The Byzantine Empire referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed.
Under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity; the borders of the empire evolved over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I, the empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries; the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when it lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty, the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia. The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence, its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire; the last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond. The first use of the term "Byzantine" to label the years of the Roman Empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources.
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts; the publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, in 1680 of Du Cange's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of "Byzantine" among French authors, such as Montesquieu. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world; the Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the "Roman Empire", the "Empire of the Romans", "Romania", the "Roman Republic", as "Rhōmais". The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and as late as the 19th century Greeks referred to Modern Greek as Romaiika "Romaic." After 1204 when the Byzantine Empire was confined to its purely Greek provinces the term'Hellenes' was used instead. While the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries with its predominant Greek element.
The occasional use of the term "Empire of the Greeks" in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum were used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known as Rûm; the name millet-i Rûm, or "Roman nation," was used by the Ottomans through the 20th century to refer to the former subjects of the Byzantine Empire
Syunik, is the southernmost province of Armenia. It is bordered by the Vayots Dzor Province from the north, Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic exclave from the west, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from the east, Iran from the south, its capital and largest city is the town of Kapan. The National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia reported its population was 141,771 in the 2011 census, down from 152,684 at the 2001 census. Syunik is supposed to be one of the 15 provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia. At various times, the region of present-day Syunik was known by other names such as Syunia and Zangezur. However, the present-name of the province is derived from the ancient Armenian Siunia dynasty, who were the Nakharar of the historic province of Syunik since the 1st century. Syunik is located between the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan from the west, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from the east; the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia forms its northern borders, while Aras River at the south separates Syunik from Iran.
Syunik covers an area of 4,506 km², making it the second-largest province in Armenia after Gegharkunik in terms of the total area. The current territory of the province occupies most of the historic Syunik province of Ancient Armenia. Syunik is a mountainous region covered with thick green forests; the Zangezur Mountains occupy most of the territories of Syunik. Mount Kaputjugh with a height of 3905 meters and Mount Gazanasar with a height of 3829 meters are the highest peaks of the province. Many of the forests in Syunik are protected by the government, including the Arevik National Park, the Shikahogh State Reserve, the Boghakar Sanctuary, the Goris Sanctuary, the Plane Grove Sanctuary, the Sev Lake Sanctuary, the Zangezur Sanctuary, Major water basins include the rivers of Vorotan, Sisian and Vachagan. Summer temperature can reach up to 40 °C, although the average temperature is around 22 °C, while in winter it may reach down to -12.5 °C. Its border with Nakhchivan to the west is defined by the Zangezur Mountains.
Meghri mountain ridge at the extreme south of Armenia used to be home to the Endangered Caucasian leopards. However, only one individual of them was camera-trapped between August 2006 to April 2007, no signs of other leopards were found during track surveys conducted over an area of 296.9 km2. The local prey base could support 4–10 individuals, but poaching and disturbance caused by livestock breeding, gathering of edible plants and mushrooms and human-induced wildfires are so high that they exceed the tolerance limits of leopards. During surveys in 2013–2014, camera traps recorded leopards in 24 locations in southern Armenia, of which 14 are located in the Zangezur Mountains. Inscriptions found in the region around Lake Sevan attributed to King Artaxias I confirm that the historic province of Syunik was part of the Artaxiad Kingdom of Armenia during the 2nd century BC; the first dynasty to rule Syunik was the Siunia dynasty, beginning in the 1st century. The first known Nakharar ruler was Valinak Siak and his successor was his brother Andok or Andovk.
In 379, Babik the son of Andok, was re-established as a Naxarar by the Mamikonian family. Babik had a sister called Pharantzem who had married the Arsacid Prince Gnel, nephew of the Armenian King Arsaces II and married Arsaces II as her second husband. Babik's rule lasted for less than ten years and by about 386 or 387, Dara was deposed by the Sassanid Empire. Valinak was followed by Vasak. Vasak had two sons: Bakur and a daughter who married Vasak's successor, Varazvahan. Varazvahan's son Gelehon ruled from 470–477, who died in 483. Babik the brother of Varazvahan became the new Naxarar in 477. Hadz the brother of Gelehon died on 25 September 482; the Syunik Province was governed by Vahan, Stephen and Grigor. A dynasty was formed, governed by a branch of the Bagratuni, with minor vassal princes from one or more previous dynasties. Vasak III suffered an assault from the emir of Sevada, he established a garrison in the district of Dzoluk. He called for help from the Persian revolutionary chief Babak Khorramdin, who married a daughter of the king.
