One of the great ancient civilizations was located in a large peninsula between the Black and Mediterranean seas called Asia Minor by the Romans; the land is the Asian part of modern Turkey, across Thrace. It lies across the Aegean Sea to the east of Greece and is usually known by its Greek name Anatolia.
In about 2000 BC Asia Minor was populated by the Hittites, who migrated from the area east of the Black Sea. In the 12th century BC their empire fell to the Assyrians. Small seaboard states grew up, only to fall to the Greeks, who colonized the entire coast in about the 8th century BC. As legend says, they first laid siege to the city-state of Troy during the Trojan War. In 560 BC Croesus mounted the throne of Lydia in Asia Minor and soon brought all the Greek colonies under his rule. Croesus was overthrown by Cyrus the Great of Persia. Two hundred years later Alexander the Great again spread Greek rule over the peninsula.
After its conquest by Rome in the 2nd century BC, Asia Minor enjoyed centuries of peace. During the middle Ages, as a part of the Byzantine Empire, it became a center of Christianity and the guardian of Greek and Roman culture. One of the chief medieval trade routes passed through the region. As the power of the Empire declined, Arabs and Mongols invaded. In the 15th century the Ottoman Turks conquered the peninsula and made Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) the capital of their empire. The Ottoman Empire lasted until 1922. The next year Asia Minor became the larger part of the Turkish Republic under Kemal Ataturk. He had set up a government in Ankara, which became the new capital of Turkey.
The Christians all over the world often forget that Asia Minor (modern Turkey, territory also known as Anatolia) was the land of some of the most significant events of the Old and New Testaments. It is quite possible that the Garden of Eden was located in Turkey as the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers originate in, and snake through, eastern Turkey. We also know that Noah and his family settled in the region of Ararat in Turkey after the Flood, and that Noah’s descendants lived on that land. After migrating from the city of Ur, Abraham’s family settled in the southeastern city of Harran. Jacob also lived in the region of Harran for fourteen years in service to Laban for his marriages to Leah and Rachel. The connections between Turkey and the New Testament are even more striking. Anatolia was the primary center of the New Testament church. Approximately two-thirds of the New Testament was written to or from churches in Turkey.
The origin of the first Anatolian Christians can be traced back to the day of Pentecost. Jews gathered in Jerusalem during the Feast of Pentecost from the Anatolian Roman provinces of Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia (Acts 2:9). Many of them experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, heard the Apostle Peter’s subsequent sermon, and were among the three thousand who believed in Jesus. Returning home, they became the first Christians scattered throughout the land of Anatolia.