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Tyana

Roman Aqueduct of Tyana

Tyana was an ancient city of Anatolia, in modern south-central Turkey. It was the capital of a Luwian speaking Neo-Hittite kingdom in the 1st millennium BC.



Tyana is the city referred to in Hittite archives as Tuwanuwa. During the Hittite Empire period in mid 2nd millennium, Tuwanuwa was among the principal settlements of the region along with Hupisna, Landa, Sahasara, Huwassana and Kuniyawannni. This south-central Anatolian region was referred to as the Lower Land in Hittite sources and its population was mainly Luwian speakers. Following the collapse of the Hittite Empire, Tuwanuwa/Tuwana was a major city of the independent Neo-Hittite kingdoms. It is not certain whether or not it was initially subject to the Tabal kingdom to its north, but certainly by the late 8th century BC it was an independent kingdom under a ruler named Warpalawa (in Assyrian sources Urballa). He figures in several hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions found in the region, including a monumental rock carving in Ivriz. Warpalawa is also mentioned in Assyrian texts, under the name Urballa, first in a list of tributees of Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser III and later in a letter of Sargon II.

The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC.

In Greek legend, the city was first called Thoana because Thoas, a Thracian king, was its founder (Arrian, Periplus Ponti Euxini, vi); it was in Cappadocia, at the foot of Taurus Mountains and near the Cilician Gates (Strabo, XII, 537; XIII, 587).

Xenophon mentions it in his book Anabasis, under the name of Dana, as a large and prosperous city. The surrounding plain was known after it as Tyanitis.

It was in a strategic position on the road to Syria via the Cilician Gates. It is the reputed birthplace of the celebrated philosopher (and reputed saint, god, or magician) Apollonius of Tyana in the first century AD. Ovid (Metamorphoses VIII) places the tale of Baucis and Philemon in the vicinity.

Under Roman Emperor Caracalla, the city became Antoniana colonia Tyana. After having sided with Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, it was captured by Aurelian in 272, who would not allow his soldiers to sack it, allegedly because Apollonius appeared to him, pleading for its safety.

In 371, Emperor Valens created a second province of Cappadocia, "Cappadocia Secunda", of which Tyana became the metropolis.

The city was sacked by the Umayyads in 708, and remained deserted for some time before being rebuilt. During his campaign in 806 against the Byzantine Empire, Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid captured Tyana, made it his headquarters, and constructed a mosque in token of his sovereignty over the city.

The ruins of Tyana are at modern Kemerhisar, three miles south of Niğde; there are remains of a Roman aqueduct and of cave cemeteries and sepulchral grottoes.

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