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The role of women in the history of Anatolia has been undergoing a reassessment of late, as demonstrated by the recent exhibition at Topkapı Palace, 9000 Years of the Anatolian Woman. Throughou the peninsula’s long succession of civilisations – the Neolithic, beginning in the eighth millennium BC; the Hittite Empire and its successors; the prosperous Graeco-Roman cities; the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic states of the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks – women have always had a significant place in Anatolia, the homeland of the Amazons, either in their own right or as part of political and family structures.
The archives of the Assyrian colony (1950–1700BC) and the Hittite period (1700–1180BC) give precious documentary evidence of women having played active roles in both political and commercial life.
Visual and documentary sources from Graeco-Roman and Byzantine times are more abundant. While literary, economic and legal texts show that women’s attainment of important positions depended on a secure family environment, certain professions were available to them, notably in the service of religion. The temples of the Graeco-Roman world required priestesses to serve gods and goddesses, while the convents of Byzantine Christianity were complex institutions managed by women. One of the objects chosen to illustrate the period was an icon of the nun St Eudocia, daughter of the Emperor Constantine VIII, featuring her splendid imperial dress and a crown picked out in stone mosaic…
The sixteenth-century Atik Valide Mosque in Üsküdar was built as a tribute to the beautiful Venetian woman, captured by Hayreddin Barbarossa, who went on to dominate the Ottoman court. Godfrey Goodwin witnesses the skilful recladding of the mosque’s magnificent dome.
The Göksu delta is a wild and windy wetland of marshes, reeds and just the occasional bird-watcher. Here, thousands of the rarest birds break their journey across the Levant. By Alice Carswell with photographs by Nâfiz Güder.
Along with salads, pickles are an important part of Turkish cookery throughout the year. They range from simple sweet and sour vegetable relishes marinaded in vinegar, or quick-brined side dishes of fish or cucumber, to serious vinegar-based preserves that last well into winter.
More cookery features
Kámil Gök lived all his life in the village of Dereliköy, among people who neither sculpt nor paint. In 1972 he became an impulsive sculptor. As his work proliferated his neighbours turned against him…
The library of Ahmet Vefik Pasha, by Patricia Daunt with photographs by Simon Upton. Secluded on a cliff beside the fortress of Rumeli Hisarı is a kiosk that was once the retreat of a bon vivant bibliophile.
Turkey’s most innovative architects are learning from the nation’s fast vanishing heritage. Barnaby Rogerson and Rose Baring report on the work of Ahmet Igdirligil, a man dedicated to bringing the logic and fabric of the past into the present day.
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