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The Bronze Age

THE BRONZE AGE (3000 BC – 1200 BC )

The major sites of that period are Troy I and II, Kültepe, Alacahöyük. Social hierarchy is well organized inside the strong walls of the city including a palace where the king lives. A great advance in metallurgy is notable from the rich finds of gold, silver, bronze and copper. In the 13 burial chambers of Alacahöyük, jewels, weapons, vases, statuettes, ritual metal “standards” in the shape of sun dials have been discovered, showing the richness, the wealth and the thechnological primacy of those times.

Alacahöyük - Stag statuette,
2nd half of 3rd millenium BC.

2500 BC - 2000 BC - THE HATTIS

This indigeneous people who lived in Central Anatolia before writing was introduced, is known through Hittite sources. The Hattis or Hattians gave their name to Anatolia which was then called "the Land of the Hattis". Of an advanced intellectual level, they strongly influenced the Hittites by their religious rites, official ceremonies and mythology. Located outside the Mesopotamian area, it is the first civilized nation from this period which name and, in a way, language (completely different of the Indo-European Hittite language) and religion are known to us. This highly developed and homogeneous civilization played a preponderant role in mining and metalworking.

Written history started in Anatolia with the introduction of the Assyrian language. Assyrian traders from northern Mesopotamia came to Asia Minor, attracted by its natural ressources. They used the cuneiform script and cylinder seals. Most of the tablets found at Kültepe (Kanesh) are about trading activities (contracts, juridical and book keeping documents). These traders had the privilege of exterritoriality, and around the Hittite cities, they established markets called "karum" (the ancestors of the bazaars) that comprised many rooms and sometimes two storeys. They bartered mostly textiles and expensive garments for copper. Gold and silver was at the root of the exchanges of goods which were carried on monkeyback.

Kanesh – Baked clay tablet 1900 BC

2000 BC – 1200 BC – THE HITTITES

2000-1750 BC - An immigrant Indo-European people arrived in successive waves from the north of the Black Sea or Caucasus, taking one by one the Hatti state-cities, and imposing themselves upon the populations of Central Anatolia. They made alliances with the natives (the Hattis or Hattians), married their women, integrated themselves into the local culture and even adopted the worship of many native deities, giving birth to the Hittite civilization. They adopted the Hattian place-names and proper nouns, naming also Anatolia as the "land of the Hatti" (the modern use of the term Hittite derives from the Old Testament). They founded many principalities, but towards the end of the 18C BC, the kings of Kusara (Alacahöyük located in the basin of the Halys/Kizilirmak) Pithana and his son Anitta manage to impose their hegemony.

1750-1450 BC - The Old Hittite Kingdom: Hattusili I established its strategic capital in the fortress-city of Hattusa (Bogazkale) and he unified Anatolia. The Hittites developed a hieroglyphic writing which can be seen on their seals and public buildings. A new aesthetic conception appeared as well as the cyclopean wall system, unknown until then in Anatolia. The new state was so powerful that a few generations later Mursili I (about 1620-1590) conquered Aleppo and Babylon causing the collapse of the Hamurabi dynasty. Following the assassination of Mursili I, the central government weakened and loosing their power, the Hittites temporarily came under the rule of a people from Asia, the Hurrites, who were Indo-Aryans settled in Upper Mesopotamia and in northern Syria, and who established the Kingdom of Mitanni (1650-1450).

Hittite Hieroglyphic inscriptions
The Peace treaty of Kadesh is recorded as the first international treaty in the world. Also mutual defense pact and dynastic marriage were concluded between the Hittites and the Egyptians. Around 1200 under both internal and external pressures, the Hittites were unable to resist the onslaught of the "Sea Peoples", Aecheans come from the Aegean Sea. They overran Anatolia, devastated a great number of cities starting with Troy (Homer's Iliad tells, in a way, the poetic history of these unfortunate events), then Hattusa . The destruction of the civilizations of Asia Minor engendered a period called "Dark Age" that lasted two centuries in Western Anatolia and four centuries in Central Anatolia.

Treaty of Kadesh
discovered in Hattusa
Archaeological Museum - Istanbul


1200 - 700 - The Neo-Hittite States: after the fall of the Hittite Empire, small Hittite independent states were formed in northern Syria (Aleppo, Hama), in south-eastern Anatolia and around the Taurus Mountain range such as Milid (Malatya), Sam'al (Zincirli), Karkemish (karkamis), Gurgum (Maras), Kizzuwatna (Cilicia), Sakçagözü.....In turn they were conquered and destroyed in the course of various Assyrian campains between the 8C and the 7C BC.

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