Arrival of the Turks in Anatolia


In the early 11th century, a new people began attacking Byzantine territory from the east . They had originally come from Mongolia, North China and Siberia in the 7th or 8th century . The grasslands there were important to establishing a horse riding, warrior society .The Chinese called them 'Tu-kueh' or (Tujue in PinYin) and may have been related to the Xiongnu . The word Tu-Kueh was said to have derived from a hill shaped like a helmet in their domains. They were mostly Shamanistic and some used the symbol of the star and crescent in their worship of sun, moon, and sky gods. The first Turkic tribe known to use the name "Turk" as a political name were known as the Göktürksi .


Marble head of the Göktürk general Kul Tigin ( 684 - 731 AD )

(8th century AD) of the Second Turkic Khaganate, (  682 - 744  AD ) Mongolia


Orkhon Valley sprawls along the banks of the Orkhon River in Central Mongolia, some 360 km west from the capital Ulaanbaatar. For many centuries, the Orkhon Valley was viewed as the seat of the imperial power of the steppes. The first evidence comes from a stone stele with runic inscriptions, which was erected in the valley by Bilge Khan, an 8th-century ruler of the Göktürk Empire. Some 25 miles to the north of the stele, in the shadow of the sacred forest-mountain Ötüken, was his Ördü, or nomadic capital. During the Qidan domination of the valley, the stele was inscribed in three languages, so as to record the deeds of a Qidan potentate. Mountains were considered sacred in Tengriism as an axis mundi, but Ötüken was especially sacred because the ancestor spirits of the khagans and beys resided here. Moreover, a force called qut was believed to emanate from this mountain, granting the khagan the divine right to rule the Turkic tribes. Whoever controlled this valley was considered heavenly appointed leader of the Turks and could rally the tribes. Thus control of the Orkhon Valley was of the utmost strategic importance for every Turkic state. Historically every Turkic capital (Ördü) was located here for this exact reason.

 Genetic Origins of the proto Turkic Peoples and t

heir Relatives National Geographic

Seljuk Empire

Click map for larger image .


 Rise of the Ottoman Empire

They were forced by population pressure, climate change, infighting and the Chinese empire to migrate westward .  Early in the 8th century some tribes starting going west and were collectively known as the Oghuz and led mostly of chieftans or beys of the Seljuk clan.  The Turks, from the 9th century began to renounce their pagan beliefs and convert to Islam.


The Turks excelled in light cavalry tactics and fought with a composite bow


By the 10th century most of Central Asia, formerly dominated by Iranian peoples, and later Arab Moslem armies,was settled by Turkic tribes. The Arabs of the Abbasid Caliphate, recognizing them as formidable warriors, recruited them into their armies and converted them to Islam and by the end of the 9th century . Soon most military commands and political positions were held by Moslem Turks. As the Abbasid Caliphate waned, the Seljuks formed their own Islamic state based on the traditions of the Abbasid Caliphate.



 The Seljuk Empire


Unlike other nomadic conquerers such as the Huns and Mongols, the Seljuks were able transform their culture to a sedentary life over time, although there still remained a large population of nomadic Turks, some still pagan, known as Turcomans. The Seljuks took advantage of this warrior zeal of these nomadic tribes, especially the Ghazi or holy Islmamic warriors by giving the Turkish tribes land close to weaken the Byzantine Empire to keep them from pillaging Moslem lands to the west. Ghazi warriors had the zeal of new converts, but many only had a vauge notion of Islam and were motivated by plunder. the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes had enough of these incursions and led an army to retaliateand fought a major battle against the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan (brave lion ) at Manzikert  August 21, 1071 .


Seljuk kervansaray in Turkey. Trade was revived and the Seljuks protected trade with fortified caravan stops ( kervansaray ) . The Seljuks also benifited from a silver boom which helped expand trade.


The Selkuks won a major battle over the Byzantines at the battle of Manzikert in 1071 in which the Byzantine  emperor was captured (later released).  A branch of the Seljuks established the Sultanate of Rum in central Anatolia with their capital at Konya. By 1176, after the battle of Myriokephalo, this new state came to terms with the Byzantines .The Sultanate of Rum ( in Arabic they were called 'ceasars of Rome since they controlled a part of the Byzantine Empire) evolved into highly cultured state with kervansarays  or caravanserai ( fortified caravan stops) madrasa (religious schools) and other works and was where Celalddin Rumi founded the Melevi Dervish order . The Seljuks reached their zenith in the first half of the 13th century.


The Star and Crescent symbol

Early flag of the Ottoman Empire


Today the Star and Crescent symbol is most widely recognized as a symbol of Islam. A combined star and crescent motif is commonly found on coins minted by the Sassanids.This has led some researchers to suggest that Muslims adopted the symbol in after being exposed to the Sassanids. However, the crescent and star, while generally regarded as Islamic symbols today, have long been used in Asia Minor and by the ancient Turks, earlier than the advent of Islam. According to archaeological excavations, Göktürks used the crescent and star figure on their coins. The 1500-year-old coin includes three crescent moon figures and a star near a person. The crescent and moon was a Turkic symbol long before the Turks came in contact with the Eastern Roman Empire .



The Tale of Dede Korkut

The epic story of the forerunners of the Ottomans, the Oghuz Turks. A collection of 12 stories , the stories combine elements of pre-Islamic nomadic society with the later Islamic culture. From the racy and colloquial to the poetic and dignified, the stories bring to life a wild society and its unforgettable characters - the near-legendary Dede Korkut, soothsayer and bard, the chivalrous Beyrek, the unpredictable crazy Karchar, Goggle Eye the monster and Boghazja Fatima of the 40 lovers.



Dede Korkut has been regarded as the 'wise ancestor' of the Turkic world. His name frequently appears in Turkic epics and folk stories.

However, soon the Mongols exploded on the scene and smashed the Seljuk armies reinforced with Byzantine auxiliaries at the battle of Kose Dag on June 26, 1243. The Seljuks became vassals of a Mongol protectorate ruled by Hulagu ( 1218 - 1265 ). Mongol power lasted only a generation.The Seljuks lingered on until the turn of the century, the Turkish tribes took  advantage of the situation to swarm over the land of the Seljuks and the Byzantines. Following the collapse of the Seljuks, Anotolia fragmented into 10 small states called emirates . An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Islamic monarch called an emir.


The equestrian team sport of

 Çavgan (Jereed in English) was popular in the Ottoman Empire.Riders use blunt javelins to throw at each other,each hit earning one point.



 Cirit (Jereed in English) is a traditional Turkish game played in the Anatolian plateau, but mainly in the provinces Usak, Erzurum and Erzincan. This video was shot in Usak, as it's played here, players ride on their horses and challenge each other by tossing their 'cirit' (wooden stick) to the players from the opposite teams. This game is usually played along with the Jereed music








 Foundation and Rise of

the Ottoman Empire