In the 6th century BC Anatolia,
the heartland of modern Turkey, was
home to numerous flourishing
kingdoms inhabited by indigenous
peoples and by migrants pushed
eastward from Greece, the Balkans and
Europe by hostile invasions.
Migrants from Greece brought the elements
of Doric culture to Aeolia and Ionia,
two kingdoms in western Anatolia centered
near modern-day Izmir.
While Athens was
just a backwater provincial town, the
peoples of the Aeolian city of Smyrna
and the Ionian cities of Phocaea (Foça), Teos, Ephesus, Priene and Miletus built
the foundations of classical
Thales of Miletus,
the first great philosopher of the
West, expounded his theories leaning
against marble temple columns topped
by graceful scrolled Ionic capitals.
Then came Cyrus of Persia,
sweeping into Anatolia from the east
in 547 BC and conquering every kingdom
in his path.
The Persian invasion pushed
the heart of classic Hellenic culture
westward from Ionia back to Athens,
which had successfully resisted Cyrus’s
overextended armies. Athens took
the lead in developing the culture
that Ionia had fostered.
The Persians ruled Anatolia for two
centuries, finally being pushed back
to Iran in 334 BC by Alexander