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Anatolia, ancientlocked

  • Dominique Collon,
  • Donald F. Easton,
  • Jeanny Vorys Canby,
  • J. D. Hawkins,
  • K. Aslihan Yener,
  • Oscar White Muscarella
  •  and A. Nunn

Region roughly equivalent to the modern state of Turkey. The name Anatolia was first used by Byzantine writers in the 10th century ad, as an alternative to Asia Minor, and is now often used in its Turkish form, ‘Anadolu’, to describe Turkey in Asia. In this article the term ancient Anatolia covers the cultures and civilizations that flourished in the region from possibly as early as the 14th millennium bc to the 6th century bc. A wealth of remains from the Neolithic period (c. 8000–c. 5800 bc) to the Early Bronze Age (c. 3400–c. 2000 bc) testifies to the advanced prehistoric culture of Anatolia. During the 2nd millennium bc this was succeeded by the civilization of the Hittites (see Hittite), the demise of which was followed by a Dark Age lasting some two centuries. Eastern and south-eastern Anatolia were dominated from the 9th century bc to the early 6th by the Urartians (see Urartian), while in central and western Anatolia the Phrygians (see Phrygian) flourished during the 8th century bc.

In 547/6 bc Anatolia became part of the Persian empire, and the ancient history of the region after that date is discussed elsewhere (see also Caria, Ionia, Lycia and Lydia). In several important cases, the influence of later civilizations extended into Anatolia (see Greece, ancient, Rome, ancient, Early Christian and Byzantine art and Islamic art).

Stele of a warrior, basalt relief, from Aslantas-Hatadu, c. 800–c. 700 bc (Istanbul, Archaeological Museum); photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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This article covers the principal artistic developments in ancient Anatolia (see fig.), first in a chronological survey (see §I, 2 below and Ancient near east, fig.) and then in terms of the major art forms (see §II below). There are extensive cross-references to individual sites that have made a particular contribution at a certain time or in a given field. The development of some types of object, such as seals and jewellery, and the use of some materials (e.g. faience, glass and ivory) are best seen in the wider context of the Ancient Near East. Most of the artefacts discussed are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara; other principal collections are in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul. For the modern history of the region, see Turkey, Republic of.


  • H. Frankfort: The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, Pelican Hist. A. (Harmondsworth, 1954, rev. 1970)
  • S. Lloyd: Early Highland Peoples of Anatolia (London, 1967)
  • R. M. Boehmer and H. Hauptmann, eds: Beiträge zur Altertumskunde Kleinasiens: Festschrift für Kurt Bittel (Mainz, 1983)
  • R. W. Ehrich, ed.: Relative Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, 2 vols (Chicago, 1985, rev. 1992)
  • J. V. Canby and others: Ancient Anatolia: Aspects of Change and Development: Essays in Honor of Machteld J. Mellink (Wisconsin, 1986)

I. Introduction.

1. Geography and trade.

  • Dominique Collon

Anatolia has always formed a land-bridge between Asia and Europe (see fig.). Throughout its history, peoples have entered Anatolia from the west, by sea or through Thrace, and from Turkestan and the steppes of Central Asia via the Caucasus or Iran. Sometimes they have settled in Anatolia and become assimilated with the local population; sometimes they have moved on into Syria and beyond.

Map of ancient Anatolia; those areas with separate entries in this dictionary are distinguished by Cross-reference type

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The region is roughly rectangular in shape. In the east the mountains of the Caucasus meet the westward extension of the Elburz Mountains, which border the Caspian Sea in northern Iran, and the mountains of Kurdistan, which extend south-eastwards into northern Iraq and western Iran. These mountain systems are gradually being forced together, and the whole area is prone to violent earthquakes. It is dominated by Mt Ararat—the name preserves that of the ancient kingdom of Urartu—which rises to 5156 m where the borders of Armenia, Iran and Turkey now meet. This area is also a complex system of watersheds, where both the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have their sources. Many rivers drain into Lake Van, which has such a high soda content that it never freezes, although the high altitude means that the whole area is under snow some six months of the year. These severe climatic conditions have nurtured hardy mountaineers, and in the first half of the 1st millennium bc the Urartians produced a vital and distinctive culture, notable for its strategically situated citadels and temples built of fine ashlar masonry. This area is also extremely fertile; wine was exported from at least the early 2nd millennium bc, and horses were another major export. The mines at Ergani Maden were among the main suppliers of copper in antiquity, and Urartian bronzework was highly prized.

Two mountain chains extend from the east to embrace a high central plateau. The northern mountains, known as the Pontic arc, border the Black Sea, and there are semi-tropical forests above Trabzon. Apart from some rich burials, there are few known remains from this area, probably because the inhabitants lived in timber-framed buildings that have not survived. To the west the narrow channel of the Bosporus Strait separates Anatolia from Europe, and to the south, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Taurus Mountains form an almost unbroken barrier between a narrow coastal strip and the Anatolian plateau. Only in the north-east corner of the Mediterranean is there a wide coastal plain, known as Cilicia, where many ancient cultures flourished. Cilicia was a vital link in the maritime trade routes that hugged the coast, and there is even evidence at some periods of close contact with Troy on the Ionian coast. The Anatolian plateau was reached through the Cilician Gates, one of the great passes of antiquity. Trade with Syria went through the Beylan Pass to the Amuk region and beyond, and it was in this area, on the borders between Syria and Turkey, that the Neo-Hittite states were established after the collapse of the Hittite empire around 1200 bc.

In the west, where the mountainous arms come together, they are cut by rivers draining from the plateau into the Aegean Sea, and extend in a pattern of islands towards Greece. Harbour towns grew up along this coast, notably those founded by Greek cities in the early 1st millennium bc. Routes along the river valleys, particularly that of the Maeander River (Büyük Menderes), carried trade inland, but the alluvium washed down by the rivers often silted up the harbours: some, like Troy, are now many miles inland.

The central Anatolian plateau lies mostly between 1000 and 1500 m above sea-level. Much of it is arid steppe, particularly in the area round the Great Salt Lake (Tuz Gölü). To the south of this lake lies the Konya Plain, where the prehistoric settlement of Çatal Hüyük traded in obsidian. Another prehistoric site, Hacılar, lay south of Lake Burdur in a more mountainous area at the head of a major trade route through the Taurus Mountains to the coast. Two great rivers cut their way through the plateau in broad curves. In the east the Kızıl Irmak (the River Halys of antiquity) enclosed the homeland of the Hittites, while in the west the River Sankarya (or Sangarios) flowed through the land of the Phrygians. The peoples who passed through Anatolia have left many remains on the plateau. Mud-brick was often used as a building material, and the superimposed remains of mud-brick settlements form ruin-mounds (Turk. hüyük, höyük or tepe), which dot the landscape. Stone was plentiful and was used as a building material, sometimes in the form of orthostats (large vertically set stone slabs) decorated with reliefs. There are also numerous rock reliefs, mostly attributable to the Hittites and Phrygians.

2. Chronological survey.

(i) Prehistoric period.
  • Donald F. Easton
(a) Palaeolithic and Mesolithic (before c. 8000 bc).

There are few published remains from these periods, though a stratified sequence from caves at Beldibi and Belbaşı, near Antalya, helps to document the transition from Middle Palaeolithic to Neolithic. A rock-engraving of two running animals at Beldibi may be of Late Palaeolithic date (c. 14,000 bc). Comparable human and animal engravings on pebbles, bone and rock are attested further north at Kara’In and Öküz’In. The engraving at Beldibi is overlaid by paintings in red-brown ochre of cruciform human figures and of an ibex, and these may be contemporary with Mesolithic strata (c. 11,000–c. 8000 bc) containing red-painted pebbles. Other rock art is known from Adıyaman, Palanlı, Hakkâri and Kobistan but is insecurely dated. The Mesolithic period is also characterized by geometric microliths and, in its later stages, by a crude and crumbly early pottery.

(b) Neolithic (c. 8000–c. 5800 bc).

During this period settlement in plains and valleys led to the use of mud for building, in pisé or more usually in bricks, with stones sometimes providing foundations. A clay model from level IV at Çayönü, near Ergani, shows a simple rectangular house with flat roof, a low kerb around the base, a doorway at the narrow end and curved doorposts, while excavation of an earlier level (II) at the same site has revealed a more complex house, with a hall, a square room and two rows of subsidiary chambers. At sites in south-central Anatolia, houses abutted immediately on one another, with entry from the roof and a kitchen area inside the structure. Decorative floors were made of pebbles set in clay or plaster (see also §II below). A rich tradition of internal decoration existed at the spectacular Neolithic site of Çatal Hüyük, where both painting and plaster relief were used. The dominant themes of hunting, virility (symbolized by bulls and rams), fertility, pregnancy and childbirth are also reflected in stone and clay figurines, either modelled in the round or in relief (see also §III, 1 below). Monumental stone sculpture depicting humans, birds and bird-man has been found at Nevali Çori on the Euphrates. Late Neolithic clay figurines from Hacılar (c. 6000–c. 5800 bc) show much less interest in bulls and rams, with no adult male figures and no hunting scenes. As at Çatal Hüyük, young and old women were represented with leopards, perhaps with mythological connotations. The images of birth and fertility, however, are more relaxed (see fig.). The art lacked the vivacity and wildness of Çatal Hüyük, but it had grace.

Prehistoric artefacts: (a) clay figurine of seated mother and child, h. 66 mm, from Hacılar, Late Neolithic, c. 6000–c. 5800 bc; (b) bowl in the ‘Fantastic’ style, diam. 200 mm, from Hacılar, Early Chalcolithic, c. 5800–c. 5400 bc; (c) Cappadocian ware jug, h. 255 mm, from Kültepe, Early Bronze Age, c. 3400–c. 2700 bc (Ankara, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations)

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Most Neolithic pottery was monochrome. A few examples from Hacılar have patterns of stripes or net-work, and the same site also produced elegant animal-shaped vessels and pottery with applied relief decoration of animal motifs. Tools and vessels of chipped and ground stone were common. Obsidian and, to a lesser extent, tabular flint were prized materials traded over long distances, and sophisticated white marble bowls with three or four feet were carefully kept and mended at Hacılar. From an early level at Çayönü (II) have come over 60 small copper objects, such as beads, hooks, wire and awls. At Çatal Hüyük lead and copper slag provide evidence of smelting. Native copper was also hammered into sheet-metal for use in beads, tubes, pendants and other small objects.

(c) Chalcolithic (c. 5800–c. 3400 bc).

In the Early Chalcolithic period (c. 5800–c. 5400 bc) the building traditions of Neolithic south-central Anatolia continued at Can Hasan I. The walls and floors of houses were painted red, grey-blue or, in one case, decorated with a red-on-white meander design. To the west, at Hacılar V–II, quite a different architectural tradition prevailed; the whole village has been uncovered at level II. A later fortress there (level I, c. 5700 bc) invites comparison with one at Mersin (?5300 bc). At Hacılar I narrow gateways led to courtyards, from which staircases led up to a first storey. The houses themselves, the outer walls of which largely comprised the circuit wall, had plans closely resembling those at Can Hasan I. At Mersin XVI a central courtyard at ground-level gave entry through small, private yards into houses built up against the circuit wall. This arrangement anticipated Early Bronze Age fortifications.

The pottery from Hacılar V–II includes examples of a ‘Fantastic’ style of decoration (see fig.), which uses, in a semi-abstract way, many of the motifs previously found in the Çatal Hüyük wall paintings. Mersin and Cilicia had their own pottery tradition, which during Mersin XXIII–XVI came under the influence of Çatal Hüyük and west Anatolian styles of elaborate geometric design, often resembling textiles or basketry. Monochrome wares were everywhere the norm, but polychrome wares appeared at the same time in Mersin XIX–XVII possibly under Halaf influence (see Mesopotamia, §V, 1), and, independently, at Can Hasan I (level 2A3).

The local traditions of figurine making at Hacılar and Can Hasan continued to change. In Hacılar I female figures were shown standing, sitting or lying, but with some stylization towards the later figure-of-eight shape. There were also handsome anthropomorphic and theriomorphic pots, painted and sometimes inlaid with obsidian eyes (for illustration see Hacılar).