After the death of Vasak III in 821, Babak inherited the country. Babak was harassed by both Muslims and Armenians, he abdicated and the children of Vasak and Sahak, regained power. Philip controlled including the cantons of the Vayots Dzor and Baghk. Sahak governed the western canton of Syunik, known as Gegharkunik. In 826, Sahak allied with his ancient enemy – Sevada, the Qaisite emir of Manazkert – against the governor of Caliph, but he was defeated and died in Kavakert, his son Grigor-Sufan succeeded him as prince of Western Syunik. In the Eastern region, Philipo died on 10 August 848, he was succeeded by three children. Babgen fought with Grigor-Sufan and killed him but Babgen died shortly after and Vasak-Ichkhanik followed him. Vasak-Ichkhanik had peaceful relations with Vasak-Gabor, who had ascended to the throne of Western Syunik, replacing his father Grigor-Sufan. Nerseh Pilippean, brother of Babgen, directed an expedition to Aghuania defeating and killing the prince Varaz-Terdat II (of the Persian dynasty Mi
Bitlis is a city in eastern Turkey and the capital of Bitlis Province. The city is located at an elevation of 1,545 metres, 15 km from Lake Van, in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris; the local economy is based on agricultural products which include fruits and tobacco. Industry is limited, deals with leatherworking, manufacture of tobacco products as well as weaving and dyeing of coarse cloth. Bitlis is connected to other urban centres by road, including Tatvan on Lake Van, 25 km to the northeast, the cities of Muş, 100 km northwest, Diyarbakır, 200 km to the west; the climate of Bitlis can be harsh, with heavy snowfalls. Summers are hot, humid; the origin of the name Bitlis is not known. A popular folk etymology explanation, without historical basis, is that it is derived from "Lis/Batlis", the name of a general said to have built Bitlis castle by the order of Alexander the Great. To Armenians, it was known as Balalesa or Baghaghesh, Baghesh. According to one popular Armenian folk story, on a cold, wintry day a donkey left its stable and wandered down the valley below.
The donkey died of the freezing temperatures and was only discovered in the spring, once the ice had melted. Some medieval Armenian writers, such as Anania Shirakatsi and Vardan Areveltsi mention it as a part of the canton of Bznunik'; the fortress guarded the Baghesh Pass, which linked the southern reaches of the Armenian Plateau to northern Mesopotamia. The Arabs conquered Baghesh at the end of the seventh century and it became the capital of the Zurārid emirs of Arzan; because it was on an important trade route, it prospered greatly. The next two centuries, marked a turbulent period in the town's history. After Bugha al-Kabir's destructive 852-855 campaign in Armenia, the Shaybanid emirs wrested control of Baghesh from the Zurārids. In his 929-30 campaign against the Kaysites, the Byzantine general John Curcuas was able to capture and annex Baghesh. Following the devastation of the Arab emirs in the second half of the tenth century, a great number of Kurds settled in Baghesh and at the end of the tenth century, the city fell into the hands of the Kurdish Marwanid dynasty after breaking from Buyid rule.
At the end of the eleventh century, with the collapse of Byzantine power after the Battle of Manzikert, Bitlis fell under the control of Togan Arslan, a subject of the Shah Arman dynasty based in Akhlat' after brief Dilmachoglu rule. It was ruled by Ayyubid, Khwarezm Shahs, Sultanate of Rûm and Ilkhanate. Bitlis was a Kurdish emirate from the 13th to the 19th century. Though subordinate to a succession of larger powers that ruled the Van region, it always maintained a measure of independence. In the 14th century its emirs, the Kurdish Rusaki family, were vassals of the Karakoyunlu and the emirate's territory consisted of several smaller emirates: Ahlat and Hinis; the emir of Bitlis submitted to Timur in 1394, but helped the re-establishment of Karakoyunlu control in the region. After the collapse of the Karakoyunlu state, the Bitlis emirate disintegrated. However, in the 1470s it took the Aq Qoyunlu three successive sieges to capture Bitlis and in 1494/95 the Ruzaki recaptured the town. Armenians formed a large part of the city's population.
