Ancient Districts

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Later the name was used for the greater part of the eastern Balkan Peninsula, bounded on the north by the Danube River, on the east by the Euxine (Black Sea), on the south by the Propontis (Sea of Marmara), the Bosporus, the Hellespont (Dardanelles), the Aegean Sea, and Macedonia, and on the west by Macedonia, Paionia, and Dardania. Ancient Thrace was largely uncultivated and covered with forest; mineral deposits, particularly of gold, made the region a coveted possession. The Thracians were a barbaric, warlike people who established their own kingdom in the 5th century BC. Thrace became successively a Macedonian, Roman, and Byzantine province. 


A mountainous region, with heavy forests and fertile valleys, Bithynia acquired its name from the Bithyni, a tribe that had emigrated from Thrace. The country was conquered by Croesus, king of Lydia, in 560 BC and, after the subjugation of Lydia by the Persians four years later; it became a dominion of Persia. In 334 BC Alexander the Great occupied Bithynia. After his death in 323 BC, the country was nominally ruled for a period by Antigonus I, one of the Macedonian generals who partitioned Alexander's empire. About 316 BC Antigonus founded Nicaea (now Iznik), later a chief city of Bithynia. Led by a native prince, Ziboetes, the Bithynians regained their independence early in the 3rd century BC.
The first dynasty of Bithynian kings was established by Ziboetes's son Nicomedes I (reigned 278-250 BC), who founded Nicomedia (now Izmit) in 264 BC and made it his capital. Bithynia flourished under the succeeding kings of the dynasty, notably Prusias I (reigned 237-192 BC); Prusias II (r. 192-148 BC), who founded Prusia (now Bursa); Nicomedes II (r. 142-91 BC); and Nicomedes III (r. 91-74 BC). In 74 BC Nicomedes III, a close ally of the Romans, bequeathed the kingdom to Rome. It was then united with the Roman province of Pontus for administrative purposes. Later, under Byzantine rule, the territory of Bithynia was restricted to an area west of the Sangarius River (now Sakarya River). It formed a province in the Diocese of Pontus. In AD 1298 Bithynia was overrun by the Seljuk Turks under Osman, and thereafter the region formed an integral part of the Ottoman Empire. Bithynia is now part of Turkey. 


The Mysians seem to have been Thracians who crossed over to Asia at an early period. Mysia was subject to Lydia and later, under Persian rule, formed with Lydia one of the satrapies created by Darius I. After the death of Alexander the Great, the country shared in the vicissitudes of Asia Minor during the wars among his successors. Mysia became important in the 3rd century BC as the center of the kingdom of Pergamum, a Hellenistic state that controlled much of western Asia Minor. In 130 BC, Pergamum came under Roman rule, and Mysia became part of the Roman province of Asia.


The region received its name from the Ionians, Greeks who emigrated from the mainland of Greece probably before 1000 BC. The area is mountainous and includes three fertile valleys, watered by the rivers Gediz, Ergene, and Menderes. Ionia was extremely prosperous in ancient times because of a flourishing agriculture and commerce. In the 7th and 6th centuries BC Ionia made important contributions to Greek art and literature, and particularly to philosophy. Great cities grew up, of which Ephesus, Clazomenae, Erythrae, Colophon, and Miletus were the most celebrated. Several cities, such as Miletus and Phocaea, became important commercial centers and sent out colonies westward as far as present-day Spain and northward to the Black Sea. Common interests led the 12 Ionian cities to form a confederacy, within which each city remained autonomous. Smyrna (now Izmir) was originally settled by the Aeolian Greeks, but was later occupied by colonists from Colophon and became an Ionian city. In the 7th and 6th centuries BC the cities of Ionia were involved in a series of wars with the kings of Lydia, to whom Ionia yielded a nominal submission. Ionia exercised a powerful influence on Lydian culture, its own culture being influenced in turn by Lydia. In 546 BC the Ionians came under the sway of Persia, but revolted from Persian rule in 500 BC, assisted by the Greek cities of Athens and Eretria. The revolt was put down, but the participation of Athens and Eretria gave the Persians a pretext for declaring war on Greece. With the defeat of Persia by the Greeks in 479 BC, the Ionian cities became nominally free, but in reality they were dependent on Athens. Around 334 BC Alexander the Great annexed the cities to his Greco-Macedonian empire. Subsequently, Ionia was incorporated into the Roman and Byzantine empires.


