Asia Minor

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Asia Minor
Modern-day Turkey and Europe NASA modified.png
Anatolia and Europe
Geographical location
Asia Minor (Turkey)
Asia Minor
Coordinates 39 °  N , 32 °  E Coordinates: 39 °  N , 32 °  E
Waters 1 Black Sea , Sea of ​​Marmara
Waters 2 Aegean , Mediterranean
length 1 300  km
width 670 km
surface 757,000 km²

Asia Minor ( Latin Asia minor , ancient Greek Μικρὰ Ἀσία Mikrá Asía ) or Anatolia (from ancient Greek ἀνατολή anatolē , German 'east' ; Turkish Anadolu ; Ottoman اناطولی İA Anaṭolı ) is that part of today's Turkey that belongs to the Middle East .


Area and demarcation

Originally the name Anatolia only referred to the central part of the peninsula. It is derived from the Byzantine military district ( subject ) Anatolikon , which arose in the 7th century . Previously, the Latin expression Asia Minor ("Asia Minor") was used for the peninsula between the Aegean and the Euphrates . Since Turkey was founded in 1923, the term Anatolia has encompassed all of Turkey without Thrace . The country's area is 757,000 km² and makes up 97% of the Turkish national territory and a little under 2% of the continent of Asia . The area is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the south , the Black Sea in the north , the Aegean Sea in the west and the Bosphorus , the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Dardanelles in the northwest .

The eastern border of Anatolia is imprecisely defined. For the sake of simplicity, it is often equated with the eastern border of Turkey. The eastern border of Asia Minor, on the other hand, is historically and culturally marked by the Euphrates ; east of the river lies Mesopotamia .

Population and religion

The population has increased since 1930 (12 million) to currently 55 to 58 million (excluding European Turkey) and thus doubles every 34 years. Today it is made up of Turks , Kurds and members of other tribes . There are also other minorities, such as the Zaza , Albanians , Arabs , Armenians , Aramaeans , Bosniaks , Bulgarians , Pomaks , Georgians , Lases , Greeks , Circassians and Persians .

With regard to religion , Islam dominates with 98% (70–80% Sunnis and 20–30% Alevis ). The Christians still make up 0.2%, compared to a fifth of the population around 1910. Today Greeks live mainly in the west and Pontic Greeks in the north . Other small religious communities (exact numbers are not collected) include around 20,000 Jews and 423 Yazidis (2000 census). The Yazidis lived mostly in Southeast Anatolia. In the past 30 years they have left Turkey in large waves of emigration. Today the vast majority of 30,000 Turkish Yazidis are in Europe.

Two capitals and two straits

The Bosphorus has been the border between Europe and Asia since ancient times . The population of the city of Istanbul on both banks has increased from two to fourteen million since 1970. It was the Byzantine capital until 1453 and the Ottoman capital until 1923. In 1923 the capital was relocated to Ankara , which is smaller but central to Asia Minor . The city on the Bosporus is divided into a European and an Asian part by the intercontinental strait. They are connected by heavy shipping traffic, two bridges and a railway tunnel running under the sea . Another bridge on the Black Sea coast was completed in 2016.

The second straits to Asia Minor are the Dardanelles (the ancient Hellespont) between the European peninsula Gallipoli (Turkish Gelibolu ) and the region of Troy and Çanakkale . From a geological point of view, however, Asia and Europe belong together as a single major continent, Eurasia .


The climate is continental with very warm to hot dry summers and cold and very snowy winters. In the eastern part, winter temperatures often drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius and below. On the Black Sea coast it is very rainy all year round. On the so-called Turkish Riviera and the Aegean Sea , the temperature in winter always remains above 5 degrees Celsius. There is a special feature in winter, especially in the Bosporus region (including Istanbul) and the western Black Sea region (e.g. around Zonguldak ): Strong cold air ingress from the north from Eastern Europe leads to prolonged, abundant snowfalls, the so-called lake effect snow . It is not uncommon for large amounts of snow to fall in the metropolitan area of ​​Istanbul. In the past, strong winds also caused meter-high snowdrifts , for example during the snow catastrophe in March 1987. At that time, it was snowing for days in Istanbul and the snow was meter-deep.

