Turkey’s Contributions: Innovations That Shaped History
Turkey’s rich history is not only about its ancient civilizations and cultural heritage but also about its significant contributions to the world through various innovations and firsts. Here’s a creatively reimagined guide to some of the remarkable Turkish innovations and historical firsts that have left an indelible mark on the course of history:
- The Earliest Human Settlement:
Catalhoyuk in southern Anatolia, dating back to 7500 BC, is considered the world’s oldest human settlement. This Neolithic site once housed over 10,000 people and remains one of the best-preserved ancient settlements.
- Pioneers of Writing and Art:
Ancient Anatolia was home to some of the earliest forms of writing and art. Clay tablets with script from 1950 BC and Neolithic wall paintings from Catalhoyuk are testaments to this early creativity.
- Invention of Coins:
The world’s first coins were minted in the ancient kingdom of Lydia in modern-day Turkey around the 7th century BC. These early coins, made from a gold and silver mix, featured a lion head design.
- The Concept of Retail Shops:
The Lydians, also credited with minting the first coins, are believed to have established the world’s first permanent retail shops, replacing temporary market stalls.
- The World’s First Cathedral:
The Church of St Peter near Antakya, where St Peter is said to have held the first mass in 40 AD, is considered the world’s first cathedral and a significant pilgrimage site.
- Origin of Tulips:
Contrary to popular belief, tulips originated in Anatolia, not the Netherlands. The 16th-century ‘tulip mania’ in Turkey saw these flowers become highly prized and expensive.
- Early Robotics and Cybernetics:
Ismail al-Jazari, born in Cizre in 1136, was a pioneer in robotics. He created the first robots and over 100 mechanical devices, including a drink-serving waitress robot.
- First Recorded Flight:
In the 17th century, Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi took a daring flight from Istanbul’s Galata Tower using eagle-like wings, successfully crossing the Bosporus.
- First Female Combat Pilot:
In 1936, Sabiha Gokcen became the world’s first female combat pilot. Adopted by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, she flew 22 different aircraft types and had over 8000 flying hours.
- Oldest Military Marching Bands:
The Ottoman military bands, or mehters, dating back to the 8th century, are considered the world’s oldest marching bands. They became a distinct feature of the Ottoman military in the 13th century.
- First Use of Gunpowder in Weapons:
While the Chinese discovered gunpowder, it was the Ottomans who first used it in explosive weaponry, such as cannons, significantly impacting warfare.
- Pioneering Smallpox Vaccinations:
Before Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccination, the Ottomans had developed a concept of inoculating against the disease. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduced this practice to the British Royal Family, leading to medical trials and the eventual eradication of smallpox.
These innovations and firsts highlight Turkey’s longstanding tradition of creativity and ingenuity, contributing significantly to the world’s scientific, cultural, and technological advancements.