The country was known to Homer under the name Maeonia. It was celebrated for fertile soil, rich deposits of gold and silver, and a magnificent capital, Sardis. Lydia became most powerful under the dynasty of the Mermnadae, beginning about 685 BC. In the 6th century BC Lydian conquests transformed the kingdom into an empire. Under the rule of King Croesus, Lydia attained its greatest splendor. The empire came to an end, however, when the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great captured Sardis about 546 BC and incorporated Lydia into the Persian Empire. After the defeat of Persia by Alexander III, king of Macedonia, Lydia was brought under Greco-Macedonian control. In 133 BC it became part of the Roman province of Asia. The Lydians are said to have been the first people to coin money.


The Taurus Mountains extend into the interior region, and the irregular coastline has numerous deep inlets. The islands of Rhodes and Kos lie off the coast. Ancient Greek and Roman historians recorded that the original inhabitants of this region were pushed inland by an influx of people called Carians. The Carians, who were notable as mercenary soldiers, had been driven from their native islands in the Aegean Sea by invading Greeks. The Greeks also established colonies along the coast of Caria, notably Cnidus and Halicarnassus. In the 6th century BC, Caria was incorporated into the kingdom of Lydia; subsequently, it became a Persian dominion, ruled by Carian kings who were subject to Cyrus the Great. Mausolus was the best known of these monarchs; his widow built the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great seized Caria. After his rule, the country became a part first of the Seleucid kingdom of Syria and later of the kingdom of Pergamum; in the 2nd century BC, Pergamum was turned into the Roman province of Asia.


The terrain of Lycia was mountainous, and the hills and valleys were fertile. The country was originally called Milyas and inhabited by the Solymi and the Termilae, who were subjugated by the invading Lycians. The Lycians and the Greeks first came into contact before the Trojan War, and the remains of Lycian tombs, temples, and theaters show a marked Greek influence. Lycia and Cilicia were the only two countries of Asia Minor that were not conquered in the 6th century BC by Croesus, king of Lydia. In the same century, however, the Lycians were defeated by the Persians under King Cyrus the Great despite heroic resistance. Under the Persians, Lycia remained prosperous and virtually autonomous. Along with the rest of Asia Minor, Lycia was conquered by Alexander the Great of Macedonia in the 4th century BC and incorporated into the Greco-Macedonian Empire. In 189 BC the Lycians were vanquished by the Romans, under whom they continued to enjoy prosperity and relative freedom. In the 4th century AD Lycia became a Roman province.


The inhabitants, a mixed race of aborigines, Cilicians, and Greek colonists, spoke a language that was probably Greek in origin but that was changed through the addition of barbaric elements. Persian domination was followed by the area's conquest by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. After his death the country was ruled by the Seleucid dynasty. Later a part of the kingdom of Pergamum, it was bequeathed to the Romans with the rest of the kingdom by Attalus III in 133 BC.


The western part of Cilicia (Cilicia Trachia) is mountainous and forested; much of the eastern part (Cilicia Pedias) consists of fertile plains. The principal rivers were the Cydnus (now Tarsus), the Adana (now Seyhan), and the Jihun (now Ceyhan); the principal cities were Tarsus, Seleucia (now Silifke), and Issus, which was prosperous during the Roman Empire. From the 6th to the 4th century BC, when most of Asia Minor was under the control of the Persian Achaemenids, Cilicia was an independent kingdom paying tribute to Persia or part of a Persian satrapy. After the conquests of Alexander the Great, during the Hellenistic period, from the 4th to the 2nd century BC, most of Cilicia was part of the Seleucid Empire. Eastern Cilicia was conquered by the Romans in 103 BC, and all of Cilicia became a Roman province about 67 BC. Under the Romans, the region was noted for the export of so-called cilicium, cloth made of goat hair, valued for the manufacture of tents. In the 1st century AD the apostle Paul lived in the city of Tarsus. The province was later included in the Byzantine Empire until it was captured in the 8th century by Arabs.


