Friday, 15 April 2011

CASE 264 - The History of Turkey

The history of Turkey started as a much larger country called Anatolia and goes back to the Paleolithic ages. The cave Karain 30km north of Antalya gives us evidence of mankind in Anatolia dated back to 10.000B.C. The houses found in Archeological excavations in Catalhoyuk near Konya dated 6800-5700B.C and in Hacilar near Burdur dated 5700-5600B.C. shows us the examples of the fists settlements of mankind. The foundings in Alisar(in Yozgat), Alacahoyuk (in Corum), Tilkitepe (in Van), Canhasan (in Konya), Horoztepe (in Tokat) ,İkiztepe (in Samsun) gives a detailed overview of the people and live style of prehistoric ages. After mankind started to settle Anatolia has given rise to many civilizations in the course of history. Although not as advanced as Egypt or Mesopotamia, the Hatti, who spoke a language characterized by prefixes, were nevertheless one of the more advanced societies of their age(3000-2000B.C.). The objects on display at the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations constitute the finest Bronze Age collection in the world next to the Ur Treasure in the British Museum. The Ankara collection, dated at 2000-1900B.C., comes from tumuli at Alacahoyuk, Horoztepe and Mahmatlar, and includes artifacts in gold silver, electrum bronze and ceramic. During the time of the Hatti, Troy I (3000-2500) and Troy II (2500-2200) represented the Bronze Age in northwestern Anatolia, that is to say at Canakkale. Both fell within the sphere of Aegean culture, and Troy II had a particularly brilliant age. The gold vessels unearthed by Heinrich Schliemann, and kept in the Berlin Völkerkunde Museum, unfortunately vanished during World War II. The riches of Troy are now represented by the gold jewellery on display in the Istanbul museum of Archaeology. Troy III-V (2200-1800B.C.) is a continuation of Troy II.

The history of Turkey refers to the history of the country now called Turkey. Although the lands have an ancient history, Turkic migration to the country is relatively new. The Turks, a society whose language belongs to the Turkic language family started moving from their original homelands to the modern Turkey in the 11th century. After the Turkic Seljuq Empire defeated forces of the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert, the process was accelerated and the country was referred to as 'Turchia' in the Europe as early as the 12th century. The Seljuq dynasty controlled Turkey until the country was invaded by the Mongols following the Battle of Kosedag. During the years when the country was under Mongol rule, some small Turkish states were born. One of these states was the Ottoman beylik which quickly controlled Western Anatolia and conquered much of Rumelia. After finally conquering Istanbul, the Ottoman state would become a large empire, called the Turkish Empire in Europe. Next, the Empire expanded to Eastern Anatolia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Europe and North Africa. Although the Ottoman Empire's power and prestige peaked in the 16th century; it did not fully reach the technological advance in military capabilities of the Western powers in the 19th century. Nevertheless, Turkey managed to maintain independence though some of its territories were ceded to its neighbours and some small countries gained independence from it. Following World War I in which Turkey was defeated, most of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace was occupied by the Allied powers including the capital city Istanbul. In order to resist the occupation, a cadre of young military officers formed a government in Ankara. The elected leader of the Ankara Government, Mustafa Kemal organized a successful war of independence against the Allied powers. After the liberation of Anatolia and the Eastern Thrace, the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923 with capital city Ankara.

Turkey is not thought of as the Muslim country par excellence, but it is perhaps the most Muslim nation in the world. Due to its unique birth during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as a state forged exclusively by and for Muslims through blood and war, Turkey is a Muslim nation by origin – a feature shared perhaps only with partitioncreated Pakistan.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s secularization in the 1920s veneered the country’s core identity with a Kemalist, nationalistic overlay. However, a recent perfect storm has undone Ataturk’s legacy: Whereas the events of September 11 have, unfortunately, oriented Muslim-Western relations toward perpetual conflict, the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara has helped reexpose the country’s core identity. When the AKP came to power in 2002, many expected that the party’s promise to de-Kemalize Turkey by blending Islam and politics would not only create a stronger Turkey, but would prove Islam’s compatibility with the West. The result, however, has been the reverse.

The AKP has eschewed Ataturk’s vision of Turkey as part of the West, preferring a Manichean “us [Muslims] vs them” worldview. Hence, in the post- September 11 world, stripped of its Kemalist identity, Turkey’s self-appointed role is that of “leader of the Muslim world.” The country is, in fact, well-suited for this position: It has the largest economy and most powerful military of any Muslim nation. After years of successful de-Kemalization, the only obstacle that remains is convincing its Muslim brethren to anoint it as their sultan. Turkey was created as an exclusive Muslim homeland through war, blood and tears. Unbeknownst to many outsiders, modern Turkey emerged not as a state of ethnic Turks, but of Ottoman Muslims who faced expulsion and extermination in Russia and the Balkan states. Almost half of Turkey’s 73 million citizens descend from such survivors of religious persecution. During the Ottoman Empire’s long territorial decline, millions of Turkish and non-Turkish Muslims living in Europe, Russia and the Caucasus fled persecution and sought refuge in modern-day Turkey.

With the empire’s collapse at the end of World War I, Ottoman Muslims joined ethnic Turks to defend their home against Allied, Armenian and Greek occupations. They succeeded, making Turkey a purely Muslim nation that had been born out of conflict with Christians. Religion’s saliency as ethnicity lasted into the post- Ottoman period: When modern Greece and Turkey exchanged their minority populations in 1924, Turkish- speaking Orthodox Christians from Anatolia were exchanged with Greek-speaking Muslims from Crete.


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