There are scant Late Chalcolithic (c. 4500–c. 3400 bc) remains from strata beneath settlements of the Early Bronze Age, which the period anticipates. A Syrian Ubaid influence (see Syria-Palestine, §V, 1) affected many south-eastern Anatolian and Cilician sites, but central and west Anatolia were dominated by dark-burnished wares with simple incised, jabbed or white-painted decoration. Among the earliest examples of skilled Anatolian metalwork are a copper mace-head from Can Hasan, a stamp-seal of tin bronze from Mersin XVI or XVII, and from Beycesultan XXXIV a small hoard of copper tools, a chisel possibly cast in an open mould, and the first attestation of silver, a ring.

(d) Early Bronze Age (c. 3400–c. 2000 bc).

This period is characterized by a sudden economic and cultural blossoming, perhaps stimulated by Mesopotamian demand for metals, that was made possible by growing Anatolian expertise in metallurgy, the cultivation of grapes and the development of wheeled transport. At Arslantepe the discovery of large numbers of clay seals suggests a control on the movement of goods that permitted the rise of palaces. At Norşuntepe VI (c. 2300 bc) a two-storey magazine, a bakery, workshops, simple dwellings and a complex with wall paintings all surrounded a central courtyard and were arranged on terraces and divided by streets. Palaces, towns, villages and even single buildings could be fortified: at Poliochni on Lemnos blocks of megaron-like houses and a rectangular stone council chamber with tiers of stone benches were surrounded by stone walls with squints, and some villages, such as Demirci Hüyük and Sakyol Pulur, were built in a circle, using the outer walls of their radially arranged rectangular houses for defence. Cultic buildings varied: at Arslantepe these comprised a T-shaped sanctuary with relief and painted decoration on the walls; at Beycesultan there were twin megaron-type buildings, each with central circular hearth (for illustration see Beycesultan); and Kültepe had a single, large megaron with central hearth and adjoining rooms to one side. At Kırışkal and Gedikli megalithic underground chambers with entrance passages enclosed underground springs and may have been associated with gods of the underworld.

Despite the gradual introduction of the potter’s wheel, much pottery was still hand made in the Late Chalcolithic monochrome tradition, sometimes using contrasting colours (red and black) inside and outside the same vessel. Pottery of the periods Early Bronze Age (eb) i–ii (c. . 3400–c. 2465 bc) commonly has incision and white-painted decoration, as at Yortan. In central and south-west Anatolia ribbing and fluting suggest imitations of metalwork. In eastern regions a Transcaucasian influence inspired reliefwork depicting extravagantly moustachioed, semi-abstract faces. Painted wares were common to the Konya Plain and Cilicia in eb ii (c. 2900–c. 2465 bc). In eb iii (c. 2465–c. 2000 bc) the Kültepe and Alişar Hüyük regions developed the strongly geometric, purple-on-orange Cappadocian ware (see fig.), and a contemporary geometric polychrome ware developed independently in the Upper Euphrates region. (See also §V below.)

Metalwork is best known from burials, as at Korucutepe, Horoztepe, Ikiztepe and the royal tombs at Alaca Höyük; from burnt strata, as at Arslantepe, Poliochni and Troy; and from chance finds. Ores must have been mined in the mountainous regions and may have been smelted before transport, though further smelting, perhaps for purification, evidently sometimes took place at the metalworking sites themselves. Single-mould and bi-mould casting were common; granulation is attested on earrings from Troy II (?2250 bc); and silver inlay occurs on eb i swords from Arslantepe VIa and on figures of stags from Alaca Höyük, where plating and lost-wax casting are also attested. There is broad uniformity in the more common types of metal tools, such as chisels, awls, adzes and knives. The same applies to many spearheads, daggers and socketed axes, though swords and halberds are rare.

Early Bronze Age metal vessels show more regional variety: almost all the many types of vessels from Troy have local variations in metal or clay. Ritual objects, of uncertain use, are best attested at Alaca Höyük and Horoztepe; and from both sites there is evidence for metal-plated tables with human feet. Jewellery, however, is best represented in west Anatolia (e.g. Troy and Poliochni), where elaborate (?)headdresses, basket earrings with pendent chains, lunate earrings, either segmented and studded or ornamented with granulation, and pins surmounted by birds, vases or rosettes have been found.

The female stone figurines of this period are usually flat, and the shape is sometimes dictated by the form of the stone itself. The west Anatolian tradition favoured figure-of-eight and violin shapes, the head and neck of the latter sometimes dwindling to a pointed stalk. Violin-shaped figurines from central Anatolia often have criss-cross incision suggesting clothes, and similar ornament appears on Cappadocian figurines. An alabaster seated goddess carved in the round is known from Kültepe. A few metal figurines modelled in the round have come from Alaca Höyük and Horoztepe.


  • L. Bernabo-Brea: Poliochni: Città preistorica nell’isola di Lemnos, 2 vols (Rome, 1964–76)
  • American Journal of Archaeology, 68–79 (1964–75) (lxix–lxxi) [excavation reports on Karataş-Semayük by M. J. Mellink] and xci–xcvii (1987–93) [excavation reports on Nevali Çori by M. J. Mellink]
  • E. Anati: ‘Anatolia’s Earliest Art’, Archaeology [New York], 21 (1968), pp. 22–35
  • H. Çambel and R. J. Braidwood: ‘An Early Farming Village in Turkey’, Scientific American, 222/3 (1970), pp. 50–56; also in Old World Archaeology: Foundations of Civilization: Readings from Scientific American, ed. C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky (San Francisco, 1972), pp. 113–19
  • Keban Projesi Çalısmarı (Ankara, 1970–82) [excavation reports on Norşun-Tepe by H. Hauptmann]
  • A. Palmieri: ‘Scavi nell’area sud-occidentale di Arslantepe’, Origini, 7 (1973), pp. 55–228
  • U. B. Alkim: ‘A Subterranean Construction at Kırışkal’, Mansel’e Armağan [Mansel miscellany], 3 vols, ed. E. Akurgal and U. B. Alkim (Ankara, 1974), pp. 821–30
  • M. N. van Loon, ed.: Korucutepe, 3 vols (Amsterdam, Oxford and New York, 1975–80)
  • H. Z. Koşay: Keban projesi Pulur kazısı 1968–1970 [Keban project Pulur excavations] (Ankara, 1976)
  • H. Çambel and R. J. Braidwood: Prehistoric Researches in Southeastern Anatolia, 1 (Istanbul, 1980)
  • P. S. de Jesus: The Development of Prehistoric Mining and Metallurgy in Anatolia, 2 vols, Brit. Archaeol. Rep., Int. Ser. (Oxford, 1980)
  • A. Palmieri: ‘Excavations at Arslantepe (Malatya)’, Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 31 (1981), pp. 101–19
  • M. Korfmann: Demirci Hüyük: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen, 1975–78, 2 vols (Mainz, 1983–7)
(ii) Historic period.
(a) Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–c. 1700 bc).

The earliest historical documents from Anatolia are the thousands of inscribed clay tablets from level II (c. 1920–c. 1840 bc) of the Lower Town at Kültepe, capital of the kingdom of Kanesh. They come from the business archives of a karum (colony) of Assyrian merchants (see also Assyrian), present in Anatolia from perhaps as early as c. 1920 bc, who retailed tin, clothing and wool to the Anatolians and exported copper and cloth to Assur. The chain of trading stations reached from Assur to the Konya Plain, and the period c. 1920–c. 1740 bc is often termed the Assyrian Colony period. Local rulers profited greatly from this trade, and the prosperity of Kültepe in particular seems linked to the development of Hittite culture in the early 2nd millennium bc.

The Hittites (see Hittite) are often presumed to have entered central Anatolia from the north, and, since there is no archaeological break at the start of the Middle Bronze Age, a date before c. 2000 bc is likely. Their origins, however, remain obscure: the Kültepe texts reveal the occasional use of Indo-European names among the more generally Hattian names of the population and its rulers, and the Hittites later believed that their own Indo-European court-language had been the language of Kanesh. The name of a prince of Kanesh, Anitta, is known from an inscribed spearhead from level Ib of the karum (c. 1810–c. 1740 bc), and it was apparently he who established Kültepe as the principal city in Anatolia. He built up a large territorial state with vassal dependencies, an achievement later enshrined in Hittite tradition. Under Anitta and his successors, however, Assyrian trade declined, perhaps following the conquests of Hammurabi of Babylon (reg 1792–1750 bc).

During the Middle Bronze Age there was broad uniformity in domestic architecture. Most houses were of mud-brick and timber, sometimes on stone foundations, and in plan they seem an irregular agglomeration of quadrilateral rooms (see Kültepe, fig.). In central and eastern Anatolia stone casemate walls with earth fill and a mud-brick superstructure were used for fortification. Citadel gates usually had flanking towers, sometimes also of casemate construction, and two sets of doors. At Korucutepe the citadel walls had regular projecting towers; at Tilmen and Alişar Hüyük there were regular offsets. A palace at Beycesultan V, possibly typical of this period, was an immense two-storey building of mud-brick and timber (see Beycesultan). It included a central courtyard, a painted hall, a lustral chamber and light wells; the more elegant rooms had raised floors and sunken air ducts. Shrines have not been identified with certainty but may include megaron-type buildings with subsidiary chambers at Beycesultan and Kültepe.

Central Anatolian pottery was dominated by the vigorous Old Hittite ware. This was brilliantly burnished, usually red, and included animal-shaped rhyta, two-handled cups with quatrefoil rims, and jugs with tall, narrow stems and bearded spouts. Red wares also predominated in west Anatolia, but the shapes were mainly derived from local Early Bronze Age pottery, with limited central Anatolian influence on the south-west and some Middle Helladic influence on the north-west. In Cilicia the Syrian Dark-on-light style was adopted at Tarsus, and sites in the Antitaurus region mainly produced a grey, wheelmade ware.

Middle Bronze Age metalwork is best known from intramural burials at Kültepe, which contained vessels in gold, silver and bronze, weapons, copper ingots, pins, gold skullcaps, seals and a bronze trolley. Numerous lead figurines were made in stone moulds. At Acemhöyük beautifully fluted and ridged drinking cups were carved from rock crystal and obsidian, and there is also evidence for sophisticated ivory-carving.

Cylinder seals, introduced by the Assyrian merchants at Kültepe, depict humans, animals, scenes of war and hunting, and mythological and cultic subjects. Both indigenous and Mesopotamian motifs occur: of the Mesopotamian deities, only the water gods are depicted with real enthusiasm; local gods are shown standing on animals, and goddesses are shown seated and surrounded by attendant animals. In the succeeding level (Ib) stamp seals, the more normal Anatolian form, returned to popularity. These could be of gold, bronze, steatite, serpentine, limestone, ivory or clay, and were decorated with abstract motifs as well as animal heads and heraldic eagles. The style formed the basis for later Hittite seals. (For further discussion of seals see Ancient Near East, §II, 1.)

(b) Late Bronze Age (c. 1700–c. 1200 bc) and Dark Age (c. 1200–c. 1000 bc).
  • Donald F. Easton

The historical record of Late Bronze Age Anatolia, known from archives at Boğazköy, Maşathöyük and Ugarit, concerns mainly the Hittites. The Hittite Old Kingdom (c. 1650–c. 1500 bc) began with the establishment of Boğazköy (anc. Hattusa), instead of Kültepe, as the capital city. For almost five centuries thereafter the Hittites exercised a precarious dominance over central Anatolia, holding at bay Kaska tribes to the north and east, Luwian kingdoms to the west, Hurrians (see Hurrian) to the south-east, and contesting in Syria and north Mesopotamia the claims of, successively, Aleppo, the Mitannians (see Mitannian), Egyptians and Assyrians. Hittite control was exercised by punitive expeditions, mass deportations, imposition of vassal treaties and tribute, and by diplomatic marriages; and it was tested regularly at the accession of a new king. Several factors contributed to the decline of Hittite power in central Anatolia during the 13th century bc: an increasing Assyrian threat, recurrent famine attested from c. 1235 bc onwards, marauders from the Aegean (‘Sea Peoples’) around 1194 bc, a possible incursion of Phrygians (see Phrygian) and other peoples from the Balkans, and doubtless uprisings by subject kingdoms and the Kaska. The extinction of the royal house at Boğazköy c. 1200 bc is usually taken to mark the end of the Late Bronze Age, although the lateral line at Carchemish survived, as perhaps did a rival royal line at Tarhuntassa (in or near the Taurus Mountains). Some sites show archaeological continuity to c. 1050 bc, indicating that the rupture was incomplete.

