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History of Cappadocia

Fairy chimneys came into beings by geographical events. In historical process, people used these fairy chimneys as their home. They built churchs and decorated with frescos. So, the traces of the civilisation through thousands of years can easily be seen today. In order to save this cultural treasure and not to have the region snatched, even Thalesfrom Milet, divided the Red River (Halys) into two parts and made the army pass through it to help Lydian King for making a stand against Persian attacks. He also carried outhis first scientific plans here. The names of the cities in Cappadocia were lost in this general statement because of the fame Cappadocia had and its being a well known state.
Natural beauty and cultural richness of Ürgüp, Avanos, Zelve and Göreme attracted a lot of historians and explorers for centuries. Cappadocia was known as “Catpatuca” in Persian agd and “Catpatukka” meant the area that the finest horses were raised. Nevertheless, there is still debate about where the origin of the word comes from: Hattie, Luid, Hittite and Assyrian or else. Therefore, resources about the horses were researched and important data were found. Hittites gave importance to horse raising between 1460 and 1190 BC. We know that they brought raisers from Mittanni and they wrote the recommendations given by these raisers on the tablets. So, they guaranteed the transition of the knowledge fort he next generations. In the state archives of Bogazköy, a work written by Kikkuli the young raiser from Mittani was found. Xenephon in 401 BC, Strappon from Amasya in 18 AD, Gregoir from Nissa from 334 to 394 AD and also a young grower from Maccan (Göreme) put information about the history the region for us.
Charged with the duty to go around the Mediterranean countries by French Kingdom, Paul Lucas was the first to introduce the region to Europe with his travel book. With the duty by French King Louis 14., he got amazed when he came around Ürgüp and Avanos in August, 1705. The fariy geological structue of the region, especially interesting rock houses that people lived, churches and interior confused him utterly.