A number of monasteries were permitted to be built by the Kurdish emirs and during the fifteenth century, Biltis flourished as a center for Armenian manuscript production. Bitlis was forced to accept a Persian governor during the invasion of the Safavid Shah Ismail, but sided with the Ottoman forces as they approached the region, its emir, Sheref changed his allegiance to the Persians. An Ottoman army besieged was forced to retire. Sheref was killed in his son and successor submitted to the Ottoman Empire. Mush and Hınıs were removed from the Bitlis emirate, becoming separate sanjaks but still with Ruzaki beys. A Jesuit mission was established in Bitlis in 1685; the Ruzakid Kurdish dynasty in Bitlis lasted until 1849, when an Ottoman governor evicted its last emir, Sheref Bey, taken to Constantinople as a prisoner. After this, Bitlis was governed by a Turkish pasha and formed the capital of a vilayet bearing its name. In 1814 the population of Bitlis town was said to be 12,000 people - one half Muslim, the other half was constituted by Christian Armenians.
By 1838 its population was said to be between 15,000 and 18,000 - two thirds Muslim, one third Armenian, a small minority of Assyrians. In 1898 Lynch considered the population to be close to 30,000, comprising 10,000 Armenians, 300 syrians, the rest Muslim Kurds; the Armenians had five schools for three for girls. One third of the population of Bitlis was ethnic Armenian prior to World War I (1914, whereas the majority of the population was Kurdish Muslim. In 1915, during the Armenian Genocide and Kurds, led by Jevdet Bey Pasha, massacred some 15,000 Armenians in Bitlis. In February 1916, as part of the Caucasus Campaign, Imperial Russian forces launched an offensive to capture Mush and Bitlis. Mush fell on February 16
Transcaucasia, or the South Caucasus, is a geographical region in the vicinity of the southern Caucasus Mountains on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Transcaucasia corresponds to modern Georgia and Azerbaijan. Total area of these countries is about 186,100 square kilometres. Transcaucasia and Ciscaucasia together comprise the larger Caucasus geographical region that divides Eurasia. Transcaucasia spans the southern portion of the Caucasus Mountains and their lowlands, straddling the border between the continents of Europe and Asia, extending southwards from the southern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range of southwestern Russia to the Turkish and Armenian borders, from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea coast of Iran in the east; the area includes the southern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, the entire Lesser Caucasus mountain range, the Colchis Lowlands, the Kura-Aras Lowlands, the Talysh Mountains, the Lenkoran Lowlands and the eastern portion of the Armenian Highland.
All of present-day Armenia is in Transcaucasia. Parts of Iran and Turkey are included within the region of Transcaucasia. Goods produced in the region include oil, manganese ore, citrus fruits, wine, it remains one of the most politically tense regions in the post-Soviet area, contains three disputed areas: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh. Between 1878 and 1917 the Russian-controlled province of Kars Oblast was incorporated into the Transcaucasus. Transcaucasia is a Latin rendering of the Russian-language word Zakavkazie, meaning "the area beyond the Caucasus Mountains"; this implies a Russian vantage point, is analogous to similar terms such as Transnistria and Transleithania. Other, rarer forms of this word include Trans-Caucasus and Transcaucasus.. The region is referred to as Southern Caucasia and the South Caucasus. Herodotus, Greek historian, known as'the Father of History' and Strabo, Greek geographer and historian spoke about autochthonous peoples of the Caucasus in their books.
In the Middle Ages various peoples, including Scythians, Huns, Arabs, Seljuq Turks, Mongols settled in Caucasia. These invasions influenced on the culture of the peoples of Transcaucasia. In parallel Middle Eastern influence disseminated the Iranian languages and Islamic religion in Caucasus. Located on the peripheries of Iran and Turkey, the region has been an arena for political, military and cultural rivalries and expansionism for centuries. Throughout its history, the region has come under control of various empires, including the Achaemenid, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, successive Iranian, Russian Empires, all of which introduced their faiths and cultures. Throughout history, Transcaucasia was under the direct rule of the various in-Iran based empires and part of the Iranian world. In the course of the 19th century, Qajar Iran had to irrevocably cede the region as a result of the two Russo-Persian Wars of that century to Imperial Russia. Ancient kingdoms of the region included Armenia and Iberia, among others.