Climate records in Asia Minor
Measurand Measurement location Measured value date
Lowest measured temperature In the province of Van (in the inhabited area) −46.4 ° C January 9, 1990
Lowest mean annual temperature Kars Province, Sarıkamış County 1.8 ° C
Highest mean annual temperature Hatay Province, İskenderun County 21.3 ° C 1962
Highest measured temperature Mardin Province, Kocatepe 48.8 ° C August 14, 1993
Highest measured snow depth in a village City of Bitlis (around 1400  m ) 525 cm February 1954
Highest annual total precipitation Rize Province 4045.3 mm 1931
Lowest total annual precipitation Iğdır Province 114.5 mm 1970
Highest total precipitation within one day Kemer near Antalya 469 mm December 11, 1971
Status of the values: 2003


Early history

Asia Minor at the time of the Hittites

The name “Asia Minor” is historically derived from the Roman province of Asia , which only formed the westernmost part of today's Turkey.

Around 2000 BC Assyrians founded a trading colony near Kültepe . Central Anatolia was then divided into several city-states and the population was ethnically mixed. In Central Anatolia who lived Hattians in Paphlagonia the Paläer , on the upper reaches of the Halys the Hittites and in southern Anatolia, the Luwians . In Eastern Anatolia spread gradually the Hurrians from. Around 1600 BC The Great Kingdom of the Hittites came into being, which lasted until around 1180 BC. Existed. The Hittite great king Ḫattušili I founded the Hittite capital Ḫattuša and pursued the expansion of the empire through conquests in Anatolia and northern Syria . In the course of time, the Hittites subjugated the countries of Kizzuwatna and Arzawa , as well as smaller city-states, so that they finally controlled almost all of Anatolia and a large part of Syria. The New Hittite Empire (14th – 12th centuries BC). was next to Egypt and Assyria with Babylonia the third great power of that time.

The Hittite empire also comprised a number of small vassal and neighboring states, such as Mira and Ugarit . Of particular interest in research and particularly interested laypeople in recent years is the possible relationship, the influence of the Hittite military power and culture on the Troas , which is now considered likely (see Troy ), as well as the contacts with the Mycenaean city-states, especially in Asia Minor West coast, which has been there since the middle of the second millennium BC. Chr. Passed.

One of the most significant events in Hittite history is the battle of Kadeš (1274 BC), in which the armies of the Hittite great king Muwatalli II and the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II met, as well as the subsequent treaty between Ramses and Ḫattušili III. (1259 BC) This is the oldest written peace treaty in the world, of which a copy - as a symbol of peace - can be seen in the UN building in New York .

In the ninth century BC The kingdom of Urartu was established in later Armenia on the Eastern Anatolian Euphrates . King Sarduri I (around 830 BC) established the capital Tushpa on Lake Van . High quality irrigation and breeding, metals and custom hieroglyphs were developed. Around 620 BC The empire is conquered and destroyed by the Scythians .

Asia Minor (with Roman provinces) and Mesopotamia in antiquity

Greek colonization and ancient landscapes

Since the middle of the second millennium BC Mycenaean Greeks lived in the cities of Asia Minor (demonstrably for example in Miletus ). In the eleventh and tenth centuries, the colonization of the west coast of Asia Minor increased by Greek Ionians and Dorians ; with the founding of Sinopes around 630 BC In addition, the Greek colonization of the northern coasts on the Black Sea begins . Following this settlement movement, the following landscapes were distinguished:

546 BC Chr. Persia's great king Cyrus II conquered Lydia and then Lycia and the Greek cities on the coast. Around 500 BC All of Anatolia was annexed to the Persian Empire . As a result of the Persian Wars , the west coast fell back to the Greeks , but became Persian again after the Peloponnesian War .

