Byzantine state. The advance of the Mongol armies
from the east also fragments power in the region. Anatolia will not be
reunified until the Ottoman conquests in the late fifteenth century. The
plurality of the period, however, brings cross-cultural exchange and
innovations in the arts as well as architecture.
Under the Byzantine emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025), western Armenian
territories are annexed and Byzantium reaches its greatest medieval extent.
The defeat of the Byzantine army by Seljuq forces at the Battle of Manzikert
(in present-day eastern Turkey) leads to the penetration, settlement, and
conquest of Anatolia by Turkic tribes. At this time, Armenia passes under
Seljuq rule, while Georgia expands its control over the Caucasus. A branch
of the Seljuqs establishes its own realm in Anatolia and rule from Nicaea
(modern Iznik). The Turkic/Muslim expansion prompts the First Crusade.
The relics of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of seafarers, are stolen by
Italian sailors from his patron church in Myra on the Mediterranean coast of
Anatolia and transported to Bari in southern Italy, where the saint’s cult
At the invitation of the Byzantine court, the first Crusaders arrive in
Anatolia en route to the Holy Land. Their capture of Nicaea (Iznik) forces
the Anatolian Seljuqs to find a new capital, which is eventually established
in Konya (1116).
Two branches of the Artuqid dynasty rule in southeastern Anatolia.
Architecture and the arts, especially metalwork and textiles, reflect Seljuq
influences and contact with Byzantium and the Crusaders.
The city of Ephesus serves as a staging point for the Second Crusade, en
route to the Holy Land.
A period of tremendous cultural activity in Anatolia, with a synthesis of
different immigrant traditions; important personages include Ibn al-‘Arabi
(philosopher), Maulana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi (spiritual leader), and Yunus
Byzantium is conquered and occupied by Western armies of the Fourth Crusade.
As plunders of war, Byzantine works of art are dispersed throughout the
Western medieval world. In place of a centralized Byzantine government, with
its one capital in Constantinople, independent Byzantine states in exile are
established in the former imperial provinces: the empire of Nicaea
(1204–61), the empire of the Grand Komnenoi at Trebizond (1204–1461), and
the despotate of Epirus (1204–1318).
The zenith of Anatolian Seljuq power. Besides centralization and military
expansion, trade and artistic creativity also define this period. The
caravanserais built for traveling merchants, as well as the architectural
activity during the reign of ‘Ala’ al-Din Kai Qubad I (r. 1219–37),
including his palace and mosque in Konya, are especially noteworthy.
The Golden Horde khanate rules the western part of the Mongol empire in the
Caucasus and the Volga basin north of the Black and Caspian seas. At its
greatest extent, the khanate stretches from the Danube to the River Irtysh
The Seljuqs are defeated by the Ilkhanids, the Mongol dynasty ruling in
Iran, at the Battle of Köse Dagh, and are forced to pay a large tribute;
Anatolia becomes closely linked to Iran politically, culturally, and
A new Byzantine emperor, Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–82), emerges from
exile in the state of Nicaea and recovers Constantinople, reestablishing the
empire on a much reduced scale.
Dozens of independent regional principalities, including the Osmanli
(Ottomans) in northwestern Anatolia, replace the relative unity of Seljuq
rule and become prominent after the fall of the Ilkhanids. While this
fragmented power continues until Ottoman supremacy in the late fifteenth
century, the courts of these regional dynasties provide multiple centers of
With the move of its capital to Kutaisi, the western Georgian kingdom enters
a period of increased diplomacy and trade with the empire of the Grand
Komnenoi at Trebizond.
The Grand Komnenoi form marriage alliances between Byzantine princesses in
Trebizond and Turkmen rulers in the east.
Reign of Bayezid I (“the Thunderbolt”), the Ottoman ruler whose conquests in
Anatolia and the Balkans bring on the fatal battle against Timur
(Tamerlane), the great Turko-Mongol ruler. Bayezid is equally ambitious in
his patronage, which is exemplified by the Great Mosque of Bursa
During the period from 1400 to 1600 A.D., Anatolia and the Caucasus witness
a shift from the earlier fragmentation (1000–1400 A.D.) to increased
unification. While the Caucasian region remains independent during the
earlier half of this period and then becomes a frontier zone between the
Ottoman and Safavid empires, Anatolia is tied to Ottoman imperial capitals
in the Balkan peninsula, Edirne (Adrianople) and Istanbul (Constantinople).
