Çarşamba, Kasım 03, 2010

History of Izmir

 
 Ancient Smyrna was founded on an island that takes place at the northeast of the bay. During the recent centuries, Bornova Plain had been formed with the silt that was brought by torrents of River Meles from Mount Yamanlar (Sipylos) and the peninsula finally transformed into a hill.A sample wine yard of İzmir Wine and Beer Factory of TEKEL Management is located on this hill called s Tepekule. Although the first habitation of İzmir known to be dated from long before 3000 B.C., excavations could only go back to 3000 B.C. In the light of the excavations, it is known that the first settlements were founded at the top of the hill at 3-5m high from sea level. This first settlement was dated from Ancient Bronze Age. Hittites were using the writing (in 1800-1200 B.C.) in Anatolia, which helped to reach the historic ages. However, in 1200s B.C., the tribes coming from Balkans demolished Troy VII and Hattusas, the capital of Hittites. With this, a Dark Age called Iron Age restarted in Middle and West Anatolia. The Iron Age continued until writing was rediscovered in 730 B.C. in Phrygian Kingdom and in 650 B.C. in the rest of the Middle and West Anatolia. During the Iron Age the houses were huge, small, one roomed buildings. The oldest house that has been finally brought to daylight is dated at 925-900 B.C. The walls of this well-preserved one roomed house (2, 45 x 4m) were all made of sun-dried bricks and the roof of the house was made of reeds. People started to protect their hometown with thick ramparts made of sun-dried bricks. From now on İzmir achieved an identity of city-state. A man called Baseleus was most probably in charge of the city. Migrants and bigwigs constituted the noble class. The population living inside the city walls were approximately a thousand people. The public of city-state was living in near-by villages. The fields, olive trees, wine yards, and the workshops of potters and stonecutters of ancient İzmir were all located in those villages. People made their living on agriculture and fishing. HOMER, SON OF MELES The first and the greatest poet of history and the poet of the legendary works named Iliad and Odyssey, Homer was born in İzmir. There is no other poet like Homer, who lived between 750-700 B.C. and affected all civilizations in the world. Seven cities claimed that Homer is their countryman. These cities are Salamis, Argos, Athens, Rhodes, Chios, Kolophon, and Smyrna. It is impossible for him to be from Salamis, Argos, Athens or Rhodos since he wrote his legends with a mixture of Ionian-Aeolian style that are particularly Anatolian dialects. He is said to be exiled to Chios. For this reason there is a place called Homer Rocks on the particular island. Moreover, the most favourite nickname of Homer was ‘Melesigenes’ which means ‘Child of Meles Brook’. It becomes obvious that Homer was born in İzmir since Meles Brook is located within the territory of the city. Homer’s masterpiece Iliad Legend that tells about the last forty days of the war that had continued for ten years between the Greeks and the Anatolian Trojans is constitute of 16.000 lines. It is obvious that patriot Homer supported the Trojans and showed Greek leaders and warriors as truculent and cruel in this legend. This essentially proves that Homer is an Anatolian. Homer’s second epic ‘Odyssey’, on the other hand, tells about the period ten years after the Trojan War. The trial of a warrior named ‘Odysseus’ who is trying to return to his hometown is told in the epic. The epic is constituted of 12.000 lines. The oldest records of history and culture; ‘‘Iliad’’ and ‘‘Odyssey’’ continue their poetic influence in today’s world as the most impressive stories of world literature. Aristotle tells about the birth of Homer as: ‘‘Kriteis, the daughter of Ios Island gets pregnant by a deity during the Ion Migration. Although, she escapes to Egina, the pirates present her to the Lydian King Maion in İzmir. Kriteis falls in love with the king and they get married. After a while, Kriteis gives birth to Homer near Meles Brook and dies after. Maion brings this child up and names him as ‘Melesigenes’ (‘Child of Meles’) to emphasize the place where he was born.’’ Although, various writers of antique age told different stories they agreed on two subjects concerning his life: The blind Homer was born in İzmir and read his poems in the shores of Meles Brook and sing his legends with the accompaniment of lyre near the brook which flows to mingle with the sea. The most important sacred place of the town was the Temple of Athens. The oldest ruin preserved until today dates back to 725-700 B.C. The period in which the city had reached its peak was between 650-545 B.C... This period lasted hundred-years and was considered to be the most powerful period of the whole Ion Civilization. Under the leadership of Miletos, colonies were established in Egypt, Syria, west coasts of Lebanon, Marmara Region, Black sea and East Hellen competed and replaced the place of Greece in various fields and subjects. In this period, it is apparent that İzmir not only dealed with agriculture but also participated in Mediterranean trade. One of the most important signs of that great period in İzmir is the spreading of writing out beginning with 650 B.C. There were many presentation inscriptions in the gifts that were dedicated to Goddess Athena. Few people among the public were literate. The temple of Athens found in excavations dated back to 640-580 B.C. The oldest and the most beautiful capitals have been found in İzmir. The oldest model of many-roomed-type house of this period was found in ancient İzmir. Known to be the oldest house having so many rooms under its roof, this house was built in the second half of 7th century B.C. The house is two-floored and has five rooms with a courtyard. The houses before this type were composed of megarons standing adjacent to each other. Izmir was built on the Hippodamian system in which streets intersect at right angles even in the second half of 7th century, the streets were lying from north to south, and from east to west directions and the houses all overlooked to the south. This city plan, which would