These kingdoms were incorporated into various Iranian empires, including the Achaemenid Empire, the Parthian Empire, the Sassanid Empire, during which Zoroastrianism became the dominant religion in the region. However, after the rise of Christianity and conversion of Caucasian kingdoms to the new religion, Zoroastrianism lost its prevalence and only survived because of Persian power and influence still lingering in the region. Thus, Transcaucasia became the area of not only military, but religious convergence, which led to bitter conflicts with successive Persian empires on the one side and the Roman Empire on the other side; the Iranian Parthians established and installed several eponymous branches in Transcaucasia, namely the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, the Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, the Arsacid Dynasty of Caucasian Albania. In the middle of the 8th century, with the capture of Derbend by the Umayyad armies during the Arab–Khazar wars, most of Transcaucasia became part of the Caliphate and Islam spread throughout the region.
The Orthodox Christian Kingdom of Georgia dominated most of Transcaucasia. The region was conquered by the Seljuk, Turkic, Ottoman and Qajar dynasties. After two wars in the first half of the 19th century, namely the Russo-Persian War and the Russo-Persian War, the Russian Empire conquered most of Transcaucasia from the Iranian Qajar dynasty, severing historic regional ties with Iran. By the Treaty of Gulistan that followed after the 1804-1813 war, Iran was forced to cede modern-day Dagestan, Eastern Georgia, most of the Azerbaijan Republic to Russia. By the Treaty of Turkmenchay that followed after the 1826-1828 war, Iran lost all of what is modern-day Armenia and the remainder of the contemporary Azerbaijani Republic that remained in Iranian hands. After the 1828-1829 war, the Ottomans ceded Western Georgia, to the Russians. In 1844, what comprises present-day Georgia and the Azerbaijan Republic were combined into a single czarist government-general, termed a vice-royalty in 184
Spāhbed is a Middle Persian title meaning "army chief" used chiefly in the Sasanian Empire. There was a single spāhbed, called the Ērān-spāhbed, who functioned as the generalissimo of the Sasanian army. From the time of Khosrow I on, the office was split in four, with a spāhbed for each of the cardinal directions. After the Muslim conquest of Persia, the spāhbed of the East managed to retain his authority over the inaccessible mountainous region of Tabaristan on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, where the title in its Islamic form ispahbadh, survived as a regnal title until the Mongol conquests of the 13th century. An equivalent title of Persian origin, ispahsālār, gained great currency across the Muslim world in the 10th–15th centuries; the title was adopted by the Armenians and the Georgians, as well as Khotan and the Sogdians in Central Asia. It is attested in Greek sources as aspabedēs; the title was revived in the 20th century by the Pahlavi dynasty, in the Modern Persian form sepahbod, equivalent to a three-star Lieutenant General, ranking below arteshbod.
The title is attested in the Achaemenid Empire in its Old Persian form, spādhapati, signifying the army's commander-in-chief. The title continued in use under the Arsacid Parthian Empire, where it seems to have been a hereditary position in one of the seven great houses of the Parthian nobility; the Sasanian Empire, which succeeded the Arsacids, retained the title, attested in a series of inscriptions from the 3rd century. Until the early 6th century, there was a single holder of the title, the Ērān-spāhbed, who according to the list of precedence provided by the 9th-century Muslim historian Ya'qubi occupied the fifth position in the court hierarchy; the Byzantine and Syriac sources record a number of senior officers who might be holders of the rank in the early 6th century. Thus during the Anastasian War of 502–506, a certain Boes, who negotiated with the Byzantine magister officiorum Celer and died in 505, is named in the Syriac sources as an astabid, his unnamed successor in the negotiations bore this title.
