The Geography With Many Firsts of Mankind: Anatolia

The First City Settlement

The world’s first city settlement, Çatalhöyük, is 9,000 years old. Located 136 km (85 miles) from Hasandağı in the central province of Konya, Çatalhöyük dominates the Konya Plain from a hilltop.

The First Religious Center

Göbeklitepe, dating back 12,000 years, is the oldest temple in the world. It is situated near the village of Örencik, 22 km (14 miles) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa in Southeast Anatolia. Members of the world’s oldest religious cult worshipped among the T-shaped statues and animal figurines that are strewn across a hill.

The First State-First Constitution

The Hittite Empire was founded 4.000 years ago by the formation of a union between the cities of Anatolia, and became becoming the first political entity in the world resembling the modern nation state. In Hattusa (Çorum province in north central Turkey), the Hittite capital, King Tuthalya IV signed the world’s first state constitution, engraved on bronz. Seven copies were made. King Telepinu’s declaration to the government (Telepinu’s Declaration) was accepted as the Royal Constitution.

The First Written Commercial Agreements

Some 4,000-year old cuneiform tablets discovered in the Karum (ancient trade center) of the Kanesh, Kültepe, in Kayseri province, central Turkey, were the first written commercial agreements signed by Assyrian Kingdom, the Kingdom of Kanesh and the Kingdom of Hahhum. The documents have numerous judgments and declarations, such as: The goods of a merchant can’t be forcibly bought cheaply; the judgment for an Assyrian who goes to court should be fair; an Assyrian merchant who fails to pay up his debts won’t be arrested. His debts will be paid off by the sales of his goods.

The First University

Harran University is generally accepted as the world’s first school of higher learning. The ruins of the university are located 44 km (28 miles) south of the city of Şanlıurfa, in southeast Anatolia, near the Syrian border. But archaeological excavations next to the Syrian Orthodox Mor Yakup Monastery in Nusaybin, Mardin, province, east of Şanlıurfa, have uncovered the remains of the 1,700-year old Nisibis Academy, and some are experts are already asserting that it is even older than Harran University.

The First Church

The oldest working church, the Church of Saint Peter, is in Hatay. It was here that St. Peter together with St. Paul and Barnabas preached from a cave and the world’s first Christian community was formed.

The first Assembly

Pankuş is the name given to the assembly that witnessed the signing of important agreements and royal announcements in the Hittite state, and worked as an administrative and inspection organization. Although it may not have resembled present day national assemblies, it is still viewed as the oldest parliamentary organization.

The First Bourse

The Aizanoi building in Çavdarhisar County in Kütahya province in western Turkey was constructed 1750 years ago. The building served as a bourse. It was from the blocks of stone masonry of the building that the prices of goods to be sold to fight inflation under Roman Emperor Diocletian were declared. At the end of the second century the building was used as a food market (Macellum).

First Historic Accounts

The Hittites began writing history, by producing accounts of the events transpiring in their kingdom. These reports were called “annals” or annuals and were “submitted to the gods” for approval. Author Herodotus, born in Halicarnassus, the modern day Aegean resort town of Bodrum, in the 5th Century B.C., was known as the “Father of History”. The Histories of Herodotus, his works, was an account of the Greco-Persian Wars (492-449) BC.

The Oldest International Peace Agreement

The Kadesh Peace Treaty of 1259 BC ended wars between the Hittites and the Egyptians and is the oldest surviving peace agreement. The sides wrote the treaty in Acadian, the diplomatic tongue of its times. The original treaty, written on a baked tablet, was uncovered during excavations in 1906 in Boğazköy (Hattusa), the Hittite capital, 82 km from the city of Çorum, in north central Turkey, and is on display at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

The First Shopping Mall

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has been serving customers and tourists for 550 years. Constructed in 1461, the Grand Bazaar is still the world’s oldest and biggest covered emporium with more than the world’s biggest emporium with more than 4,000 shops on 61 streets of connecting markets in central Istanbul. The labyrinthine structure attracts 250,000 to 400,000 pedestrian shoppers daily.

The First Logistics Center

The Seljuk Turks who dominated Anatolia and the Middle East from the 11th to the 14th centuries, were the first people to build a network of organized logistic centers for trade. They built caravanserais every 40 km (25 miles) along the East-West Silk Road to safely accommodate traveling camel caravans along the route, bearing basic consumer goods.

The First Money

The Lydians, who carved out a civilization between the Gediz and Menderes Rivers in western Anatolia from 687 to 546 BC, minted history’s first metal coins for circulation. The first coins, minted from a blend of golf and silver known as “electron,” had the lion head emblems of the Lydian kings on their obverse sides.

The First Road Network

The Phrygians, who dominated central Anatolia from the 12th to 7th centuries BC, built a highway network between the Assyrian state in the East and the Luwian speaking peoples in the West and began commercial relations with the civilizations on the Aegean coast. The historic “Phrygian Road” is today a popular tourism trekking route.