APM’s Logo: Ankara and the Anchor

The anchor in APM’s logo is a reminder of Ankara’s ancient symbol. The image of the anchor symbolizes safety, peace and hope. It  reconnects with the multicultural past of Anatolia located at the crossroads of civilizations. It symbolizes determination in a world where all is in flux.  

How could the symbol of a landlocked city such as Ankara located in the middle of the Anatolian lands be related to the sea? 

One might ask why since Ankara is a city so far removed from the ses, located in the middle of Anatolian lands?

The Ankyra coin, which dates back to the era of the Roman Emperor Gallienus, reflects the legend that the name of the city might derive from the word “anchor.” After all, the city was called by Phrygians, Galatians and Romans “Aykupa,” which is read in classical Greek as “Anküra.” This name was written in Latin alphabet in various Western sources as both “Ankyra” and “Ancyra.” In Arabic sources, the city was referred to alternatively as Beldei-el Selasil, Mamuriye and Ma'muriye-i Selâse. Amongst the Seljuk Turks, it was known as Zatül Selasil; and during the İlhanlı (Ilkhanate) era, it was called either Engürü or Engüriye. In Ottoman times, it was referred to both as Engürü or the current form Ankara.

The second-century Lydian itinerant Pausanias described in his own words how in fact, Ankara had been founded by Midas, the son of Phrygian King Gordias, and how, likewise, the anchor legend had its roots in much earlier times. During the era of Phrygian rule, Ankyra was an important city, one that lay directly on the route that wound its way towards the Persian Empire. In fact, Alexander the Great stopped in Ankyra in 333 B.C. on his way to fight the Persian King Darius. Historian Pausanias wrote that the Phrygian King Midas named the city Ankyra after finding a piece of iron in the ground; it was a piece of iron so special that he saved it in the city's temple to Zeus. According to the legend, King Midas had a dream in which a voice said to him: “Go and find a ship anchor hidden somewhere in the soil. When you find the anchor, build a city on that spot, and this city will bring you happiness.” After he had this dream, King Midas charged his men with the task of finding the anchor.

In the end, the anchor was found in the spot where the Ankara castle now stands; and so it was where the city was founded. Since the second century, the Ankara anchor could be found on coins from the region. Pausanias also wrote about the so-called “Midas spring,” a water source about which much was written in the Anküra area.

According to a different legend, between the years of 280-274 B.C., the Central European Galatians -- with Celtic roots -- marched further eastward under the command of Bryennios, pillaging not only Hungarian lands but also the Greek city of Delphi in the process.

During one winter, they set up an encampment on a hill across from Byzantium, threatening thus the city. It was after this that the hill and the immediate region began to be known as “Galata.” The inhabitants of Eastern Rome were only saved from death at the hands of the Galatians on the condition that they pay extortions and help them cross the Bosporus. The Galatians crossed over the strait into Anatolian lands, going on to conquer Pergamon in 274 B.C., passing on into Central Anatolia. In 273 B.C., the Pontic King Mithridates -- en route to battling an Egyptian fleet that had moved into the Black Sea -- crossed over the Bosporus, asking for help from the Galatians, with whom they had previously struck an agreement.

The Egyptian fleet wound up landing to the east of Sinop on the Black Sea, being defeated by the Pontic armies, mostly composed of Galatians at this point. The Galatians took the anchors from the Egyptian war ships to document their victory here. In exchange for the help during this battle, Mithridates offered the Galatians land in Anatolia. On this new land, the Galatians formed three cities: the city of Nemeton, the city of Tavion and Ankyra. The latter had been given the name “Ankyra” by the Volcae (Tektosag). The name meant “those who stop those who block the road.” Later, this word was to be associated with shipping, in its new use as “anchor.”

Of course, this is all legend. But some also insist that the name of the Turkish capital derives from the fact that people used to compare the rocky outcropping on which the Ankara castle is now located to an anchor.

Another legend touches on a connection between the name Ankara and the concept of water; the river Angara, which ties Siberia's Lake Baikal with the Yenisei River, is notably similar in name to the Ankara River outside Ankara.

Interestingly, all the legends surrounding Ankara seem to be connected to water. Perhaps the main reason for this is that, until the 1960s, there were around 200 small rivers, streams and lakes in and around Ankara.

Of course, it is also true that from very early times, Ankara was a place where seafarers of all types participated in trade; it was a place where sailors could buy in great bulk clothing and food that would not spoil. And of course, the fact that Ankara was located right on the Silk Road also helped make it a trade center. In fact, its status as a center of trade meant that it followed only Bursa in terms of paying taxes to the Ottoman treasuries.

Interestingly, Ankara became a center for clothing made from “sof,” a woolen cloth fabricated from the mohair of the Angora mohair goat. This fabric was known for keeping its wearer warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A foodstuff used by sailors of the time, called in Ankara “Beypazarı kurusu,” was made from flour, butter, cinnamon, salt, milk and yeast. It was a shortbread-type hard biscuit (also known as sea biscuit) and was cooked in wood ovens. Easy to transport, filling and long-lasting, this sea biscuit could be kept all winter in dry places without spoiling. In fact, these biscuits were also given to people heading off to hajj, and was thus also known as “hacı kurusu.” It is most likely that the “Beypazarı kurusu” took its name from Central Asia. In Central Asia, Turks would call food that lasted for a long time without spoiling or food made with salty yoghurt “kurut.”