Some modern scholars have interpreted astabed as a new office corresponding to the Byzantine magister officiorum instituted by Kavadh I shortly before 503 for the purpose of weakening the authority of the wuzurg framadar. But it is that this Syriac word is a corrupted form of spāhbed, or aspbed, since the Greek sources give the name of the second man as Aspebedes, Aspevedes, or Aspetios. Again, during the Iberian War, a man named Aspebedes, according to the historian Procopius a maternal uncle of Khosrow I, appears. In 527 he took part in negotiations with Byzantine envoys, in 531 he led an invasion of Mesopotamia along with Chanaranges and Mermeroes, he was executed by Khosrow shortly after his accession for plotting with other nobles to overthrow him in favour of his brother Zames. To curb the power of the over-mighty generalissimo, Khosrow I—although this reform may have been planned by his father, Kavadh I —split the office of the Ērān-spāhbed into four regional commands, corresponding to the four traditional cardinal directions: the "army chief of the East", the "army chief of the South", the "army chief of the West", the "army chief of Azerbaijan".
As this reform was mentioned only in literary sources, the historicity of this division, or its survival after Khosrow I's reign, was questioned in the past, but a series of thirteen discovered seals, which provide the names of eight spāhbeds, provide contemporary evidence from the reigns of Khosrow I and his successor, Hormizd IV. The eight known spāhbeds are: Other holders of the rank are difficult to identify from the literary sources, since the office of spāhbed was held in tandem with other offices and titles, such as Shahrwarāz, which are treated as personal names. A further factor of confusion in literary sources is the interchangeable use of the rank with the junior provincial ranks of marzbān and pāygōsbān. During the Muslim conquest of Persia, the spahbed of Khurasan retired to the mountains of Tabaristan. There he invited the last Sasanian shah, Yazdgerd III, to find refuge, but Yazdgerd refused, was killed in 651. Like many other local rulers throughout the former Sasanian domains, including those of the neighbouring provinces of Gurgan and Gilan, the spahbed made terms with the Arabs, which allowed him to remain as the independent ruler of Tabaristan in exchange for an annual tribute.
This marked the foundation of the Dabuyid dynasty, which ruled Tabaristan until 759–761, when it was conquered by the Abbasids and incorporated into the Caliphate as a province. The early rulers of the dynasty are ill attested.
Tarsus is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean. It is part of the Adana-Mersin metropolitan area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 3 million people. Tarsus forms an administrative district in the eastern part of the Mersin Province and lies in the core of Çukurova region. With a history going back over 6,000 years, Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders and a focal point of many civilizations. During the Roman Empire, Tarsus was the capital of the province of Cilicia, it was the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, the birthplace of Paul the Apostle. Located on the mouth of the Berdan River, which empties into the Mediterranean, Tarsus is a junction point of land and sea routes connecting the Cilician plain, central Anatolia and the Mediterranean sea; the climate is typical of the Mediterranean region, with hot summers and chilly, damp winters. Tarsus has a long history of commerce, is still a commercial centre today, trading in the produce of the fertile Çukurova plain.
Industries include agricultural machinery, spare parts, fruit-processing, brick-making and ceramics. Agriculture is an important source of income: half the land area in the district is farmland and most of the remainder is forest and orchard; the farmland is well-irrigated and managed with up-to-date equipment. The ancient name is Tarsos, derived from Tarsa, the original name of the city in the Hittite language, derived from a pagan god, Tarku, as Hittites were one of the first settlers of the region. First mentioned in historical record in Akkadian texts of the Neo-Assyrian era as Tarsisi. During the Hellenistic era it was known as Antiochia on the Cydnus, to distinguish it from Syrian Antioch, it was known as Darson in Western Armenian and Tarson in Eastern Armenian. Excavation of the mound of Gözlükule reveals that the prehistorical development of Tarsus reaches back to the Neolithic Period and continues unbroken through Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages; the settlement was located at the crossing of several important trade routes, linking Anatolia to Syria and beyond.