With the great Ottoman expansion in the sixteenth century, Anatolia becomes
part of a world empire. Earlier heterogeneity gives way to a uniquely
Ottoman synthesis of different artistic traditions.
Conquests in Anatolia and the Balkans under the Ottoman ruler Bayezid I
(“the Thunderbolt,” r. 1389–1403), lead to the fatal battle of Ankara
against Timur (Tamerlane), the great Central Asian Turko-Mongol ruler. In
the aftermath of Bayezid’s death, his sons fight for the throne while
recently conquered regions declare their autonomy. Through the vassalage of
Anatolian principalities and the influx of artisans, Timurid influences are
seen in the arts of Anatolia.
Emerging victorious from the interregnum after his father Bayezid’s death,
Mehmet I reestablishes a unified Ottoman state. During his reign, Bursa is a
cultural center attracting migrant artists, especially from Iran. New
techniques are introduced into the artistic vocabulary. Mehmet’s
convent-mosque and tomb complex (begun 1419, popularly known as “Green”
after the color of the tiles covering his mausoleum), built in stone, is
lavishly decorated inside with cuerda seca tiles and elaborate woodwork.
After his conquest of Constantinople, which puts an end to the Byzantine
empire, Mehmet II (“the Conqueror,” r. 1444–46 and 1451–81) sets out to
unify Anatolia under Ottoman rule. Mehmet’s takeover of various lands,
including the realms of Trebizond and Karaman, ends the long period of
fragmentation following Anatolian Seljuq rule. With a keen interest in
centralization, Mehmet ties Anatolia to his new capital. In doing so, he
also relocates artists and scholars in order to realize his imperial
ambitions of creating a world empire together with a rich artistic
During the reign of Bayezid II, a conservative religious reaction against
Mehmet’s cosmopolitan outlook and centralizing interests surfaces. Social
unrest in the eastern Anatolian provinces creates tension with the newly
emerging Safavid polity in Iran. In terms of the arts, Bayezid focuses on
architectural patronage, commissioning buildings in the cities of Tokat,
Amasya, and Manisa.
Several cities in the western Anatolian region develop into major artistic
and commercial centers. While Iznik is renowned for ceramics and Bursa for
silks and textiles, various cities are recognized in the production of
Usurping power from his father Bayezid, Selim I (“the Grim”) proceeds to
confront religious turmoil and sectarian divisions in eastern Anatolia,
which bring him into conflict with Safavid Iran. The Ottoman victory at the
Battle of Çaldıran (1514) leads to the increased presence of Iranian artists
and works of art at the Ottoman court. During his eight-year rule, Selim
adds Syria, Egypt, and the Holy Cities of Islam (Mecca and Medina) to the
Ottoman realm. Through this expansion, Anatolia is politically unified with
immediately neighboring Arab provinces to the south.
The reign of Süleyman, popularly known as “the Magnificent” or “the
Lawmaker,” is often regarded as “the Golden Age” and is defined by
geographic expansion, trade, economic growth, and tremendous cultural and
artistic activity. During this period, the Ottoman realm in Anatolia is
extended toward Tabriz (Iran) and Baghdad (Iraq) in 1534 and into Georgia in
1549. The region becomes part of an empire whose control extends from
present-day Hungary to the Caucasus, from Crimea to the eastern
Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa.
Sinan, the only architect among the great Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal
dynasties to become famous by name, is chief of the Corps of Royal
Architects under sultans Süleyman I, Selim II (r. 1566–74), and Murad III
(r. 1574–95). Born to a Christian family in the Central Anatolian city of
Kayseri, Sinan rose through the Ottoman ranks to become one of the most
celebrated Islamic architects of all time. His designs for hundreds of
public service buildings are carried out throughout the Ottoman empire.
After great military successes throughout the sixteenth century, the
Ottomans face a series of setbacks in the seventeenth. The siege of Vienna
against the Habsburgs ends unsuccessfully in 1683, and soon afterward
Hungary and Transylvania break free of the empire. In the east, parts of
Iraq are lost to the Safavids. The Ottomans continue to hold onto most
provinces, but locals gain greater power in determining their governors, and
by the 1800s the Ottomans face a new threat in the form of Russian
expansionism. The arts, however, continue to flourish and in this period are
transformed under the influence of the European Baroque.
Overview and Key Events of Anatolia and the Caucasus (pdf)
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