A Timeline of Turkey’s History

Researching Turkish history? Here we run you through the history with a timeline starting from 7500BC to the founding of the modern Turkish state.

The following timeline of Turkish history provides some of the key stages in the history of Turkey. At present the timeline only serves to provide readers with a long term guide to the main events in the development of Turkey. As a result the modern Turkish state is not presented.

7500BC: The earliest known human inhabitants of Turkey are believed to belong to the Neolithic period and the remains of their settlements still exist in a place called Catal Hoyuk which is near the modern day Turkish city of Konya. Archaeological artefacts from these people include statues, pottery and wall paintings.

2600-1900BC: By the time of the Bronze Age the first large scale permanent settlements or cities of Turkey were already established. A people of indo-European origins known as the Hittites emerged as the dominant force and through taking over existing cities in Turkey were able to establish themselves as the elite ruling class who governed the other peoples living in Turkey at the time. The Hittites had their own religion which worshiped the sun goddess and the storm god.

1200-600BC: Hittite hegemony was gradually replaced by smaller, more local power centres each governed by different people. Two of the most famous ruling peoples from this period were the Mysians and the Phrygians who had invaded Anatolia and settled at a place called Gordium near Ankara which is the modern day capital city of Turkey. Further south the Lydians had established their own stronghold near what is today called Izmir, which exerted its dominance over the local region. It was in Lydia where the first coins were produced and circulated and this area flourished until the Persians invaded in 547BC.

550-323BC: The Persians invaded and took control over most of what is now modern day Turkey under the leadership of king Cyrus. The Persians administered these lands and the indigenous people with considerable difficulty over the next two hundred years until they were defeated in battle by Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Alexander was able to invade and take control of Turkey and a vast amount of land stretching all the way to India. He maintained this empire up until his death. After Alexander died the lands over which he had control were split up among his generals each of whom assumed control or some area.

250BC: By this time Anatolia was ruled by several city states the most powerful of which was the kingdom of Pergamum. It was here that several cultural developments took place in the fields of medicine and literature with the establishment of a vast library and medical centre.

129BC: The last king from the Pergamum dynasty died without an heir leaving the way open for the Romans to take control. The Romans had previously established some kind of presence in various parts of Turkey however it was at this point that they assumed complete control and declared Turkey to be part of the official Roman province of Asia. The situation was to remain like this for the next three hundred years.

At this stage in Turkey’s history timeline we move to AD.

47AD: Christianity starts to spread through Turkey through the teachings of St Paul who was able to take advantage of the modern road system built by the Romans in order to travel between cities and spread the word.

330AD: Under the leadership of Constantine the former Roman province of Asia was transformed into a new Rome which had superseded the original Roman centre in Italy. This was able to happen because the Roman Empire was suffering from attacks and rebellions from European tribes at this time. Constantinople was declared the new capital city and people under their rule were allowed freedom of religion.

527-565AD: Eastern Rome or Byzantium increased its power and territory under Justinian who was able to conquer Italy, North Africa and the Balkans. The great Church of Sancta Sofia was built which can still be seen today in Turkey.

1037-1109AD: The Byzantines are defeated by the Seljuk’s in battle at Manzikert, who took the Roman Emperor prisoner and assumed control of Turkey. The Seljuk’s developed their own style of architecture which can still be seen across Turkey today.

1288AD: the beginning of the Ottoman era takes place with the establishment of the capital in Bursa which is later moved to Adrianople in 1402.

1452AD: Mehmut the Conqueror captures Constantinople from the Byzantines thus consolidating Ottoman power over all of Turkey.

1520-1566AD: The Ottomans are at the height of their power under Sulaiman the Magnificent who was able to expand the empire northwards up to the gates of Vienna. Jerusalem is also rebuilt and the Turkish capital Istanbul is developed. The Ottoman navy is especially powerful and patrols the waters of the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

1832: Ottoman power starts to wane as the Greeks rebel and declare independence. Over the next century many other Ottoman subjects break off from Ottoman rule.

1853-1856: Crimean war takes place against the Russians with the British and French supporting the Turkish army.

1876: The last of the great Ottoman rulers, Sultan Abdul Hamid II assumes control of the empire and institutes a new constitution which he does away with soon after in order to assume direct personal control.

1908: A group of disgruntled Turks who are in favour of western style reform and modernisation known as the Young Turks act to restore the constitution.

1909: Turkish Parliament deposes Sultan Abdul Hamid and places his brother Mehmet V in his place.

1919: The former Greek subjects are now powerful enough to invade and take control of parts of Turkey including the town of Smyrna.

1920-1922: The Turkish war of independence. The Greeks who had reached almost as far as Ankara are pushed back by the Turks through fighting.

1924: The modern Turkish state is born with its own national constitution. Many western style reforms are introduced including a ban on polygamy and a switch from the Arabic alphabet to the Latin alphabet.