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Anatolia is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world and it has repeatedly served as a battleground for foreign powers The earliest major empire in the area was that of the HITTITES from the 18th through the 13th century BC Subsequently the Phrygians see PHRYGIA an Indo-European people achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the CIMMERIANS in the 7th century BC The most powerful of Phrygias successor states was LYDIA Coastal Anatolia IONIA meanwhile was settled by Greeks The entire area was overrun by the Persians during the 6th and 5th centuries and fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms including BITHYNIA CAPPADOCIA PERGAMUM and PONTUS all of which had succumbed to Rome by the mid-1st century BC In AD 324 the Roman emperor CONSTANTINE I chose Constantinople now Istanbul as the capital of the Roman Empire It subsequently became the capital of the Eastern Roman or BYZANTINE EMPIRE In 1055 a group of Central Asiatic Turks the SELJUKS conquered Baghdad and established a Middle Eastern and Anatolian empire When this empire was broken up by the Mongol invasion one of the remaining local powers became known as the Ottoman dynasty after its leader OSMAN I The OTTOMAN EMPIRE spread from northwestern Anatolia and captured Constantinople in 1453 At the peak of their power the Ottomans controlled much of the eastern Mediterranean The Ottomans had a sophisticated system of internal administration and also organized the first standing army in Europe As the Ottoman Empire began to collapse under its own weight in the 18th and 19th centuries it became a battleground for rival European powers wedged as it was between the Russian and Austrian empires see EASTERN QUESTION By the outbreak of World War I the Ottoman Empire had essentially been divided into spheres of influence by the great European powers but a reform movement
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