Kingdom of Cappadocia

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Kingdom of Cappadocia

320s BC–17 AD
StatusSubject of the Kingdom of Pontus and Seleucid Empire
Client kingdom of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire (95 BC–17 AD)
Capital Mazaca
Common languages Greek (official)
Old Persian (native and regional)
Aramaic (initially used on coinage)
Syncretic, incorporating Greek polytheism with Anatolian and Persian gods, as well as Zoroastrianism
 331 – 322 BC (First Ariarathid king)
Ariarathes I
 96 – ca. 63 BC (First Ariobarzanid king)
 36 BC – 17 AD (last king)
 Founded by Ariarathes I
320s BC
 Ariarathes IX deposed, Ariobarzanes I installed with military support from Sulla
95 BC
  Ariarathes X deposed, Archelaus installed by Marc Anthony
36 BC
 Annexed by the Roman Empire under Emperor Tiberius.
17 AD
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Vergina Sun - Golden Larnax.png Macedonian Empire
Cappadocia (Roman province) Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg

The Kingdom of Cappadocia was a Hellenistic-era Iranian kingdom [1] [2] centered in the historical region of Cappadocia in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). It developed from the former Achaemenid satrapy of Cappadocia, and it was founded by its last satrap, Ariarathes (later Ariarathes I). Throughout its history, it was ruled by three families in succession; the House of Ariarathes (331–96 BC), the House of Ariobarzanes (96 BC–36 BC), and lastly that of Archelaus (36 BC–17 AD). In 17 AD, following the death of Archelaus, during the reign of Roman emperor Tiberius (14–37), the kingdom was incorporated as a Roman province.

Iranian peoples diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of the Iranian languages.

Cappadocia Place in Katpatuka

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey.

Achaemenid Empire first Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great

The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.


Origins and history

Under the Achaemenids, the "Iranization" of Asia Minor had been significant, and a large Iranian presence had been established in western Asia Minor, Pontus and Cappadocia. [3] Ariarathes had been satrap of Cappadocia for 19 years and a loyal supporter of the Achaemenid kings. By blood, he was related to the ruling Achaemenid house ("Cyrus and Darius’ Seven") as well as other satraps. [4] [5] When Alexander of Macedon invaded Cappadocia as part of his conquest of the Persian Empire, he appointed two temporary governors. For the Iranians in Asia Minor, "as perhaps everywhere", the fall of the Achaemenids "meant crisis". [6] With the victory of Alexander and the emergence of Hellenistic successor kings, the Iranians in Caria and "probably throughout western Asia Minor" eventually started to adapt themselves to the changing situation. [3] The Iranian presence to the west of the Halys River thus slowly started to fade. [7] However, to east of the Halys River, things went differently. The Cappadocians had shown opposition to the invading Macedonians "from the beginning". [7] After the defense of Halicarnassus, the Cappadocians participated in the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC) against Alexander, and even after the battle, they "rose up in his rear". [7]

Pontus (region) region in north-eastern Anatolia

Pontus is a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region and its mountainous hinterland in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος Εὔξεινος Pontos Euxeinos, or simply Pontos.

Ariarathes I of Cappadocia 4th-century BC king of Cappadocia

Ariarathes I was the satrap of the Satrapy of Cappadocia under the Achaemenid Empire from 350 BC to 331 BC, and the Hellenistic King of Cappadocia from 331 BC until his death in 322 BC.

Cappadocia (satrapy) Achaemenid satrapy in Anatolia

Cappadocia was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire used by the Achaemenids to administer the regions beyond the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates river.

Unlike the Iranians in Caria and "probably throughout western Asia Minor", the Iranian aristocracy to the east of the Halys River, in Cappadocia and Pontus, declared independence, "in defiance of the Macedonians". [3] Ariarathes I managed to assume power in Cappadocia, becoming the first king of the newly established Kingdom of Cappadocia. Ariarathes's line would provide the first ten kings of the kingdom. After a period of Seleucid overlordship, the Cappadocian Kingdom gained its independence during the reign of Ariarathes III (c. 255-220). [8] The Ariarathid dynasty was abolished by the early course of the 1st century BC by the ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus, the infamous Mithridates VI (Eupator), this in an attempt to fully subdue the Cappadocian Kingdom. [9] However, in "conflict" with the interests of the Roman Republic, the Romans supported the Cappadocians to choose a new king; this came to be another Iranian nobleman, namely Ariobarzanes I. [9] After the civil war in Rome, the Romans started to interfere more directly in Cappadocian affairs; in 36 BC, Marcus Antonius appointed Archelaus, a local noble, to the Cappadocian throne. [9] When, at an old age, Tiberius summoned him to Rome, he died there of natural causes; Cappadocia was subsequently incorporated as a fully functioning Roman province. [4] Due to the kingdom's perilous location amongst powerful neighbors, the kings were often involved in beneficial marriage alliances, such as with the Mithridatic dynasty as well as the Seleucid dynasty. [9]

