Early cultures, cities & clashes
Archaeological finds indicate that the earliest Anatolian hunter-gatherers lived in caves during the Palaeolithic era. By around the 7th millennium BC some folk had abandoned their nomadic existence and formed settlements. Çatalhöyük, which arose around 6500 BC, may well be the first ever city. It was certainly a centre of innovation – here locals developed crop irrigation and were the first to domesticate pigs and sheep, as well as create distinctive pottery and what is thought to have been the first-ever landscape picture. Relics from this settlement can be seen at Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. The Chalcolithic age saw the rise of Hacılar, near current-day Burdur in Central Anatolia, as well as communities in the southeast, which absorbed Mesopotamian influences, including the use of metal tools. Across Anatolia more and larger communities sprung up and interacted – not always happily: settlements tended to be fortified. By 3000 BC advances in metallurgy allowed power to be concentrated in certain hands, leading to the creation of various Anatolian kingdoms. One such kingdom was at Alacahöyük. Alacahöyük was in the heart of Anatolia, yet even this place showed Caucasian influence, evidence of trade far beyond the Anatolian plateau. Trade, too, was increasing on the southern and western coasts, with Troy trading with the Aegean islands and mainland Greece. Around 2000 BC the Hatti people created a capital at Kanesh (Kültepe, near Kayseri), ruling over an extensive web of trading communities. Here for the first time Anatolian history emerges from the realm of archaeological conjecture and becomes ‘real’: clay tablets left at Kanesh provide written records of dates, events and names. No singular, significant Anatolian civilisation had yet emerged, but the tone was set for the millennia to come: cultural interaction, trade and war were to become the recurring themes of Anatolian history.