Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The architects behind the wonders of Cappadocia

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 4, 2016

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey. According to Herodotus, in the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BCE) the Cappadocians were reported as occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea).

Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.

The name, traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history, continues in use as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.

To this day, no one is certain how it was created and what its original purpose was. Ancient Alien theorists speculate that it is thousands of years older than believed, and created by alien visitors then later abandoned the city.

The earliest record of the name of Cappadocia dates from the late 6th century BC, when it appears in the trilingual inscriptions of two early Achaemenid kings, Darius I and Xerxes, as one of the countries (Old Persian dahyu-) of the Persian Empire. In these lists of countries, the Old Persian name is Katpatuka, which possibly means “the land/country of beautiful horses”.

“Cappadocia” could also come from the Luwian language, an ancient language or group of languages of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family, meaning “Low Country”.

Herodotus tells us that the name of the Cappadocians was applied to them by the Persians, while they were termed by the Greeks “Syrians” or “White Syrians” Leucosyri.

One of the Cappadocian tribes he mentions is the Moschoi, associated by Flavius Josephus with the biblical figure Meshech, son of Japheth: “and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch; now they are Cappadocians”.

Mazaca, the city which served as the residence of the kings of Cappadocia, has been continuously inhabited since perhaps c. 3000 BC with the establishment of the ancient trading colony at Kultepe (Ash Mountain) which is associated with the Hittites.

Cappadocia was known as Hatti, in the late Bronze Age, and was the homeland of the Hittite power centred at Hattusa. The oldest name for central Anatolia, “Land of the Hatti”, was found on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of Sargon the Great of Akkad c. 2350–2150 BC.

The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in central Anatolia. The group was documented at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad (c. 2300 BC), until it was gradually absorbed c. 2000–1700 BC by the Indo-European Hittites, an Ancient Anatolian people who established an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC, who became identified with the “land of Hatti”.

Hattic (Hattian) was a non-Indo-European, agglutinative language spoken by the Hattians in Asia Minor between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC. No documents have been found in which the native Hattic speakers wrote their own language.

The conservative view is that Hattic is a language isolate that is different from neighboring Indo-European and Semitic languages, though, based on toponyms and personal names, it may have been related to the otherwise unattested Kaskian language, a non-Indo-European language of the Kaskians of northeastern Bronze Age Anatolia, in the mountains along the Black Sea coast.

The name Kaskian may be cognate with an old name for Circassia (Circassian: Adygekher), and the name of one of the tribes in the Kaskian confederation, the Abešla, may be cognate with the endonym of the Abkhaz people and some Circassian people, suggesting the Kaskians proper and Abeshla might have been the ancestors of the Circassians and other Caucasian peoples. It has also been conjectured that Kaskian might belong to the Zan family of languages, and have affinities to Megrelian or Laz.

The Circassians refer to themselves as Adyghe (also transliterated as Adyga, Adyge, Adygei, Adyghe, Attéghéi). The name is believed to derive from atté “height” to signify a mountaineer or a highlander, and ghéi “sea”, signifying “a people dwelling and inhabiting a mountainous country near the sea coast”, or “between two seas”.

Genetically, the Adyghe have shared ancestry partially with neighboring peoples of the Caucasus, with some influence from the other regions.

The Circassian language, also known as the Cherkess language, including West Adyghe, Kabardian Adyghe, and Ubykh, is a member of the ancient Northwest Caucasian language family. Archaeological findings, mainly of dolmens in Northwest Caucasus region, indicate a megalithic culture in North West caucauses.

Many Northwest Caucasian (Adygean) family names have prefixes like “Hath” or “Hatti”, and one of the well known Adyghe tribes has the name “Hattiqwai” (From “Hatti” + “male or son”); meaning “HattiSon”).

It has been conjectured that the North-West Caucasian languages may be genetically related to the Indo-European family, at a time depth of perhaps 12,000 years before the present.

This hypothesised proto-language is called Proto-Pontic, but is not widely accepted. However, there does at least appear to have been extensive contact between the two proto-languages, and the resemblances may be due to this influence.

The Maykop culture (also spelled Maikop, Majkop), ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia. Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments.

In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC.

The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.

Certain similarities between Hattic and both Northwest (e.g., Abkhaz) and South Caucasian (Kartvelian) languages have led to assumptions by some scholars about the possibility of a linguistic block stretching from central Anatolia to the Caucasus.

Hurrian is an ergative, agglutinative language that, together with Urartian, constitutes the Hurro-Urartian family. It was the language of the Mitanni kingdom in northern Mesopotamia, and was likely spoken at least initially in Hurrian settlements in Syria.