Much of the Late Bronze Age material culture derives from the Middle Bronze Age, but central, south and east Anatolia are sharply different from west Anatolia. In military architecture such features as casemate walls, projecting towers, monumental gates with flanking towers, and corbelled subterranean passages (see fig. below) survived from the Middle Bronze Age, though Cyclopean masonry was an innovation. An ornamental vase from Boğazköy indicates that mud-brick battlements topped the stone fortification. The citadel wall at Troy VI–VII, however, was different, with regular offsets and single trapezoidal towers flanking less heavily guarded gates. Hittite palaces, identified at Boğazköy and Alaca Höyük, differed from the Trojan arrangement of free-standing trapezoidal and megaron-type buildings within the citadel of level VI. Similarly, the megaron plan underlay much of the domestic architecture of Beycesultan IVb–I, but was forgotten in central, south and eastern regions, where roughly rectangular rooms clustered irregularly between streets and courtyards. Hittite temples at Boğazköy, Tarsus and Yazılıkaya (see Yazılıkaya) were rectangular, with corridors and side-chambers around a central colonnaded courtyard and an off-centre shrine-room at the far end. At Beycesultan, however, a series of uncertainly identified shrines exhibits the traditional western megaron pattern.

Late Bronze Age Hittite pottery is largely derivative, but the range of shapes is narrower and less inventive than in the Middle Bronze Age, and the wares are dull—except for some Old Hittite polychrome relief vases and animal-shaped cultic vessels. Around 1350 bc Hittite influence was evident both in Cilician pottery and in the Antitaurus region, but Hittite types appeared in the south-west only c. 1250. The north-west was strongly influenced by Middle and Late Helladic Grey Minyan ware, but never by central Anatolia. Mycenaean imports occur at coastal sites, especially Troy, and occasionally inland.

Little metalwork survives, but two silver rhyta (New York, Norbert Schimmel Col., on loan to Met.; see fig., and Boston, MA, Mus. F.A.) show the artistry that could be attained. Amulets and figurines of gold, electrum and bronze show seated goddesses and striding gods and humans in the round, as do others in ivory and rock crystal (Adana, Archaeol. Mus.). From Carchemish come flat gold reliefs of the king and other male figures, inlaid with cloisonné lapis lazuli and steatite (London, BM); a comparable lapis lazuli relief comes from Assur (Berlin, Pergamonmus.).

Stamp seals in metal and stone continued to use Middle Bronze Age motifs, but hieroglyphic inscriptions in Luwian were introduced in the Hittite Old Kingdom period. A fine series of royal seals, known chiefly from impressions, exhibits hieroglyphs and symbols in the central field and, in the later period, surrounding rings of cuneiform legend.

Sculpted designs were applied to architecture and rocky outcrops (see also §III, 2 below). Most such sculptures depict one or two divine or royal figures briefly identified by Luwian hieroglyphs; some are associated with perennial springs. The largest compositions are at Alaca Höyük, showing two processions of worshippers and revellers, and at Yazılıkaya, depicting two processions of gods, with unique hieroglyphs conveying Hurrian linguistic forms. Most sculptures are in relief, but lion, sphinx and human gate-guardians at Boğazköy, Alaca Höyük and Arslantepe are partly in the round. Quarries at Yesemek have revealed many half-finished sculptures of the period.

Around 1200 bc written records ceased and the archaeological evidence shows widespread destruction of Hittite cities. During the ensuing Dark Age (c. 1200–c. 1000 bc) Anatolia underwent a period of upheaval before the emergence of distinctive Iron Age cultures in Phrygia, Urartia and elsewhere.


  • H. T. Bossert: Altanatolien (Berlin, 1942)
  • O. R. Gurney: The Hittites (Harmondsworth, 1952, rev. 1990)
  • E. Akurgal: The Art of the Hittites (London, 1962)
  • P. Garelli: Les Assyriens en Cappadoce (Paris, 1963)
  • S. Alp: Zylinder- und Stempelsiegel aus Karahöyük bei Konya (Ankara, 1968)
  • P. H. J. Houwink ten Cate: The Records of the Early Hittite Empire, c. 1450–1380 bc (Istanbul, 1970)
  • L. L. Orlin: Assyrian Colonies in Cappadocia (The Hague, 1970)
  • K. Emre: Anadolu Kursun Figurinleri ve Tas Kaliplari/Anatolian Lead Figurines and their Stone Moulds (Ankara, 1971) [bilingual text]
  • H. Lewy: ‘Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Period’, Early History of the Middle East, ed. I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd and N. G. L. Hammond, Cambridge Anc. Hist., 1/ii (Cambridge, rev. 3/1971), pp. 707–28
  • O. R. Gurney: ‘Anatolia c. 1750–1600 bc’, ‘Anatolia, c. 1600–1380 bc’, History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region, c. 1800–1380 bc, ed. I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd and N. G. L. Hammond, Cambridge Anc. Hist., 2/i (Cambridge, rev. 3/1973), pp. 228–55, 659–82
  • O. W. Muscarella: Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection (Mainz, 1974)
  • E. Neu: Der Anitta-Text, Studien zu den Boğazköy Texten (Wiesbaden, 1974)
  • A. Goetze: ‘Anatolia from Shippiluliumash to the Egyptian War of Muwatallish’, ‘The Hittites and Syria, 1300–1200 bc’, History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region, c. 1800–1380 bc, ed. I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd and N. G. L. Hammond, Cambridge Anc. Hist., II/ii (Cambridge, rev. 3/1975), pp. 117–29, 252–73
  • J. G. Macqueen: The Hittites and their Contemporaries in Anatolia (London, 1975)
  • K. Bittel: Die Hethiter (Munich, 1976)
  • J. D. Hawkins: ‘Kuzi-Tešub and the “Great Kings” of Carchemish’, Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 38 (1988), pp. 99–108
  • H. Otten: Die Bronzetafel aus Boğazköy: Ein Staatsvertrag Tuthalijas IV (Wiesbaden, 1988)
(c) Iron Age (after c. 1000 bc).
  • Jeanny Vorys Canby

After the Dark Age that followed the destruction of the Hittite empire, the broad artistic koine suggested by the distribution of Hittite rock reliefs no longer existed. Instead Anatolia can be divided into four regions—Phrygia, Tabal, Urartu and Cilicia—inhabited by at least three new population groups. Although these regions shared some inheritance from Hittite art and were in close political contact, each produced a distinctive art style. Coastal Anatolia was increasingly under Greek domination (see Ionia, Caria and Lycia), and Greek influence extended inland to include the kingdom of Lydia. The period covered by this survey ends with the Persian invasion of Anatolia in the mid-6th century bc.

The Phrygians were Indo-European speaking newcomers probably from Thrace, who formed a kingdom in the 9th century bc in the west Anatolian highlands. Their capital at Gordion was surrounded by a magnificent battered city wall of cut stones and by numerous burial tumuli. Inside the citadel, simple rectangular public buildings must together have comprised a palace. Phrygian art is characterized by an animal style, in which natural forms are condensed to create lively, free-spirited creatures. Close-knit geometric motifs, sometimes arranged in mysterious, seemingly haphazard combinations, were used to cover surfaces; they are also seen in the magnificent Phrygian rock-cut tombs between Afyon and Eskişehir.

In eastern Anatolia, the mountainous kingdom of Urartu flourished from the mid-9th century bc until the early 6th century bc. The Urartians made inroads into north-west Iran, north Syria and Cilicia whenever the Assyrians, to the south in Mesopotamia, were weak (see Urartian). The architectural feats of the Urartians are impressive, particularly their fortifications on rugged peaks and their use of fine ashlar masonry. Some monumental sculpture has survived, as well as a series of wall paintings and a wealth of decorated bronzes (see §IV, 2, (ii) below). Many Urartian motifs are derived from Assyrian iconography, but they seem to have been used decoratively without, apparently, much underlying meaning.

In the heartland of what had been the Hittite kingdom the new state of Tabal was a federation of small kingdoms that produced rock reliefs accompanied by ‘Hittite’ hieroglyphic inscriptions, although stylistic details were strongly influenced by Assyria. The rock-cut relief at Ivriz showing King Warpalawas of Tabal before a Grain God, which is among the greatest works of art so far known from Iron Age Anatolia, combines many stylistic currents of the period: the rock relief tradition itself, the hieroglyphs and the turned-up shoes derive from Hittite times; the hairstyle, beard and exaggerated musculature are Assyrian; the patterning of the king’s clothes is Phrygian; and the grape clusters and wheat carried by the god refer to a Tabalian deity. The art of this period from most of the kingdoms on the central Anatolian plateau is known only from chance finds, such as the many funerary stelae from Maraş (anc. Marqasi), capital of the state of Gurgum (examples in Paris, Louvre). A city gate decorated with lions, sculptures and inscriptions has been excavated at Arslantepe.

Towards the end of the 8th century bc Cimmerian tribes from Turkestan, driven westwards by advancing Scythians, swept through Urartu, Tabal and Phrygia. Urartu survived for another century or so, but the distinctive art of Tabal ceased. According to tradition, King Midas of Phrygia was forced to commit suicide, but Phrygian art survived, under Lydian domination, into the Achaemenid period (5th century bc). Other states came under Assyrian domination and lost their identity.

Basalt orthostat relief of royal officials, from Hilani III, Zincirlı, 8th century bc (Istanbul, Archaeological Museum); photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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Hittite culture survived the collapse of the Hittite empire in the new fortified cities of the Neo-Hittites (see fig.) and Semitic Aramaens in Cilicia (see Aramaean) and north Syria, where carved stone orthostats and gate guardians were used extensively to decorate city walls and palaces. The language of the inscriptions was generally Luwian, written in ‘Hittite’ hieroglyphs. Bilingual Luwian and Phoenician inscriptions were found on reliefs at Karatepe (for illustration see Karatepe). Some Hittite traditions lived on, but much was new: the sculptural ensembles are not as coherent as earlier, although richer in fabulous creatures and heraldic scenes, some derived from Mesopotamia. In the last years of the 8th century bc the Neo-Hittite kingdoms fell to the Assyrians, later coming under Neo-Babylonian control. After Anatolia became part of the Persian empire in 547/6 bc, independent artistic traditions continued into the 5th century bc, when the Achaemenid Persians and the Greeks came into conflict in the region. During the second half of the 4th century bc the conquests of Alexander the Great brought Anatolia under Greek influence. The Greeks were later succeeded by the Romans in the 2nd and 1st centuries bc, but some semi-independent kingdoms, such as Commagene in the east (see Nemrut Dağ), produced syncretic monumental sculpture that combined both oriental and Classical traditions. Anatolian art of this period is discussed elsewhere in terms of the Hellenistic art of Greece, ancient.


  • E. Akurgal: Phrygische Kunst (Ankara, 1955)
  • E. Akurgal: Die Kunst Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander (Berlin, 1961)
  • B. B. Piotrovsky: The Ancient Civilization of Urartu (London, 1969)
  • W. Orthmann: Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst (Bonn, 1971)

3. Religion and iconography.

  • J. D. Hawkins

Evidence for the ancient religions of Anatolia comes from the archaeological investigation of shrines and burials, as well as from scattered artefacts such as images, cultic vessels and seals. A further dimension is furnished by written records, which may identify deities and describe mythologies and cults, though this source becomes available only with the cuneiform clay tablets and monumental hieroglyphic inscriptions of the Hittites (see §I, 3, (ii) below).

(i) Prehistoric period to Middle Bronze Age.

