The Art of the Middle East Including Persia, Mesopotamia and Palestine

By Leonard Woolley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
ANATOLIA, 1200-330 B.C.

The study of Anatolian art during this period requires as background a rather more detailed account of the country's political history than was given in the brief summary in Chapter I.

HISTORICAL SKETCH

The invasion of the 'Peoples of the Sea' which swept over Asia Minor just after 1200 B.C. completely transformed the political map of the country. Of the actual events of the time we know nothing; but when the fog clears we find that the great Hittite Empire has disappeared once and for all. Its place has been taken by the Phrygians, an Indo-European people coming from south-eastern Europe. We hear of them first from Assyrian sources in about 1100 B.C., when they were already firmly installed in the Halys basin and the lands west of it, and under the name Muski or Moschoi were a menace to the outlying provinces of Assyria. Further to the west were the Lydians, a kindred stock to the Phrygians and at the outset their dependents, occupying much of what had been the kingdom of Ahhijawâ, the 'Achaeans'; these latter, who had themselves formed part of the host of the Sea-Peoples, cannot have been altogether ousted but seem to have withdrawn to the Ionian coast and to Caria, which was to maintain its independence until its conquest by Croesus. Another of the invading peoples, the Danuna, had settled in Cilicia. Eastwards of the Phrygians, in the mountainous country round Lake Van, the centre of Anatolia's mineral wealth, there were presumably already the people who, perhaps under foreign masters, were to become under the name Urartu an empire that could vie with Assyria.

Invasion of the 'People of the Sea'

This state of affairs was not to last. At the beginning Phrygia prospered greatly under the Midas dynasty; but in the first half of the eighth century a fresh wave of south European invaders, the Cimmerians, attacking with a pincer movement across the Bosphorus and by way of the Caucasus, broke the Phrygian resistance so completely that King Midas committed suicide in his capital, Gordion. War with Assyria brought the country to a yet lower ebb, and about 696 B.C. a second Cimmerian invasion put an end to Phrygia as an independent power. Lydia then took over the hegemony: the Cimmerians were driven out of Asia by the victories of Ardys and his sucessor Alyattes, and the conquest of the Greek cities Miletus, Smyrna and Magnesia,

Phrygia

-161-

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