When Lucas returned hometown, he published his notes as a travel book with two volumes in Paris, 1712. He described Cappadocia with a big exaggeration like that: “When I saw the remains of an old construction across the Red River, I got really shocked. There were a lot of houses carved in a rock. The number of the houses was not two or three; it had to be more than two thousand. I thought that these pyramids belonged to ancient priests. The figures that I saw recalled me as headgears of priests. Then, I realized that there were some different figures”
He described the city as “the graveyard of a vanished city” when he passed from the city again in 1714. In this manner a scandal came to the light in the palace of Louis 14. The King. Everyone believed that Lucas was taken ill by mithomanic (the illness of lying). Even the King ordered the French ambassador Comte Desalluers to investigate the region in order to describe whether or not Lucas was lying. Mr. Comte Desaluers verified the information given by Lucas. When the travel book was published, it was caused of discussion. Ürgüp and neghbourhood was a far away region for Europe. The data were in conflict with the historical sources. So, it was unbelievable for must of the people although it was attracting some of them. German writer C.M. Wieland (1773 – 1814) revealed what he felt; “It is equivalent to impossible form e to believe that there are pyramids carved as houses at huge numbers, even about where we never heard anything and none of the ancient writers mention.”
130 years later from Lucas, more realistic presentation was given by the French traveller Charles Texier who was charged with investigation in Anatolia by the French government. The famous architect considered the area in details on his journey between 1833 and 1837. Then he published the conclusion of his trip and observation in the book. “Description de I’Asia Mineure” as six volumes with him plans and gravures.
European travellers came to the region for scientific investigation following Lucas. They did not hide their bewilderment. English traveller W.F. Ainsworth quotes the scene of the volcanic valley;
“ We found ourselves with a complicated matter in a forest which was composed of rocks in the shape of cone and column when we passed over a valley that lied down to the river. We were just like visiting the ruins of a huge city. Some of the cones were carrying big and unshaped rock pieces.”
The famous English geologist W.J. Hamilton who came to the area in July 1837 said;
“Words are not enough to tell the extraordinary wiev of the area.”
In October 1838, the famous Field Marshall Moltke from Prussia stopped by Ürgüp while he was travelling to Nevsehir from Kayseri. He mentioned about the characteristic of the area; “An old castle which was hollowed out in a strange way was near the town. The houses of Ürgüp were made by Stones and they were slight. At the back side of Ürgüp, there were vineyards and it was divided by deep valleys. On the slopes of these valleys rose strange castles that could be seen on ancient wallpapers.”
The information about the rock churches are told more comprehensively in Trexier’s book “Asie Mineure” which was published in 1862. English architect R.P Pullan also gives the rock, churches comprehensively in his book about architecture of Byzantium.
Scientific researches started at the of the 19th century. The physical analysis of Cappadocian region and introduction of the historical resources were done by the scientists just like A.D. Mordtmann, W.M. Ramsey, J.R.S. Sterret and Ch. Texier. Between 1907 and 1912, the monumental work “Cappadocia Rock Church” by G. De Jerphanion was the first one about the rock churches, monasteries and the frescos on the wall of the churches fort he history of art. By publishing the churches that were not mentioned by Nicole Thierry and Catherine Jolivet in 1958, he helped Cappadocia to reach the fame it has now.
Even though the findings of Palaeolithic age can be seen in the region, the history of this kind of cultures cannot go beyond the age.The data we gained show this fact. The glacier “Wurm” stayed in Anatolian Plateau for a long time. We also have to think of the geographical impossibilty that volcanic eruptions gave no chance for living. On the other hand, river side and water supplies of Cappadocia region are appropriate for human beings to settle. It would not be wrong if we thought that tuff rocks formed home for human beings because they could be hollow out easily without usage of metal (with sharp stones, for instance obsidion). It is clear that high rocks on the valley are suitable for protection. We absolutely know that human beings carried on living by collecting fruits and hunting. So, they settled near the rivers. In this respect, the Red River performed its historical role masterly. However, there is not any evidence to prove them. It is because of Cappadocia is nature of living. The evidences were widened by the forthcoming generations. So, they were all disappeared. Therefore giving time for Cappadocia in chronology is impossible.
There is prehistorically connection with European cultures in Gelveri and also settlement and Works in Hittite period can be seen. English archaeologists also found some Stone tools in Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages in the 8 Km southeast of Ürgüp, Avla Hill. Research prehistorically had done by English Archaeology Institute in Ankara between 1964 and 1966. They revealed some findings incredible. A lot of settlements of Neolithic age, most of which were in Nevsehir and Nigde, were found with research analysis done by Ian Todd. Some of them are Igdeli, Cesme, Acigöli Tatlar towns in Nevsehir city. Acemhoyuk, excavation in Yesilova, which is 18 km northwest of Aksaray near Tuz Lake, is highly interesting. Findings belong to the period between 4th and 7th century. Beneath Byzantium buildings, the settlement of houses that were systematically lined up was revealed. Findings showed that it was the settlement of farming people no defensive.
The upper (third) layer had to be belonged to Roman Age but ceramics that had characteristic of Hellenistic Age could classify between 1st century BC and 1st century AD. Beneath this layer, four meters cultural layer also belonged to Hellenistic Age. The clues of fire and earthquakes were found on all four layers. The settlement of the fourth layer ended with a destructive fire. On fifth layer, bodies of two elderly persons who were trying to protect themselves from something falling down showed us clearly that there occurred an earthquake. On seventh layer which was destroyed by fire, two young people curled up were found. On eighth layer and so, houses with megarone plans were seen. On 16th layer, city walls made by sun dried bricks were brought to light. On 17th layer, bright red ceramics in geometrical motives which were done between 600 and 500 BC were found. There were cultural ruins from Hittite and First Bronze Age between 19th and 24th layers. On 19th, 20th and 22nd layers, ruins of city walls that were done by simple techniques and pots made by Hittite traditions were found. Ruins of the early Bronze Age were systematically determined. In Hacibektas tumulus (Sulucakara Tumulus) the evidences of Hittite, Phrygian, Roman, Late Roman and Byzantium Ages were found in 1968. In Topakli Tumulus, with excavations made by Italians in 1967, twenty four architectural layers were introduced between first Bronze Age and Byzantium. There were proofs positive for Cappadocia that it was very ancient settlement.

