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In brief...

Palaeolithic/Epipalaeolithic Age:

The longest of the cultural periods temporally spans from the beginning of documented human activity through to 12,000BP. What we know from this age is that humans were using tools chipped from pebbles, flint, animal bones, wood, and any other potential material, while finding shelter in caves and other rock shelters as 'extended families-groups'. As hunter-gathers, they did not use any farming nor food cultivation techniques. Fire was being used to manipulate raw foods in cooking and heating, and also served as protection from predatory wildlife. The Palaeolithic age is categorised into three sub periods: Lower, Middle and Upper. The Epipalaeolithic phase relates to the start of human manipulation and control over nature, just before the advent of food cultivation. Two sites in Anatolia and Thrace, Yarimburgaz (Istanbul) and Karain (Antalya), best represent the Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic period within Turkey.

Neolithic Age:

The Neolithic Age is regularly regarded as revolutionary to the development of human sedentary settlements and human cultural history. During this period, humankind begins the transition from hunter-gatherers to crop and farming cultivation techniques, abandoning their nomadic nature for permanent or semi-settled communities and societies. It was the initialisation of crop and animal domestication and agriculture. This sedentary life enabled the growth of villages, which later developed into towns and cities. Archaeologists divide the Neolithic period into sub periods based on utensil technology used for storage and food preparation: the Pre-pottery and Pottery. The most significant sites in Anatolia and Thrace (based on artefacts recovered and architectural remains, as well as on the artistic and ritual creativity) are Çayönü (Diyabakir), Cafer Höyük (Malatya), Asikli Höyük (Aksaray), Kuruçay (Burdur), Çatalhöyük (Konya) and Hacilar (Burdur).

Chalcolithic Age:

The 'Chalcolithic' age (taken from the Greek terms khalkos=copper; lithos=stone), is also known as the Copper Age due to the introduction of copper alongside stone in tool production. Although recent data has proved that the earliest use of copper dates back to the Pre-pottery Neolithic, its use is more extensive and easily detectable during this age. This era dates back roughly from 5,000 to 3,000 BC and is studied as three stages: Early, Middle and Late Chalcolithic. Together with an increase in permanent settlements, we see significant developments in the process of proto-urbanisation: advanced developments in agriculture and animal husbandry; the social organisation and hierarchal structuring of groups and communities such as priests, craftsmen, workers, etc.; the use of monumental architecture such as temples, ritual structures, defence systems, irrigation systems; and the emergence of strategically long-distant trade-routes for the exchange of rare and luxurious commodities. Some important sites worth mentioning follow: Bakla Tepe (Izmir), Liman Tepe (Izmir), Hacilar (Burdur), Beycesultan (Denizli), Ikiztepe (Samsun), Alisar (Yozgat), Domuztepe (Adana), Yumuktepe (Içel), Arslantepe (Malatya), Degirmentepe (Malatya) and Girikihaciyan (Diyarbakir).

Early Bronze Age:

The Early Bronze Age of Anatolia and Thrace covers a period between approximately 3.000-2.000 cal. BC. Persevering from the accomplishments of the Chalcolithic Age, the Early Bronze Age continues to prosper in the rise of complex societies manifesting itself through a network of independent city-states: their use of fortification and impressive palaces and temples indicate their hierarchical structuring and political relation to neighbouring city-states. The further development of social stratification and religious ideologies is manifested through material paraphernalia, new uses of the techniques of metallurgy, technology and modes of production, but also the introduction of writing. It is also evident through the analysis of the architectural spacing of the sites as well as the analysis of mortuary evidence: the practice of social division and social status of groups and individuals can be seen through rarity of their material possessions. The discovery of bronze through the smelting then alloying of copper and tin symbolises a great step forward in metallurgy, also playing an important role in the further establishment of extensive trade routes to the Aegean, Middle East and Balkans. The Early Bronze Age of Anatolia and Turkish Thrace is divided into 3 phases (EB I, EB II, and EBIII), represented by over a thousand settlements such as Aslantepe (Malatya), Alacahöyük (Çorum), Acemhöyük (Aksaray), Troya (Çanakkale), Karaoglan (Ankara), Alisar (Yozgat), Karahöyük (Konya), Kültepe (Kayseri), Demircihöyük (Eskisehir), Mahmatlar (Amasya), Horoztepe (Tokat), Ikiztepe (Samsun), Gözlükule (Tarsus), Beycesultan (Denizli), Semsiyetepe (Elazig), and Kuruçay (Burdur).