Alexander the Great and the Diadochi

Alexander the Great continued with his army in 334 BC. Over the Sea of ​​Marmara and defeated the Persians. However, the conquest of Asia Minor did not result in a decision. In addition to the smooth transition over the Hellespont and the Battle of Granikos at the start of the invasion, the main successes were the mostly non-fighting occupation of the regions of today's Turkey . The urban population of Ionia , of Greek origin, was consistently friendly to the Macedonian king. He put the first early democratic constitutions (demos) back into force. Internally he asserted himself against the advisor of his father Philip II , the old general and equestrian leader Parmenion . Alexander preferred the war council of his companions. After the conquest of Miletus , Alexander sent fleet contingents from the Greek cities home. He retained 20 triremes from Athens. He was still transporting the siege engines off Halicarnassus . Here Memnon from Rhodes had from Dareios III. the command of the fleet in the Aegean was added to the command of the mercenary troops.

Financially, the Greek cities and especially Ephesus were good payers. The king assigned the Persian tributes to the temple of Artemis . This fortified the gardens and expanded the space for asylum seekers. According to Greek custom, fugitives were spared during acts of war in the temple. Women and children crowded there when troops arrived and looted. Siege engines could also be built in Ephesus. This new technique of Greek engineers brought about the successes before Miletus and especially Halicarnassus. With the onset of winter, the port cities of the south coast of Asia Minor were won over to the Macedonians and the Persian Armada had already been pushed onto the islands. The gates of Syria ( Cilician Gate ) were the subject of planning for the following spring. Dareios III. had meanwhile become aware of the trouble spot in the west and appointed Memnon, the commander of the mercenaries in Persian service, also as commander in chief of the fleet. In the spring of 333 BC BC Memnon endangered the supply lines of the Macedonians and worried Greece itself with the fleet. He had sent his wife Barsine and her family to the Persian court as a pledge for his reliability. In the harsh winter of Asia Minor, the fighting on land and sea almost came to a standstill. Legend has it that Alexander untied the Gordian knot with one stroke of his sword. This symbolized a swift conquest of the Asian world. Asia Minor remained the hub of Macedonian supplies in the aftermath of Alexander's campaigns.

After Alexander's death, the Diadochi divided the empire, Asia Minor largely went to Lysimachus and Seleukus I. Philetairus split in 282 BC. From it the city of Pergamon , which under his successors, the Attalids , became the most influential Hellenistic state in Asia Minor. 133 BC The Pergamene Empire was inherited by Rome and transformed into the province of Asia . Around 275 Celts from Thrace settled in Central Anatolia after looting and founded the Galatian Empire .

Roman Empire, Christianity and Byzantium

Provincial structure of Asia Minor as part of the Roman Empire

Up to 60 BC The coastal regions came to the Roman Empire through Pompey . A strong opponent was recently King Mithridates VI. Eupator of Pontus (121–63 BC) who had tried to induce Asia Minor to revolt against the advancing Romans. In the early imperial period ( principate ) the interior was gradually annexed by Rome and around the year 65 the provinces were restructured: Bithynia et Pontus in the north, Asia in the west, Lycia et Pamphylia in the south-west and Cilicia ( Cilicia ) in the south-east. The kings of Galatia, Cappadocia and Paphlagonia, as vassals of Rome and as “buffers” against neighboring peoples , retained their throne for a little longer until their territories were finally integrated into the Roman Empire as provinces .

With the Pax Romana of Augustus , a heyday began around the turn of the ages that lasted until the late 2nd century AD; the emperors Trajan and Hadrian toured Asia Minor. Christianity began to gain a foothold around the year 50 , first in Perge , a little later in the provincial capital of Asia , Ephesus , and in Greece - see Paul's letters to various congregations. Some early episcopal see also emerged, including in Myra (in Lycia ), where Saint Nicholas worked around 350 . The first councils took place in Asia Minor.

The Byzantine subjects around 950 AD

In the fourth century was Konstantin Opel to the residence of the eastern part of the Roman Empire; thus Asia Minor moved closer to the imperial headquarters. A little later, in the early fifth century , the first traditional mention of the term Asia Minor is found ( Orosius , Hist. Adv. Pag. 1,26); previously there was only ever talk of Asia .