Following the settled life, relationship and supplement of basic necessities was begun among the settlements. The ones who had these basic substances became important trade points. In early Bronz Age (3200 – 1950 BC) Assyrian salesman called the region in arc of the Red River as “The country of Hatti”. The Assyrian salesman on North Mesopotamia formed a large and effective trade network. (1950 – 1750 BC). The centre of this network was Kultepe – Kanes near Kayseri. Nine large trade centres and names hundreds of small cities can be seen on the trade letters by heated soil. We see Nenessa among them. Besides this, one of the natural main ways that followed the way from Aksaray to Kayseri was side of the Red River. J.C. Gardin and P. Garelli determined that borders of trade were going over to Incesu, Aksaray, Konya, Bor, Nigde and Eregli while they were searching the trade ways of Assyrian in 19th century. They noticed that Nenessa and Washania was on the borderline of this region. On the tablets, it is written that two Assyrian salesman often passed over Washania, Nenessa and Ulama to g oto Burushattum (Alacahoyuk) from Kanes (Kultepe – Kayseri) in four days.
Kanes (Kültepe) which was the most important city in that periodwas the centre of the trade in Anatolia. In the second half of 9th century, Tabal Kingdom ruled the region completely. Hieroglyph rock epigraphs found in Hacibektasb – Karaburna, Topada .8Acigöl) and Gülsehir – Sivasa (Gökcetoprak) showed this fact clearly. As the centre of Hittite Empire, the region was later ruled by Phrygians and Persians. Then, it was invaded by Cimmerians and Scythians. In 700 BC,it was ruled under authority of Lydian, Med and Persians. Following 6th century, we see that Nevsehir and neighbourhood were ruled by Lydian Empire. In the middle of 6th century, Lydian King Cresus passed over the Red River to stop Persian attacks. (575 – 546 BC) Thales from Miletos taught how to pass over the river for Cresus. Historian Heredot tells the event;
“Staying in the residense, Thales made them dig a tunnel. It was done as the shape of crescent and to the upper part of the residence. So, the river that rounded from its flowing route started to flow fort he reserve of the residense and turned back its route. It was then easy to pass over the river that was divided into two ways.”
After Cresus was defeated in the war, Persians (Ahamenid) controlled the region. Persians did not force the inhabitants to move but the management of the huge soil was under control of soldiers and noblemen from Persia and also religious leaders of the inhabitants. Here, the local culture was joined to Persian culture. Heredot tells the Persian culture like that;
“ They do not know the statue of God, temple or atlar. They sacrifate an animal on the top of hills and Zeus is the divine sky. They sacrifice to sun, moon, soil, fire, water or even wind”
Fire cult of Persians especially became important in Cappadocia. Mount Argaios (Erciyes) was suitable fort hat cult. Even though it was common in other religions, there were no temples for Persian Kings. Nevertheless, there were divine places of Firehouses for gods that were dispersed in the region. Greek authors call these divine places as Pirhethee and priests as Piree (that means fire setters). Firehouses were just small Stone hollows which was closed with ash of fire burnt up. Attarians (priests) who were wearing large white dress and woollen conical hats on their heads came into the divine places with a bunch of bush and sang anthems. Tey served drinks or sacrificed animals. The one who presented the sacrificial animal had a wooden sladgehammer (billot).
One of the divine places of Persians in Cappadocia was Zela (Zile). Ord. Prof. Gunaltay particularly impresses that the name Zela was devoted to three popular gods, Anaitis, Omanos and Anadates. Regardings fire as divine was easily admitted in Cappadocia. Especially, Persians faced to a geographical area that supported their beliefs.
The area covered with fire and volcanos was suitable for their religion. Until 4th century AD, historians brought the temples devoted to god of fire out into open. In Persian period, Cappadocia was used fort his region. The state of Cappadocia was founded. We know that stock raising was common and Persians took 1500 horses, 2000 mules, 50000 sheeps as a tax in Cappadocia. In spite of trade and capital economy on shores, a closed economy was common for iner sides. Perian Empire lost its ower economically.


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History of Cappadocia
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1 thought on “History of Cappadocia”

  1. Syed Ghazanfar Mahmood

    Very beautiful places like utopia. it my strong desire & wish to visit cappadocia…. May Allah give me a chance to visit there….

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