The Flavour of Anatolia

By Evans, James Allan | Contemporary Review, September 1999 | Go to article overview

The Flavour of Anatolia

Evans, James Allan, Contemporary Review

Turkey is full of surprises. The past of the Turkish countryside stretches back through the histories of forgotten ethnic groups whom we know only from what archaeological digging has turned up in the last century or so. Hittites, Luwians, Phrygians, Lycians, Trojans. Troy and the Trojans at least are well known. The Iliad of Homer is the first achievement of European literature, and it describes the exploits of the Greek hero Achilles and his rival whom he kills in single combat, the Trojan Hector. The discovery of Troy by Heinrich Schliemann in 1871 marks the start of Greek prehistoric archaeology, and that much cannot be denied him though his techniques are antipathetic to modern practitioners of archaeological science and even his integrity has been questioned. The site of Troy is not beautiful or even striking, but it attracts tour busloads and at its entrance there stands a replica of the Wooden Horse. The Turks know what will strike a chord. The Turkish recreation of the Wooden Horse is imaginative but instantly familiar. It is a part of the European literary heritage.

The excavations of Schliemann and his more competent successors at Troy have not quite rescued the Trojan War from myth and delivered it firmly into the purview of history, but at least the Greeks did migrate to Asian Turkey, and they built cities along the Ionian coast which prospered in the classical period. There was still a large Greek population there until 1922, when the Turks expelled the Greeks and Greece did likewise with Turks in Greece, except for a handful left in Thrace. The Lydians dominated the area before the Persian Empire conquered it; the last Lydian King, Croesus, was so famous for his wealth that the saying, 'As rich as Croesus' is still in current usage. He was warned by the oracle at Delphi that if he picked a quarrel with Persia, a great empire would fall. So, full of confidence, he crossed the Halys River, attacked Persia and saw his own empire capitulate. Persia took over and its dominion rapidly stretched to the Aegean Sea. I crossed the Halys River myself this spring with a group of students from the American School of Classical Studies, on the road to Sivas. Close by it is the campus of one of Turkey's new universities. It is a much more impressive stream than the Rubicon in Italy, which Julius Caesar crossed, announcing that the die was cast, but it still falls short of its reputation.

Persia tried and failed to expand into Greece itself, and a century and a half later, Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, struck back, overthrew the Persian monarchy and conquered a vast swath of Asian territory stretching into India. The Greeks wasted no love on the Macedonians, but it was Alexander and his Macedonian successors who spread Greek culture over the area Persia once dominated, submerging the ancient native cultures. With the conquest by the Roman Empire, the rulers changed but not much else. But Rome left a deep imprint in its eastern provinces. The people developed an attachment to Rome. Christianity reinforced the loyalty, for the new Christian capital of the empire was Constantinople, and the concept of separation of church and state was entirely foreign. The Roman Empire in western Europe collapsed, but in the east, a Greek empire which claimed a lineage going back to imperial Rome controlled Anatolia until 1071. In that year, an army of Seljuk Turks utterly defeated a Byzantine army at Manzikert and captured an emperor.

But it is the small surprises in Anatolia which the traveller remembers. Afyon some 250 km south-west of Ankara was notorious for its opium production a couple of centuries ago. 'This town,' asserts the Blue Guide, 'has another more sinister name redolent of past sins - Afyonkarahisar, the Black Fortress of Opium'. Its poppy fields once supplied the Chinese market until the poppies of British India pushed their product out. The poppy fields now grow sunflowers. But in the little museum at Afyon, tucked away in a case displaying its numismatic collection, is a coin dating back a couple of thousand years.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

The Flavour of Anatolia


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.