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Asia Minor (from Greek: Μικρὰ Ἀσία, Mikrá Asía, small Asia) is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey. It is a peninsula bound by the Black Sea to the north, Georgia to the north-east, the Armenian Highland to the east, Mesopotamia to the south-east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west.
From the neolithic age Asia Minor was the route of the forward-Asiatic cultural stream which moved from the Near East to the west and spread the agriculture to the east coasts of Greece and Crete during the 5th millennium BC and then to the Balkan region and the whole of Europe. Later the use of bronze-working was transmitted through the Anatolian primary-cultures. The Hittites smelted rather brittle iron from the 15th century BC and the new metal was introduced in Greece. During the 20th century BC the Indo-European Hittites entered the region and gradually established a great empire which was destroyed by invaders in the 12th century. Greek-speaking populations moved to the west coasts and established cities up to the Black Sea. In the 6th century BC the kingdom of Lydia almost expanded to the whole of Asia Minor, until it became a satrapy of the Persian Empire. After the end of the Greek-Persian wars the cities on the coasts became part of the Delian League, which was, however, later dissolved. In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great conquered the peninsula, defeating the Persians. Following his death and the organisational deterioration of his empire, Asia Minor was ruled by a series of Hellenistic kingdoms which came under Roman control two hundred years later. The Kingdom of Pontus was independent from the 3rd century BC, until the middle of the 1st century BC.
The ancient history of Asia Minor is very important for the history of the Western civilization because it was the region where the mythic way of thought changed gradually to the rational way of thought. It seems that the Greeks took advantage of the observations of some older civilizations in the East and managed to work them up rationally. The first Western literature, including the Hurrian–Hittite literature, the first Greek polis and the two main schools of Ancient Greek philosophy seem to originate in this region. A lot of religious elements including the inspiration oracular-cult were transmitted from the Hittites to the Greeks and then to the west. The Ionian School of philosophers were the first natural philosophers (φυσιολόγοι:physiologoi) who tried to explain phenomena according to non-supernatural laws, and Pythagoras introduced the abstract mathematical-relations which formed the basis of the systemic study of mathematics. These theories were built on a coherent building of argument from assumed or accepted beginnings.EtymologyThe Delian League under the leadership of Athens, in 431 BC.
The earliest attested name is the Hittite Assuwa a region in central-western Anatolia which seems to be connected with the Mycenean Greek epithet a-si-wi-ja in Linear B inscriptions found at Pylos. The Assuwa league was a confederation of states in western Anatolia concluding a wide-ranging array of minor Anti-Hittite powers across the region. The Greek cognate of Assuwa first describes a plain near the Kayster river in Homer. In early Greek testimonial Asia indicated central-western Anatolia. In Greek mythology Asia was a Titan goddess in Lydia. The region became a province of the Roman Empire, with the same name Asia.
The name Asia Minor was given by the Latin author Orosios in the 4th century AD. While not entirely synonymous with Anatolia, the term Asia Minor, derived from the Latin Asia Minores, refers to Asia inside the Roman Empire, versus Asia Magna, all of Asia beyond the borders. The European sailors and merchants gave the name Levant to the west and south coasts of Asia Minor, including Syria. Levant is derived from the French verb lever meaning "to rise" indicating that part of the world where the sun rises.