Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pamphylia, generally the area around Antalya

Even in antiquity, the borders of Pamphylia were difficult to establish accurately. It roughly starts in the west where Lycia stops and covers the plains north and east of Antalya up to the foothills of the Taurus Mountains. The cities in my field of interest lie generally within its borders: Antalya, Perge, Sillyum, Aspendos and Side, while Termessos and Selge belong to Pisidia situated to the north, together with Sagalassos.

In as much as it was traceable, the Pamphylian language is a Greek dialect of the kind spoken in southern Greece, moving to Asia Minor with its emigrants who arrived here before 1100 BC. A proof of this dialect can be found in an inscription from Sillyum. Side, on the other hand, strangely enough, spoke a dialect all of its own that has not yet been deciphered.

The history of Pamphylia is rather confusing. We have to wait till the 6th century BC when King Croesus of Lydia annexed this territory. His rule, however, was short-lived because in 546 BC he is already defeated by the Persian
King Cyrus. During the following centuries, Pamphylia is occupied in turns by the Athenians and the Persians till in 386 BC a treaty of peace is finally being signed by both powers, giving the cities of Asia Minor to the Great Persian King. The yoke of Persian rule was not heavy and Pamphylia seems to have settled pretty easily.

The situation changes in 333 BC when Alexander the Great enters Pamphylia from Phaselis in Lycia after his march along the coast. His first stop is Perge (Antalya did not exist yet), where he receives a delegation from Aspendos who surrender their city provided that Alexander does not leave a garrison behind. Alexander generously agrees but in exchange, he demands payment of fifty talents to pay his army and delivery of as many horses as they usually give to the Persian King. 

Aspendos accepts and Alexander moves on to Side where he meets no resistance. He leaves a garrison behind and returns westwards to Sillyum, which turns out to be the first Pamphylian city to resists. Whoever has ever seen Sillyum (modern Sillyon), will easily realize that the city is a practically impregnable fortress high on a trapezoidal hilltop in the middle of the plain. As can be expected, Alexander attacks, without success, though. Before he can conceive a second plan, the news reaches him that the people of Aspendos have changed their mind and have decided not to respect the freshly signed treaty. Catapults are dismantled and Alexander wastes no time to march his army immediately back to Aspendos. This fast reaction was not what Aspendos anticipated and their previous promises were hastily reconfirmed. Apparently Alexander was not keen to start a siege of the strongly defended city and so he agreed, claiming, however, an extra fifty talents, a number of hostages and a yearly contribution to be paid to Macedonia. No joking!

Alexander then returns to Perge and here he conceives plans to push on northwards to meet up with his general Parmenion and the rest of his army who spent the winter in Gordion. For reasons that are unclear, Alexander is made to believe that the only road to Gordion passes through the strategic city of Termessos that commanded a very narrow mountain pass, a sort of Thermopylae. While Alexander is making preparations for the attack, a peace delegation from Selge reaches him. What exactly has been said remains a mystery, but they apparently pointed out that there was indeed a much easier road north, the one that corresponds to the modern main road from Antalya to Sagalassos. The entire attack of Termessos was called off, of course, and Alexander led his army to Sagalassos.  After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, his generals fight and bicker over the territory of Pamphylia, which falls successively under the rule of Greece and Macedonia, then of Egypt under the Ptolemy’s and finally under the Seleucids of Syria. By 280 BC, the Seleucid branch of Pergamon is taking over with kings that all go by the name of Attalus or Eumenes. The Romans appear but are in no mood to worry about this part of the world and leave things in the hands of Pergamon. This dynasty ends in 133 BC when Attalus III, the last king of Pergamon, simply donates his kingdom to Rome. But Rome shows little or no interest until they are forced to interfere because of the heavy piracy along the coast of Asia Minor. Solving this problem is not easy. The first success is booked by Servilius Vatia in 78 BC, but it is Emperor Pompey who finalizes the job in 67 BC. 


During the days of the Roman Empire, Pamphylian cities receive more freedom, especially Aspendos, Perge, Sillyum and Side. In the year 43 AD, the region is once more joined to Lycia and remains so until the fourth century. The Byzantine Emperors organize and reorganize Asia Minor over and over until Lycia and Pamphylia become once gain independent provinces. Later on, it’s the turn of the Arabs to take possession of Pamphylia, followed by the Crusaders until finally it is absorbed by the Ottoman Empire.  Well, this is a corner of Turkey I definitely want to investigate further, the more since it plays a major part in Alexander conquests eastwards. Walking in the great man’s footsteps always is an honour and a privilege, and I’m very excited to see all these fascinating places with my own eyes. Beside the usual Alexander historians, I am relying on the precision work of George Bean wit his Turkey’s Southern Coast and on the handy maps and itineraries from the Sunflower Guide, From Antalya to Demre.   Alexander here I come!

[Click here to see all the pictures of Pamphylia]

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