Prehistoric Anatolian religion has left some striking images. The earliest and most notable of these come from Neolithic shrines of Çatal Hüyük (7th–6th millennia bc). Their painted and modelled mud-plaster walls provide rich evidence for a cult of fertility, the hunt and death. The figures of the mother goddess and of bulls, leopards and vultures vividly illustrate Neolithic religious concepts. Not until the Early Bronze Age shrines of Beycesultan (3rd millennium bc) is anything comparable known, and even these, with their wealth of cultic equipment, hardly match the Çatal Hüyük paintings. The royal tombs of Alaca Höyük, also Early Bronze Age, yielded rich grave goods, including geometric discs, bulls and stags mounted on ‘standards’, and many figures and idols. As in the Çatal Hüyük shrines, bulls’ skulls were found in association with the tombs.

In the early part of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–c. 1700 bc) the Assyrians introduced literacy into Anatolia, but documents from this period do not provide much evidence for contemporary religion, mainly because they are exclusively commercial in character. Their limited information on gods’ names and temples is supplemented by finds of figurines, theriomorphic vessels and plaques, but the most substantial sources of religious iconography are the numerous cylinder seals, which bear profuse representations of gods, temples, animals and symbols.

(ii) Hittite.

With the advent of the Hittites (see §I, 2, (ii), (a) above) and their tradition of religious architecture and sculpture, which can be set beside their numerous mythological and cultic texts, knowledge of the Anatolian religion is considerably extended. Several distinct but overlapping pantheons are revealed, connected by varying degrees of syncretism and mutual influence: most notably the pre-Hittite Hattian pantheon, the Hittites’ own, the Hurrian and, more distantly, the Semitic pantheon of Syria. The ‘thousand gods of Hatti’ were organized in a hierarchy under the supreme Storm God (Hittite Tarhunda, Hurrian Teshub), who was supported by a court of prominent deities, such as the Sun, the Moon, the Grain God and the Stag God, each with their individual sphere of influence. Each prominent god of the ‘national’ pantheon was represented by many local variations. The gods were conceived anthropomorphically with individual attributes. They had female consorts, organized into their own circle under the chief goddess (Hittite ‘Sun goddess of Arinna’, Hurrian Hebat) though, apart from an Anatolian version of the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, these have less pronounced characters than the males.

The gods were housed in temples constituted as their households, and descriptions of rituals, festivals and temple inventories figure prominently among the written texts. They were represented by cult statues of wood, precious metals, stones and ivory, which are themselves inventoried, giving a good idea of their appearance, although none survives. The gods are exhaustively listed in treaty oaths, where they are invoked as witnesses, and in offering lists. Many texts also narrate myths, often embodied in the text of rituals. These can be divided into native Anatolian myths, perhaps of pre-Hittite origin, which are normally simple, folkloristic tales (the Fight of the God and the Dragon, the Disappearance of the Angry God), and imported mythologies, more typically found in the form of sophisticated literary epic (e.g. the Kumarbi cycle).

Great Temple (Temple I) complex at Boğazköy, view towards the east, showing the base for deity statue in the cult sanctuary probably dedicated to the solar goddess Arinna, c. 1275–c. 1250 bc; photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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Sculpture, architecture and artefacts help to illustrate the written sources (e.g. …see fig.). The appearance of deities is known from figurines in bronze or precious materials, and from dressed stone and rock reliefs, often colossal. Near the Hittite capital, Hattusa (now Boğazköy), in the great extramural shrine of Yazılıkaya, the rock face is carved with two facing files of male and female deities, representing in lapidary form the Hurrian offering lists. Hittite temples on a standard plan with gatehouse, courtyard and cella are well represented at Boğazköy Even the performance of rituals sometimes survives in pictorial representation. The orthostat slabs of the gate at Alaca Höyük show the king and queen praying before an altar, followed by processions of dignitaries, musicians and acrobats. Even more detailed is a polychrome vase from Inandıktepe, decorated with bands of reliefs showing similar scenes.

King Supililuma II as Storm God, detail of relief on parabolic arch in the hieroglyphic cult chamber II at Boğazköy, c. 1200 bc; photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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The king was thought to mediate between gods and men, and to be semi-divine, the incarnation of the Sun God. After death he received divine honours: ‘to become a god’ was a euphemism for a king’s dying. As such, kings are usually represented wearing the long robe and skullcap of the Sun God, but also, when associating with the Storm God, wearing his kilt and pointed hat (for illustration see Boğazköy and see fig.). Kings recognized their personal patron deities, in whose embrace they are shown in monumental representation (for illustration see Hittite) and on seals.

Hittite religious iconography also included a host of minor protective spirits that took the form of mixed creatures: bull-men, mountain-men, griffins and sphinxes. These could be shown in monumental form, particularly as guardians of gateways. The gods also had their own animals, such as the lion, the bull, the leopard, the stag and the eagle. In Hittite hieroglyphic script their names were represented by their symbols, for example the Storm God by a sign for a thunderbolt. The sign for ‘god’ represents a pair of eyes, symbolizing the divine, all-seeing nature. Another symbol of divinity is the lituus, a crooked sceptre, held both by gods and (reversed to indicate the position of deputy) by kings. The winged sun-disc was a symbol imported from Egypt, representing the king as supreme sovereign.

Stele of the Storm God (Teschub), basalt relief, c. 9th century bc (Istanbul, Archaeological Museum); photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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This religious iconography continued without great change into the Iron Age Neo-Hittite period (c. 1000–c. 700 bc). On a relief from Arslantepe the king is robed and wears the horned headdress of deities. One innovation was the much greater prominence of the goddess Kubaba, as befitted the chief deity of the city of Carchemish. The nature of the written evidence changed, however, as cuneiform clay tablets were replaced by hieroglyphic stone inscriptions. These are mostly building inscriptions or religious dedications giving details of the foundations of temples and their endowments. Cult statues were commonly in the form of stone stelae with inscriptions, particularly those of the Storm God (see fig.). Rulers were still deified, and offerings were made to their colossal statues, erected on podia flanked with lions or sphinxes. A further innovation was the practice of setting up tombstones for private individuals. These sometimes show a family seated at a funerary banquet or take the form of castellated towers, and inscriptions often reveal that subjects as well as kings expected to join the gods after death. Much of the iconography of this period was transmitted to the Hittites’ neighbours, the Aramaeans, Phoenicians and even the Hebrews. It thus survived the fall of the Hittite empire to reappear in the artistic repertory of the Greek and Roman world.

(iii) Phrygian and Urartian.

Early in the Iron Age western Anatolia was occupied by the Phrygians (see §I, 2, (ii), (c) above), whose surviving alphabetic inscriptions are short and barely understood. They do, however, confirm that, as later Greek sources indicate, the chief Phrygian deity was the mother goddess Kubile, an intermediate figure in the transmission of the old Carchemish goddess Kubaba to the Greeks as Kybele. Her prominence is also emphasized by many rock-cut façades with a central cult niche containing a figure of the goddess. Other Anatolian rock-cut monuments, appparently Phrygian and serving a religious purpose, include hilltop thrones approached by steps and accompanied by carved depressions for libations. These suggest mountain or nature cults. Rock-cut tombs are often decorated with rampant antithetical lions, but the dead were also buried under tumuli, as at the Phrygian capital Gordion.

The Urartian civilization of eastern Anatolia (fl c. 850–c. 600 bc) produced monumental rock inscriptions in cuneiform script, giving details of the Urartian pantheon. This was headed by the national god Haldi and his consort, and other prominent pairs of deities include the Storm God Teisheba (a form of the Hurrian god Teshub) with his consort, and the Sun God and his consort. Temples were usually built at the highest point of the hilltop cities. They are typically square in plan with a frontal entrance (see also §II below). Examples have been found at Toprakkale, Aznavurtepe, Kayalıdere, Altyn Tepe and Arinberd. Documents relating to the eighth campaign of the Assyrian king Sargon II (reg 721–705 bc) give a detailed description of the chief shrine of Haldi at Muṣaṣir and its contents: the temple, which has not been found, was also depicted on reliefs (destr.) excavated in Sargon’s palace at Khorsabad. Some sculptured blocks at Adılcevaz show winged minor deities standing on animals and performing lustration of the sacred tree. Similar figures formed inlaid bronze decorations on furniture (e.g. London, BM), and were painted on walls at Altıntepe and incised on bronze plaques originally attached to belts. They are paralleled in contemporary Neo-Hittite and Assyrian art. Altogether, the evidence suggests considerable similarities in belief, cult and iconography in Mesopotamia and Anatolia in the early 1st millennium bc.


  • F. Naumann: Die Ikonographie der Kybele in der phrygischen und der griechischen Kunst (Tübingen, 1983)
  • M. N. van Loon: Anatolia in the Second Millennium bc, Iconography of Religions (Leiden, 1985)
  • M. N. van Loon: Anatolia in the Early First Millennium bc, Iconography of Religions (Leiden, 1990)

II. Architecture.

  • Jeanny Vorys Canby

1. Prehistoric period to Middle Bronze Age.

From the 8th millennium bc new settlement patterns led to the appearance of rectangular structures in the plains and valleys of Neolithic Anatolia. These were built of mud-brick or pisé, often on stone foundations, with internal buttressing and mud-brick walls or wattle-and-daub screens, and roofs constructed of wooden beams, matting, reeds and clay. Impressive architecture already existed in the 8th millennium at Çayönü in eastern Anatolia, where the lower courses of three single-room buildings were found, measuring at least 10×7 m. These buildings had symmetrically placed internal buttresses and floors of large flagstones and in one case a terrazzo floor. One building, where human skulls were found stacked in a niche, may have had some cultic use. The architecture of Çatal Hüyük (7th-6th millennium bc) also differed from that of a normal Neolithic farming village. Here an estimated 1000 houses, covering 13 ha, had continuous outside walls, forming an early kind of fortification. Dwellers entered the two-room houses from the roof. The elaborate decoration of many of these buildings included wall paintings, and plastered reliefs incorporating horn-cores also indicated some cultic use. The houses at Can Hasan I (level IIa, c. 5400 bc; for illustration see Can Hasan) were built one against the other with rows of internal buttresses and access from the roof.

A free-standing fortification wall is found at Chalcolithic Hacilar II, in central Anatolia, in the 6th millennium bc (see Hacılar). In the 5th millennium bc the village at Mersin XVI, in Cilicia (see Mersin), was turned into a fortress by the addition of gate towers leading to a central courtyard, and a casemate wall.

In eastern Anatolia at Arslantepe small palaces and temples of the Early Bronze Age (c. 3400–c. 2000 bc) have been found, in some cases with plans influenced by Mesopotamian architecture. By the early 3rd millennium bc, fortified city states had appeared throughout Anatolia. Fortifications, which often had casemate walls, are best preserved at Troy II (see Troy), with ramps, towers, buttresses and gates. Public buildings at Troy consisted of neat rows of simple, rectangular units with a front porch and interior hearth, anticipating the later megaron building type used in Greek temple architecture. Megaron-type buildings have also been found at Beycesultan in western Anatolia and at Kültepe in central Anatolia.

In the first three centuries of the 2nd millennium bc (Middle Bronze Age) a large palace with many interior rooms was built at Acemhöyük. Two further palaces at Acemhöyük, one with an exterior portico (for illustration see Acemhöyük), had stone foundations and mud-brick walls incorporating an elaborate wooden framework. This type of construction, also found at Beycesultan and Maşathöyük, was possibly intended to give added elasticity to buildings in a region prone to earthquakes. A painted sherd from Acemhöyük shows a view of the wooden railings and columns of the superstructure. In the 18th century bc, Atchana, Tell (anc. Alalakh) in the Amuk region had a monumental city gate, a large square temple and a palace that contained the elements of a plan that was to be used in that area for more than a millennium. Buildings of this design, termed bit hilani, consisted of a columned entrance with a wide rectangular room behind it and a staircase at one end (see Syria-palestine, fig.b). The use of well-dressed rectangular orthostats at the base of important walls also foreshadowed the extensive use of orthostats, often carved in relief, at sites in the area during the early 1st millennium bc. A large, well-preserved suburb of Assyrian merchants’ houses, built around courtyards, lay outside the city wall of Kültepe, and within the citadel a palace has been excavated.