After the conquest of Egypt, Palestine and Syria by the Arabs in the seventh century ( Islamic expansion ), which marked the end of antiquity , Asia Minor formed the core area of ​​the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire . At that time the topic (Army District) Anatolikon came into being . It owes its name to the fact that the defeated army of the magister militum per Orientem (Latin Oriens = Greek Anatolé ) had withdrawn here. The administrative seat of this topic was Amorion 200 km southwest of Ankara. Since the Middle Ages this name has been carried over to the whole of Asia Minor, which today is often called "Anatolia". After the Battle of Manzikert (1071), large parts of Central Anatolia were conquered by the Seljuk Turks , but with the beginning of the Crusades , East and Byzantium could go on the offensive again until after the 4th Crusade (1204) Byzantium did not defend Asia Minor could sustain more. In the middle of the 14th century, most of the Byzantine cities fell into Turkish hands. Philadelphia was able to hold out until 1390, and the Byzantine Empire of Trebizond in Pontus remained free from Turkish occupation until 1461.

Seljuks, Mongols and Ottomans

In the 11th century the Turkmen Seljuks invaded Asia Minor from the east . After the victory in the Battle of Manzikert (1071), most of Anatolia fell to them. The center of their empire was Ikonion (today's city of Konya ), 200 km south of Ankara (Ankyra, from 1023 Angora). In the 12th century Byzantium was able to regain some areas. The Eastern Roman Empire did not end until 1453 with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans .

With the further advance of the Mongols to the west around the middle of the 13th century, the Seljuk Empire split up into many Turkic principalities ( Beylik ). One of their dynasties, named the Ottomans after their leader Osman I (1281-1326), prevailed against the other Beyliks and in 1326 also conquered the Byzantine north near Bursa . In the Ottoman Empire , all of the ancient provinces lost their autonomy and mostly also their names.

First World War and "population swap"

After the Ottoman Empire, which reached to the gates of Vienna in the 17th century, continued to decline in the wake of the First World War and the Greeks had advanced from Smyrna (now İzmir ) towards Ankara after 1918 , its part in Asia Minor became part of the Greco-Turkish War in 1919 - Recaptured in 1922 under Ataturk . The end of the fighting was followed by the displacement of several million people, which was initially concluded by thepopulation exchange ” of 1923 agreed in the Lausanne Treaty .

Today Turkey is divided into 81 provinces , 76 of them in Asia Minor and 5 in the European part to the west of Istanbul .

See also


  • Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (ed.): The oldest monuments of mankind. 12,000 years ago in Anatolia . Konrad Theiss, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-2072-8 .
  • Media-Cultura (ed.), In cooperation with the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe: The oldest monuments of mankind. 12,000 years ago in Anatolia . Konrad Theiss, Stuttgart 2007, DVD-ROM.
  • Johann Gustav Droysen : History of Alexander the Great. DVA 1955.
  • Volker Eid : In the land of Ararat. Peoples and cultures in Eastern Anatolia . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-18206-5 .
  • Ine Jacobs: Asia Minor in the Long Sixth Century. Current Research and Future Directions. Oxford, 2019.
  • Dietrich OA Klose : Turkey. in: Kai Brodersen et al. (Ed.), Ancient sites in the Middle Ages. Metzler Lexicon. JB Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 1999, ISBN 3-476-01608-0 , pp. 438-644.
  • Christian Marek : History of Asia Minor in Antiquity. Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-59853-1 .
  • Horst Schäfer-Schuchardt: Ancient metropolises - gods, myths and legends. The Turkish Mediterranean coast from Troy to Ionia. Belser, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-7630-2385-2 .
  • Elmar Schwertheim : Asia Minor in Antiquity. From the Hittites to Constantine (= Beck series 2348 CH Beck knowledge ). CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-50848-0 .
  • Michael Zick: Turkey. Cradle of Civilization , Konrad Theiss, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8062-2110-7 .

Web links

Commons : Asia Minor  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Asia Minor  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Anatolia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Research institutes


Individual evidence

  1. February 19, 2015
  2. ^ The Black Sea impact on the severe snow episode over the city of Istanbul