1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cilicia
CILICIA, in ancient geography, a district of Asia Minor, extending along the south coast from the Alara Su, which separated it from Pamphylia, to the Giaour Dagh (Mt. Amanus), which parted it from Syria. Its northern limit was the crest of Mt. Taurus. It was naturally divided into Cilicia Trachea, W. of the Lamas Su, and Cilicia Pedias, E. of that river.
Cilicia Trachea is a rugged mountain district formed by the spurs of Taurus, which often terminate in rocky headlands with small sheltered harbours,—a feature which, in classical times, made the coast a resort of pirates, and, in the middle ages, led to its occupation by Genoese and Venetian traders. The district is watered by the Geuk Su (Calycadnus and its tributaries), and is covered to a large extent by forests, which still, as of old, supply timber to Egypt and Syria. There were several towns but no large trade centres. In the interior were Coropissus (Da Bazar), Olba (Uzunjaburj), and, in the valley of the Calycadnus, Claudiopolis (Mut) and Germanicopolis (Ermenek). On or near the coast were Coracesium (Alaya), Selinus-Trajanopolis (Selinti), Anemourium (Anamur), Kelenderis (Kilindria), Seleucia ad Calycadnum (Selefkeh), Corycus (Korghoz) and Elaeusa-Sebaste (Ayash). Roads connected Laranda, north of the Taurus, with Kelenderis and Seleucia.
Cilicia Pedias included the rugged spurs of Taurus and a large plain, which consists, in great part, of a rich stoneless loam. Its eastern half is studded with isolated rocky crags, which are crowned with the ruins of ancient strongholds, and broken by the low hills that border the plain of Issus. The plain is watered by the Cydnus (Tarsus Chai), the Sarus (Sihun) and the Pyramus (Jihun), each of which brings down much silt. The Sarus now enters the sea almost due south of Tarsus, but there are clear indications that at one period it joined the Pyramus, and that the united rivers ran to the sea west of Kara-tash. Such appears to have been the case when Alexander’s army crossed Cilicia. The plain is extremely productive, though now little cultivated. Through it ran the great highway, between the east and the west, on which stood Tarsus on the Cydnus, Adana on the Sarus, and Mopsuestia (Missis) on the Pyramus. North of the road between the two last places were Sision-Flaviopolis (Sis), Anazarbus (Anazarba) and Hierapolis-Kastabala (Budrum); and on the coast were Soli-Pompeiopolis, Mallus (Kara-tash), Aegae (Ayash), Issus, Baiae (Piyas) and Alexandria ad Issum (Alexandretta). The great highway from the west, on its long rough descent from the Anatolian plateau to Tarsus, ran through a narrow pass between walls of rock called the Cilician Gate, Ghulek Boghaz. After crossing the low hills east of the Pyramus it passed through a masonry (Cilician) gate, Demir Kapu, and entered the plain of Issus. From that plain one road ran southward through a masonry (Syrian) gate to Alexandretta, and thence crossed Mt. Amanus by the Syrian Gate, Beilan Pass, to Antioch and Syria; and another ran northwards through a masonry (Amanian) gate, south of Toprak Kaleh, and crossed Mt. Amanus by the Amanian Gate, Baghche Pass, to North Syria and the Euphrates. By the last pass, which was apparently unknown to Alexander, Darius crossed the mountains prior to the battle of Issus. Both passes are short and easy, and connect Cilicia Pedias geographically and politically with Syria rather than with Asia Minor. Another important road connected Sision with Cocysus and Melitene. In Roman times Cilicia exported the goats’-hair cloth, Cilicium, of which tents were made.
The Cilicians appear as Khilikku in Assyrian inscriptions, and in the early part of the first millennium B.C. were one of the four chief powers of western Asia. It is generally assumed that they had previously been subject to the Syro-Cappadocian empire; but, up to 1909 at all events, “Hittite” monuments had not been found in Cilicia; and we must infer that the “Hittite” civilizations which flourished in Cappadocia and N. Syria, communicated with each other by passes E. of Amanus and not by the Cilician Gates. Under the Persian empire Cilicia was apparently governed by tributary native kings, who bore a name or title graecized as Syennesis; but it was officially included in the fourth satrapy by Darius. Xenophon found a queen in power, and no opposition was offered to the march of Cyrus. Similarly Alexander found the Gates open, when he came down from the plateau in 333 B.C.; and from these facts it may be inferred that the great pass was not under direct Persian control, but under that of a vassal power always ready to turn against its suzerain. After Alexander’s death it was long a battle ground of rival marshals and kings, and for a time fell under Ptolemaic dominion, but finally under that of the Seleucids, who, however, never held effectually more than the eastern half. Cilicia Trachea became the haunt of pirates, who were subdued by Pompey. Cilicia Pedias became Roman territory in 103 B.C., and the whole was organized by Pompey, 64 B.C., into a province which, for a short time, extended to and included part of Phrygia. It was reorganized by Caesar, 47 B.C., and about 27 B.C. became part of the province Syria-Cilicia-Phoenice. At first the western district was left independent under native kings or priest-dynasts, and a small kingdom, under Tarkondimotus, was left in the east; but these were finally united to the province by Vespasian, A.D. 74. Under Diocletian (circa 297), Cilicia, with the Syrian and Egyptian provinces, formed the Diocesis Orientis. In the 7th century it was invaded by the Arabs, who held the country until it was reoccupied by Nicephorus II. in 965.
The Seljuk invasion of Armenia was followed by an exodus of Armenians southwards, and in 1080 Rhupen, a relative of the last king of Ani, founded in the heart of the Cilician Taurus a small principality, which gradually expanded into the kingdom of Lesser Armenia. This Christian kingdom—situated in the midst of Moslem states, hostile to the Byzantines, giving valuable support to the crusaders, and trading with the great commercial cities of Italy—-had a stormy existence of about 300 years. Gosdantin I. (1095–1100) assisted the crusaders on their march to Antioch, and was created knight and marquis. Thoros I. (1100–1123), in alliance with the Christian princes of Syria, waged successful war against Byzantines and Seljuks. Levond (Leo) II., “the Great” (1185–1219), extended the kingdom beyond Mount Taurus and established the capital at Sis. He assisted the crusaders, was crowned king by the archbishop of Mainz, and married one of the Lusignans of Cyprus. Haithon I. (1224–1269) made an alliance with the Mongols, who, before their adoption of Islam, protected his kingdom from the Mamelukes of Egypt. When Levond V. died (1342), John of Lusignan was crowned king as Gosdantin IV.; but he and his successors alienated the Armenians by attempting to make them conform to the Roman Church, and by giving all posts of honour to Latins, and at last the kingdom, a prey to internal dissensions, succumbed (1375) to the attacks of the Egyptians. Cilicia Trachea was occupied by the Osmanlis in the 15th century, but Cilicia Pedias was only added to the empire in 1515.
From 1833 to 1840 Cilicia formed part of the territories administered by Mehemet Ali of Cairo, who was compelled to evacuate it by the allied powers. Since that date it has formed the vilayet of Adana (q.v.).