CAPPADOCIA, in ancient geography, an extensive inland district of Asia Minor. In the time of Herodotus the Cappadocians occupied the whole region from Mount Taurus to the Euxine. That author tells us that the name of the Cappadocians (Katpatouka) was applied to them by the Persians, while they were termed by the Greeks “Syrians,” or “White Syrians” (Leucosyri). Under the later kings of the Persian empire the were divided into two satrapies or governments, the one comprising the central and inland portion, to which the name of Cappadocia continued to be applied by Greek geographers, while the other was called Cappadocia κατὰ Πόντον, or simply Pontus (q.v.). This division had already come about before the time of Xenophon. As after the fall of the Persian government the two provinces continued to be separate, the distinction was perpetuated, and the name Cappadocia came to be restricted to the inland province (sometimes called Great Cappadocia), which alone will be considered in the present article.
Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded S. by the chain of Mount Taurus, E. by the Euphrates, N. by Pontus, and W. vaguely by the great central salt “Desert” (Axylon). But it is impossible to define its limits with accuracy. Strabo, the only ancient author who gives any circumstantial account of the country, greatly exaggerated its dimensions; it was in reality about 250 m. in length by less than 150 in breadth. With the exception of a narrow strip of the district called Melitene, on the east, which forms part of the valley of the Euphrates, the whole of this region is a high upland tract, attaining to more than 3000 ft., and constituting the most elevated portion of the great tableland of Asia Minor (q.v.). The western parts of the province, where it adjoins Lycaonia, extending thence to the foot of Mount Taurus, are open treeless plains, affording pasture in modern as in ancient times to numerous flocks of sheep, but almost wholly desolate. But out of the midst of this great upland level rise detached groups or masses of mountains, mostly of volcanic origin, of which the loftiest are Mount Argaeus (still called by the Turks Erjish Dagh), (13,100 ft.), and Hassan Dagh to the south-west (8000 ft.).
The eastern portion of the province is of a more varied and broken character, being traversed by the mountain system called by the Greeks Anti-Taurus. Between these mountains and the southern chain of Taurus, properly so called, lies the region called in ancient times Cataonia, occupying an upland plain surrounded by mountains. This district in the time of Strabo formed a portion of Cappadocia and was completely assimilated; but earlier writers and the Persian military system regarded the Cataonians as a distinct people.
Cappadocia contained the sources of the Sarus and Pyramus rivers with their higher affluents, and also the middle course of the Halys (see Asia Minor), and the whole course of the tributary of Euphrates now called Tokhma Su. But as no one of these rivers was navigable or served to fertilize the lands along its torrential course, none has much importance in the history of the province.
The kingdom of Cappadocia, which was still in existence in the time of Strabo, as a nominally independent state, was divided, according to that geographer, into ten districts. Of these Cataonia has been described; the adjoining district of Melitene, which did not originally form part of Cappadocia at all, but was annexed to it by Ariarathes I., was a fertile tract adjoining the Euphrates; its chief town retains the name of Malatia. Cilicia was the name given to the district in which Caesarea, the capital of the whole country was situated, and in which rose the conspicuous Mount Argaeus. Tyanitis, the region of which Tyana was the capital, was a level tract in the extreme south, extending to the foot of Mount Taurus. Garsauritis appears to have comprised the western or south-western districts adjoining Lycaonia; its chief town was Archelais. Laviansene or Laviniane was the country south and south-east of Sivas, through which ran the road from Sebastea to Caesarea: Sargarausene lay south of the above, and included Uzun Yaila and the upper basin of the Tokhma Su; Saravene lay west of Laviansene and included the modern district of Ak Dagh; Chamanene lay west again of the above along the middle course of the Halys: Morimene was the north-western district extending along the edge of the central desert as far south as Melegob.
The only two cities of Cappadocia considered by Strabo to deserve that appellation were Mazaca, the capital of the kingdom under its native monarchs (see Caesarea-Mazaca); and Tyana, not far from the foot of the Taurus, the site of which is marked by a great mound at a place called Kiz (or Ekuz) Hissar, about 12 m. south-west of Nigdeh. Archelais, founded by Archelaus, the last king of the country, subsequently became a Roman colony, and a place of some importance. It is now Akserai.
