Culture in Taurus
The concept of culture has many definitions. The easiest valid definition that comes to mind is: “Whereas natural forces create, culture is created by man.” Another interesting definition of culture is: “Culture is to man, what water is to fish.” In this sense, culture is life itself. Life is dependent on what man produces. Whenever man creates, he then lives accordingly. As cities and villages differ in their modes of production, so do their cultures and lifestyles. Initially production was fully dependent on nature, but with the increasing weight of technology in production, this dependency has been reduced.
History and sociology tell us that progress in production techniques has also altered culture and hence our lifestyle. Antalya has a unique geographical location in that it is surrounded by mountains to the north and the sea to the south. These two areas are adjacent to each other, but completely different in terms of production. Two cultures based on sea and land emerged here in ancient times and have evolved to this day. Since the mode of production in the mountains is different from that of the coast, the way of life and culture of their inhabitants also differs.
The cultural wealth accumulated in Antalya and its surrounds has been created over the centuries through the interaction of peoples and goods carried from ports. This started with the wall paintings in the Karain Cave, more than one hundred thousand years ago and this cultural accumulation has been transmitted from one era to the next until the present day. The Taurus Mountains, encircling the Gulf of Antalya, is a unique place for nomads, whose subsistence depends on animal breeding. The mountain ranges rising sharply along the coast, thousands of meters high are divided into plateaus, meadows and highlands. These stages are essential in the cycle of the nomadic lifestyle.
This lifestyle has three stages requiring different altitudes and different natural environments for each stage. The Taurus Mountains enabled the traditional modes of production of the nomads also known as yörüklük/yaylacılık. For this reason, it is one of the most exceptional places in Anatolia, where the nomadic lifestyle can be best observed.
This way of life continues to exist in the Taurus Mountains of Antalya, although less intensely today. The transition to a sedentary lifestyle has been on-going for half a century and nomadic animal breeding is becoming increasingly distant. The plateaus, which used to be centres of traditional nomadic production and animal breeding, will eventually become recreational areas where people from the coastal areas will escape to. However the villagers, being the nomads of yesteryear, do not easily give up their tradition of seasonally migrating to the highlands. In the summer, just as their ancestors did before them, they continue to goad their diminishing sheep and goat herds to the high plateau.