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Destinations in Cappadocia

The city of Mazaka was the centre of settlement for the Musski tribes who entered Cappadocia together with the Tabalas. The ancients believed that the city derived its name from the mythical ancestor of the Cappadocians , Mosoch. It is thought that the Persian name is derived from “Mazeus”, the Phrygian Zeus, which later became “Mazaka”. The city was renewed during the Hellenistic period during the reign of the Cappadocian monarch Ariarathes V (163-130 B.C.) when it was renamed “Eusebeia” after one of the royal titles-“Eusebes”. We know that the city became known as Caesareia sometime between the 12-9th centuries B.C. from a reference in the work of Sextus Rufus: Mazaka, the largest city in Cappadocia, was renamed Caesareia in honour of the emperor Augustus Caesar.

The city was considered the most important in the region, and is widely mentioned in the ancient sources as “the largest and finest city in Cappadocia”, and “most distinguished of cities without an equal throughout Anatolia”.

After the defeat of the Persians, Cappadocia was conquered by Alexander the Great during the Hellenistic age, up to the Halys-Kızılırmak. After his death Anatolia was divided between the diadochs and Cappadocia fell to Perdikkas. Ariarathes I, who governed the satrapy to the north, opposed this but was captured and killed. Perdikkas restored order to Cappadocia, appointing Eumenes as satrap. Subsequently, we know that for sometime the satrapy was under the domination of the Syrian Seleucid monarchy and was, in fact, referred to in the ancient sources as ” Seleucid Cappadocia”.

After being freed from the Seleucid yoke, Cappadocia retained its satrapies for some time until the kingdom of Cappadocia was founded by Ariarathes III (255-220 B.C.) . coins were struck for the first time under Ariarathes, who founded a new city, an urban model for other Hellenistic monarchs, which was named Ariatheia. This city became the capital of the new kingdom. During his reign, the first moves were made towards the Hellenisation of the region, a political approach which was to be adopted by subsequent rulers.

In 96 B.C. Cappadocia came under the rule of Mithridates VI, king of Pontus, and with the subsequent rebellion of patricians, the kingdom became a vassal of Rome, finally becoming a Roman province in 17 A.D., under Tiberius. The province was bordered to the north by Samsun (Amiscus), by the Euphrates to the east, the Taurus mountains to the south, Galatia and Pamphylia to the west.

he capital of the Roman province of Cappadocia was Caesareia-Kayseri. It was subject to tribute and was governed by a procurator. Vespasian (69-79 A.D.) installed two Roman legions in Cappadocia to protect it against attacks by barbarians and the governership of the region was given to a propraetor, with the rank of imperial governor, in place of a procurator. Cappadocia became the centre of the Roman boundary defences against the Parthians, and was provided with military roads during the reign of Trajan (98-117 A.D.). The empire minted the money needed for its policy of expansion in the east at Caesareia, where there had been a mint since the time of Cappadocia kingdoms. Much of the coinage emitted bore the image of Mount Erciyes.

Cappadocia was conquered by Artaxerxes, a Neo-Persian monarch, during the reign of Severus Alexander (222-235 A.D.), but subsequently a treaty was concluded with Rome. A continuing fear of persian domination, however, led to the construction of fortifications around Caesareia.

Attacked twice by the Goths in 254 A.D. and 267 A.D., Cappadocia also suffered from the advances of the Palmyrian queen, Zenobia, was, effectively used by the Romans as a campaign route to the east.

During the time of Basilius, powerful archbishop of Caesareia, relationships with Rome under the emperor Julianus Apostata (361-363 A.D.) were at a low ebb. As evidenced by a letter addressed to Basilius from the emperor, stating: I order you to send me 2000 gold coins as I set out for Caesareia. I shall still be on route (when you receive this) and will enter combat with the Persians shortly. If you do not obey my command, I will put the whole of Caesareia to ruin, I will destroy all her ancient and gine buildings, and restore all her temples and statues so that the whole world should know of the supremacy of the Roman empire, and the futility of revolting against it. Thus threatening to restore pagan structures and cult statues to the city and destroy Christian buildings, the emperor being a pagan himself.

Indeed, the same emperor had Caesareia removed from the imperial list of cities, and to express his dissatisfaction with the Christian city, forced tribute, both money and goods with torture from the churches in and around Caesareia. He also pressed the monastic orders into military service and ordered all Christians to pay the tributes given by Christian serfs.

On the death of Julianus Apostata in the Persian wars in 363 A.D., Caesareia was freed from persecution. Basilius founded a huge orphanage outside the city gates, a city in itself, a complex containing a cathedral, an archbishopric palace, a library, monastic cloisters, a guesthouse and an infirmary for lepers. The complex was entitled Basileias.

During the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) the province of Cappadocia was divided into two, namely, Cappadocia Prima and Cappadocia Secunda.

The capital of Cappadocia Prima was Caesareia, and Tyana (Kilisehisar) was the capital of Cappadocia Secunda.

The region remained in the Eastern Roman empire after the division of the empire in 395 A.D. ın 1072, the Seljuks invaded the area, and Cappadocia remained a vassal of the Seljuks, whose capital was Konya, until the reign of Manuel Comnenus (1143-1180 A.D.).

Invaded again by Tamerlaine in 1405, the region reverted to Seljuk hands after the Mongol withdrawal to Bukhara, finally becoming Ottoman territory.

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