National Geographic : 1977 Jul
States, precipitated by Turkey's 1974 military intervention in Cyprus. The U. S. had cut off arms aid; Turkey suspended operation of bases manned by Americans; NATO'S south east defenses became a question mark. Con fidence in the U. S. was badly shaken; rela tions with the Soviet Union seemed to thaw. Too, Turkey and Greece were at odds on the Cyprus issue, over air space, and on their respective rights in disputed waters of the Aegean Sea, under which oil may lie. At the national level the country was plagued with high unemployment, inflation, and other prob lems of an evolving industrial nation. Parade of the Mighty Fills the Past I own to a special fondness for the Turks. Beneath their reserve I know them to be gra cious, generous, hospitable, and sensitive hypersensitive, at times. They are the crea tures of their precarious geographic location, bridging Asia and Europe. It shapes them, sets their mood, and motivates them. If they can be touchy, they have reason. Mighty peoples with magic names have risen, only to fall: Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians. Alexander the Great imposed the Greek culture; the Roman Empire superim posed its own. Paul and Barnabas spread the Gospel of Christianity; the Byzantine Empire flourished in its turn. As the 11th century waned, the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia were carving out a huge domain while carrying Islam's banner, battling the Crusaders, losing in 1243 to Mon gol invaders. Then arose another tribe, the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire lasted 600 years; it once extended from the Persian Gulf to Austria, and from the Caspian Sea to Morocco. Decadent and exhausted, it col lapsed after World War I, and Turkey as sumed its present dimensions. Celts, Kurds, Greeks, Jews, Armenians-I found the impress (Continued on page 98) Joust among friends, a mock cavalry battle enlists two teams who hurl sticks in place of lances. Called cirit,the game was first played some 900 years ago by the seminomadic Seljuk Turks, who had ridden out of Cen tral Asia. Their lessons well learned, they subdued most of the Asian lands of the Byzantine Empire.