It is generally believed that the speakers of this language originally came from the Armenian Highlands and spread over southeast Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

The earliest Hurrian text fragments consist of lists of names and places from the end of the third millennium BC. The first full texts date to the reign of king Tish-atal of Urkesh and were found on a stone tablet accompanying the Hurrian foundation pegs known as the “Urkish lions.”

At the start of the second milliennium BC. Archeologists have discovered the texts of numerous spells, incantations, prophecies and letters at sites including Hattusha, Mari, Tuttul, Babylon, Ugarit and others. The Hurrian religion, in different forms, influenced the entire ancient Near East.

The Hurrian culture made a great impact on the religion of the Hittites. From the Hurrian cult centre at Kummanni in Kizzuwatna Hurrian religion spread to the Hittite people. Syncretism merged the Old Hittite and Hurrian religions. Hurrian religion spread to Syria, where Baal became the counterpart of Teshub.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia.

The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

It is clear that Armenian is an Indo-European language, but its development is opaque. In any case, Armenian has many layers of loanwords and shows traces of long language contact with Hurro-Urartian, Greek and Indo-Iranian.

In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, proposed by Georgian (T. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguist V. V. Ivanov in 1985, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands.

The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Georgian (T. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguists V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded, as per the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.

It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities proposed in the glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ and implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC and closely associate Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (the Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

The language appears in cuneiform inscriptions. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before formation of Urartian kingdom.

In the early sixth century BC, Urartu was replaced by the Armenian Orontid Dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

The use of the word “Proto-Hittite” to refer to Hattians is inaccurate. Hittite (natively known as Nešili, “[in the language] of Neša”) is an Indo-European language, linguistically distinct from the Hattians. The Hittites continued to use the term Land of Hatti for their new kingdom. The Hattians eventually merged with people who spoke Indo-European languages like Hittite, Luwian, and Palaic.

Hittite (natively nešili “[in the language] of Neša”), also known as Nesite and Neshite, is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, Indo-European-speaking peoples who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey).

Hittite lacks some features of the other Indo-European languages, such as a distinction between masculine and feminine grammatical gender, subjunctive and optative moods, and aspect. Various hypotheses have been formulated to explain these contrasts.[9]

Some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and Warren Cowgill, have argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Proto-Indo-European, rather than a daughter language, formulating the Indo-Hittite hypothesis. The parent, Indo-Hittite, lacked the features not present in Hittite, which Proto-Indo-European innovated.

Other linguists, however, have taken the opposite point of view, the Schwund (“loss”) Hypothesis, that Hittite (or Anatolian) came from a Proto-Indo-European possessing the full range of features, but simplified.

A third hypothesis, supported by Calvert Watkins and others, viewed the major families as all coming from Proto-Indo-European directly. They were all sister languages or language groups. Differences might be explained as dialectical.

According to Craig Melchert, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved, and that the “prehistoric speakers” of Anatolian became isolated “from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.”

Hittite, as well as its Anatolian cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

The entry of the Hittites into the sphere of scholarship and archaeological literature dates from the late nineteenth century when the Akkadian tablets at Tel-el-Amar in Egypt were deciphered, and when A.H. Sayce set about deciphering the pictographic inscriptions on stone discovered at Hama in Syria and identified them as the work of the Hittites.

This, before the existence of Hittite remains in Anatolia was even guessed at Scholars and travelers extended their searches and discovered similar pictographic inscriptions. They made a deep impression on Cappadocia to whose ancient history knowing Hittite civilization and art is the key.

Except for the Bible the Hittite people are absent from history and until their capital, Hattusa, was discovered in central Turkey, many historians did not believe they existed. But exist they did and apparently they were diggers. Architectural similarities between arches at Hattusa and in Cappadocia’s underground cities lead archaeologists to believe that they were the first people to dig out these underground areas. Most likely they did not dig down more than the first two levels.

Cappadocia’s volcanic earth makes it ideal for digging, and the lack of fuel makes underground storage and dwelling a good idea (temperature does not change underground). Every people that has lived in this region since the Hittites has added to what the Hittites started.

First built in the soft volcanic rock of the Cappadocia region, possibly by the Phrygians in the 8th – 7th centuries B.C according to the Turkish Department of Culture, the underground city at Derinkuyu may have been enlarged in the Byzantine era. The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of tunnels.

Scholars believe Derinkuyu was the hiding place for the first Christians who were escaping from the persecution of the Roman empire. Some things discovered in these underground settlements belong to the Middle Byzantine Period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries A.D.

It is speculated that number of underground settlements, generally used for taking refuge and for religious purposes, increased during this era. The Christian communities in the region may have taken refuge, closing the millstone doors, when they were subjected to Arab raids which started in the 7th century.

In certain eras the need to develop these lairs was greater than others. During the Roman persecution of Christians in the 2nd and 3rd century AD the need to hide was great.

