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The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, 1199–1375

Cilicia ( ancient Greek Κιλικία , Latin Cilicia , German also Cilicia ) is an ancient landscape in southeast Asia Minor . It corresponds roughly to the eastern part of today's Turkish Mediterranean region and thus to today's Turkish provinces of Adana , Mersin and Osmaniye , as well as at least most of the province of Kahramanmaraş , but without most of the area of ​​the province of Hatay , which was included in ancient Syria.


In the west the border to neighboring Pamphylia was near Korakesion (today Alanya ), in the north the Taurus Mountains bounded the landscape; Passes to Isauria , Lycaonia and Cappadocia led through the mountains , including the famous Cilician Gate ( Pylae Ciliciae ) between Tyana and Tarsus , through which Alexander the Great , coming from Cappadocia, entered Cilicia. In the east it is only separated from ancient Syria by the lower Amanos Mountains , with which it was always culturally connected (and which at that time as a cultural area was considerably larger than the current state of Syria).


The most important level is the Çukurova , the most important rivers of the Lamas (Lamos), Ceyhan (Pyramus), Seyhan (Saros) and the Göksu (Kalykadnos).

Strabo (Geography XIV 5,1.4) divided Cilicia according to the nature of the soil into the flat Cilicia (Cilicia Pedias , Latin Cilicia Campestris ), the then densely populated and extremely fertile coastal landscape "which reached from Soloi and Tarsos to Issos , as well as the area , above which the Cappadocians live on the northern flank of the Tauros ” and the mountainous or rugged Cilicia ( Kilikia Tracheia , Tracheiotis, Latin Cilicia Trachea ) in the west. The latter, traversed by many branches of the Taurus, offered good grazing places especially for the famous Cilician goats and was later a bone of contention between the Seleucids and Ptolemies because of its excellent shipbuilding wood until it was conquered by Antiochus the Great . The river Lamos (today Limonlu) is considered to be the border between the two parts, and Soloi is sometimes still part of the Rough Cilicia.

Iron production is documented from the 7th century. Mines in the Taurus delivered silver.


The Roman provinces under Trajan (117 AD)

Already the Hittite king Ḫattušili I (approx. 1565–1540 BC) seems to have controlled the Cilician gate, the lowlands were an independent principality as Adaniya . In part, like Kizzuwatna to the north , it was under the control of Hanigalbat . After Šuppiluliuma I. had concluded treaties with Kizzuwatna, Mursili II (1318-1290 BC) Adanyia was able to join the Hittite Empire. Cilicia was then an Assyrian province as Ḫilakku (first written evidence 858 BC). Under Shalmaneser III. The Assyrians' first advances took place around 830. Kate of Que submitted, paid tribute and married his daughter to the Assyrian ruler, but then fell away again. He was replaced by his brother Kirri. The Assyrian ruler Assarhaddon prides himself on the submission of the Ḫilakku , a mountain people who inhabit the inaccessible mountains near Tabal , "malicious Hittites who relied on their mountains and who had not submitted to a yoke since time immemorial".

From 607 BC BC Cilicia was independent under the dynasty of Syennesis . His successors eventually became vassals of the Persians . Both Cilicia were united under a satrap who came from the dynasty of Syennesis (Herodotus, Xenophon). After the rebellion and the death of Cyrus the Younger , rulers from this dynasty are no longer mentioned; the support of Cyrus the Younger seems to have led to the removal of the last ruler from this dynasty. Under Pharnabazos from 380 BC. Minted in Tarsus and Nagidos coins. 333 BC Alexander the Great conquered the area. In the Hellenistic period, Cilicia alternated between the Seleucids and Lagids , and there was another division. Seleukia on the Kalykadnos, Aigeai and Arsinoe as autonomous cities were newly founded, probably also Olba . After multiple changes of rule between local, Macedonian, Syrian and Egyptian kings and finally Mithridates VI. and Tigranes II. Cilicia became a Roman province in its eastern part through Pompey , who defeated the Cilician pirates , while the inhabitants of the highlands maintained their independence for a long time. 51/50 BC . Was BC Cicero governor of the province. After Caesar's death in 44 BC However, the province was dissolved and partly added to Syria, partly left to local dynasts and only re-established around 72 AD under Vespasian .

In the 7th century, in the course of Islamic expansion, Cilicia came to the Arabs and was mostly ruled from Syria, with the Taurus Mountains forming the border with the Byzantine Empire . During the 10th century, the Byzantine reconquest took place.

After the Battle of Manzikert , which opened Asia Minor to the Seljuks , the Armenian governor Abul Gharib was able to hold the province without the support of the central government, but from 1080 Armenian refugees began to set up independent possessions, first in the Taurus and Antitaurus , and later also in the plain, who no longer recognized the sovereignty of Constantinople . Under the sovereignty of the Rubenids , later the Hethumids , an empire emerged called the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia . It was able to maintain itself in changing alliances until 1375, initially often in league with the Crusaders , later mostly in conflict with the Principality of Antioch and the Knights Templar . The capital of the kingdom was Sis (now Kozan ). New rulers after the end of the kingdom were the Ramazanoğulları under the sovereignty of the Egyptian Mamluks ; from 1515 the area became part of the Ottoman Empire .

After the First World War , Cilicia was occupied by France from 1919 to 1921 and was supposed to fall to France under the Treaty of Sèvres , but was returned to Turkey by France in 1921, confirmed in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 . Since then, the name "Cilicia" has only been used in historical terms.


The capital of ancient and Byzantine Cilicia was Tarsus . Other well-known places:

Strabon names the fortress Korakesion (today Alanya ), Arsinoë , Hamaxia , Laertes , Selinous , Kragos , Charadrus, Anemurion , Soloi , Nagidos , another Arsinoë, Melania, Kelenderis , Holmoi , Seleukia am Kalykadnos , Korykos and the Koryk grottoes , Elaioussa , Lamos , Issus and Olba .

A selection of the fortifications can be found under List of Castles in Lesser Armenia .

Roman auxiliary units

During the imperial era , the following auxiliary units were recruited on the territory of Cilicia:

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Cilicia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Friedrich Hild , Hansgerd Hellenkemper : Kilikien and Isaurien. Tabula Imperii Byzantini Volume 5. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 1990, ISBN 3-7001-1811-2 , p. 18

Coordinates: 37 °  N , 35 °  E