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Carians

 

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Carians and Caria

 

Caria (Turkish Karya, Greek, Καρία) was a region in western Anatolia rather clearly defined south of the River Maeander and of Ionia and, north of Lycia and west of Phrygia. The eponymous inhabitants were known as Carians, and they had come to Caria before the Greeks. They were described by Herodotos as being of Minoan descent, while Carians themselves maintained that they were Anatolian mainlanders intensely engaged in seafaring and were akin to Mysians and Lydians. Also closely associated with the Carians at all times were Lelegians which could be an earlier name for them or a people who had preceded the Carians in the region and continued to exist as part of the Carian society in a subordinate position.

 

The name of Caria appears in a number of early languages: Hittite Karkija (a member state of the Assuwa league, ca. 1250 BC), Babylonian Karsa, Elamite and Old Persian Kurka. According to some accounts, the land was originally called "Phoenicia", because a Phoenician colony settled there in early times. Allegedly, the region would have then received the name of Caria from Kar, a legendary early king of the Carians.

 

Independent Caria arose as a Neo-Hittite kingdom around the 11th century BC. The coast of Caria was part of the Dorian hexapolis (six-cities) when the Dorians arrived after the Trojan War in the last and southernmost waves of Greek migration to western Anatolia's coastline and occupied former Mycenaean settlements such us Knidos and Halicarnassos (present-day Bodrum). Herodotus, the famous historian was born in Halicarnassus during the 5th century BC. But Greek colonization touched only the coast and the interior remained Carian organized in a great number of villages grouped in local federations. Caria was then incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid empire as a satrapy in 545 BC. The most important town was Halicarnassus, from where its sovereigns reigned. Other major towns were Heraclea by Latmus, Antiochia, Myndus, Laodicea, Alinda and Alabanda.

 

The Iliad records that at the time of the Trojan War, the city of Miletus belonged to the Carians, and was allied to the Trojan cause.

 

Halicarnassus was the location of the famed Mausoleum dedicated to Mausolus, a satrap of Caria between 377–353 BC by his wife, Artemisia. The monument became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and from which the Romans named any grand tomb a mausoleum.

 

Caria was conquered by Alexander III of Macedon in 334 BC with the help of the former queen of the land Ada of Caria who had been dethroned by the Persian Empire and actively helped Alexander in his conquest of Caria on condition of being reinstated as queen. After their capture of Caria, she declared Alexander as her heir.

 

As part of the Roman Empire the name of Caria was still used for the geographic region but the territory administratively belonged to the province of Asia. During the administrative reforms of the 4th century this province was abolished and divided into smaller units. Caria became a separate province as part of the Diocese of Asia. In the 7th century provinces were abolished and the new theme system was introduced.

 

Lemprière notes that "As Caria probably abounded in figs, a particular sort has been called Carica, and the words In Care periculum facere, having been proverbially used to signify the encountering of danger in the pursuit of a thing of trifling value."

 

The Turkish township of Geyre, at the location of the inland Carian manufacturing city of Aphrodisias, perpetuates the ancient name.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Last modified: 2016-08-27
 
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