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LESSON XXVIII

ASIA MINOR, THE CROSSROADS BETWEEN TWO

CONTINENTS

From the Plateau of Iran, Asia stretches a great arm westward to the Mediterranean Sea. This long, irregular plateau is occupied by Asia Minor. When Paul said (Acts 20. 18), “I came into Asia,” he meant Asia Minor, or the "Province of Asia," as the ancient Romans called it. The Greeks named it Anatolia, which means "sunrise," or "east,” because they ventured in their small boats from island to island eastward in the Ægean Sea and finally reached the mainland of another continent.

ANATOLIA

The "Land of the Sunrise” is a picturesque and healthful country about the size of Colorado. It has been coveted by some of the strongest nations of the world for several centuries, not so much for its natural wealth, though this is great, as for its geographical position. It forms the first link in the overland route from Europe to India, China, and other points of eastern Asia. The Bagdad Railway is in operation throughout its entire length from Scutari through Adana.

Empire builders.-Asia Minor was the ancient caravan pathway between Europe and Asia. Much commerce was carried on over it, and it suffered many invasions. The ancient inhabitants were conquered by the Persians in the fifth century before Christ. They ruled the country for about two hundred years, when it was captured by the Greeks, who built up a wonderful civilization along its western coast.

Later still the Romans ruled this region and pressed farther inland than did the Greeks. They constructed fine roads which served as a pathway for soldiers and traders from Rome to Antioch, Damascus, and other parts of the realm. These empire builders founded many new towns, built great temples, theaters, circuses, and public baths. Asia Minor was the "Garden of the world” under the Byzantine, or Greek, as the eastern division of the Roman empire was called after A. D. 395.

A scourge.—Into this beautiful region came the Mohammedan Turks in the thirteenth century, turning the garden into a desert, as they do all the lands they hold.

The Turks have done no constructive work in Asia Minor. They have not even built roads nor bridges, and have allowed those the Romans made to fall into decay. In many parts of the country they have destroyed old buildings to get material for their homes. They have made lime kilns in ancient temples and palaces and used the priceless marble columns and statues to make lime! 1. Name the nations who have ruled Asia Minor. Why has it

been conquered so many times? 2. It is like what other regions we have studied in this respect?

THE ANATOLIANS OF TO-DAY Anatolia has a mixed population of about forty to the square mile. It consists of Turks, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians, and colonies of Tartars, Circassians, and Bulgars. The Turks of the world number about 12,000,000, the majority of whom live in Anatolia. Their ancestors came here from Central Asia long ago and settled in towns and villages. The Kurds are largely nomads, though some are villagers at least part of the year. The 1,500,000 Greek inhabitants form the majority in many towns on the west coast and in the islands. There is a sprinkling of Armenians in all the towns and cities.

In Turkish countries the word “Turk” simply means a Mohammedan, for the people readily adopt anyone who accepts the religion of the Prophet. It is the same with other nationalities, for the people in Asia Minor are classed according to religion instead of race. Here, as in all other countries of the Near East, a Frank is a European or an American Christian. From 80 to 90 per cent of the people cannot read or write. The laws prevent advance in science. In medicine, for example, it is almost impossible for a native physician to win success, but foreign doctors are protected by their own governments.

Work of the missionaries.—The medical work done by the American missionaries is the least hindered of any of their forms of service. In many places it is practically self-supporting. They now plan to teach new industries and the improvement of old ones to the peasants as they are doing in Armenia. The people have been induced to use sewing machines and kerosene lamps and to put wood floors and windows in their houses. The running of cotton-gins by water power and the use of better methods and tools in the trades such as carpentry have improved conditions in many country places.

Turkish children in the past have not been allowed to attend the missionary schools, but some have been entered by their parents recently.

A selfish government.—The taxes are extremely heavy, and farmers and shopkeepers are not protected from the robbers that infest the country. In fact, the policemen and government officials are among the worst oppressors of the people. This gives the men no incentive to labor, and in many villages they do no work. The women raise the crops. Some villages contain no shops, for the people have no money with which to buy. No Turk ever thinks of repairing anything in Anatolia. The people allow streets and roads to become almost impassible rather than repair them.

LIFE IN THE VILLAGES

Most of the people of Anatolia are villagers and dwellers in towns, though some of them are nomads. Many of the nomads live in villages part of the year, going to the higher mountainsides with their flocks in the summer. Here they dwell in low tents of brown goat's hair cloth. They are very hospitable and keep a guest room (tent) for travelers here as well as in their village. Typical Turkish towns, even flourishing ones, look as if they were left half finished, then allowed to decay. The narrow streets, if paved at all, are full of holes. The mud houses are huddled so close together that a person can often step from one flat roof to another. These flat-roofed houses are found on the dry plateaus, where the people do not have to think of building roofs to shed rain. The houses in the narrow, moist strip of land along the coast have sloping roofs of red tile.

Many of the houses are low, one-storied structures divided into two parts, one for the animals, the other for the family. The living room contains a large fireplace, where food is cooked and the coffee is made. In front of this fireplace are a few straw mats or carpets on which the men recline. Pictures are very rare, and chairs, tables, and beds are just coming into use. The food is rice, millet, wheat, fruit, a little meat, but no pork, and sweets, of which they are very fond. Many live on grapes and bread during the fruit season. Bread is the chief food and potatoes are almost unknown.

The land and its workers.—Most of the farm land of Anatolia is owned by Armenians or wealthy Turks who live in the cities. The villagers rent small pieces of ground. They raise vegetables and wheat for their food, and barley and perhaps corn, which is cut as fodder for the animals. The methods used are as primitive as those of Bible times. Grain is cut with a sickle and taken to the threshing-floor. A threshing board is used made of hundreds of sharp flints fastened into a wooden frame. Oxen are hitched to it, and the farmer sits on the board and drives round and round until the straw is cut and the grain loosened. On the first windy day he goes to the floor and with a flail or winnow separates the grain from the straw, which he keeps for winter food for his animals. The grain he dares not touch until the government tax gatherer has measured it and taken one eighth of it. This official will not come until he gets ready unless he is bribed, and the farmer sometimes waits weeks before he can store his crop. Even with the crude methods used the yield of wheat per acre is heavy and the kernels large.

Every town has its mosque, and the largest ones have bazaars which are arranged as we have seen them in other Oriental countries. Market days are held once a week or less often. Those who have no shops sit on the ground with the goods which they have for sale arranged around them. The buyer sees baskets of fruit, piles of vegetables and melons, shallow baskets of rice, honey, cheese, and sacks of salt and sugar. Bales of calico and many small wares are found here, as well as baskets of iron shoes for horses and oxen and flints for threshing boards, In some of the more prosperous villages the families combine and weave cotton, woolen, or silk goods on their hand looms in the homes. 1. What is the common meaning of the word “Turk” in the East?

The word “Frank”? 2. Describe a modern Turkish village in the interior of Anatolia. 3. Describe a house. Tell why its roof is different from that of

a house nearer the coast. 4. Why are the Turks content to use such crude methods in doing

their work?

WHERE WOMEN ARE DEGRADED

The condition of Turkish women, especially in the remote parts of the country, is pitiable. To this fact is due in large measure the decline of the nation. The girl is often betrothed in infancy. She is married when very young and virtually becomes the slave of her mother-in-law. She never has any time to play, but does the hardest of the household tasks and some

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