The Changing Amazon

9,000 Years of Anatolian Women

Scholars are exploding the stereotype of the submissive sex. Depictions of Anatolain women through the ages, seen at a memorably exhibition at the Topkapı Palace, are part of their ammunition. By Jennifer Scarce

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…