take the name of Hippodamos later in 5th century B.C., had already been known in Near East. Bayraklı city plan is the earliest model of this type in the West. The oldest parquetry road of Ion Civilization was brought to daylight in Ancient İzmir The oldest civil work of architecture in Ancient İzmir, belonging to Hellen’s is the beautiful stone fountain, built in the first half of 7th century. Standing on the Mt Yamanlar, the Tomb of Tantalos is a beautiful sample of the tholos type monumental tombs. The grave room of Tantalos’ tumulus was in the plan of the mentioned fountain, displaying a style called isopata that means the construction has a rectangle plan, covered by vaults made with corbel technique. Known as Tomb of Tantalos this monumental work is thought to be the tomb of Basileus or Tyrant who ruled ancient Smyrna in 580-520 B.C. TANTALOS IN MYTHOLOGY Tantalos, the son of Zeus was the only mortal that can dine with gods. He was so proud that he started to look down on the gods. In order to show the gods as cannibals, he sacrificed his son Pelops and served him in the dinner. However, the gods realized that it was human meat and left the table and sent Tantalos to hell. Tantalos stands in knee-deep clean water, but anytime he bends over to drink, the water is sucked up by the ground. Whenever he wants to reach the most delicious fruits hanging above him, they rise up. In abundance of food and water, King Tantalos suffered from hunger and thirst since then it is called Tantalos Torture. The English word ‘tantalize’which means ‘‘desiring something but inability of getting’’ comes from this mythological story. The richness of the city impressed the Lydians and caused them to battle with İzmir. Lydian army captured the city in 610-600 B.C and they fired and destroyed İzmir. However, the people managed to re-build their city again. The fall of Ancient İzmir is the result of the Persian invasion. Persian emperor required the towns of Aegean coast to prop himself against Lydians while their army was going forward in Anatolia. In order to punish the towns, which refuse to support him, the Persian Emperor attacked İzmir with the other towns after conquering Sardis, the capital of Lydia. As a result of the attacks of Persian army, İzmir was destroyed in 545 B.C. After this great destruction, no city type settlement was observed in Bayraklı. Alexander the Great defeated Darius in Issus in 333 B.C. and captured the whole East. The cities witnessed a great increase in population. During this period, Alexandria, Rhodes, Pergamon, and Ephesus reached a population over 100.000. A few thousand people could live in the city walls of ancient İzmir founded on a small hill. Therefore, a new larger city was established on the skirts of Kadifekale in 300 B.C. Becoming a Roman territory in 133 B.C., İzmir started to live a golden period for the second time. Due to the importance that the city achieved, the Roman Emperors who came to Anatolia also visited İzmir. Emperor Hadrianus also visited İzmir in his journey in 121-125 AD. The most important event that İzmir witnessed in 178 AD was the devastating earthquake. Considered to be one of the severest disasters happened in the city, the earthquake razed the town to the ground in 178 AD. The destruction was so big that the support of the Empire for re-building was inevitable. Emperor Marcus Aurelius had such a great contribution in the rebuilding activities that the city was even founded again. Various works of art are thought to be made in the city during the period of Roman Empire. The streets were completely covered with stones and these stones became dominant in the general view of the city. Among the constructions that were built in İzmir during the Roman era, few traces remained from the stadium at west and from the theatre in the northwest skirt of Mount Pagos. On the other hand, the Agora of the state is well preserved. After the Roman Empire had been separated, İzmir became a territory of the East Roman Empire known as Byzantium. İzmir had become a religious center since the early times of Byzantines. However, the city did not display much progress. Although the Hun Emperor Attilla took the control of the city, this sovereignty could not last long and the city was taken back by the Byzantines. Turks first captured İzmir under the command of Kutalmışoğlu Süleyman Şah in 1076. Çakabey conquered Klazomenai, Foça, Chios, Samos and İstankoy Islands. After the death of Çakabey, the town and its vicinity was conquered by the Byzantines in 1098. İzmir was captured by the Knights of Rhodes when Istanbul was conquered by crusaders. Smyrna became a Turkish land when the Turkish sailor Umur Bey took the city back from Catholic Knights in 1320. During the period of principalities, some part of the city and its surroundings was taken under the sovereignty of both Aydınogulları and Saruhanogulları Principalities. Murat II occupied İzmir in 1422 and İzmir became an Ottoman territory. After some privileges were given to foreigners in 1620, İzmir became one of the most important trade centers of Ottomans. Consulates of foreign countries increased because of the capitulations given to Europe by the Ottomans. It is known that these consulates dealt with trade. Each consulate had its own quay and their ships were anchoring there. The fire İzmir witnessed after the devastating earthquake happened in 1688, demolished the whole city. However, after the fire and the earthquake the city was rapidly reconstructed. In 18th and 19th centuries, İzmir became popular among the French, English, Dutch and Italian merchants. Being a multinational trade center in Ottoman Empire, İzmir was occupied by Greek Army on 15 May 1919 . This occupation came to an end on September 9, 1922. However, on September 13, İzmir could not escape from experiencing probably the greatest disaster of its history. The fire, which started in Basmane Quarter, destroyed more than 20.000 buildings in an area of 2.600.000 m². This fire unfortunately destroyed ¾ of the city. However, the city rose again like a Phoenix from its ashes after the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

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