In the southwest
of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Karia (Caria in Latin) was incorporated in ca. 545 BC into
the ancient Achaemenid empire as the satrapy Karkâ.
Its capital was Halikarnassos (modern Bodrum), which had been
originally founded by the Greeks. Karia and the Karians are
mentioned for the first time in the cuneiform texts of the
Old Assyrian and Hittite Empires between ca. 1800 and 1200
BC. The country was called Karkissa. After a gap of some four
centuries in which they are mentioned only once, Greek poet
Homer mentions Karians in the so-called Catalogue of ships.
He tells that they lived in Miletos, on the Mycale peninsula,
and along the river Meander. In the Trojan war, they had,
according to the poet, sided with the Trojans.
language belongs to the Hittite-Luwian subfamily of the Indo-European
languages, related to Lykian and Lydian.The Greeks settled
on the coast of Asia Minor in the dark ages between ca. 1200 and 800 BC,
where they and the Karians mixed. Karia is a country of mountains
and valleys, poor in agricultural and other resources. What
united the Karians, however, was their religion. One of their
ritual centers was Mylasa, where they venerated a male supreme
god, called 'the Karian Zeus' by Herodotus. Unlike his Greek
counterpart, this Zeus was an army god. One of the Karian
goddesses was Hekate, who was responsible for road crossings
and became notorious in Greece as the source of witchcraft.
Many Karians were mercenaries and military specialists, and
Herodotus writes that the Greeks had been indebted to the
Karians for three military inventions: making shields with
handles, putting devices on shields, and fitting crests on
helmets. Because of this last invention, the Persians called
the Karians "cocks." The Karians were especially
famous for serving the Egyptian pharaoh.
beginning of the fourth century, the Karians gained great
independence and were ruled by satraps of Karian descent.
The first of these was Hekatomnos of Mylasa (391-377 BC),
who was not only satrap of Karia, but also of Miletos. He
was succeeded by his son Maussolos, who took part in the so-called
Revolt of the Satraps: Maussolos, Orontes of Armenia, Autophradates
of Lydia and Datames of Kappadokia joined forces against
their king, with support of the pharaohs of Egypt, Nektanebo
I, Teos, and Nektanebo II. Although they were defeated, king
Artaxerxes III Ochus had to reinstall Maussolos as satrap
of Karia. One of the most remarkable aspects of his reign
is his strict adherence to the ancient cults of Karia. Between
370 and 365 BC, Maussolos returned the Karian residence to
Halikarnassos (from Mylasa). Its most famous building was
the monument that the satrap built for himself, which has
become known as the Mausoleum, and considered one of the seven
wonders of the ancient world.
dynasty lasted until Alexander III's arrival, and Queen Ada
appears to have been the last Karian queen (whom Alexander
retained as satrap). After Alexander's death, his successors
contested the possession of Karia. First ruled by Antigonos
Monophthalmos, it became part of the empire of Lysimachos
in 301 BC, and later became a province of the Ptolemaic empire,
only to change into Seleukid hands before the mid-third century.
In 188 BC, the Romans defeated the Seleukids, and divided
the country between the Pergamene kingdom in the north and
Rhodes in the south. In 129 BC, the Romans decided to annex
the Pergamene part of Karia, which became part of their province
of Asia. The Rhodian part retained some of its independence,
until it was, together with Rhodes, conquered by the Roman
general Brutus in 42 BC. [Based on article by Jona Lendering - Livius.org]