Several localities in the Cappadocian country were the sites of famous temples. Among these the most celebrated were those of Comana (q.v.) and Venasa in Morimene, where a male god was served by over 3000 hieroduli. The local sanctity of Venasa has been perpetuated by the Moslem veneration for Haji Bektash, the founder of the order of dervishes to which the Janissaries used in great part to belong. Cappadocia was remarkable for the number of its slaves, which constituted the principal wealth of its monarchs. Large numbers were sent to Rome but did not enjoy a good reputation. The Cappadocian peasants are still in the habit of taking service in the west of the peninsula and only returning to their homes after long absences; their labour is now much valued by employers, as they are a strong sober folk. The province was celebrated for its horses, as well as for its vast flocks of sheep; but from its elevation above the sea, and the coldness of its climate, it could never have been rich and fertile.
History.—Nothing is known of the history of Cappadocia before it became subject to the Persian empire, except that the country was the home of a great “Hittite” power centred at Boghaz-Keui (see Pteria), which has left monuments at many places, e.g. Nevsheher, Fraktin, Gorun, Malatia, various points about Albistan and Derendeh, Bulgur Maden, Andaval and Tyana. Possibly the princes of the last named city were independent. With the decline of the Syro-Cappadocians after their defeat by Croesus, Cappadocia was left in the power of a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition, which later made them apt for foreign slavery. It was included in the third Persian satrapy in the division established by Darius, but long continued to be governed by rulers of its own, none apparently supreme over the whole country and all more or less tributary to the Great King. Thoroughly subdued at last by the satrap Datames, Cappadocia recovered independence under a single ruler, Ariarathes (hence called Ariarathes I.), who was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and maintained himself on the throne of Cappadocia after the fall of the Persian monarchy.
The province was not visited by Alexander, who contented himself with the tributary acknowledgment of his sovereignty made by Ariarathes before the conqueror’s departure from Asia Minor; and the continuity of the native dynasty was only interrupted for a short time after Alexander’s death, when the kingdom fell, in the general partition of the empire, to Eumenes. His claims were made good in 322 by the regent Perdiccas, who crucified Ariarathes; but in the dissensions following Eumenes’s death, the son of Ariarathes recovered his inheritance and left it to a line of successors, who mostly bore the name of the founder of the dynasty, Under the fourth of the name Cappadocia came into relations with Rome, first as a foe espousing the cause of Antiochus the Great, then as an ally against Perseus of Macedon. The kings henceforward threw in their lot with the Republic as against the Seleucids, to whom they had been from time to time tributary. Ariarathes V. marched with the Roman proconsul Crassus against Aristonicus, a claimant to the throne of Pergammum, and their forces were annihilated (130 B.C.). The imbroglio which followed his death ultimately led to interference by the rising power of Pontus and the intrigues and wars which ended in the failure of the dynasty. The Cappadocians, supported by Rome against Mithradates, elected a native lord, Ariobarzanes, to succeed (93 B.C.); but it was not till Rome had disposed at once of the Pontic and Armenian kings that his rule was established (63 B.C.). In the civil wars Cappadocia was now for Pompey, now for Caesar, now for Antony, now against him. The Ariobarzanes dynasty came to an end and a certain Archelaus reigned in its stead, by favour first of Antony, then of Octavian, and maintained tributary independence till A.D. 17, when the emperor Tiberius, on Archelaus’s death in disgrace, reduced Cappadocia at last to a province. Vespasian in A.D. 70 joined Armenia Minor to it and made the combined province a frontier bulwark. It remained, under various provincial redistributions, part of the Eastern Empire till late in the 11th century, though often ravaged both by Persians and Arabs. But before it passed into Seljuk hands (1074), and from them ultimately to the Osmanlis, it had already become largely Armenian in religion and speech; and thus we find the southern part referred to as “Hermeniorum terra” by crusading chroniclers. At this day the north-east and east parts of the province are largely inhabited by Armenians. The native kings had done much to Hellenize Cappadocia, which had previously received a strong Iranian colour; but it was left to Christianity to complete their work. Though pre-Hellenic usages long survived in the local cults and habits, a part of the people has remained more or less Hellenic to this day, in spite of its envelopment by Moslem conquerors and converts. The tradition of its early church, illuminated by the names of the two Gregories and Basil of Caesarea, has been perpetuated by the survival of a native Orthodox element throughout the west and north-west of the province; and in the remoter valleys Greek speech has never wholly died out. Its use has once more become general under Greek propagandist influence, and the Cappadocian “Greeks” are now a flourishing community.
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