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Image:REmpire-36 Cilicia.png
Cilicia as Roman province, 120 AD

In Antiquity, Cilicia (Κιλικία) was the name of a region, now known as Çukurova, and often a political unit, on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), north of Cyprus.


[edit] Geography

Cilicia extended along the Aegean coast east from Pamphylia, to Mount Amanus (Giaour Dagh), which separated it from Syria. North of Cilicia lie the rugged Taurus Mountains that separate it from the high central plateau of Anatolia, which are pierced by a narrow gorge, called since Antiquity the Cilician Gates. Ancient Cilicia was naturally divided into Cilicia Trachea and Cilicia Pedias divided by the Lamas Su. Salamis, the city on the east coast of Cyprus, was included in its administrative jurisdiction. Cilicia was given an eponymous founder in the mythic Cilix, but the historic founder of the dynasty that ruled Cilicia Pedias was Mopsus, identifiable in Phoenician sources as Mpš, the founder of Mopsuestia and protector of an oracle nearby.

Cilicia Trachea ("rugged Cilicia"; Greek Κιλικία Τραχεία), the Assyrian Khilakku from which we get "Cilicia," is a rugged mountain district formed by the spurs of Taurus, which often terminate in rocky headlands with small sheltered harbours, a feature which, in classical times, made the coast a string of havens for pirates (see : Side), but which in the Middle Ages led to its occupation by Genoese and Venetian traders. The district is watered by the Calycadnus and was covered in ancient times by forests that supplied timber to Phoenicia and Egypt. Cilicia lacked large cities.

Cilicia Pedias ("flat Cilicia"; Greek Κιλικία Πεδιάς; Assyrian Kue), to the east, included the rugged spurs of Taurus and a large coastal plain, with rich loamy soil, now filled with cotton, grain, olives and oranges. Many of its high places were fortified. The plain is watered by the Cydnus (Tarsus Çay), the Sarus (Seyhan) and the Pyramus (Jihun) rivers, each of which brings down much silt. The Sarus now enters the sea almost due south of Tarsus, but there are clear indications that at one period it joined the Pyramus, and that the united rivers ran to the sea west of Kara-tash. Through the rich plain of Issus ran the great highway that linked east and west on which stood the cities of Tarsus (Tarsa) on the Cydnus, Adana (Adanija) on the Sarus, and Mopsuestia (Missis) on the Pyramus.

[edit] Early history

Cilicia had a continuous settlement pattern from Neolithic period onwards (Akpinar, 2004; Mellink, 1991). Dating of the ancient settlements of the region from Neolithic to Bronze Age is as follows: Aceramic/Neolithic 8th & 7th millennium BC;Early Chalcolithic: 5800 BC, Middle Chalcolithic (correlated with Halaf and Ubaid developments in the east): ca. 5400-4500 BC, Late Chalcolithic: 4500- ca. 3400 BC, and Early Bronze Age IA: 3400-3000 BC, EBA IB: 3000-2700 BC, EBA II: 2700-2400 BC,EBA III A-B: 2400-2000 BC (Mellink, 1991: 168-170).

The Cilicians appear as Khilikku in Assyrian inscriptions, and in the early part of the 1st millennium BC were one of the four chief powers of western Asia. It is generally assumed that they had previously been subject to the Syro-Cappadocian empire; but, up to 1909 at all events, Hittite monuments had not been found in Cilicia; and we must infer that the Hittite civilizations which flourished in Cappadocia and northern Syria, communicated with each other by passes east of Amanus and not by the Cilician Gates.

Under the Persian empire Cilicia was apparently governed by tributary native kings, who bore a Hellenized name or title of "Syennesis"; but it was officially included in the fourth satrapy by Darius. Xenophon found a queen in power, and no opposition was offered to the march of Cyrus the Younger.

[edit] The Persian Royal Road

The great highway from the west existed before Cyrus conquered Cilicia. On its long rough descent from the Anatolian plateau to Tarsus, it ran through the narrow pass between walls of rock called the Cilician Gates (Ghulek Boghaz). After crossing the low hills east of the Pyramus it passed through a masonry (Cilician) gate, Demir Kapu, and entered the plain of Issus. From that plain one road ran southward through another masonry (Syrian) gate to Alexandretta, and thence crossed Mt. Amanus by the Syrian Gate, Beilan Pass, eventually to Antioch and Syria; and another ran northwards through a masonry (Amanian) gate, south of Toprak Kaleh, and crossed Mt. Amanus by the Amanian Gate, Baghche Pass, to northern Syria and the Euphrates. By the last pass, which was apparently unknown to Alexander, Darius crossed the mountains prior to the battle of Issus. Both passes are short and easy, and connect Cilicia Pedias geographically and politically with Syria rather than with Asia Minor.

[edit] Hellenism and Roman Cilicia

Similarly Alexander found the Gates open, when he came down from the plateau in 333 BC; and from these facts it may be inferred that the great pass was not under direct Persian control, but under that of a vassal power always ready to turn against its suzerain.

After Alexander's death it was long a battleground of rival Hellenistic marshals and kingdoms, and for a time fell under Ptolemaic dominion (i.e. Egypt), but finally under that of the Seleucids, who, however, never held effectually more than the eastern half.

Image:REmpire-36 Cilicia.png
Cilicia as Roman province, 120 AD

Cilicia Trachea became the haunt of pirates, who were subdued by Pompey in 67 BC following a battle at Korakesion (modern Alanya), and Tarsus was made the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. Cilicia Pedias became Roman territory in 103 BC, and the whole was organized by Pompey, 64 BC, into a province which, for a short time, extended to and included part of Phrygia. It was reorganized by Julius Caesar, 47 BC, and about 27 BC became part of the province Syria-Cilicia Phoenice. At first the western district was left independent under native kings or priest-dynasts, and a small kingdom, under Tarkondimotus, was left in the east; but these were finally united to the province by Vespasian, A.D. 74. It had been deemed important enough to be governed by a proconsul.