As early as 1900 BC, merchants from Assyria established a colony in Cappadocia. From about 1750 BC to the formation of the Persian Empire of the Achaemenid dynasty in the 7th century BC, this region was the center of power of the Hittites. Later, the Persians controlled the area and divided it into two satrapies, or provinces. The northern province became known as Cappadocia near the Pontus, or merely Pontus; the southern area retained the name Cappadocia, by which it was known in classical times. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great early in the 4th century BC, Cappadocia became independent. The first king of the Cappadocian dynasty, Ariarathes I (reigned 330-322 BC) paid tribute to Alexander, but Alexander's successors were unable to conquer the country. Later, the kings of Cappadocia sided with Rome, then a rising power, against the Seleucids and against Pontus. Cappadocia changed sides often in its support of the various factions during the Roman civil wars of the 1st century BC. The independence of the country ended when the Romans supplanted the Cappadocian dynasty with a puppet king about 40 BC. In AD 17 the Roman emperor Tiberius made Cappadocia a province of the Roman Empire. Thereafter, the importance of Cappadocia as a separate political unit declined. Among the important towns of Cappadocia were the capital of the kingdom, Mazaca (now Kayseri), known in Roman times as Caesarea Mazaca; Tyana; and Melitene (now Malatya). The modern town of Bogazkoy is on the site of the Cappadocian town of Pteria, which was built on the site of the city of Hattushash, capital of the Hittite Empire.


Early in the 1st millennium BC it is believed to have comprised the greater part of the Anatolian Peninsula, but at the time of the Persian invasion in the 6th century BC it was limited to the districts known as Lesser Phrygia and Greater Phrygia. Lesser Phrygia stretched west along the shores of the Sea of Marmara and the Hellespont to Troas, a region afterward part of Mysia. Greater Phrygia lay farther east and inland, where the Phrygian capital, Gordion (near present-day Ankara), was located. In the 3rd century BC the Gauls occupied the northern part of Greater Phrygia. For purposes of provincial administration the Romans divided Phrygia into two parts, attaching the northeastern part to Galatia Province and the western portion to Asia Province. 
Greater Phrygia was in general a high and barren plateau; the most fertile region was the valley of the Sangarius. Grapes were cultivated extensively, and Phrygian marble, celebrated in antiquity, was quarried. The religion of the Phrygians was an ecstatic nature worship, in which the Great Mother of the Gods, Rhea, or Cybele, and a male deity, Sabazius, played a prominent part. The orgiastic rites of this religion influenced both the Greeks and the Romans.
The Phrygians are believed to have been an Indo-European people who entered Asia Minor from Thrace about 1200 BC and seized control of the whole central tableland. Records exist of numerous kings, bearing alternately the names of Gordius and Midas, but their power was apparently broken by the invasions of the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. In the 6th century BC Croesus, king of Lydia, conquered all that was left of Phrygia, which passed successively under the rule of Persia, Macedonia, Pergamum, and Rome.
The Phrygian cap, a cloth head-covering worn by the Phrygians, was adopted by freed slaves in Roman times, and thus this cap became a symbol of liberty.


Ancient region of Anatolia, named for the Galatians, a Gallic people from Europe who settled here in the early 3rd century BC. The region lies in the basins of the present-day Kizil Irmak and Delice Irmak (rivers), on the great central plateau of Turkey. Galatia possesses some expanses of fertile soil, but most of the land is suitable only for pasturing the large flocks of sheep and goats raised here. In addition to the Gauls, many Greeks settled in the region, and it eventually became Hellenized; the inhabitants, therefore, were often referred to as Gallo-Graeci. Dominated by Rome through regional rulers from 189 BC, Galatia and adjacent regions became a Roman province in 25 BC. It was conquered by the Seljuks in the 11th century AD. Paul the Apostle visited Galatia and addressed his Epistle to the Galatians to several churches here.


