Asia Minor is a broad peninsula that lies between the Black and Mediterranean seas.

Its name means 'Lesser Asia'. Asia Minor is a region of the ancient world that corresponds roughly to modern day Turkey or the peninsula of its Greek name, Anatolia.

Asia Minor juts westward from Asia to within half a mile (800 meters) of Europe at the divided city of Istanbul, where a suspension bridge over the strait of Bosporus links the two continents.

Asia Minor is also bordered by the Sea of Marmara on the northwest. The area of the peninsula is about 292,000 square miles (756,000 square kilometers).

The interior is a high arid plateau, about 3,000 feet (900 meters) in elevation, flanked to the north and south by rugged mountain ranges. Within the plateau a number of ranges enclose broad, flat valleys, where several salty lakes have formed.

A Mediterranean-type climate of hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters prevails in the coastal areas. The dry central plateau has hot summers and cold winters.

During all seasons high winds are common; moist Mediterranean winds bring rain to the coastal regions in the winter. There is little summer rainfall.

Some of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the Middle East have been found in Asia Minor.

One of the most important, at Catal Huyuk, near present Konya, dates from as early as 9000 BC.

Of the Anatolian cultures of the succeeding Bronze Age, the most important was that of the Hittites, about 1900-1200 bc, which originated in the central plateau. At its widest extent, the Hittite Empire covered most of Asia Minor and rivaled Egypt as a Middle Eastern power.

It was destroyed by invaders known as the Sea Peoples, who swept over Asia Minor and Syria toward the end of the 12th century bc. The destruction of the western Anatolian city of Troy, an event celebrated in ancient Greek legends, probably occurred during these invasions.

Their civilization rivaled that of the Egyptians and Babylonians.

In 560 BC Croesus mounted the throne of Lydia in Asia Minor and soon brought all the Greek colonies under his rule.

Croesus was overthrown by Cyrus the Great of Persia. Two hundred years later Alexander the Great again spread Greek rule over the peninsula.

Croesus mounted the throne of Lydia in Asia Minor and soon brought all the Greek colonies under his rule.

Croesus was overthrown by Cyrus the Great of Persia.

Two hundred years later Alexander the Great again spread Greek rule over the peninsula.

After its conquest by Rome in the 2nd century Asia Minor enjoyed centuries of peace.

During the Middle Ages, as a part of the Byzantine Empire, it became a center of Christianity and the guardian of Greek and Roman culture. One of the chief medieval trade routes passed through the region.

As the power of the empire declined, Arabs and Mongols invaded.

In the 15th century the Ottoman Turks conquered the peninsula and made Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) the capital. The Ottoman Empire lasted until 1922.

The next year Asia Minor became the larger part of the Turkish republic under Kemal Ataturk. He had set up a government at Ankara, which became the new capital of Turkey.

One of the Sea Peoples, the Phrygians, established a kingdom that became the dominant Anatolian power in the 9th and 8th centuries BC.

Their king, Midas, was credited by the Greeks with the power to change anything he touched into gold. Hittite culture survived in Carchemish, Milid (present-day Malatya, Turkey), and other small states in eastern Asia Minor until about 700 BC.

During this same period the Greeks founded Miletus, Ephesus, and Priene and a number of other cities in Ionia, an area along the Aegean coast.

About 700 bc the Phrygian kingdom was overrun and destroyed by the Cimmerians, a nomadic people who thereafter lived in western Asia Minor. In the 7th century bc the Lydians also appeared near the Aegean coast, where they founded a kingdom, the capital of which was Sardis.

According to Greek writers, they were the first people to coin money.

Their last king, Croesus, fabled for his wealth, was overthrown by the Persians under Cyrus the Great in 546 bc.

From the mid-6th century to 333 bc most of Asia Minor belonged to the Persian Empire, although the Greek cities frequently enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy. In the 4th century bc Persian power declined, and after 333 bc it was supplanted by the Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great.

After Alexander's death, his realm was divided among his followers, Asia Minor falling to the Seleucid kings of Syria, except for Lycia and Caria on the south coast, which were governed by the Ptolemies of Egypt.

In the 3d century bc, Bithynia and Pontus in the north and Cappadocia in the east became independent; Celtic invaders settled in central Asia Minor, in an area thenceforth known as Galatia; and the kingdom of Pergamum was established on the Aegean coast. In the 2d and 1st centuries bc, Asia Minor was gradually conquered by the Romans.

For the most part the region prospered under Roman rule, and its cities flourished as centers of Greek culture.

After the division of the Roman Empire in the 4th century ad, Asia Minor became part of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire, the capital of which was Constantinople, or Byzantium, located on the European side of the Bosporus, just across from the west coast of Anatolia.

During the 8th and 9th centuries the free peasantry of Anatolia provided recruits for the imperial army and were the main bulwark of the Byzantine state. During the 11th century Asia Minor was invaded by the Seljuk Turks, and the eastern part of the region became predominantly Turkish in character.

In the 14th and 15th centuries the Ottoman Turks conquered the whole peninsula, and it remained part of the Ottoman Empire until the establishment of the republic of Turkey in 1923.

Aphabets in Asia Minor

Numerous alphabets were in wide use in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and on islands of the Aegean Sea.

There were approximately 25 of them at all, but as for inscriptions, we know about 10 basic ones: the Phrygian alphabet (from the 8th to the 3rd century BC in Northwest Asia Minor; Misian (only one inscription was found); Lydian (texts known from 7-4 centuries BC in Lydia, Caria and Egypt); Para-Lydian (one inscription from Sardis); Carian (or more exactly around 10 varieties of the alphabet, as for numerous inscriptions from Caria, Egypt, and Athens); Lycian, and Sidetic. Still, Asia Minor keeps many secrets in its soil, and many other alphabets written in so much ancient languages can be found.

Alphabets of Asia Minor differ from each other both in the number of symbols and in their shape. The sounds for them are also variable. The number of letter in Phrygian makes 20, in Para-Lydian 18, in Sidetic 25, in Carian up to 35.

Scholars were long sure that all the alphabets were modified from the Greek script, with only slight changes.

However, the discoveries in Phrygia, when inscriptions in Phrygian was found which were contemporary to the earliest Greek alphabet, show that Asian alphabets were borrowed from West Semitic in the same period as Greeks acquired theirs.

So, several Indo-European nations borrowed the alphabet independently at the same time (about the 9th century BC). Phrygian was closer to Phoenician, while other alphabets had their origin from Semitic scripts of Arabia. No signs of influence of older scripts of the region (like Luwian Hieroglyphs) were found.

The alphabets were used in Kingdoms of Lydia, Lycia and all over Asia Minor until the 4th century BC when Anatolia and much of Asia were conquered by Alexander the Great.

The fast process of Hellenisation led to the replacement of Asian scripts by the Greek alphabet.

The latest inscriptions in Phrygian and Pisidic were written in the 2nd century BC using the ordinary Greek script.

Rulers of Asia Minor