During this time the subterranean areas were expanded. Again, in the 8th-10th centuries when Arab raiders roamed at will, the desire to become invisible quickly was at a peek. Apparently, thousands of people could live in these rock rooms for months at a time.

Archaeologists have found a 9 kilometer tunnel connecting Kaymakli to Derinkuyu. This makes it clear how desperate these people were. They could descend into the underground city from each of their homeland close off the tunnels, and then if their oppressors did not leave, they could make the 5 mile trek and come up in another town. Pretty amazing.

The fascinating culture of the Hittites is at least as colorful as the rock churches of Cappadocia. In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the Hattians, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.

In multi-lingual texts found in Hittite locations, passages written in the Hittite language are preceded by the adverb nesili (or nasili, nisili), “in the [speech] of Neša (Kaneš)”, an important city before the rise of the Empire. In one case, the label is Kanisumnili, “in the [speech] of the people of Kaneš”.

The settlement mound here, known as Kultepe (Turkish: Ash Hill), is one of the largest in Central Anatolia, measuring 550 * 450 meters and 20 meters in height. The first excavation of Kultepe mound was carried out by the French scholar E. Chantre, using the methods of his time.

Kültepe is an archaeological site located in Kayseri Province in Turkey. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20 km southwest. It consists of a tell, the actual Kültepe, and a lower town where an Assyrian settlement was found. Its name in Assyrian texts from the 20th century BC was Kaneš (spoken: Kah nesh), the later Hittites mostly called it Neša, occasionally Anisa.

Kaneš, inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic period to Roman times, flourished as an important Hattic, Hittite and Hurrian city, which contained a colonised large merchant quarter (kârum) of the Old Assyrian Empire from ca. 21st to 18th centuries BC.

By the Late Bronze Age, Hittite had started losing ground to its close relative Luwian. It appears that in the 13th century BC, Luwian was the most widely-spoken language in the Hittite capital of Hattusa.

After the collapse of the Hittite Empire as a part of the more general Late Bronze Age collapse, Luwian emerged in the Early Iron Age as the main language of the so-called Syro-Hittite states in southwestern Anatolia and northern Syria.

After the fall of the Hittite Empire, with the decline of the Syro-Cappadocians (Mushki) after their defeat by the Lydian king Croesus in the 6th century, Cappadocia was ruled by a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition, which later made them apt to foreign slavery.

It was included in the third Persian satrapy in the division established by Darius but continued to be governed by rulers of its own, none apparently supreme over the whole country and all more or less tributaries of the Great King.

In 93 BC, troops from the Kingdom of Armenia under Tigranes the Great, son-in-law of Mithridates VI, invaded Cappadocia at the behest of the Pontic king.

Tigranes dethroned Ariobarzanes I, the king of Cappadocia from 95 BC to ca. 63 BC–62 BC, who fled to Rome, and crowned Gordius as the new client-king of Cappadocia.

With Cappadocia as a client kingdom under Armenia, Tigranes created a buffer zone between his kingdom and the expanding Roman Republic.

From early antiquity, the Armenian people developed a rich and distinctive culture on the great Armenian highland plateau, extending from Asia Minor to the Caucasus. On that crossroad, they interacted on many levels with civilizations of the Orient and Occident.

Immediately to the west of the Armenian highland and the Euphrates River lay Lesser Armenia with Sebastia at its center and Cappadocia with Mazaca, later known as Caesarea (Kesaria/Kayseri), at its center.

Interactions between Armenia and Cappadocia date to early antiquity, when Cappadocia became a contested marchland between empires of East and West.

Caesarea also played an important role in Armenian Christian history, as it was there that Gregory the Illuminator, the evangelizer of Armenia, spent his formative years and it was there that he was ordained the first prelate of Armenia in the early fourth century.

Because of the turbulent history of the Armenian kingdoms, the Armenian element in Cappadocia increased steadily in the Middle Ages. Byzantine expansionist policies and mounting Turkish pressure constrained Armenian kings and nobles to relinquish their domains in the east in exchange for expanses in Lesser Armenia and Cappadocia.

During the centuries of Ottoman rule, the Armenians of Kesaria were noted as goldsmiths and skilled craftsmen, professionals and producers of carpets, linens, textiles, leather goods, pottery, and cured beef.

Beyond the confines of the city of Kesaria with its 20,000 Armenian inhabitants were numerous villages with a combined Armenian population of some 50,000.

With their tightly-knit communities, strong religious faith, schools and churches, the Armenians of the Kesaria region managed to preserve their distinct identity down through the centuries.

Like almost all other areas of Armenian existence in the Ottoman Empire, however, they were uprooted and deported toward the Syrian deserts in 1915, with very few of the survivors ever returning.

These aspects figure among the multidisciplinary discussions in this volume—Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia.

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