2. Hittite, Phrygian and Urartian.

Hittite fortifications at Yerkapı, Boğazköy, view of post-and-lintel portal with corbelled postern tunnel through stone-faced mound, part of the perimeter walls, c. 1300–c. 1200 bc; photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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Monumental Hittite buildings dominate Late Bronze Age architecture (c. 1700–c. 1200 bc). The 15th-century bc palace at Maşathöyük was planned around a courtyard measuring 40×33 m (for illustration see Maşathöyük). At the early Hittite site of Alaca Höyük dressed Cyclopean stones carved with reliefs lined the outside façade of an elaborate monumental gate guarded by monolithic sphinxes 2.35 m high. At Boğazköy, the Hittite capital, the city walls were of Cyclopean polygonal masonry, with gates made of large monoliths and long corbelled posterns (see fig.). This strategic circuit ran over rough terrain and bridged a deep chasm below the citadel. A clay model shows that the walls and towers were crenellated and that the latter were provided with windows. Neither the walls nor the processional stairways over the steep, paved glacis at the south end of the city have any parallel in Anatolia. On the citadel itself there were small free-standing buildings, which had various functions, and a large columned hall was surrounded by a series of courts, some of which had columned porticos. These structures combined to create a royal area or palace. They demonstrate an architectural philosophy related to the 3rd-millennium bc megara from Troy, which was later exemplified in the complex of megara at Gordion and perhaps even the groups of bit hilani buildings that characterized Neo-Hittite citadels. Excavations at Boğazköy uncovered the massive stone foundations of numerous large temples up to 40 m square. Some had enormous stone socles for the columns of brick and stone, with a wooden frame forming the walls. These temples had standardized plans, with a formal gatehouse leading to a court colonnaded on two sides, and a circuitous route to the projecting cella with deep windows on to the outside. The Temple of the Storm god stood in a compound surrounded by storerooms and living quarters for the temple personnel.

From the 9th–7th centuries bc contemporary representations again help to reconstruct the elevations of buildings. From graffiti found at Gordion and from Phrygian rock-cut tomb façades, for example at Yazılıkaya, it is known that the 8th-century bc megara at Gordion had gabled roofs. The interiors sometimes had pillars to support the roof and wooden balconies along the sides. There is also a splendid fortified gateway at Gordion. The depiction on the Assyrian bronze gates from Balawat (9th century bc; London, BM) of the crenellated towers of the great Neo-Hittite city of Carchemish are particularly useful because the excavations there produced little more than the sculptured façades of large buildings and processional ways. Other Neo-Hittite cities, such as Karatepe, Sakça Gözü and Zincirlı, provide better plans of monumental gateways decorated with carved orthostats, and the last two sites had well-laid-out citadels incorporating bit hilani units. The sculpture and architecture are a blend of Hittite traditions.

During the same period, in the mountains of eastern Anatolia, the Urartians fortified some 75 crags and strategic positions. A bronze model (London, BM; see fig.) shows a towered façade with stepped crenellations and three storeys of windows. Some fortresses were built of ashlar masonry on foundations cut out of the living rock. Excavations at such sites as Karmir Blur, Çavuştepe, Kayalıdere, Bastam (see Bastam) and Toprakkale have revealed interior details of the fortified sites: long rock-cut water channels, extensive storerooms and workshops and, at Karmir Blur, a row of identical dwellings. Assyrian reliefs of the late 8th century bc provide valuable details of an Urartian temple (destr., but recorded in drawings) with a gabled or pitched roof topped by a giant spearhead, a low façade hung with shields, and a doorway flanked by spears. Excavations have shown, however, that the temples were square towers, with thick walls buttressed at the corners, built of well-dressed ashlar masonry with mud-brick above. They may well have resembled the 6th-century bc Achaemenid Persian towers at Naqsh-i Rustam and Pasargadae, which also had shallow pitched roofs. At Altyn Tepe the temple was surrounded by a colonnade with wall paintings and mosaics. From the 6th century bc onwards Anatolia’s indigenous architectural traditions were absorbed into those of her Greek, Persian and, later, Roman rulers (see also Caria, Ionia, Lycia and Lydia).


  • A. Naumann: Architektur Kleinasiens von ihren Anfängen bis zum Ende der hethitischen Zeit (Tübingen, 1955, 2/1971)
  • R. Young: ‘Phrygian Construction and Architecture’, Expedition, 2 (1960), p. 2
  • R. Young: ‘Phrygian Architecture and Construction’, Expedition, 4 (1962), p. 2
  • T. Özgüç: ‘The Art and Architecture of Ancient Kanish’, Anatolia: Revue annuelle d’archéologie, 8 (1964), pp. 27–48
  • T. B. Forbes: Urartian Architecture, Brit. Archaeol. Rep., Int. Ser. (Oxford, 1983)
  • P. Neve: ‘Die Ausgrabungen in Boğatköy-Hattus̆a 1991’, Archäologischer Anzeiger [prev. pubd as Verz. Mitglieder Dt. Archäol. Inst.], 3 (1992), pp. 307–38

III. Sculpture and rock reliefs.

  • Jeanny Vorys Canby

Although the earliest Anatolian sculptures date from c. 7000 bc, the archaeological record is patchy, and it is often necessary to rely on isolated objects. It is only in the 2nd millennium bc that a distinctive style appears that can be linked with a historically known people, the Hittites. This article focuses mainly on sculpture and reliefs in either clay or stone, whether small-scale or monumental; works in metal are discussed in §IV below. Unless otherwise stated, all small-scale artefacts are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.

1. Small-scale sculpture.

The excavation of early settlement sites in Anatolia has produced evidence for Neolithic stone reliefs, small sculpture in the round and clay figurines. Relief sculpture is first attested at Çayönü in eastern Anatolia, where a stone slab bears a stylized human face in relief with emphasized nose and eye sockets. The same site also produced roughly modelled clay animal and human figurines, a small stylized human torso of stone and a polished murex seashell, which may have been inlaid with copper or malachite (all in Dıyarbakır, Archaeol. & Ethnog. Mus.). At Çatal Hüyük many stone and clay figurines (c. 6300–c. 6000 bc) were found. The former are of black stone or white marble and include figures of bulky females, thin males and some more elaborate groups—a figure with a leopard, a twin goddess and a plaque with two pairs of figures in high relief (an embracing couple and a mother and child). The carefully modelled clay figurines are mostly of very fat seated women, sometimes decorated with patterns of red paint. One seated figure is supported by double leopards. The nose and eyes are usually emphasized, but the mouth is not indicated. Most of these figurines were found in a succession of shrines decorated with a bizarre series of painted wall reliefs, sculpted in clay over an armature of straw and animal skulls, which depicted women about to give birth, leopards and bulls, and rows of animal heads incorporating real horn-cores. In some cases the thick plaster on the walls was cut away in the shape of animals. Farther west at Hacılar, small figurines from early levels were beautifully modelled. They depict fat women in various recumbent and standing poses (see fig. above). Some seated figures are associated with leopards or embracing youths. Modelled pottery vessels include one shaped like a couchant gazelle with its head turned back. A long-necked figure from Chalcolithic Can Hasan (mid-5th millennium bc), made of burnished clay with painted decoration, has a prominent nose and lug-shaped ears. It wears an elaborate headdress and is seated with hands across the knees.

The ensuing gap in the record of Anatolian sculpture is probably due to the accidents of discovery. Early 3rd-millennium bc sites in western Anatolia have produced flat, stylized clay figurines, some with incised details such as huge eyes and pubic triangles (e.g. at Demircihöyük; Eskişehir, Archaeol. Mus.). A stylized face and a staff were carved on a squared stone found in Troy and anthropomorphic vessels are known from Troy and several other sites of the late 3rd millennium bc (e.g. in Afyon, Archaeol. Mus.). Flat, highly stylized, fiddle-shaped, white stone idols found at several sites, such as Beycesultan, recall Early Bronze Age finds from the Cyclades. Late 3rd millennium bc flat figurines from Kültepe are also made of white marble and have disc-shaped bodies, triangular heads (sometimes several) and drilled and incised decoration.

A lively new style of sculpture, characterized by large, clear, life-like forms, appeared early in the 2nd millennium bc and may be connected with the arrival of the Hittites. It is represented by ivories, found at Kültepe and Acemhöyük (many of the latter in New York, Met.), depicting a nude female figure, a falcon and its prey, couchant gazelles, lions and sphinxes. These and other sites of the Assyrian Colony period (c. 1920–c. 1740 bc) produced a wealth of modelled clay rhyta (drinking cups) and attachments to pottery, in the shape of well-proportioned animals and parts of animals, birds, fruit, shells, shoes, boats and human figures, as well as little scenes. The walls of some large clay vessels were also decorated with bands of narrative scenes modelled in relief.

2. Monumental and architectural sculpture and reliefs.

Hittite Sphinx Gate, view from the south, Alaca Höyük, c. 15th century bc; photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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The earliest known monumental sculpture in the Near East has been found in Neolithic levels (c. 7000 bc) at Nevali Çori on the Euphrates. Over life-size figures, both in flat and high relief, were carved on stone stelae and sculptures in the round depicted humans, birds and bird-men. The small ivories and modelled rhyta of the early 2nd millennium bc form the background to the reappearance of monumental sculpture, which belongs to the Hittite empire of the second half of the 2nd millennium bc. Rock reliefs and carved monuments depicting deities, kings or local princes occur throughout Anatolia, sometimes near springs. Sphinx protomes 2.35 m high decorate the gate, possibly 15th-century bc, at Alaca Höyük (in situ; see fig.). A relief on the inside face of one jamb shows a figure standing on a double-headed eagle with hares in its talons. The façade of the gate was decorated with two registers of orthostats depicting lively cultic and hunting scenes and processions, including musicians and acrobats. These were carved in low relief with little interior modelling, yet the figures are always understandable, if sometimes ill-shaped.

The rock faces at the open-air sanctuary of Yazılıkaya (c. 1500–1200 bc) outside the Hittite capital were carved with processions of deities and single scenes of the king, either embraced by a god or alone, as well as a composite image interpreted as the Dirk or Dagger god. The latter represents a hilt topped with a divine head and lion protomes; on the lower part of the hilt are crouching lions. The gate above the monumental steps on the heights of Yazilikaya has sphinxes with exceptionally sensitive carving of the faces. Gateways at Boğazköy were carved with giant lion protomes (in situ; see fig.), sphinxes (Istanbul, Mus. Anc. Orient and Berlin, Pergamonmus.) and a warrior god in half-round relief (replica in situ; original in Ankara). Over life-size sculpture in the round is attested by fragments of human figures. Vases with relief decoration and ornamental rhyta continued to be made, some in architectural shapes. A pair of harnessed bulls (h. 670 mm) was found in Boğazköy. On a smaller scale are deities in gold (Ankara; London, BM; Paris, Louvre; New York, Met.), rock crystal from Tarsus (Adana, Archeol Mus.) and lapis lazuli set in gold from Carchemish (London, BM).

Hittite sculptured Lion Gate, south-west entrance to the city fortifications, Boğazköy, limestone, h. 2.13 m, c. 1300–c. 1200 bc; photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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Hittite carved orthostat of a composite lion-human figure, possibly a demon, basalt, c. 1st millennium bc (Istanbul, Archaeological Museum); photo © Allan T. Kohl/AICT

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Carved orthostats (see fig.) and gateways protected by lions and sphinxes continued to be a feature of the early 1st millennium bc Neo-Hittite cities east and south-east of the Taurus mountains, such as Arslantepe, which may date still earlier, Ain Dara on the Syrian–Turkish border (in situ and Aleppo, N. Mus.), Carchemish (Ankara; London, BM), Sakça Gözü, Zincirlı (Istanbul, Archaeol. Mus.; Berlin, Pergamonmus.), Tayinat, Tell (U. Chicago, IL, Orient. Inst. Mus.; Antakya, Hatay Mus.) and Karatepe (in situ). A greater variety of scenes was depicted, with banquets, war and mythological subjects added to the earlier hunting, religious and ceremonial scenes. At Maraş several grave stelae show the deceased, often with attributes representing their activities when alive (distaffs and mirrors for women, writing tablets for a young scribe; e.g. Adana, Archaeol. Mus.; Gaziantep Mus.; Paris, Louvre). Each of these cities had its own style of carving. It may be from this area that, in the 9th century bc, the Assyrians adopted the idea of decorating their palaces with reliefs. The Assyrians, in turn, influenced the local styles of the cities they occupied, notably Carchemish and Zincirli. Many of these Neo-Hittite cities also produced sculpture in the round representing kings, deities and pairs of animals or mixed beings, some finely carved and over life-size, others rather crude.

