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Ancient Asia Minor - Anatolia


Map of Anatolia

Map of Anatolia


Ancient States of Asia Minor and Their Size:

The northern states of Asia Minor were Mysia (8200 sq mi), Bithynia (12,500), Pontus (22,800), and Paphlagonia (13,700); the central states were Lydia (9,300 sq. mi.), Phrygia (23,200), Galatia (14,100), and Cappadocia (30,700); the southern states were Caria (5,700 sq. mi.), Lycia (3,200), Pamphylia (8,800), and Cilicia (12,300), according to A Grammar of Geography, by J. Goldsmith.


Phrygia was a region of Anatolia whose people spoke Phrygian, an I-E language. Its main cities included Ancyra (founded by "golden touch" Midas shown with the ears of an ass) and Gordium (founded by Midas' father Gordius of Gordian Knot fame). Phrygia included the Troad, whose main city was Troy. The Phrygians are believed to have been "Sea People." Phrygia probably gained prominence only after the 8th century B.C. During the Hellenistic period, the area was settled by Gallic Galatians and renamed Galatia.


Celtic tribes from across the Hellespont reached and plundered Asia Minor in the mid 3rd Century B.C. 3 Celtic tribes settled it: Tolistobogii, Tectosages, and Trocmi. Attalus I of Pergamum beat them c. 230 B.C., and then in 190, the Romans defeated them under Cn. Manlius Vulso.


Mysia was a region on the northwest coast of Asia Minor, whose main cities were Cyzicus and Teuthrania (Pergamon), located on the river Caicus and founded by Teuthras. There is a Mt. Olympus in Mysia.

In the Trojan War, the Greek fleet landed at Mysia, mistaking it for Troy. Inscriptions from the area are in Phrygian.


Lydia was a region of Asia Minor between Mysia and Caria named for Lydus, the son of Attis. Hercules served Omphale, queen of Lydia, as a slave. Sardis, on the river of Patroclus, was the main Lydian city. It was King Croesus' capital city. When Croesus lost Lydia to Cyrus, Lydia became the Persian satrapy of Saparda or Sardis.

Lydia dominated western Anatolia from 690 to 546 B.C. There were three Lydian dynasties: Atyads, Heraclids (descendants of Hercules, whom Herodotus says founded the state), and the Mermnads. Their language was of I-E origins and may created coins.


Caria, a mountainous coastal area of southwest Asia Minor, was bordered by Lydia and Lycia. Its most famous city, Miletus, (originally Anactoria), was an important Ionian city until it became Persian. Miletus was a son of Apollo. Caria became part of the Lydian kingdom in the 6th century B.C. Carian kings, including Mausolus, whose widow, Artemisia, built the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of 7 wonders of the ancient world, continued to rule Caria after it became subject to Persia. Many Carians supported the Ionian Greeks against Darius, in the Persian Wars, although an earlier Queen Artemisia supported Xerxes.


Lycia was in southern Asia Minor and was inhabited by the Milyans and Solymi. Cretans led by Sarpedon, son of Zeus and Europa, lived in Lycia and were called Termilae. Sarpedon co-ruled with Lycus of Athens, brother of Aegeus. Lycia was named after him. Lycia and Cilicia alone of the Asia Minor countries, were not conquered by Croesus, but Lycia was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus the Great.


Cilicia, in southeastern Asia Minor, with Syria to the east, was named for Cilix, son of Agenor of Sidon, and brother of Cadmus and Europa. The main cities of Cilicia were Tarsus, Seleucia, and Issus. During the Persian period (6-4th C. B.C.), Cilicia remained independent, paying tribute to Persia, or a Persian satrapy. Most of Cilicia became part of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander the Great. [Battle at Issus 333 B.C.]

Pontus and Bithynia:

Before Alexander, Pontus was ruled as part of a Persian satrapy, but gained prominence under Mithridates I Ctistes. Its most important king was Mithridates VI, bane of the late Republican Romans. Bithynia was in northwestern Asia Minor, by the Marmara and Black Seas. Hittites may have lived there. Later inhabitants were Thracians and perhaps, Amazons. It was taken by Croesus and became Persian. It was also a Roman province.


Located between Pontus and Bithynia was the coastal area of Paphlagonia, known for its timber. Augustus attached the area to Galatia.


Anatolia is now the portion of Turkey in Asia. Asia Minor is the Latin name for Anatolia. The Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea are on its borders. Colchis, home of the mythical Medea, was east of the Black Sea near this region. Important legendary and historic figures from the area include the goddess Cybele, the kings Tantalus, Midas, Gordius, Croesus, Cyrus, and Mithridates, and the literary figures Homer and Aesop.

Map of Asia Minor

Sources: Geographia: Asia and Africa
Ancient Anatolia

The Ancient Anatolia site lists the following ancient sources on Anatolia:

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