Seleucid Empire former country

The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; Seleucus I Nicator founded it following the division of the Macedonian Empire vastly expanded by Alexander the Great. Seleucus received Babylonia and from there expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander's near-eastern territories. At the height of its power, the Empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

Kingdom of Pontus Former country

The Kingdom of Pontus or Pontic Empire was a state founded by the Persian Mithridatic dynasty, which may have been directly related to Darius the Great and the Achaemenid dynasty. The kingdom was proclaimed by Mithridates I in 281 BCE and lasted until its conquest by the Roman Republic in 63 BCE. It reached its largest extent under Mithridates VI the Great, who conquered Colchis, Cappadocia, Bithynia, the Greek colonies of the Tauric Chersonesos, and for a brief time the Roman province of Asia. After a long struggle with Rome in the Mithridatic Wars, Pontus was defeated; part of it was incorporated into the Roman Republic as the province Bithynia et Pontus, and the eastern half survived as a client kingdom.

Ariobarzanes I of Cappadocia king of Cappadocia from 95 BC to ca

Ariobarzanes I, named Philoromaios, was the king of Cappadocia from 95 BC to c. 63 BC–62 BC. Ariobarzanes I was a Cappadocian nobleman of obscure origins who was of Persian descent.

Strabo, who wrote during the time of Augustus (r. 63 BC-14 AD), almost three hundred years after the fall of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, records only traces of Persians in western Asia Minor; however, he considered Cappadocia "almost a living part of Persia". [7]

Strabo Greek geographer, philosopher and historian

Strabo was a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Augustus First emperor of the Roman Empire

Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.


Following the Macedonian conquests, the Persian colonists in Cappadocia as well as elsewhere were cut off from their co-religionists in Iran proper. [10] Strabo, who observed them in the Cappadocian Kingdom in the first century B.C., records (XV.3.15) that these "fire kindlers" possessed many "holy places of the Persian Gods", as well as fire temples. [10] The kingdom's domains possessed numerous sanctuaries and temples of various Iranian gods and deities, as well as Iranized deities. [4] On their significant importance, numerous sanctuaries and deities of this category were noted by Strabo. [4] Some of these are Anahita at Castabala, the magus Sagarios at Ariaramneia, and Ahura Mazda at Arebsum. [4] In enclosures, known as Pyraitheia, there was worship in the name of the Zoroastrian religion. [11] Regarding these Pyraitheia, he furthermore relates that ". . . in their midst there is an altar, on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning." [10]

Fire temple Zoroastrian temple

A fire temple in Zoroastrianism is the place of worship for Zoroastrians, often called dar-e mehr (Persian) or agiyari (Gujarati). In the Zoroastrian religion, fire, together with clean water, are agents of ritual purity. Clean, white "ash for the purification ceremonies [is] regarded as the basis of ritual life", which "are essentially the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple [fire] is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity". For, one "who sacrifices unto fire with fuel in his hand ..., is given happiness".

Anahita water deity

Anahita is the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian goddess and appears in complete and earlier form as Aredvi Sura Anahita, the Avestan name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of "the Waters" (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom. Aredvi Sura Anahita is Ardwisur Anahid or Nahid in Middle and Modern Persian, and Anahit in Armenian. An iconic shrine cult of Aredvi Sura Anahita was – together with other shrine cults – "introduced apparently in the 4th century BCE and lasted until it was suppressed in the wake of an iconoclastic movement under the Sassanids."

Castabala (city)

Castabala, also known as Hieropolis and Hierapolis was a city in Cilicia, near the Ceyhan River.


