Settlements > Antioch of Pisidia

Antioch of Pisidia


Antioch in Pisidia – alternatively Antiochia in Pisidia or Pisidian Antioch (Greek: Ἀντιόχεια τῆς Πισιδίας) and in Roman Empire, Latin: Antiochia Caesareia or Antiochia Colonia Caesarea – is a city in the Turkish Lakes Region, which is at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Central Anatolian regions, and formerly on the border of Pisidia and Phrygia, hence also known as Antiochia in Phrygia. The site lies approximately 1 km northeast of Yalvaç, the modern town of Isparta Province. The city is on a hill with its highest point of 1236 m in the north.


The city is surrounded by, on the east the deep ravine of the Anthius River which flows into Lake Eğirdir, with the Sultan Mountains to the northeast, Mount Karakuş to the north, Kızıldağ (Red Mountain) to the southeast, Kirişli Mountain and the northern shore of Lake Eğirdir to the southwest. Although very close to Mediterranean on the map, the warm climate of the south cannot pass the height of the Taurus Mountains. Owing to the climate, there is no timberland but crop plants grow in areas provided with water from the Sultan Mountains, whose annual average rainfall is c. 1000 mm on the peaks and 500 mm on the slopes. This water feeds the plateau and Antioch. The other Pisidian cities Neapolis, Tyriacum, Laodiceia Katakekaumene and Philomelium founded on the slopes, benefited from this fertility.

The acropolis has an area of 460,000 square metres (115 acres) and is surrounded by fortified defence walls. The Territorium of the settlement can be seen from the Temple of Men in the sanctuary of Men Askaenos on a hill to the southeast. The Territorium of the city is estimated to have been approximately 1,400 km² in ancient times. According to the 1950 census, there were 40 villages with 50,000 people living in the area. The population during the Roman period must have been a little more than this.

The constantly irrigated fertile soil of the land is very suitable for growing fruits and for husbandry. For the veterans (retired Roman legionaries) who came from poorer parts of Italy during the Roman period, agriculture must have been the driving force for integration of the colonies into the area. The modern town of Yalvaç is the second biggest in Isparta province with an area of 14,000 km² The population in the centre is 35,000, the total is c. 100,000. The town is 230 km from Antalya, 180 km from Konya, 105 km from Isparta and 50 km from Akşehir, via the main road.

Hellenistic Period

After the death of Alexander the Great, Seleucus I Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Dynasty, took control of Pisidia. Captured places were Hellenised and, in order to protect the population, fortified cities were founded at strategically important places, usually on an acropolis. Seleucus I Nicator had nearly 60 cities founded, and gave to 16 of them the name of his father Antiochos.[citation needed] Colonists were brought from Magnesia on the Maeander to found Pisidian Antioch (the Land of Antiochus).

Meanwhile, fights for the sharing of Anatolia continued and were complicated by the Galatians coming in from Europe. The self-interested Hellenistic dynasties could not expel the Galatians from the interior, but Antiochus I Seleucos fought against them in 270 BC in the Taurus Mountains and defeated them by the help of elephants, which the Galatians had never seen before. The historian Lucian reported the comment of Antiochos: "It's a great shame that we owe our liberation to 16 elephants". Anyway, Antiochos celebrated his victory when he returned to Syria and was given the title of "Soter" (Saviour).

The most reasonable approach is that Antioch was founded by Antiochus I Soter as a military base to control the Galatian attacks because it was on the border of the regions of Pisidia and Phrygia. The foundation of Antioch indicates a date of the last quarter of the 3rd century BC, but archeological finds at the Sanctuary of Men Askaenos in the northeast date back to the 4th century. This indicates that there had been earlier classical cultures in the area.

Roman period

While the Hellenistic Kingdoms (the inheritors of Alexander the Great) were fighting each other and the Galatians, Rome became the most powerful state in Europe and started to follow a policy of expansion to the east. They invaded Macedon, Thrace, and the Dardanelles, and reaching Phrygia via Magnesia and Pisidia. They cowed the Galatians and according to the treaty signed in Apamea in 188 BC, they gave the land of Pisidia which they had got from Antiochos III, to their ally the Pergamon Kingdom which dominated the region. Attalos III, the last king of Pergamon, bequeathed his kingdom to Rome on his death in 133 BC Aristonikos who claimed Pergamon was defeated in 129, then Rome affected Anatolia with its well-developed, creative culture for centuries.


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