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Pamphylia

Ancient Pamphylia was situated on the southern coast of modern Turkey, nestled between Lycia, Galatia and Cilicia. This relatively small region, in comparison to territorial borders of its neighbors was sharply contrasted by the Tarsus mountains in the north, limestone foothills in the west and rich fertile plains in the river valleys of the southern coastal region.

In its earliest history, the area was dominated by the Hittite culture before giving way to a series of conquests by other ancient powers. After the fall of the Hittites the Lydians came to rule Pamphylia, but the introduction of later Greek, or Hellenized influence is largely speculative, as little archaeological evidence for early colonization exists.

Since the ancient Pamphylian language, which unfortunately is largely unknown, was very closely related to Greek, it has been assumed that contact or colonization must have occured very early. The name Pamphylia itself, is widely believed to be a Greek deritive of pam-phylos, meaning land of many tribes. These claims are near impossible to substantiate however, as by the time the Rhodians came to the region in the 7th century BC, the name is recorded as already being known as Pamphylia.

This supposed similarity to the Greek language would've pre-dated any significant Greek expansion into the region. Regardless, the introduction of the Rhodians opened the door for considerable trading opportunities with their Greek cousins and Pamphylia's port cities like Perge and Side prospered.

The region came under the control of the Persians in the 6th century BC, and would remain so, essentially until the conquests of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great. During the era of Persian rule, that nation's conflict with the Greeks did not disturb trade and the spread of western culture, however. By the time Alexander invaded in 333 BC, Pamphylia was, or evolved into, a relatively peaceful bastion of Hellenized culture. Though Alexander's reign was short-lived, Pamphylia then fell in turn to the control of Alexander's surviving generals: the Ptolemies in Egypt followed by the Seleucids who occupied Syria.

In the late 3rd century BC, the Seleucid King, Antiochus III began a vast campaign to conquer most of what now incorporates modern Turkey. In so doing, and by casting his eyes on Greece as well, he attracted the attention of the growing Meditteranean power of Rome. In a counter campaign led by Scipio Africanus and his brother Gnaeus, the Seleucids were defeated and Pamphylia, as well as most of western Turkey, fell under Roman influence. In 188 BC, the territory was ceded to their great eastern ally, Eumenes of Pergamum, under whose control it would remain for nearly a century.

Unfortunately though, the decline of the Seleucid dynasty destabilized the entire east, and piracy began to grow along the Cilician and Pamphylian coasts. These mountainous regions with access to the sea became great havens for pirate activity, and would require several enormous efforts by Rome to defeat. Initial campaigns were mostly failures, and Rome was pre-occupied by Mithridates of Pontus, but an operation led by Publius Servilius Vatia in 77 BC mostly cleared both Lycia and Pamphylia of its pirate strongholds. Continuing campaigns under Pompey the Great brought the entire east under Roman domination and Pamphylia was initially incorporated into the province of Cilicia.

Under the settlements of Marcus Antonius, Pamphylia was added to Asia Minor, but Octavian (later Augustus) made it part of Galatia (31 BC) to reward his supporters there. Under Claudius in 43 AD, Pamphylia was formally annexed as its own province and was merged with Lycia. Under these arrangements it would remain until the early 4th century when the two were divided into their own independent provinces.

Under the Romans, Pamphylia flourished economically and culturally. Stabilized by the control of Rome, the people readily accepted provincial government, and peace reined supreme. Aside from the initial wars against the pirates, a permanent military presence was never required. Timber, limestone and agricultural products, including olives from Antalya, were regular exports, and the ports were important hubs along the Mediterranean Sea trade routes.

Ancient Roman Empire Map - Pamphylia


Roman Province Index


Pamphylia - Related Topic: Galatia


Bibliography



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