28 September 2023
I rejoice that I visited Ankara last year. Ankara possesses good museums, a 9th century citadel, old neighborhoods, Roman ruins, peaceful parks, and is home to the Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemel Ataürk. Unfortunately, none of these sites will be visited this trip. But, the goats are still here!
The one museum we visit is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. It is a wonderful museum. When I visited last year, it fired my interest to return to Turkey. Therefore, after returning home, I immediately booked this tour to see many of the ancient sites I read about in this museum. This time, I tour the museum with a trained archeologist. I learn so much more about the early civilizations of Anatolia.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
The museum is a large building, once a covered market erected by a Grand Vizier in 1471. It is a mix of the old and the modern from the Paleolithic era thru the Greco-Roman era. Over thousands of years, civilizations from Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians and Persians to Romans and the Byzantines, lived in these lands.
Slab reliefs from the biblical Hittite city of Carchemish are in Stone Hall. Learning and understanding about these archaeological discoveries, it is clear I am literally standing on ancient ruins. This is what workers find when they dig for metros in ancient cities.
Artifacts found in the ancient city of Çatalhöyük are well represented. Çatalhöyük is a tell of a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BC to 6400 BC and flourished around 7000 BC. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
Centuries of Bull
The Bull was viewed as sacred by many civilizations over many centuries. Several depictions, reliefs and carvings are on display. The Bull ranges from very simple to clay representations to exquisite iron creations.
In the garden are a few representations of goats. Scattered about Ankara, with no need for digging, are goats. At home, we have cows. Here, Ankara brightens their streets and squares with sculptures of painted goats. These goats are “Angora goats.” The former name of Ankara was Angora. The Ankara goat was brought here by the Turks from Middle Asia centuries ago. Ankara became the major producer of mohair. Today, the city is home to 75% of these angora goats – living ones. In their honor, the city is decorated with numerous spotted, speckled, and bejeweled goat statues.
The Anitkabir and Honoring Atatürk
The Anitkabir is a huge complex atop Observation Hill, which is a central location in Ankara and can be seen by all parts of the city. It is the impressive mausoleum honoring Mustafa Kemel Atatürk. The colonnades and huge mausoleum are of symmetrical, square stone. Stoic guards representing various branches of the military surround the mausoleum and complex. The guards are so stoic that many ask if they are alive.
A man who pulled a country
out of the ruins of an empire.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk would not have wanted such grandeur and pomp in commemoration of his life or death. However, he is widely honored by the country and citizens as the Father of Modern Turkey. Seen everywhere are photos, banners, flags, streets and statues of Atatürk. Atatürk was a great military leader but his true greatness was building a modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The love and respect of the people of Turkey for Atatürk cannot be denied.
For more detail about Ankara and Atatürk, I refer to previous blogs written in October 2022. Nothing much has changed since that time.