Because the ruins are covered by the modern city, archaeology has touched the ancient city. The city may have been of Semitic origin. A Greek legend connects it with the memory of the Assyrian king Sardanapalus, still preserved in the Dunuk-Tach, called'tomb of Sardanapalus', a monument of unknown origin. Stephanus of Byzantium quotes Athenodorus of Tarsus as relating another legend: Anchiale, daughter of Iapetus, founded Anchiale: her son was Cydnus, who gave his name to the river at Tarsus: the son of Cydnus was Parthenius, from whom the city was called Parthenia: afterwards the name was changed to Tarsus. Much of this legend of the foundation of Tarsus, appeared in the Roman era, none of it is reliable; the geographer Strabo states that Tarsus was founded by people from Argos who were exploring this coast. Another legend states that Bellerophon fell off his winged horse Pegasus and landed here, hurting his foot, thus the city was named tar-sos. Other candidates for legendary founder of the city include the hero Perseus and Triptolemus, son of the earth-goddess Demeter, doubtless because the countryside around Tarsus is excellent farmland.
The coinage of Tarsus bore the image of Hercules, due to yet another tale in which the hero was held prisoner here by the local god Sandon. Tarsus has been suggested as a possible identification of the biblical Tarshish, where the prophet Jonah wanted to flee, but Tartessos in Spain is a more identification for this. In historical times, the city was first ruled by the Hittites, followed by Assyria, the Persian Empire. Tarsus, as the principal town of Cilicia, was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 BC onward. Indeed, Xenophon records that in 401 BC, when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch. At this period the patron god of the city was Sandon, of whom a large monument existed at Tarsus at least until the 3rd century AD. Coins showed Sandon standing on a winged and horned lion, it is now thought that the Lion of Saint Mark on the pillar in the Piazza San Marco in Venice was in origin a winged lion-griffin from such a monument at Tarsus.
Alexander the Great passed through with his armies in 333 BC and nearly met his death here after a bath in the Cydnus. By this time Tarsus was largely influenced by Greek language and culture, as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers and linguists; the schools of Tarsus rivaled those of Alexandria. 2 Maccabees records its revolt in about 171 BC against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had renamed the town Antiochia on the Cydnus. The name did not last, due to the confusion of so many cities named Antioch. At this time the library of Tarsus held 200,000 books, including a huge collection of scientific works. In 67 BC, after crushing the Cilician pirates, subjected Tarsus to Rome, it beca
The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass through the Taurus Mountains connecting the low plains of Cilicia to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m; the Cilician Gates have been a major military artery for millennia. In the early 20th century, a narrow-gauge railway was built through them, today, the Tarsus-Ankara Highway passes through them; the southern end of the Cilician gates is about 44 km north of Tarsus and the northern end leads to Cappadocia. Yumuktepe, which guards the Adana side of the gateway, with 23 layers of occupation, is at 4,500 BCE, one of the oldest fortified settlements in the world; the ancient pathway was a track for mule caravans, not wheeled vehicles. The Hittites, Alexander the Great, the Romans and Sasanians, the Crusaders have all traveled this route during their campaigns; the Bible testifies that Saint Paul of Tarsus and Silas went this way as they went through Syria and Cilicia. The Book of Galatians speaks of the cities of Derbe and Iconium - cities visited by Paul on his first journey, with the purpose of strengthening their churches, at the beginning of the second preaching journey.
The distance from the Anatolian plateau to the Cilician plain is about 110 kilometres. In ancient times, this was a journey of nearly five days. Saint Paul spoke, according to the Bible, about being in "dangers from rivers" and "dangers from robbers"; this may explain why one of the world's oldest fortresses was built at the southeastern end of the Cilician Gates around 4500 BCE. The Army of the Ten Thousand, Alexander the Great before the Battle of Issus, Paul of Tarsus on his way to the Galatians, part of the army of the First Crusade all passed through the Cilician Gates; the Crusaders allied themselves with the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Above the Gates to the southwest is Gülek Kalesi, a large fortification of considerable antiquity that retains evidence of Byzantine and Arab periods of occupation, but is an Armenian construction of the 12th and 13th centuries, its circuit walls and towers at the south and west cover a distance of over 450 meters. In the vicinity of the Gates is a fort built in the 1830s by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt during his Syrian campaign against the Ottomans.
When German engineers were working on the Baghdad Railway between Istanbul and Baghdad, they were unable to follow the steep-pitched and winding ancient track through the Gates. The series of viaducts and tunnels they built are among the marvels of railroad engineering; the railroad was opened in 1918. Battle of the Cilician Gates Cilicia Cilicia Gülek Caspian Gates Livius.org: Cilician Gate Railroad engineering through the Cilician Gates