Settlements > Seleucia Pieria

Seleucia Pieria

Background

Seleucia Pieria, commonly known as Seleucia by the Sea was the western capital and city of the Seleucid Empire that was established by Seleucus I Nicator around 300 BCE during the Hellenistic Period following the death of Alexander the Great and the fragmentation of his empire. Known in the Greek language as Σελεύκεια ἐν Πιερίᾳ and later Suedia the city was extremely important during the constant conflicts between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom during the Hellenistic Era that are known as the Syrian Wars. Based on the accounts of Pausanias and Malalas the city was built atop the remains of a previous city known as Palaeopolis or Old City. Currently Seleucia Pieria is located right near the small Turkish village of Çevlik near the town of Samandağ in the Hatay Province.

Selecia Pieria was the most important coastal city and commercial port in the area of Syria Prima and was built north of the Orontes River between smaller rivers on the western slopes of the summit called Coryphaeus near the Amanus Mountains in modern day Turkey. The Macedonians called the region Pieria after a similar region in their own homeland. This region and city played very importantly in the Greek on Greek conflicts during the Hellenistic Era due to its strategic importance as a major naval port on the Mediterranean Sea. The city was known to have been captured by Ptolemy III Euergetes in 246 BCE. Between 246 BCE and 219 BCE the city changed ownership many times due to the constant conflicts until finally Antichus III the Great was able to reconquer it during the Fourth Syrian War for the Seleucid Empire.

Following its recapture the city was able to rebuild and stay secure even throughout rule under the Roman Empire. During this time the city was able to mint its own coins, a real sign of independence and sovereignty in the ancient world. Overall the city was very important as a Hellenistic era major seaport in Mesopotamia. The city is known to have developed a regional tetrapolis forming a zone of control along with the cities of Laodiceia, Antioch Epidaphn.

Syrian Wars

Roman Empire

When the Seleucid Empire was subdued by the Armenian conqueror Tigranes II, Seleucia Pieria resisted. Roman general Pompey the Great restored the Seleucids to power by giving the city to Antiochus I Theos of Commagene, a direct descendant of Seleucus I Nicator and a loyal ally of Rome. Under light Commagene rule, Seleucia enjoyed substantial autonomy, i.e. de facto independence. Seleucia's importance grew significantly over time, necessitating the enlargement of its harbours several times under Diocletian and Constantius. These harbours, called the "inner" and "outer" harbours, served from time to time the Roman navy.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

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