Ankara, historically known as Angora and Ancyra, is the capital of Turkey ( Yes, Ankara and not Istanbul is the capital of Turkey). Situated in the central part of Anatolia, the town has a population of 5 million in its urban center and over 6 million in Ankara Province, making it Turkey’s second-biggest city after Istanbul.
The Pre Roman history of Ankara can be recorded back to the Bronze Age Hatti civilization, which was replaced in the 2nd millennium BCE by the Hittites, in the 10th century BCE by the Phrygians, and later by the mysterious Lydians, Macedonians, the giant Persians, Galatians, Romans, Seljuks, Byzantines, and Ottomans.
Hatti, Hittite, and Phrygian periods
The most ancient and the oldest settlements in and around Ankara’s town center belonged to the Hatti civilization, which flourished during the Bronze Age. The town significantly evolved in size and influence under the Phrygians starting from around 1000 BCE, experiencing a significant development following the bulk migration from Gordion, the capital of Phrygia, after an earthquake that severely damaged that town in antiquity.
In the Phrygian faith, which has its roots in Hinduism, King Midas was revered as the founder of Ancyra. Still, Pausanias mentions that the city was far older, in line with the present-day knowledge that we have today on its history. There is the probability that at the time Midas arrived, the city was essentially unpopulated. In the same way, by modern standards, we could argue that Ankara did not really exist before Atatürk moved Turkey’s capital to the city since its population before the capital came was virtually non-existent compared to what it would be in succeeding years.
Lydian and Persian periods
Ankara was captured by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE, who came from Gordion to Ankara and lived in the city for a short period. After his death at Babylon in 323 BCE and the following division of his empire amongst his generals, Ankara and its neighborhoods fell into the share of Antigonus.
Apart from the Phrygian era in which the town experienced its most significant expansion in ancient times, another essential expansion took place under the Greeks of Pontos, who came there and evolved the city as a vital trading center for the trade of goods between the Black Sea ports and Ancient Crimea to the north; Ancient Assyria, Lebanon, and parts of Cyprus to the south; and western Georgia, parts of Armenia and even Persia to the east. By that time, the town also took its name Áγκυρα-Ànkyra (which means Anchor in Greek), which the Turks still utilize with the somewhat modified form of Ankara.
In 278 BCE, the town, along with the remaining central Anatolia, was seized by the Celtic-speaking Galatians, who were the first to make Ankara one of their chief tribal centers, the headquarters of the Tectosage tribe. Other centers were modern Balhisar, Pessinos, for the mystical Trocmi tribe, and Ancient Tavium, to Ankara’s east, for the Tolstibogii society. The city was then known as Ancyra.
The Celtic element was relatively small in numbers; a warrior aristocracy that ruled over Phrygian-speaking laborers. However, the Celtic language proceeded to be spoken in Galatia for many ages. At the end of the 4th century CE, St. Jerome, a native of Galatia, noted that the language spoken around Ankara was related to that being extensively spoken in the northwest of the Roman world near Trier. This may proof that the older Phyrigian population had embraced the language of the Celtic intruders.