Initially, the kingdom was organized in ten satrapies. [4] Later, this became eleven. [4] The satrapies were called by the Greek term strategiai, and each of them were headed by the strategos, basically an important noble. [4] The eleven satrapies were; Melitene, Cataonia, Cilicia, Tyanitis, Garsauritis, Laouiansene, Sargarausene, Saraouene, Chamanene, Morimene, and Cilicia Tracheia. Cilicia Tracheia, the eleventh and last satrapy, was added later to the kingdom. [4]

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.


Cataonia was one of the divisions of ancient Cappadocia.

Cilicia ancient region of Anatolia

In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor and existed as a political entity from the Hittite era until the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, during the late Byzantine Empire. Extending inland from the southeastern coast of modern Turkey, Cilicia is due north and northeast of the island of Cyprus and corresponds to the modern region of Çukurova in Turkey.

Control over the lands of the kingdom was maintained through royal estates and fortifications protected and maintained by nobility. [4] There were two types of estates: those located and centered on the residence of the noble in question (whose power, as the Encyclopedia Iranica adds, "was foremost temporal") and the so-called temple estates. [4] Within these so-called temple estates, the priests had both temporal power as well as a religious function. As a result of the double role the clergy played, they were the highest in power after the king himself. [4]


In imitation of their larger, western neighbors, the Seleucids and Attalids, the Cappadocian kings Hellenized various aspects of the kingdom on purpose. [4] Both the members of the Ariarathid as well as that of the Ariobarzanid houses would receive a Greek education, and adopted Hellenic titles, such as basileus , instead of the native shah . [4] Although the first few Cappadocian kings, that is, of the Ariarathid family, minted Iranian-style coins with Aramaic descriptions, from king Ariarathes III and on, they shifted to using Greek-style coins and inscriptions. [4] During the reign of Ariamnes, the first coins appeared with Greek inscriptions, with the monarch depicted on it in Persian dress. [12] Like the Seleucids, the Cappadocian kings named newly founded cities after themselves (e.g., Ariaramneia, Ariarathei, Archelais). Furthermore, all three royal houses were "honored" by the Greek poleis . [4] Roughly speaking, Hellenization in the kingdom started slowly from the course of the 3rd century BC, and quickened in the 2nd. [12] Nevertheless, until the end of the kingdom, all its rulers bore Iranian names. [5]


According to Strabo, the capital Mazaca was well-developed and had a large population. [4] It was surrounded by numerous villages and plantations; all of these, in turn, were well protected by fortifications controlled by members of the royal family and the nobility. [4]

Kings of Cappadocia

See also

Related Research Articles

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Bithynia and Pontus was the name of a province of the Roman Empire on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia (Turkey). It was formed during the late Roman Republic by the amalgamation of the former kingdoms of Bithynia and Pontus. The amalgamation was part of a wider conquest of Anatolia and its reduction to Roman provinces.

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Anatolia in Classical Antiquity was first divided into several Iron Age kingdom, most notably Lydia in the west, Phrygia in the center and Urartu in the east. Anatolia fell under Achaemenid Persian rule c. 550 BC. In the aftermath of the Greco-Persian Wars, all of Anatolia remained under Persian control except for the Aegean coast, which was incorporated in the Delian League in the 470s BC. Alexander the Great finally wrested control of the whole region from Persia in the 330s BC. After Alexander's death, his conquests were split amongst several of his trusted generals, but were under constant threat of invasion from both the Gauls and other powerful rulers in Pergamon, Pontus, and Egypt.

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  1. Weiskopf, Michael (1990). "CAPPADOCIA". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 7-8. pp. 780–786. (...) Hellenistic-era Iranian kingdom (...) But all in all, Cappadocia remained an Iranian kingdom, one which developed from an Achaemenid satrapy.
  2. McGing, Brian (1986). "Eupator in Asia before the first war with Rome". The Foreign Policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus. BRILL. p. 72. ISBN   978-9004075917. As in Pontus the ruling family was of Iranian descent.
  3. 1 2 3 Raditsa 1983, pp. 106-107.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Weiskopf 1990, pp. 780–786.
  5. 1 2 Cooper & Decker 2012, p. 178.
  6. Raditsa 1983, p. 105.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Raditsa 1983, p. 107.
  8. McGing 1986, p. 72.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Van Dam 2002, p. 17.
  10. 1 2 3 Boyce 2001, p. 85.
  11. Weiskopf 1987, pp. 757-764.
  12. 1 2 Raditsa 1983, p. 111.