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Pamphylia: ancient name for the fertile coastal plain in southern Turkey.
Pamphylia is the ancient name of the rich and fertile alluvial plain
of the rivers Kestros, Eurymedon, and Melas (the modern Aksu Cayi, Kopru Cayi,
and Manavgat Cayi). In the south, we find the Mediterranean sea - the Gulf of
Antalya to be more precise. To the west, the Pamphylian city Attalia
(Antalya) faced Lycia; to
the north were the pine forests of Pisidia,
and to the east, Coracesium faced 'rough' Cilicia.
All these countries were dominated by the Taurus mountain range. Between the Taurus
and the Mediterranean, the alluvial plain is dominated by fertile terraces and
the white chalk faces of the foothills.
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 BCE, they thought that the nation
with the related language was called pam-phylos 'all tribes', which may be erroneous
or may be true.
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, Pamphylia was the center of a new kingdom called
Tarhuntassa. It was later claimed that Greeks settled in the region in the twelfth
century, but these stories were probably invented to explain the linguistic similarities
between Greek and Pamphylian. (In any case, 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 and we do not know
how this change came to be.
However this may be, it is certain that from the seventh century 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 it belonged to the possessions of king Croesus
(560-547), who lost it to the Persian conqueror Cyrus the Great. According to
the fifth-century Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Pamphylia belonged
to the first tax district of the Achaemenid empire, together with Lycia,
Aeolia, Milya, and Caria.
Although Pamphylia now belonged to Persia, Greek cultural influence
was still felt. After all, the trade contacts remained important. In 468-465 (the
exact year is not known), the Athenian admiral Cimon 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, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great
occupied the Pamphylian coast. He left his personal friend Nearchus in charge
of the country, which he organized thoroughly: it never revolted to its new Macedonian
masters. In the years after Alexander's death, it was first part of the empire
of Antigonus Monophthalmus, but in the third century, the Ptolemies ruled the
country, succeeded by the Seleucids - two Macedonian dynasties. Side and Perge
continued to flourish; new important cities were Sillyon and Aspendus.
When the Romans defeated the Seleucid king Antiochus III, they ordered
him to give up Pamphylia, which was given to Rome's ally Pergamum (188). The new
rulers founded Attalia in
150, and seem to have given special attention to the production of olive oil.
However, because of the decline of the Seleucid empire, the region was politically
unstable and the eastern town Coracesium
became the capital of the Cilician pirates. After 100, the Romans started to intervene.
At first, they were not very successful, but in 77 Publius Servilius Vatia gained
some remarkable successes: he defeated the pirates at sea and cleared Lycia and
Pamphylia. Later, general Pompey conquered Cilicia proper.
Pamphylia was first part of a province called Cilicia; in 43 BCE 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). In 314 or 325, this double province was divided, and
Pamphylia was a province of its own.
The Roman period was one of great economic and cultural flourishing.
Most archaeological remains that can be visited today in towns like Aspendus and
Side, date back to Roman times.
Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.
Battle of Eurymedon (470 BC)
River of Pamphylia,
on the southern coast of Asia
Minor (modern name is Kopru su).
At the mouth of this river, in 466, the Athenians and their allies,
under the command of Cimon, won a double battle, on sea and on land, over the
Persians, in which two hundred Phoenician ships were destroyed. Plato mentions
this battle in the Menexenus.
Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.