The Gallipoli – Asia Minor Connection

Statue of soldiers at Gallipoli

In the early stages of writing the Apostle John Series, I used to print out my research materials. Sometimes it has proved handy with a ‘hard drive’ failure. The other day I was hunting for something that wasn’t on my computer, so I went to my filing cabinet.
Guess what I found.
Of course, you cannot, and it was probably only interesting to me.
I found a laminated sheet showing Gallipoli right on the edge of the map I used for Hold the Faith. (For walking around the seven churches.)

What so interested me about Gallipoli?

Well, on the 25th April each year, it’s ANZAC Day.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”

Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Wikipedia says it better than me.

When I found the map showing Gallipoli in conjunction with the Roman province of Asia Minor I remembered I printed it out and laminated it for the Perth book launch of the first print edition of Hold the Faith. I put one on each side and laminated them together.

Gallipoli on the same map as the setting for the Apostle John Series

Being curious, I wondered what the history of the area was, other than the Roman occupation of the country, and the World War 1 battle.

“After Israel, Turkey has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. For this reason Turkey is rightly called the Other Holy Land. Many Christians are unaware of Turkey’s unique role in the Bible because biblical reference works usually refer to this strategic peninsula, bounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, as Asia Minor or Anatolia. The land of Turkey is especially important in understanding the background of the New Testament, because approximately two-thirds of its books were written either to or from churches in Turkey. The three major apostle—Peter, Paul, and John—either ministered or lived in Turkey.”

Important - why?

Its strategic position was important to all who warred here. However, it was not called Turkey at the time of the battle of Gallipoli. Turkey was ‘formed’ in October 1923.

Part of what became Turkey was Thrace, which comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace.)

 I discovered ‘Spartacus’ was from Thrace.

If you are too young to have seen the movie Spartacus, this is what it is about, well, ‘film license’ of course.

“A Thracian by birth, Spartacus served in the Roman army, perhaps deserted, led bandit raids, and was caught and sold as a slave. With about 70 fellow gladiators he escaped a gladiatorial training school at Capua in 73 and took refuge on Mount Vesuvius, where other runaway slaves joined the band. After defeating two Roman forces in succession, the rebels overran most of southern Italy. Ultimately their numbers grew to at least 90,000. Spartacus defeated the two consuls for the year 72 and fought his way northward toward the Alps, hoping to be able to disperse his soldiers to their homelands once they were outside Italy.”
Read more here:


“Thrace was united as a kingdom under the chieftain Sitalces, who aided Athens during the Peloponnesian War, but after his death (428 B.C.) the state again broke up. By 342 B.C. all Thrace was held by Philip II of Macedon, and after 323 B.C. most of the country was in the hands of Lysimachus, a general of Alexander the Great. It fell apart once more after Lysimachus’ death (281 B.C.), and it was conquered by the Romans late in the 1st century B.C. Emperor Claudius created (A.D. 46) the province of Thrace, comprising the territory south of the Balkans; the remainder was incorporated into Moesia. The chief centers of Roman Thrace were Sardica (modern Sofia), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and Adrianople (Edirne).”

The region benefited greatly from Roman rule, but from the barbarian invasions of the 3d century A.D. until modern times it was almost continuously a battleground. As mentioned before, it was a strategic area controlling significant land and sea borders. The area benefited from its strategic importance on the main route between Europe and Asia, as well as from its control of the shipping route from Crimea.

Why were the ANZACs at Gallipoli?

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16, also known as the Battle of Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I.

The winners of the Gallipoli battle

The Ottoman Empire.

The death toll was high for all combatants.

Nowadays, both the Turkish dead and the ANZAC dead are recognized at the dawn service in Gallipoli. 2018 was the 103 anniversary.

Gallipoli - 3 nation's flags

Over the centuries how much blood has been shed in that region?

A sobering thought.