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Pamphylia - Region 14

Map of ancient Pamphylia

Cities / Mints

1 - Aspendos (Aspendus)
2 - Attaleia (Attalea)
3 - Magydos (Magydus)
4 - Perge


5 - Side
6 - Sillyon (Sillyum)

7 - Pamphylia Uncertain

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Pamphylia is the ancient name of the rich and fertile alluvial plain of the rivers Kestros, Eurymedon and Melas in the south of Asia Minor. The name 'Pamphylia' is very ancient, but because the language of the Pamphylians is hardly known (although it is closely related to Greek), we cannot interpret the name. When the Rhodian Greeks entered the region in the seventh century BC, they thought that the nation with the related language was called pam-phylos 'all tribes.'

Pamphylia belonged to the ancient Hittite empire. The main towns were Estwediiys (later known as Aspendus) and Side. After the fall of the Hittite empire after 1215 BC, Pamphylia was the center of a new kingdom called Tarhuntassa. It was later claimed that Greeks settled in the region in the twelfth century BC, but these stories were probably invented to explain the linguistic similarities between Greek and Pamphylian. (There is no archaeological evidence for a Greek invasion.) It is not known how long Tarhuntassa existed; when the Rhodians entered the region, it was already called Pamphylia. It is certain that from the seventh century BC on, the Pamphylians traded with the Greeks. Ports like Perge and Side became large cities, and rich Pamphylia became a natural target for foreign enemies.

The first to conquer the coastal towns were the Lydians. It is not known who was responsible for the conquest, but it is certain that Pamphylia belonged to the possessions of king Kroisos (Croesus), 560-547 BC, who lost it to the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great. According to the fifth-century Greek researcher Herodotos of Halikarnassos, Pamphylia belonged to the first tax district of the Achaemenid empire, together with Lykia, Magnesia, Ionia, Aiolia, Mysia, and Caria. Although Pamphylia belonged to Persia at this time, Greek cultural influence was still felt due to trade contactst. In 468-465 BC, the Athenian admiral Kimon defeated the Persians at the mouth of the Eurymedon, after which Pamphylia became part of the Athenian empire. Forty years later, the Persians reoccupied their former possession. In the first weeks of 333 BC, the Makedonian king Alexander the Great occupied the Pamphylian coast. He left his personal friend Nearchos in charge of the country, which he organized thoroughly and it never revolted against its new Makedonian masters. In the years after Alexander's death, it was first part of the empire of Antigonos Monophthalmos, but in the third century BC, the Ptolemies ruled the country, then succeeded by the Seleukids. Side and Perge continued to flourish; new important cities were Sillyon and Aspendos.

When the Romans defeated the Seleukid king Antiochus III, they ordered him to give up Pamphylia, which was given to Rome's ally Pergamon (188 BC). The new rulers founded Attalia in 150 BC, and seem to have given special attention to the production of olive oil. However, because of the decline of the Seleukid empire, the region was politically unstable and the eastern town Korakesion became the capital of the Kilikian pirates. After 100 BC, the Romans started to intervene. At first, they were not very successful, but in 77 BC Publius Servilius Vatia gained some remarkable successes: he defeated the pirates at sea and cleared Lykia and Pamphylia. Later, general Pompey conquered Kilikia (Cilicia) proper. Pamphylia was first part of a Roman province called Cilicia; in 43 BC it was added to Asia; twelve years later, general Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) made it part of Galatia; the emperor Vespasian created a new province called Lycia and Pamphylia (after 70 AD). In 314 or 325 AD, this double province was divided, and Pamphylia was a province of its own. The Roman period was one of great economic and cultural flourishing. [Based on article by Jona Lendering - Livius.org]

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