Phrygian sculpture of the first half of the 1st millennium bc includes comical lion protomes from the doorway of a small building at Gordion, and animal-shaped rhyta continued to be made. Architectural tiles from such sites as Gordion and Pazarlı are decorated with foot-soldiers and chariot groups, antithetical lions or goats, and mythological scenes in painted relief. A limestone group, 1.34 m high, of a goddess flanked by two small musicians was found at Boğazköy. It resembles the frontal, robed statues of Kybele carved in numerous rock-cut niches. These include a series shaped like temple façades decorated with geometric designs carved in low relief. A fine Phrygian statuette from Boğazköy may show Greek and Near Eastern influence. Large orthostats found near Ankara were carved with animals and imaginary creatures. At Ivriz a huge scene (h. 4.2 m), executed in high relief on a rock face, blends imperial Hittite, Neo-Hittite and Phrygian elements. It depicts King Warpalawas of Tabal before a Grain God: the god holds grapes and wheat. Sculpture in Urartu is best known from small figures of human beings, deities and animals, well made of ivory, bronze or a combination. The style and iconography are clearly dependent on Assyrian art, yet the pieces have a fresh, naive appeal of their own. At Kefkalesi, a column base was decorated in low relief, showing gods on lions beneath turreted city walls. Assyrian reliefs from Khorsabad (destr.), depicting the sack of the Urartian town of Muṣaṣir, showed monumental figures of the national god Haldi, but no such sculpture survives. In the second half of the 1st millennium bc Anatolia came under Achaemenid Persian and later Hellenistic domination. The monumental figures from Nemrut Dağ show the blending of Greek and Near Eastern styles and iconography. This mixture is well illustrated by a series of reliefs depicting King Antiochus I of Commagene (reg 69–34 bc) shaking hands with, among others, Herakles-Veneythragna and Apollo-Mithra (in situ).


  • B. B. Piotrovskii: Vanskoi Tsarstvo (Urartu), (Moscow, 1959); Eng. trans. as Urartu: The Kingdom of Van and its Art (London, 1967)
  • E. Akurgal: The Art of the Hittites (London, 1962)
  • W. Orthmann: Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst (Bonn, 1971)
  • K. Bittel: Die Hethiter: Die Kunst Anatoliens von Ende des 3. bis zum Anfang des 1. Jahrtausends vor Christus (Munich, 1976)
  • M. J. Mellink: ‘Comments on a Cult Relief of Kybele from Gordion’, Beiträge zur Altertumskunde Kleinasiens: Festschrift für K. Bittel (Mainz, 1983), pp. 349–60
  • American Journal of Archaeology, 91–97 (1987–1993) [excavation reports on Nevali Çori by M. J. Mellink]

IV. Metalwork.

  • K. Aslihan Yener

The study of Anatolian metalwork reveals lively indigenous cultures that interacted with neighbouring areas, such as Syria-Palestine, Mesopotamia and Iran, ancient, to produce a rich and varied tradition. Using Anatolia’s vast mineral resources and polymetallic ore deposits, craftsmen were able to develop an expressive style, employing a variety of different minerals and metals in the production of utilitarian tools and weapons, complex ceremonial artefacts and jewellery. Unless otherwise stated, all the objects mentioned are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

1. Chalcolithic period and Bronze Age (c 5800–c 1000 bc).

  • K. Aslihan Yener
(i) Materials and techniques.

Standard with two long-horned bulls, arsenical copper, h. 15.9 cm, Anatolian, 2400–2000 BC (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1955, Accession ID:55.137.5); photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Skilled metalworking began during the Chalcolithic period and the Early Bronze Age (c. 5800–c. 2000 bc), although metals had been used in Anatolia in Neolithic settlements as early as c. 8000 bc (cold-worked pins and beads of native copper have been found at Çayönü in the east). By c. 2000 bc metalworking had progressed beyond the level of a village smithy and was developing into an industry proficient in the arts of smelting, melting, annealing, forging, working sheet-metals, alloying, refining gold and silver, and cupellation of lead sulphides. The earlier dependence on arsenical coppers (see fig.) shifted to the use of bronzes with a 5–15% tin content. Although iron had by then been worked for several centuries, Late Bronze Age metalwork (c. 1700–c. 1200 bc) shows a marked increase in its use.

Group of four vases, electrum, gilded silver, silver, h. of vase with lid 9 13/16 in. (25 cm) h. of cup 3 1/8 in. (7.9 cm) diameter of phiale 5 1/16 in. (12.9 cm) h. of beaker 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm), Anatolian, ca. 2300–2000 BC (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989, Accession ID:1989.281.45a, b–.48 ); photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Of particular interest are Bronze Age decorative techniques involving the use of silver, gold and electrum. These metals were produced throughout Anatolia from the late 4th millennium bc and occur in jewellery, weapons, vessels (see fig.), votive objects and ingots. In the Early Bronze Age, vessels, such as those from the tombs at Alaca Höyük, were decorated with swirling, herringbone and concentric circle designs, incised or in repoussé, sometimes with human handles and coiling snakes in relief. The prominence of spiral motifs in Anatolia is reflected by the many variants in different materials appearing from the 4th millennium bc onwards. They had a special meaning at Ikiztepe, where they decorate beads, pins, pendants, idols and blade hilts. Large examples of spiral shapes of unknown function are up to 110 mm in diameter. By the end of the Early Bronze Age (c. 2000 bc) metals worked into a spiral shape included pure copper, arsenical copper, bronze, gold, silver and electrum.

During the Early Bronze Age there seems to have been a conscious effort to achieve a silvery colour in weapons and figurines, reflecting the rise of silver as the most important metal in the economies of surrounding areas such as Mesopotamia. In the absence of silver, there is evidence for ‘inverse segregation’, a technique of using copper with a high arsenic content (up to 12%) to give a shimmering, silvery surface to bull figurines and bronze weapons (examples from Ikiztepe, Horoztepe and north central Anatolia).

In the repertory of solid cast metals there was a trend towards multicoloured and three-dimensional effects and textures in weapons, jewellery, human and animal figurines and votive objects, as in the arsenical copper swords with silver diamond and triangle patterns on the hilt from Arslantepe VIa (late 4th millennium bc; Malatya Mus.). Stoneworking techniques were combined with metals to create polychrome jewellery with a subtle play of colour and texture. Necklaces alternated coloured minerals and stones, while pins were set with cornelians or lapis lazuli, or in patterns of light and dark, such as iron and gold or silver and gold examples from Alaca Höyük (c. 2300 bc), and a bronze and iron pin from Alişar Hüyük. Bronze and iron ceremonial weapons in the 3rd millennium bc were often inlaid and overlaid partially with silver, gold or electrum, imparting an interplay of different colours. A silver axe from Alaca Höyük had a gold shaft, while weapons from Troy were encrusted with electrum, silver or gold. A superb example is an iron sword from Tomb K at Alaca Höyük with a gold-covered wooden hilt and crescent shaped top. Hittite inventory texts describe elaborate weapons, such as a dagger with a ‘shimmering face’ and a ‘tail’ and pommel of rock crystal.

(ii) Subject-matter.

Pendant depicting a seated goddess with a child, gold, H. 4.3 cm, W. 1.7 cm, D. 1.9 cm, Hittite, 15th–13th century BC (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989, Accession ID:1989.281.12); photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The technical sophistication of Anatolian metalworkers found early artistic expression in female figurines with exaggerated hips and breasts—a tradition going back to the Çatal Hüyük terracottas (c. 6300–6000 bc). The earliest metal human representations come from the cache of six tin bronze statuettes from Tell Judeideh G in the Amuk region (early 3rd millennium bc; Boston, MA, Mus. F.A.; U. Chicago, IL, Orient. Inst. Mus.). The clenched hands of the three male figures and the articulation of the muscles are realistically portrayed. A multicoloured effect was achieved by the use of a silver-rich alloy, with copper and gold for the accessories. Stylized male and female figures decorate both faces of an arsenical copper blade from Ikiztepe and fit into the artistic conventions of Early Bronze Age idols from central Anatolia. The finest examples, made of bronze, silver or gold (?second half of 3rd millennium bc), come from the Alaca Höyük royal tombs, Horoztepe, Mahmatlar, Göller, Eskiyapar, Kalınkaya, Ikiztepe and Hasanoğlan. These images stress health and wealth: female figures have full hips, and their breasts and feet are often covered in gold or silver (see fig.). Clothing, headdresses, weapons and idiosyncratic jewellery were added, recalling the spiral rings, lunate earrings, bracelets, diadems, double and quadruple spiral pins and zoomorphic representations found generally in Bronze Age levels.

In the Early Bronze Age flora, fauna and astrological symbolism were also persistent themes. In the representation of animals the craftsmen combined naturalism with ritual iconography and a richness of detail drawn from both nature and imagination. At Alaca Höyük stags and bulls (see fig.) were mounted on ‘standards’, and openwork geometric discs had separate attached elements, forming musical instruments such as sistra. Although these artefacts can be interpreted as associated with hunting, they were found in graves and also had a ritual meaning. The idea of the untamed power of the animal was achieved by emphasizing the magnificent antlers of stags and the sharp, sweeping horns of wild bulls, while oversimplifying the body and breaking it down into clear geometric forms (such as a cylindrical body, stalk-like legs and tubular muzzle). On the Alaca Höyük standards, an organic coherence is achieved, integrating wild animal imagery with the geometric linear designs of the discs to form a carefully organized semicircular composition, modulated by the sharp angles and the repetitive rhythm of the openwork patterns. Plating in different metals was used to achieve a multicoloured effect.

Silver bull with gold decoration, h. 240 mm, from Alaca Höyük, Early Bronze Age, c.2350 bc (London, British Museum); photo © The British Museum For more information:

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In the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–c. 1700 bc) both stylized and naturalistic forms of human and divine imagery were employed. The former includes flat, cursive lead figurines cast in stone moulds. At the other extreme are sensitively modelled, gilded faience nude figurines found at Kültepe and gilded ivory furniture fragments from Acemhöyük. This convention of gilding ivory and bone continued into the Iron Age (see §IV, 2 below). A well-proportioned human image from the Late Bronze Age is provided by a small gold goddess, seated on a feline-pawed throne and holding a child in her lap, a motif current in Anatolia from the Neolithic period (c. 1400–1200 bc; New York, Norbert Schimmel Col., on loan to Met.). Her curved legs, the modelling of the face and such details as fingers confer great naturalism and a sense of monumentality on the small figure.

Rhyton in the shape of a stag, silver, gold inlay, h. 18 cm, Hittite, 15th–13th century BC (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989, Accession ID:1989.281.10); photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Hunted in the forests of Anatolia, the stag was a frequent subject. Many examples come from Alaca Höyük and Horoztepe, showing the stag with other forest creatures. It also served as the mount of several deities, and a superb stag-shaped silver rhyton, decorated in repoussé, was probably used in religious ceremonies (New York, Norbert Schimmel Col., on loan to Met.; see fig.). The bull was associated with mountains and the Storm God, and it occurs frequently in Bronze Age metal artefacts (examples from Alaca Höyük and Horoztepe).

In the Middle and Late Bronze Ages (c. 2000–c. 1200 bc) swords and axes were decorated with humans, animals and fantastic divine creatures (e.g. shaft-hole axe from Şarkışla). These weapons, which were probably numinous, have a smooth background from which figures stand out in relief. Their forms are recalled in the Hittite relief depicting the Dagger God at Yazılıkaya (for illustration see Yazılıkaya), which may have been based on a metal prototype, with its hilt shaped like a god’s head framed by four lions. The decoration is an integral part of the weapon and emerges from, rather than being superimposed on, the sword.

After the destruction of the Hittite empire in the 13th century bc, Anatolia entered a Dark Age, and remains of this period from central and eastern Anatolia have yet to be uncovered.