The mountainous area between Bithynia and Pontus on the Black Sea coast, bordered by the ancient Halys river to the east. The name Paphlagonia probably derives from ancient Luwian or Pala language and its original spelling might have been Pauwa-Lacawana. The peoples of this area were called Paphlagonians by the Greeks and mentioned by Homer in his " Iliad " as being on the side of Trojans. Paphlagonians were one of the earliest peoples who lived in Anatolia in 1st millennium BC. Paphlagonia was heavily colonized by the Greeks  and they built number of cities along its coast. Although any local kingdom has never been established here, it was the area, during the Hittite period that the Hittite kings had to deal with its peoples. It was not a political unit and was annexed and occupied by the kings of Bithynia and Pontus respectively. It was won (63 BC) by the Romans. 


The name Pontus does not occur in records before the 4th century BC and did not come into common use until after the time of Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Before Alexander's conquest of Persia in 330 BC, Pontus was governed by a satrap for the Persian Empire. The foundation of the powerful kingdom of Pontus was laid by Mithradates I Ctistes (died about 301 BC). His son, Mithradates II (died about 265 BC), gained control of Paphlagonia and northern Cappadocia. The most important king of Pontus was Mithradates VI. On his overthrow in 66 BC by the Roman general Pompey the Great, the kingdom was divided, the western portion being joined to the province of Bithynia in a Roman province known as Pontus and Bithynia and the eastern region being assigned to native princes. The eastern territory was constituted a Roman province in 62 AD and at first was joined to Galatia, but in the 4th century AD, under the Roman emperor Constantine I, it became a separate province with the name Pontus Polemoniacus.



ancient region of the west coast of Asia Minor (in present-day Turkey). Aeolis was not a geographic term but a collective term for the cities founded there by the Aeolians, a branch of the Hellenic peoples. The 12 southern cities were grouped in the Aeolian League; these were Temnos, Smyrna, Pitane, Neonteichos, Aegirusa, Notium, Cilla or Killa, Cyme, Gryneum, Larissa, Myrina, and Aegae.


It is situated in southern Anatolia and bordered by Phrygia on the north, Pamphylia on the south, Caria on the west and Cappadocia on the east. It was a mountainous country, traversed by the Taurus range. Its warlike tribes maintained their independence until the country was incorporated into a Roman province in the early 1st cent. A.D.


This ancient district is located between Galatia and Cilicia on the north and south and Phrygia and Cappadocia on the west and east. It was ruled at different times by Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians and Hellenistic kingdoms, later it was incorporated into Roman Empire and  made a province of it. It was visited by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14.6). Its chief city was Iconium.


Ancient district of Troad is bordered by the regions, Mysia in the east, Aeolis in the south, Aegean Sea in the west and Dardanelles in the north. This region has been ruled by the natives of Anatolia, since 3rd millennium BC, and invaded by the Achaeans in the 13th C. BC. During the migration of Thracians in the 1200s, Troad was populated by various Thracian kin groups.  In the 7th C. BC., Troas came under Lydian control and following the destruction of the Lydian kingdom by the Persians in the 6th C. BC., it was ruled by the satraps appointed by the Persian kings. In the end of the 5th C. BC., and beginning of the 4th C. BC., it was ruled by a certain local man Zenis who was from the town Dardanos and controlled by the satrap of Dascylium. On his death, the satrap Pharnabazus appointed his wife Mania to replace him. Mania, in addition to paying regular tribute to Satrap, gathered an army of mercenaries and assisted the Persian satrap in his punishment campaign against Mysians and Pisidians. Although, the local cities of Hamaksitos, Larissa and Colonai revolted and soon supported by Ilium, Neandria and Coyclon, later in 394 BC., Persians were able to control the area again. With the arrival of Alexander the great after the victory at the battle of Granicus, the whole of Troas along with the rest of Anatolia came under Macedonia. During the war of Diadochoi ( Successors to Alexander the great ), Troad was ruled by Antigonus, Lysimachus and Seleucus in turn. Following the war between the Romans and Seleucid kingdom at the battle of Magnesia in 190 BC., the Romans was victorious, and presented this region to Eumenes II the king of Pergamum, who assisted the Roman army during the battle. Attalus III, the last king of Pergamum bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Empire, and Troad was annexed by the Romans and incorporated into the province of Asia.  



Travels around Asia Minor 1976-2002
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Last Update : December, 2011