Iron Age:

After the destruction of the Hittite capital at Hattusa at the beginning of the 12th century, all the written sources went silent, and an era therefore called “Dark Age” has started while Anatolia was entering a period of chaos. The Anatolian Plateau is fallen deep into a lack of a political entity and received new peoples from various geographies. The Kaska settled in the Central Anatolia in the north of Kizilirmak River; the peoples of Mushki coming through Trans-Caucasia and settled in the western side of eastern Anatolia while migrants from Thrace settled in the north of western Anatolia, and the Arameans coming from south became prominent in the southeastern Anatolia. The order in Anatolia is seriously hindered when a number of warlike groups, known collectively as the “Sea Peoples” in the Egyptian sources is added on top of all these dramatic changes. It is not possible to find out exactly what happened during this period for us since there is a severe decline in literacy and archaeological material . The use of iron in ornament and ritualistic weapon productions has been improved after the smelting technology is mastered especially after the second half of the 2nd millennium BC. After widespread usage of iron in any types of weapons and tools, iron ore became common enough to give its name to the age. When iron is not something of a luxury, farming, industry and war became more effective factors in the society. Late Hittite City States, Urartians, Phrygians, Neo-Assyrians, Lydians, Lycians, and Ionians are some peoples and polities mainly emerged in the picture of Iron Age while Klazomenai (Izmir), Yassihöyük/Gordion (Ankara), Kaman Kalehöyük (Kirsehir), Sarhöyük (Eskisehir), Masat Höyük (Tokat), Van Citadel, Toprakkale (Van), Altintepe (Erzincan), Zincirli, Kargamis (Gaziantep), Karatepe (Osmaniye) and Ziyaret Tepe, Üçtepe (Diyarbakir) are some of the better documented Iron Age sites those can be highlighted.

Greek-Roman Period (Pisidia and Caria):

The Greek colonies which arrived in Anatolia over the Aegean region starting in 1050 BC, brought along the culture of the Protogeometric period. This primary influence of the Greek colonization, that was experienced in Anatolia, had several impact levels, that differed from one region to another. The major Iron Age civilizations such as Phrygia, and Lydia were replaced by Persian rule in 546 BC, and this domination ended with the campaign of Alexander the Great in 333 BC. Anatolia was almost completely hellenized with the foundation of new cities, or the reorganization of the existing, during the process known as the Hellenistic period, which lasted from the campaign of Alexander the Great, until 1st century BC. Anatolia gradually felt the influence of Rome, following the domination of the Roman Empire over the Kingdom of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC. The existing Anatolian / Greek settlements in Anatolia were romanized through systematically driven politics,  during the first 300 years of the Roman Empire, which is known as the Golden Age of the Roman domination. Following the death of the Emperor Theodosius I (392-395 BC), and the division of the Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire ruled Anatolia. Only a few Anatolian cities could survive in the following centuries. The regions of Pisidia, and Caria are two ancient Anatolian regions, which experienced the historical process starting with the division of the Empire, until 395 AD. Caria region lies on the southwest shores  of Anatolia. The present province of Mugla, and its environs are inside the limits of Caria region. On the other hand the Göller district, some parts of the Mediterranean region, and the present Konya province are inside the Pisidia region. These two ancient regions, which are completely different from each other in terms of geography, and ethnicity, reflect the history of Anatolia in separate ways, with their own authentic elements, such as their cities, rural settlements, watchtowers, sacred areas, necropoles, roads, bridges, etc...(M. Aksan)

Byzantine Period (Marmara Region):

The civilization called Byzantine now, was actually the Roman Empire, which maintained its presence in the oriental territories after becoming Christianized. The Roman Emperor, Constantine I moved the capital to the eastern terrains, where he believed to have been more secure, and thus a small Roman town, Byzantion was consecrated as the “second capital” of the empire under the name of Constantinople in 330. This date has been considered as the foundation date of the Byzantine Empire by contemporary researchers. The Byzantine Empire survived until it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The Byzantine expansion reached its limits in the 6th century when its borders covered an area ranging from Spain in the west, including Italy, Greece and a great part of the Balkans, parts of Anatolia and Caucasia to the Middle East and North Africa. However, loosing its territories gradually over the years, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to a city state during its final years. The important cities in the Marmara Region during the Byzantine Period included Bithynia, Nicaea (Iznik), Proussia (Bursa) and Nicomedia (Izmit) on the Asian side. Besides, there were Byzantine settlements in the environs of the present towns of Gebze and Tuzla and near the Uluabat Lake. In addition, Perinthos (Marmara Ereglisi), and further west, Ainos (Enez) and Hadrianopolis (Edirne) as well as Byze (Vize) in Northern Thrace were among the important cities of the Byzantine Empire. Very few Byzantine buildings have survived to the present day in the modern cities such as Edirne, Bursa, Iznik and Izmit. In Istanbul, on the other hand, mostly the buildings which were converted into mosques could survive, while the others were either entirely demolished or destroyed to a great extent. Among the principal Byzantine buildings in the Marmara Region are Hagia Sophia, Chora, Kalenderhane Mosque, Fethiye Mosque and the Walls in Istanbul; Hagia Sophia of Iznik and the Walls of Iznik in the east; and Hagia Sophia of Vize and Hagia Sophia of Enez in the west. (Ö. Kurt)