  • D. B. Stronach: ‘The Development and Diffusion of Metal Types in Early Bronze Anatolia’, Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 7 (1957), pp. 90–125
  • R. F. Tylecote: Early Metallurgy in the Near East (London, 1970)
  • K. Emre: Anatolian Lead Figurines and their Stone Moulds (Ankara, 1971)
  • R. Maxwell-Hyslop: Western Asiatic Jewellery, c. 3000–612 bc (London, 1971)
  • H. Erkanal: Die Äxte und Beile des 2. Jahrtausends in Zentralanatolian (Munich, 1977)
  • R. M. Boehmers: Die Kleinfunde aus der Unterstadt von Boğazköy (Berlin, 1979)
  • P. S. de Jesus: The Development of Prehistoric Mining and Metallurgy in Anatolia, 2 vols, Brit. Archaeol. Rep., Int. Ser. (Oxford, 1980)
  • J. C. Waldbaum: Metalwork from Sardis: The Finds through 1974 (Cambridge, MA, 1983)
  • K. A. Yener: ‘The Production, Exchange and Utilization of Silver and Lead Metals in Ancient Anatolia: A Source Identification Project’, Anatolica: Annuaire international pour les civilisations de l’Asie antérieure, 10 (1983), pp. 1–15
  • Z. Stós-Gale, N. H. Gale and G. R. Gilmore: ‘Early Bronze Age Trojan Metal Sources and Anatolians in the Cyclades’, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 3 (1984), pp. 23–43
  • J. D. Muhly and others: ‘Iron in Anatolia and the Nature of the Hittite Iron Industry’, Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 35 (1985), pp. 65–84
  • K. A. Yener: ‘The Archaeometry of Silver in Anatolia: The Bolkardağ Mining District’, American Journal of Archaeology, 90 (1986), pp. 1–4
  • K. A. Yener and H. Özbal: ‘Tin in the Turkish Taurus Mountains: The Bolkardağ Mining District’, Antiquity, 61 (1987), pp. 64–71

2. Iron Age (after c 1000 bc).

  • Oscar White Muscarella

Early Iron Age Anatolia was dominated by the Urartians in the east and the Phrygians, who established cities in central Anatolia either side of the River Halys. Other peoples known to have lived in the central plateau must also have developed their own cultures, including a metal industry, but they remain unidentified.

(i) Phrygian.

Evidence for the earliest settlements and artefacts in central Anatolia after the Hittite destruction derives from the Phrygian capital, Gordion. Most Phrygian artefacts have come from excavations, but research is hindered by the lack of inscriptions. Almost all Phrygian bronzes derive from tumulus burials, either at Gordion or at Ankara to the east, and few, except for fibulae, come from the occupation levels at Gordion or other sites, all of which were destroyed c. 696 bc. The major sources of material are Tumulus W at Gordion, the earliest (c. 740–720 bc), followed by tumuli III, P, and MM (c. 720–700 bc). The Ankara tumuli are contemporary with III, P, and MM. The existence of 7th- and 6th-century bc tumuli has revealed that the Phrygian bronze industry continued to function after the destruction of the cities, but with less glory.

Tumulus MM had the largest quantity and variety of bronze artefacts and provides information on the industry at its most developed stage, during the reign of King Midas (c. 735–695 bc). The most distinctive Phrygian bronze artefact is the fibula, which has many sub-types. Also typically Phrygian are the belts employing a fibula form as a buckle, omphalos bowls with interior ridges or petals, and plain bowls with a banded rim that held loop handles. There are also many types of jug, and small cauldrons with T-shaped clamps for loop handles. Other small cauldrons with bull protomes may be of Phrygian origin. Distinctive ladles, with tangs connecting the bowl to the handle, found together with cauldrons suggest that they were used together at banquets. Some of the bronze vessels, bowls and jugs were imitated in wood and terracotta.

Both casting and hammering techniques were employed, sometimes on the same vessel, especially bowls and jugs. An apparent innovation was the addition of zinc to copper to make brass, perhaps in imitation of gold. Iron was used in Phrygia to make tools and ring-stands for the cauldrons, and the presence of iron slag and ore at Gordion indicates that an iron industry existed there. Phrygian weapon types and armour have not been recovered. Gold and silver artefacts are extremely rare, but the excavation in 1986–7 of two tumuli at Bayındır near Elmalı produced gold earrings and electrum pin-heads that may be Phrygian. Bronze and silver objects, especially appliqué plaques, belts, fibulae, horse breast plates, omphalos bowls, cauldrons and ladles, are more definitely Phrygian, notably a silver ladle and a small cauldron with Phrygian inscriptions.

(ii) Urartian.

The first inscriptions attesting to the Urartian kingdom appeared in the late 9th century bc. Few 9th-century bc sites are known, however, though many exist from the 8th and 7th centuries bc. The quantity and variety of Urartian metal artefacts is enormous. Although much of the material derives from plundering, excavations have yielded a large corpus from tombs and settlements. Inscriptions on a number of objects also allow scholars to chart the progress of Urartian metallurgy.

Bell inscribed with the Urartian royal name Argishti, bronze, iron, 3.43 in. (8.71 cm), 786–756 BC (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Nathaniel Spear Jr, 1977, Accession ID:1977.186); photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Iron was used for agricultural and industrial tools, arrows, spears, knives and swords; but iron helmets and vessels are less common. Surviving bronze artefacts, however, typify the range of Urartian metalwork, especially the use of embossed and incised decoration. Casting was employed for statuettes of humans and deities, fantastic and natural animals, and fittings for furniture (see fig.) and cauldrons. Numerous belts and plaques, many decorated with religious and secular scenes, were produced by hammering, as were shields, quivers, helmets (many also decorated) and vessels. Many objects were clearly horse and chariot equipment: these include bells (see fig.), armour, blinkers and bits for horses, and plaques and wheel ornaments for chariots. For personal daily use pins and fibulae were worn. Gold jewellery, cast and hammered, some decorated with granulation, includes rings, bracelets, earrings, buttons, beads, spacers and pins. Silver was used to manufacture pins, gorgets, medallions (see fig.) and vessels. Urartian craftsmen were influenced by imported Assyrian metalwork, but they created a characteristic style readily distinguishable from that of neighbouring peoples. (See also Urartian.)


  • E. Akurgal: Phrygische Kunst (Ankara, 1955)
  • E. Akurgal: ‘Urtäische Kunst’, Anatolia: Revue annuelle d’archéologie, 4 (1959), pp. 77–114
  • M. van Loon: Urartian Art (Istanbul, 1966)
  • G. Arzapay: Urartian Art and Artifacts (Berkeley, CA, 1968)
  • E. Caner: Fibeln in Anatolien (Munich, 1983)
  • L. Van den Berghe and L. De Meyer: Urartu: Een vergeten cultur het bergland Armenië (Ghent, 1983)
  • O. W. Muscarella: ‘The Background to the Phrygian Bronze Industry’, Bronzeworking Centres of Western Asia, 1000–539 bc, ed. J. Curtis (London, 1987), pp. 177–92
  • Antalya Museum (Ankara, 1988), pp. 32–49

V. Pottery.

  • Donald F. Easton

From the first appearance of pottery in Anatolia in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (c. . 11,000–c. 5800 bc), monochrome and coarse wares usually predominated, with variations mostly of interest to the archaeologist. This article, however, concentrates on wares of particular artistic interest.

1. Prehistoric period.

Animal-shaped vessels, always common, first appeared in Late Neolithic Hacılar VI. Finely modelled red monochrome fragments survive of a resting doe and a standing boar; a four-legged duck is a less sensitive piece. The Early Chalcolithic levels V–II yielded simple but elegant vessels painted with elaborate red-on-cream designs. The most complex and intriguing are a ‘Fantastic’ style in which natural motifs, such as flowers, animals, seated human figures, and hands, heads and eyes, were schematized in patterns resembling appliqué work in felt (see fig.b above). Human effigy-vases with linear red-on-cream decoration are also known from Hacılar I (c. 5700 bc; for illustration see Hacılar) and have been extensively faked. A Chalcolithic tradition of dark-on-light linear geometric ornament developed at Çatal Hüyük and Can Hasan I, where a related polychrome ware in combinations of red, purple, chocolate, and black on buff made far less satisfying use of horizontal registers. Chevrons, chequer-boards, crosshatching, thick curved lines and groups of straight or wavy lines are arranged with little sense of the shapes of the vessels.

Although the potter’s wheel was introduced during the Early Bronze Age (c. 3400–c. 2000 bc), much of the best pottery was still handmade. At Beycesultan XIX–XVII (eb i) globular jars, jugs, flasks and cups—all quite simple shapes—in red, buff and black monochrome wares show careful horizontal and vertical fluting, perhaps in imitation of metal prototypes. The fluting continues in levels XVI–XIII (eb ii; see fig.) but on more elaborate shapes, and it sometimes undulates diagonally, for example on the bodies of jugs. At Yortan and related sites, mainly eb ii, dark-burnished beak-spouted jugs (see fig.), tripod jars, funnel-necked jars, pedestalled pyxides and animal vases were attractively decorated with chevrons, hatched lozenges and triangles, and zigzag bands in white paint, or incised and filled with white, and occasionally red, paste. The repertory in Early and Middle Bronze Age Troy shows some borrowings from Yortan, but it is notable for its range of globular jars with funnel necks, which have moulded plastic ornament representing, on the body, breasts, navel and upraised wings and, on the neck or lid, a stern human face with prominent eyebrows, nose and ears. Also characteristic is the elegant wheelmade depas amphikypellon, a tall, two-handled goblet with flaring rim and narrow, rounded base. At Kültepe and Alişar Hüyük a painted ware spans the eb iii and Middle Bronze Age (mb) periods. Tall ovoid jugs and jars, small cups with pointed bases, and the inverted rims of shallow bowls were painted in eb iii in dark purple-brown on an orange slip, red being added in mb phases to create a polychrome ware. Bold, irregular latticework often encloses lively geometric elaboration in the intervening panels. Similar motifs appear on vessels shaped as shoes, lions and donkeys. This Cappadocian ware is rich in colour and elegant in its shapes (see fig.c above).

Ancient Anatolian pottery: (a) black-burnished jug, h. 115 mm, from Beycesultan, c. 2700–c. 2400 bc; (b) red-slipped jug, h. 398 mm, from Kültepe, 18th century bc; (c) tankard, with Brown-on-buff decoration, h. 230 mm, from Gordion, late 8th century bc–early 7th (Ankara, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations)

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2. Hittite, Urartian and Phrygian.

The mb red monochrome Old Hittite ware is even more splendid than Cappadocian ware. Its surfaces are highly polished and its shapes adventurous. The repertory includes quatrefoil cups, vessels shaped like grape clusters, biconical teapots with animal-head spouts and chalices with animals and birds modelled on the rim. There is an emphasis on tall, elegant and sharply profiled forms (see fig.). Hittite pottery of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1700–c. 1200 bc) is mainly descended from the mb Old Hittite ware, but there is a loss of variety and vitality, and little further development occurred over four centuries. The red-brown monochrome ware includes wide flaring bowls, two-handled quatrefoil cups with tall stems, teapots, jugs with ‘bearded’ spouts, and lentoid ‘pilgrim flasks’ with flattened circular bodies, tall necks and three handles. There is also a series of finely modelled figures of bulls, rams and lions, some of which, with spouts set in the back, may have been for libations, as may hollow, spouted models of human arms. A rare polychrome ware belongs to the Hittite Old Kingdom (c. 1650–c. 1500 bc): large jars in red, black and yellow, such as the Inandık Vase (see Inandıktepe), were decorated with narrative relief friezes of cultic scenes. Stylistically these are related to metal relief vessels and to sculpted stone reliefs as at Alaca Höyük and Yazılıkaya, but, though colourful, they are relatively crude.

Among the uninspiring grey wares of the Iron Age, Urartian and Phrygian pottery stands out. From Urartu the predominant red-burnished Toprakkale or ‘Palace’ ware is most striking. In colour and shape it seems to imitate copper vessels. There are gourd-shaped goblets, jars, incense burners and kernoi, all on slender stems; and without stems there are grooved bowls, trefoil-mouthed pitchers, long-spouted jugs, tall, waisted two-handled tankards, and horn-shaped rhyta. Rims and shoulders sometimes carry models of animals or animal heads: pithoi from Toprakkale show lions climbing up the inside of the jar to bite bulls on the rim. Elegant cups in a related black ware are shaped like wide-topped leather boots and are decorated with white-filled incision or white paint to suggest stitching or lacing. The rarer painted wares, such as Red-on-buff and Black-and-red-on-buff, generally lack subtlety; but a deep bowl from Patnos has human faces in relief integrated into the design so that the hair streaming out from each face forms part of a multiple-chevron design of wavy black lines. Incised pictographs on coarseware storage jars sometimes indicate the contents.

