Monday, January 19, 2015

Anatolian Civilizations Museum

Hello all!

We are a little over halfway through our time in Turkey and I speak for all of us when I say, wow! What an amazing country! We have seen and experienced so many great sites and learned exponentially more than we could have ever imagined. Saturday, January 17, we had a busy last day in Ankara. 

We started our day early as we boarded our bus with our luggage and headed to be the first people at the Anatolian civilizations museum in Ankara. This museum was awarded the prestige of being the winner of the European Museum of the year in 1997. This museum in itself is an interesting sight. The buildings were 15th century bazaars. 

This museum walks you through the varying occupying civilizations of Asia Minor. 

You enter the museum learning about the Paleolithic era which is the old Stone Age. This time period had primitive, nomadic peoples who had no permanent shelter and instead followed the animals.

 Following the Paleolithic era was the Neolithic era, the New Stone Age. In the Neolithic era, people began to build houses. They had an example home in the museum. 

During the Neolithic era, we saw the first mentions to a supreme mother goddess. As we learned both in our reading and by our tour guide and professors, women represent fertility and power. This theme of the importance of women continues throughout the ancient and medieval times. 

The statue above shows a mother goddess as being plump in order to show power and the fruitfulness of women. 

The Chalcolithic era, or the copper age, follows. This is the first time that metals are  able to be used to create vessels and containers. Again, the prototype of a woman's body is used for the construction of the containers. 

The Bronze Age followed and really focuses on beauty. Many stunning articles of jewelry are created and the woman shaped jugs are made. 

Women were also associated with cities because of their protection drive. 

We moved on to the Hittite empire which used cuneiform writing tablets brought by the Assyrians to communicate. This is a form of writing in which you write hieroglyphs on a  slab of clay and cook it in the fire so that the writing shows. Before they were cooked, these slabs of clay were wrapped in clay that acted almost as an envelope. If that outer shell was broken or a different color than the inside clay, one would know that their message was read. 

Cuneiform was used for personal messages as well as legal contracts. 

Following the Hittites were the Phrygians that we learned a lot more about in Gordian. However we learned that the Phrygians were advanced wood carvers and built beautiful wooden furniture. 

The Phrygians were the first that we know of to have named their Mother goddess. The Phrygians names her Cybele.

In the museum we also saw Orthostats which depict the daily life of the Hittites. We were able to learn about their culture and customs through images of hunting, funerals, weddings, and festivals.  

After the museum, we went to the temple of Augustus. On the temple, there were many inscriptions of Augustus's accomplishments. One interesting thing about this temple is that it was constructed when Augustus was still alive. In that day and age, this was an anomaly. 

After the temple we went to see a Roman Bath. These baths are an important part of the culture during these times because they allowed both men and women but men in particular to have a place to meet. You can think of the Roman Baths as almost a modern day country club. People would come and exercise then enter the the frigidarium, or cold pool, followed by the tepidarium, lukewarm, and then spend most of their time in the calderium. 

The bath that we saw was huge and really allowed you to put yourself in the shoes of the Romans. 

After our fascinating morning, we had lunch at a mall in Ankara before heading to the airport for our flight to Izmir. All in all it was a day full of interesting sites and adventures. 

-Bethany Lake

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