HİSTORY

Aydın is one of the rare places in the World, which bears the traces of history and civilization in the Western Anatolia Region.

Aydın, in a sense, is an open space museum where cultural accumulations of different periods of history come together. The people who settled in these lands, which date back to 7000 BC, kept hand-made records of where they settled and how. In these artifacts it is possible to see that the bay culture in 5000 BC turned into a city-state culture in around 3000 BC. New comers, by establishing states starting from 2000 BC, contributed to the Anatolian Culture. In the 14th and 12th century BC the communities that spread to every part of the Aegean region and Eastern Mediterranean, flooded into Aegean shores with their tribes. As a result of this migration,The Hittite Empire, Kingdom of Troy and Mycenaean Colonies were destroyed. Among these tribes, Aeolians and Ionians settled in the plains of the Maeander and Little Maeander in the Western Anatolia, and they built 12 coastal cities as part of Lydia Kingdom where they established maritime trade. They also created socio-cultural activities in areas such as politics, art, science, philosophy, and architecture.

In Lydian period, Üçgözler (Tralleis) was a distribution center where trade goods from the City of Tralleis, Caria, Cilicia, Iran and Syria, and Far East were gathered and sent to Aegean Port. In addition, the products grown in the Maeander Valley were exported to Greece, Rome, Egypt and Phoenicia from the port of Miletus. As a result Lydia underwent an extraordinary growth thanks to its own resources and the taxes it collected, and became the economic leader of the region. Lydians were the first ones to mint coins in the history of mankind. 

Phrygians established the first big state in Anatolia. They settled on the upper plateau of The Maeander in 1200 BC. It’s known that Phrygians are one of the Thracian tribes, that they passed through the straits (Bosphorus and Dardanelles) in the face of Illyrian attacks, and destroyed the Hittite Kingdom. The most important city among the cities that Ionians established in Gediz and Maeander Plains in 1200 BC was the city of Miletus. Ionians made important progress in philosophy. Mathematician and Astronomer Thales claimed that the prime element from which all matter arose was water; he pre-calculated the eclipse phenomenon that took place during the war between the Lydians and the Medes. Anaximander, another philosopher from Miletus, claimed that the origin of everything was “the boundless-unlimited-infinite”. As a result of the Persian invasion in the 5th century BC, Western Anatolian cities were introduced to eastern culture, and this led to a new and unique culture synthesis called Greco-Persian culture. In 546 BC, when Lydian King Croesus lost the war he fought against Persian King Cyrus the Great, Ionian cities were put under Persian Kingdom’s control. The Persians’ strict control destroyed the bond between its colonies and cities. In 500 BC uprisings started. The Persian domination in the region continued until Alexander the Great came into power in Macedonia. Around the time of Alexander the Great's death the Hellenistic Period started. During all these invasions, Tralleis had been used as a military base because of its strategic location. The region, which was under the Roman rule in the 1st and 2nd century BC, made important progress in economic, commercial and cultural areas. Due to the Romans’ adoption of the local culture, and the improvments they made on resources, roads and trade, the ancient cities in the region, especially, Ephesus, Miletus, Tralleis, Aphrodisias, greatly developed, and were decorated with big monumental structures.

At the end of the AD 4th century, with the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia was left in the total control of the Eastern Roman Empire, in other words, Byzantine Empire. Ancient temples were turned into Churches, and theatres were turned into defense towers. The cities located on plains were surrounded by high fortifications. According to Ramsey, Tralleis was moved from plains to a hill which was formed by the accumulation of rocks carried by a creek. In this environment, the Turkmens, who came to this place with Turkic Migrations that started in the 10th century, found the rural areas almost completely abandoned. Early period Turkish colonization was not really a systematic invasion, but rather a movement of migration where small migrating groups came to Anatolia, and came to a mutual understanding with the local rural population to share the economic resources.

When the Turks realized that they would be left out of the international trade as long as they did not reach the seas, they broke the foreign blockade that surrounded the Anatolian peninsula, and reached the seas. The Latins, who were pleased with the lack of central authority in the region in the beginning, had to face the alliance between the Turkmen groups who came to the region earlier and the newcomers. In this way, the Turkmens, who gained the political and economic power on Aegean Sea’s Anatolian shores thanks to the unity they achieved under the same name (Beylik of Aydın) and flag, became acquainted with navigation. Rulers of Beylik of Aydın attached great importance to culture, art and science. In the region, along with architectural structures such as mosques, madrasa, tombs, there are valuable handwritten manuscripts in various libraries that survived until this day. Beylik of Aydın joined the Ottoman Empire around the end of the 14th century. The widespread brigands that got prominent in the West Anatolia during the Ottoman Empire’s final years were called “Efe”. These people usually lived in Aegean’s rural areas alone or in groups, and they were bold, honest and stalwart people. Their leaders were called “Efe”, while their deputies and aides were called “Zeybek” and “Kızan”. The “Efe” concept started with Yusuf Pasha at the end of the 10th century. Some of the most famous Efe were Sivri Bölükbaşı in the 17th century, Atçalı Kel Mehmet in the 19th century, and last but not least Yörük Ali in the 20th century. These Efe were armed people who rebelled against government on the grounds that they were treated unfairly and unrighteously. They took from the rich and give to the poor, and during the war of independence they fought against invaders. During the war of independence, region’s patriotic soldiers, intellectuals and clergy invited the Efe to defend the country against the invading Greek forces, and as a result Yörük Ali Efe troops were created. Outnumbered and spread thin, Yörük Ali Efe along with Demirci Mehmet Efe and their troops fought against Greek soldiers, and played a major role in forcing the Greek to retreat. The days of liberation of Kuyucak and Nazilli on 5 September, Söke on 6 September, and Aydın on 7 September are celebrated with ceremonies every year.