In Phrygia, by contrast, the painted wares are inventive, magnificent and, at their best, meticulously executed. Tight geometric designs in brown-black on cream, occasionally also with red, use zigzags, crosshatching, chequer-boards, chevrons, lozenges, meanders and single dots in small spaces. Sometimes clear panels within the design enclose animal figures, including bulls, deer, lions (see fig.), sphinxes and hawks. Fragments from Boğazköy show a procession of warriors and the goddess Kybele with two lions. Some shapes are traditionally Anatolian: graceful vessels shaped as geese, rams, stags, ducks and birds of prey; animal-head rhyta; jugs with raised spouts; and shallow plates with ring bases. Others, such as kraters and waisted tankards, seem less Anatolian. Most characteristic are jars with long side-spouts. Rims, handles and spouts can all carry animal-shaped attachments. From Pazarlı come terracotta plaques (c. 470 mm sq.) with painted relief decoration depicting warriors, centaurs, griffins, feeding goats, and lions attacking cattle. An earlier Brown-on-buff ware attested at Alişar Hüyük and Boğazköy is sometimes regarded as early Phrygian, although no connection has been established. Typically the upper halves of kraters have horizontal registers of geometric ornament framing a frieze of thin-legged, backward-slanting deer, and the background is filled in with small concentric circles.


  • H. Schliemann: Ilios: The City and Country of the Trojans (London, 1881)
  • H. H. von der Osten: The Alishar Hüyük: Seasons of 1930–32, 3 vols (Chicago, 1937)
  • C. W. Blegen and others: Troy: General Introduction: The First and Second Settlements (1950), i of Troy: Excavations Conducted by the University of Cincinnati, 1932–1938, 4 vols (Princeton, 1950–58)
  • C. W. Blegen and others: Troy: The Third, Fourth and Fifth Settlements (1951), ii of Troy: Excavations Conducted by the University of Cincinnati, 1932–1938, 4 vols (Princeton, 1950–58)
  • H. H. von der Osten: ‘Die urartäische Töpferei aus Van und die Möglichkeiten ihrer Einordnung in die anatolische Keramik’, Orientalia [Rome], 21 (1952), pp. 307–28; xxii (1953), pp. 329–54
  • S. Lloyd and J. Mellaart: Beycesultan, 1 (London, 1962)
  • Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 12–16 (1962–6) [excavation reports on Çatal Hüyük by J. Mellaart]
  • Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 12–18 (1962–8) [excavation reports on Can Hasan by D. H. French]
  • K. Emre: ‘The Pottery of the Assyrian Colony Period According to the Building Levels of the Kaniš Karum’, Anatolia: Revue annuelle d’archéologie, 7 (1963), pp. 87–99
  • F. Fischer: Die hethitische Keramik von Boğazköy (1963), iv of Boğazköy-Hattusa: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen, ed. K. Bittel, 5 vols (Berlin, 1952–67)
  • M. N. van Loon: Urartian Art: Its Distinctive Traits in the Light of New Excavations (Istanbul, 1966), pp. 29–37
  • K. Emre: ‘The Urartian Pottery from Altıntepe’, Belleten, 33 (1969), pp. 291–301
  • J. Mellaart: Excavations at Hacılar, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1970)
  • T. Kamil: Yortan Cemetery in the Early Bronze Age of Western Anatolia, Brit. Archaeol. Rep., Int. Ser. (Oxford, 1982)
  • F. Prayon: Phrygische Plastik (Tübingen, 1987)
  • T. Özgüç: Inandıktepe: An Important Cult Center in the Old Hittite Period (Ankara, 1988)

VI. Wall painting.

  • A. Nunn

The decoration of houses with red paint occurred in Anatolia from early times. Neolithic examples come from Aşıklı (c. 7000 bc), Hacılar (on lime plaster, c. 6700 bc), Can Hasan III (on clay, c. 6500 bc) and Erbaba (on clay plaster, c. 6000 bc). The outstanding site, however, is Çatal Hüyük, where a vast treasure of motifs was painted in a rich palette of organic and mineral colours. The interiors of the houses in levels XIII–IX (c. 6300–c. 6000 bc) were decorated with wall paintings, with modelled figures and animals cut out of the wall plaster in silhouette. Some of the wall paintings employ ‘kilim’ motifs, so named because they are reminiscent of carpets. Such motifs include zigzags, dots, ‘labyrinth’ patterns, nets, flowers, triangles, honeycombs and bands (levels IX–III); hands (before level VIa); vultures (levels VIII–VII); landscapes (levels VII–VI); humans (levels VIII–III, but rare before level VIa); and the figures of ‘child-bearing’ women (west wall, levels VII–V), which probably represent a mother goddess and a protectress of men and animals. The most astonishing wall paintings are the hunting scenes in levels V and III. One of these shows a bull surrounded by 25 men, of which 15 are wearing loincloths and 7 are armed (for illustration see Çatal Hüyük). In another stags are encircled by men, some clearly agitated and some armed. Boars and a (?)lion also appear, and less important animals include equids and dogs.

The numerous painted buildings in Ca̧tal Hüyük are probably houses rather than shrines. In level V both the relationship between the animal and the number of men surrounding it and the frequency with which the animals occur are shown realistically, while the absence of wounds and the nature of the clothing seem unreal. The hunt is thus neither purely ordinary nor magical, and the paintings are the expression of a people who did not differentiate between daily and religious life. Only the intensity of these scenes varies from house to house.

From the 4th–3rd millennia bc painted buildings occur on the Upper Euphrates, as at Norşun-Tepe, with a stag and some later simple motifs, at Deǧirmentepe with an awkward assemblage of geometric elements, and at Arslantepe with stylized figures and concentric ovals. In the 2nd millennium bc the ‘burnt palace’ at Beycesultan and the palace of Maşathöyök were painted in plain colours. Wall paintings found in Temple 9 (13th century bc) at the Hittite capital, Boǧazköy, had geometric motifs and palmettes.

Urartian towns of the 8th and 7th centuries bc, such as Van, Aznavurtepe, Çavuştepe and Altyn Tepe, have produced evidence of Assyrian-influenced painting. The motifs of the friezes in the well-preserved reception hall (apadana) of Altıntepe include genii on both sides of a sacred tree, hybrid winged beings, kneeling bulls on both sides of a concave quadrangle, palmettes, rosettes, lozenges and battlements. Two scenes of a fighting lion and stag are particularly lively. Glazed decoration is known only from sikkatu (glazed terracotta nails) in the 9th-century bc temple-palace at Tell Halaf and from the Temple of the Storm God and the Long Wall of Sculptures at Carchemish (9th century bc), in the form of lozenges and concentric circles on bricks.


  • F. Langenegger, K. Müller and R. Naumann: Die Bauwerke (1950), ii of Tell Halaf (Berlin, 1943–60)
  • L. Woolley and R. D. Barnett: The Excavations of the Inner Town (1952), iii of Carchemish (London, 1914–52)
  • Anatolian Studies: Journal of the British Institute at Ankara, 12 (1962), pp. 41–66; xiii (1963), pp. 43–104; xiv (1964), pp. 39–120; xvi (1966), pp. 165–92 [excavation reports on Çatal Hüyük by J. Mellaart]
  • T. Özgüç: Altıntepe, 2 vols (Ankara, 1966–9)
  • J. Mellaart: Çatal Hüyük: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia (London, 1967)
  • H. Hauptmann: ‘Die Grabungen auf dem Norşun-Tepe’, Keban Projesi Çalısmarı 1972 (Ankara, 1976), pp. 71–90
  • T. Özgüç: Maşat Höyük kazıları ve cevresindeki araştırmalar/Excavations at Maşat Höyük and Investigations in its Vicinity (Ankara, 1978) [bilingual text]
  • P. Neve: ‘Die Ausgrabungen in Boǧazköy-Hattuša 1982’, Archäologischer Anzeiger [prev. pubd as Verz. Mitglieder Dt. Archäol. Inst.] (1983), pp. 427–54
  • A. Nunn: Die Wandmalerei und der glasierte Wandschmuck im Alten Orient, Handbuch der Orientalistik (Leiden, 1988)

VII. Museums, collections and exhibitions.

  • Dominique Collon

The foremost museum of Anatolian antiquities is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, but most major towns and archaeological sites in Turkey now also have local museums. Collections in foreign museums are small: interest in the pre-Classical archaeological remains of Anatolia developed relatively late, and by the time most foreign expeditions began working there, Turkey had formulated its antiquities laws. There has not been a policy of division of finds excavated by foreign expeditions, as has been the case in other countries of the Near East, so that anything excavated since World War I is now in Turkey.

The few pre-Classical sites excavated before World War I include Troy, but many of the objects from this site disappeared from Berlin during World War II. Some of the finds and reliefs from Carchemish are now in the British Museum in London. Objects from early seasons of excavation at Boğazköy are preserved in the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Pergamonmuseum) in Berlin. Sites in the Amuk region were excavated in the 1930s, when this area was still part of Syria, so that finds were divided between the Hatay Museum in Antakya and the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago. The same applies to Atchana, Tell, with finds divided between the Hatay Museum, the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, with a few objects sent to Australian museums.

Since a clampdown in the 1960s on the growing of opium in Turkey, some farmers have, instead, conducted illicit excavations on their land and, despite tight controls, there has been a growing number of Anatolian antiquities on the market. Since major museums are signatories of the UNESCO convention against the purchase of illegally exported antiquities, most such objects are now in private collections. Some private collections have Anatolian objects, particularly the Norbert Schimmel Collection in New York, which frequently lends objects to museums and exhibitions, and the Borowski Collection in Jerusalem. Forgeries have been produced to satisfy a growing demand for Anatolian antiquities; this demand has also led to the theft of antiquities from some regional museums.

Because there were few objects from ancient Anatolia in European collections, little was known about its early culture until, in 1964, the Arts Council in London hosted a small exhibition of some 304 objects of Neolithic to Phrygian origin. Most of these came from Turkish museums, with a few pieces from the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The exhibition had also been to Darmstadt and Brussels. Between 1966 and 1968 an exhibition of 282 objects, from the Neolithic period to the 18th century ad, was circulated to ten American cities by the Smithsonian Institution; just over a third of the exhibits were Phrygian or earlier. The first major exhibition of Anatolian antiquities took place in Istanbul in 1983 and was sponsored by the Council of Europe. Almost 900 objects were Phrygian or earlier, and further exhibitions also showed objects from other periods of Turkey’s history. A selection of these exhibits later went on tour to Leiden and other European cities.


  • Hittite Art and the Antiquities of Anatolia (exh. cat., London, RA, 1964)
  • Art Treasures of Turkey Circulated by the Smithsonian Institution, 1966–1968 (exh. cat., Washington, DC, Smithsonian Inst., 1966)
  • O. W. Muscarella: Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection (Mainz, 1974)
  • O. W. Muscarella, ed.: Ladders to Heaven: Art Treasures from the Lands of the Bible (Toronto, 1981) [cat. of the Elie Borowski Collection]
  • The Anatolian Civilisations: Prehistoric/Hittite/Early Iron Age (exh. cat., 18th Council of Europe exh.; Istanbul, 1983)
  • Schatten uit Turkije/Türkiye‘nin tarihi zenginlikleri/Treasures from Turkey (exh. cat., Leiden, Rijksmus. Oudhd., 1986) [trilingual]
  • Anatolia: Immagini di civiltà: Tesori dalla Turchia (exh. cat., Rome, Pal. Venezia; Milan; Catania; 1987)
  • Treasures of the Bible Lands: The Elie Borowski Collection (exh. cat., ed. R. Merhav; Tel Aviv Mus. A., 1987)

See also

Early Christian and Byzantine art, §I, 1: History