Under Emperor Diocletian's Tetrarchy (circa 297), Cilicia was governed by a Consularis; with Isauria and the Syrian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Libyan provinces, formed the Diocesis Orientis (in the third century the African component was split off as diocesis Aegyptus), part of the pretorian prefecture also called Oriens ('the East', also including the dioceses Asiana and Pontus, both in Anatolia, and Thraciae on the Balkans), the rich bulk of the eastern Roman Empire.

In the 7th century it was invaded by the muslim Arabs, who held the country until it was reoccupied by the Byzantine emperor Nicephorus II in 965.

Roman Cilicia exported the goats-hair cloth, Cilicium, of which tents were made.

Roman Imperial Provinces (120)
Image:Roman empire.png
Achaea | Aegyptus | Africa | Alpes Cottiae | Alpes Maritimae | Alpes Poenninae | Arabia Petraea | Armenia Inferior | Asia | Assyria | Bithynia | Britannia | Cappadocia | Cilicia | Commagene | Corduene | Corsica et Sardinia | Creta et Cyrenaica | Cyprus | Dacia | Dalmatia | Epirus | Galatia | Gallia Aquitania | Gallia Belgica | Gallia Lugdunensis | Gallia Narbonensis | Germania Inferior | Germania Superior | Hispania Baetica | Hispania Lusitania | Hispania Tarraconensis | Italia | Iudaea | Lycaonia | Lycia | Macedonia | Mauretania Caesariensis | Mauretania Tingitana | Moesia | Noricum | Numidia | Osroene | Pannonia | Pamphylia | Pisidia | Pontus | Raetia | Sicilia | Sophene | Syria | Thracia |

[edit] Armenian kingdom

During the time of the Crusades, the area was controlled by the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The Seljuk invasion of Armenia was followed by an exodus of Armenians southwards, and in 1080, Ruben, a relative of the last king of Ani, founded in the heart of the Cilician Taurus a small principality, which gradually expanded into the kingdom of Lesser Armenia or Armenia Minor. This Christian kingdom, surrounded by Moslem states, hostile to the Byzantines, giving valuable support to the crusaders, and trading with the great commercial cities of Italy had a stormy existence of about 300 years. Gosdantin (1095-1100) assisted the crusaders on their march to Antioch, and was created knight and marquis. Thoros I (1100-1123), in alliance with the Christian princes of Syria, waged successful war against the Byzantines and Seljuk Turks. Levond II (Leo the Great (r. 1187-1219)), extended the kingdom beyond Mount Taurus and established the capital at Sis. He assisted the crusaders, was crowned King by the Archbishop of Mainz, and married one of the Lusignans of the crusader kingdom Cyprus.

Haithon I (r. 1226-1270) made an alliance with the Mongols, who, before their adoption of Islam, protected his kingdom from the Mamelukes of Egypt. When Levond V died (1342), John of Lusignan was crowned king as Gosdantin IV; but he and his successors alienated the native Armenians by attempting to make them conform to the Roman Church, and by giving all posts of honor to Latins, until at last the kingdom, a prey to internal dissensions, succumbed (1375) to the attacks of the Egyptian mamelukes.

Cilicia Trachea was conquered by the Ottomans in the 15th century, but Cilicia Pedias remained independent until 1515.

See also: List of monarchs of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia

[edit] Ottoman Empire

Further information: Ottoman Empire

The Armenian population of Cilicia was affected by the Armenian Genocide. On 1 January 1919, Cilicia was occupied by French troops. It has two French Governors, even several months later than the 9 March 1921 peace treaty with ten still Ottoman Turkey which ended fighting in According to the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920, Cilicia was to be a part of French Syria, but this treaty had never been in effect, because of the Turkish War of Independence.

[edit] Republic of Turkey

Further information: Franco-Turkish War, Republic of Turkey

After the Franco-Turkish war, and consequant battles during Turkish War of Independence the region become part of Republic of Turkey in 1921 with the Treaty of Lausanne. The modern Turkish provinces Mersin, Adana, and Osmaniye are located in former Cilicia.

[edit] Mythological namesake

Greek mythology also mentions another Cilicia, as a small region situated immediately southeast of the Troad in northwestern Asia Minor, facing the Gulf of Adramyttium. The connection (if any) between this rather obscure Cilicia (which appears to have been under the thumb of Troy) and the much more well-known and well-defined region mentioned above is unclear. This Trojan Cilicia is mentioned in Homer's Iliad and Strabo's Geography, and contained equally obscure localities as Thebes, Lyrnessus and Chryse. Thebes (or Thebe) was situated under 'Mount' Placus (hence Homer calls it Thebe-under-Placus), which appears to have been little more than a southern spur of Mount Ida, and was the birthplace of Andromache, wife of Prince Hector. According to one legend, the city of Thebes was founded by Heracles, but was subsequently occupied by the Cilicians. Cilician Thebes, Lyrnessus and Chryse were all attacked and sacked by Achilles during the Trojan War.

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources and references

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 282/283, Symposium: Chalcolithic Cyprus. pp. 167-175.

  • Pilhofer, Susanne 2006. Romanisierung in Kilikien? Das Zeugnis der Inschriften (Quellen und Forschungen zur Antiken Welt 46). Munich: Herbert UtzКиликия

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