Byzantine Period (Central Anatolia Region):

The Anatolian peninsula has been the homeland and the strategic center -in geographical and political sense- of the Byzantine Civilization during the Late Antiquity and Middle Age. It extends along the Central Anatolian region of Turkey, from Eskisehir to Sivas in the east-west direction, and reaches from Çankiri to Karaman in the north-south direction. It also covers some parts or all of Eskisehir, Ankara, Kirikkale, Çankiri, Yozgat, Konya, Karaman, Kirsehir, Nevsehir, Nigde, Aksaray, Kayseri and Sivas provinces. This region was covering the entire Cappadocia and major parts of Galatia, Lycaonia and Phrygia during the Byzantine Period. The cities such as Sebasteia (Sivas), Caesarea (Kayseri), Iconium (Konya), Dorylaion (Eskisehir), Ancyra (Ankara), Tyana (Kemerhisar), Mokissos (Viransehir), Nazianzus (Nenezi) and Nyssa (Harmandali village), which were the important Byzantine cities in Anatolia, were situated within the borders of the geographical region what is now known as Central Anatolia. The Central Anatolia was an important center for the monastic movement in Byzantine as well. Today, the density of the structures in Central Anatolia, especially in Cappadocia and Karaman, makes these two regions special. The geological structure of Cappadocia has given the inhabitants of this area very special architectural opportunities and has led to the development of a unique rock-cut architecture in the region. In Central Anatolia, the skirts of Karadag, which is located approx. 40 km north of Karaman Province in the south of Konya Plain, is also rich in Byzantine architecture. A great number of structures located in this area were built with regular cut-stone blocks and including the churches in basilical plan, all of these structures covered by stone vault (E. Akyürek).

14C (Radiocarbon):

The element carbon is present in various archaeological finds uncovered in excavations. These contain traces of the radioactive isotope 14C (radiocarbon), the density and radioactivity of which can be measured for dating purposes. Since its discovery in 1950, radiocarbon dating has become the principal method by which archaeological, palaeobotanical, and geological events up to ca. 60,000 years ago can be accurately dated. All archaeological finds containing traces of carbon can be dated using this absolute dating technique. Organic samples are collected from sites or artefacts, such as pieces of wood, charcoal, dried plants, preserved seeds and grains, fabric and strings, animal skin and shells, bones, and food scraps. Once the raw radiocarbon date is established, it needs to be 'calibrated' to yield calendar dates, and are thus compared with independently dated samples from other dating methods such as dendrochronology, ice cores, deep ocean cores or lake sediment varves, coral samples and speleothems (M. Özbakan - rev. H. Koriech).


"The definition of a cave, an underground cavity created by several natural means, is made on “the basis of man”; cavities which are large enough (also depends on the body of caver!) for penetration, and subsequently for exploration by humans. Such cavities are mainly part of a “network”, which may have a wide spectrum of scale ranging from the huge volumes where humans can easily enter and walk through to the capillary fringes. Almost all of the caves included in this inventory are an integrated part of the ground/underground structures, which are called karstic in geomorphology. The karst, most commonly, comprises cavities resulting from dissolution of the carbonated rocks by the atmospheric (including acid due to dissolved carbon dioxide, pH 5.5) waters, and re-composition by means of mechanical depression and chemical precipitation. And, the caves represent only a specific range of scale and topology among this network scattered into a wider spectrum of scale. (...)". (M. Aktar - H.N. Dalfes)

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Copyrightİ1998 TAY Projesi  Databases translated by Rana Özbal (Palaeolithic/Epipalaeolithic, Neolithic), Bike Yazicioglu and Mete Aksan (Chalcolithic), Pervin Yanikkaya Aydemir (Early Bronze Age), Kerim Bayer and Pervin Yanikkaya Aydemir (14C), Pervin Yanikkaya Aydemir, Cengiz Aydemir (The Cave Inventory of Turkey, Greek-Roman Period / Pisidia and Caria Inventory, Marmara Region Byzantine Inventory), Hilal Gültekin (Central Anatolia Region Byzantine Inventory); Pervin Yanikkaya Aydemir, Cengiz Aydemir, Deniz Uygun, Enis Akin, Hilal Gültekin (Updates). All databases updated by Ayse Didem Bayvas, Deniz Uygun, Özdemir Gündogan and Zeynep Akman.