Anatolia, history and myself

Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor , is the large, near-rectangular peninsula that lies to the south of Russia and to the north of the Arab world, stuck between the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea (also known as "White Sea" to the Turks and the Bulgarians) and the Mediterranean. The Greeks longed for Anatolia since Homer's times, and did lay the foundations of Western civilization on its Aegean shores, inspired by numerous gods and civilizations they encountered there; the Greek language flourished all over Anatolia thanks to the military genius of Alexander and the spiritual power of Christianity, but it all had to come to an end: after a painful process that lasted approximately eight and half centuries ( 1071 - 1922 ), Anatolia turned Islamic and Turkish and forms nowadays the bulk of the Republic of Turkey. Gone are all those gods and empires, and of all the languages spoken there throughout history, only the Kurdish one rivals Turkish. Greek also survives in some corners of Turkey, albeit in somewhat unexpected ways.

For me, Anatolia is the land of my grandparents, who were forced to leave due to the events associated with the Balkan Wars, World War I and the ensuing Greco-Turkish war. More precisely, my paternal grandfather never managed to leave, as he died in exile shortly after my father was born: the same happened to many ethnic Greek civilians in Sille and other Greek towns throughout Anatolia during the 1914-1924 period; my mother's family was luckier, even though they had to flee first persecution by the Turks in Pontus and then communism in Russia (where my mother was born). As this Anatolian background and associated events have largely shaped me, and have become more and more important to me over the years, I do maintain a strong interest in the history of the region (despite the fact that I have been in Turkey only once, visiting the Pergamum area for half a day). My attitude towards all this bitter history is somewhat ambiguous, but leans more and more towards the possibility of cautious reconciliation rather than eternal hatred (between Greeks and Turks); it is in this spirit that I posted the "Adventuring with Anatolia College" series in the winter and spring of 1995, providing a motivation for the readers of soc.culture.greek and soc.culture.turkish -- and of the web page you are visiting right now -- to dig into the past and their own souls as they see it fit.

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