Cappadocia (; Turkish: Kapadokya) is a historical region in Central Anatolia, Turkey. It is largely in the provinces of Nevşehir, Kayseri, Aksaray, Kırşehir, Sivas and Niğde.
According to Herodotus, in the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BC), the Cappadocians were reported as occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.
The name, traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history, continues in use as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.
Cappadocia was known as Hatti in the late Bronze Age, and was the homeland of the Hittite power centred at Hattusa. After the fall of the Hittite Empire, with the decline of the Syro-Cappadocians (Mushki) after their defeat by the Lydian king Croesus in the 6th century BC, Cappadocia was ruled by a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition, which later made them apt to foreign slavery. It was included in the third Persian satrapy in the division established by Darius but continued to be governed by rulers of its own, none apparently supreme over the whole country and all more or less tributaries of the Great King.Kingdom of Cappadocia
After ending the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great tried to rule the area through one of his military commanders. But Ariarathes, previously satrap of the region, declared himself king of the Cappadocians. As Ariarathes I (332–322 BC), he was a successful ruler, and he extended the borders of the Cappadocian Kingdom as far as to the Black Sea. The kingdom of Cappadocia lived in peace until the death of Alexander. The previous empire was then divided into many parts, and Cappadocia fell to Eumenes. His claims were made good in 322 BC by the regent Perdiccas, who crucified Ariarathes; but in the dissensions which brought about Eumenes's death, Ariarathes II, the adopted son of Ariarathes I, recovered his inheritance and left it to a line of successors, who mostly bore the name of the founder of the dynasty.
Persian colonists in the Cappadocian kingdom, cut off from their co-religionists in Iran proper, continued to practice Zoroastrianism. Strabo, observing them in the first century BC, records (XV.3.15) that these "fire kindlers" possessed many "holy places of the Persian Gods", as well as fire temples. Strabo furthermore relates, were "noteworthy enclosures; and in their midst there is an altar, on which there is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever burning." According to Strabo, who wrote during the time of Augustus (r. 27 BC – AD 14), almost three hundred years after the fall of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, there remained only traces of Persians in western Asia Minor; however, he considered Cappadocia "almost a living part of Persia".
Under Ariarathes IV, 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 Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus against Aristonicus, a claimant to the throne of Pergamon, and their forces were annihilated (130 BC). 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.Roman and Byzantine province
The Cappadocians, supported by Rome against Mithridates VI of Pontus, elected a native lord, Ariobarzanes, to succeed (93 BC); but in the same year Armenian troops under Tigranes the Great entered Cappadocia, dethroned king Ariobarzanes and crowned Gordios as the new client-king of Cappadocia, thus creating a buffer zone against the encroaching Romans. It was not until Rome had deposed the Pontic and Armenian kings that the rule of Ariobarzanes was established (63 BC). In the civil wars Cappadocia was first for Pompey, then for Caesar, then for Antony, and finally, Octavian. The Ariobarzanes dynasty came to an end, a Cappadocian nobleman Archelaus was given the throne, by favour first of Antony and then of Octavian, and maintained tributary independence until AD 17, when the emperor Tiberius, whom he had angered, summoned him to Rome and reduced Cappadocia to a Roman province.
In 70 AD, Vespasian joined Armenia Minor to Cappadocia, and made the combined province a frontier bulwark. It remained, under various provincial redistributions, part of the Eastern Empire for centuries.
Cappadocia contains several underground cities (see Kaymaklı Underground City). The underground cities have vast defence networks of traps throughout their many levels. These traps are very creative, including such devices as large round stones to block doors and holes in the ceiling through which the defenders may drop spears.Early Christian and Byzantine periods
In 314, Cappadocia was the largest province of the Roman Empire, and was part of the Diocese of Pontus. The region suffered famine in 368 described as "the most severe ever remembered" by Gregory of Nazianzus:
The city was in distress and there was no source of assistance...The hardest part of all such distress is the insensibility and insatiability of those who possess supplies...Such are the buyers and sellers of corn ... by his word and advice [basil] open the stores of those who possessed them, and so, according to the Scripture, dealt food to the hungry and satisfied the poor with bread...He gathered together the victims of the famine...and obtaining contributions of all sorts of food which can relieve famine, set before them basins of soup and such meat as was found preserved among us, on which the poor live...Such was our young furnisher of corn, and second Joseph...[But unlike Joseph, Basil's] services were gratuitous and his succour of the famine gained no profit, having only one object, to win kindly feelings by kindly treatment, and to gain by his rations of corn the heavenly blessings".
This is similar to another account by Gregory of Nyssa that Basil "ungrudgingly spent upon the poor his patriomny even before he was a priest, and most of all in the time of the famine, during which [Basil] was a ruler of the Church, though still a priest in the rank of presbyters; and afterwards did not hoard even what remained to him".
In 371, the western part of the Cappadocia province was divided into Cappadocia Prima, with its capital at Caesarea (modern-day Kayseri); and Cappadocia Secunda, with its capital at Tyana. By 386, the region to the east of Caesarea had become part of Armenia Secunda, while the northeast had become part of Armenia Prima. Cappadocia largely consisted of major estates, owned by the Roman emperors or wealthy local families. The Cappadocian provinces became more important in the latter part of the 4th century, as the Romans were involved with the Sasanian Empire over control of Mesopotamia and "Armenia beyond the Euphrates". Cappadocia, now well into the Roman era, still retained a significant Iranian character; Stephen Mitchell notes in the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity: "Many inhabitants of Cappadocia were of Persian descent and Iranian fire worship is attested as late as 465".
The Cappadocian Fathers of the 4th century were integral to much of early Christian philosophy. It also produced, among other people, another Patriarch of Constantinople, John of Cappadocia, who held office 517–520. For most of the Byzantine era it remained relatively undisturbed by the conflicts in the area with the Sassanid Empire, but was a vital frontier zone later against the Muslim conquests. From the 7th century, Cappadocia was divided between the Anatolic and Armeniac themes. In the 9th–11th centuries, the region comprised the themes of Charsianon and Cappadocia.
Cappadocia shared an always-changing relationship with neighbouring Armenia, by that time a region of the Empire. The Arab historian Abu Al Faraj asserts the following about Armenian settlers in Sebasteia, during the 10th century:
They [the Armenians] were assigned the Sebaste (now Siwas) district of Cappadocia. Their number grew to such an extent that they became valuable auxiliaries to the imperial armies. They were employed to garrison the fortresses reconquered from the Arabs (probably Membedj, Dolouk, etc.). They formed excellent infantry for the armies of Basileus in all wars, constantly fighting with courage and success alongside the Romans.
As a result of the Byzantine military campaigns and the Seljuk invasion of Armenia, the Armenians spread into Cappadocia and eastward from Cilicia into the mountainous areas of northern Syria and Mesopotamia, and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was eventually formed. This immigration was increased further after the decline of the local imperial power and the establishment of the Crusader States following the Fourth Crusade. To the crusaders, Cappadocia was "terra Hermeniorum," the land of the Armenians, due to the large number of Armenians settled there.Turkish Cappadocia
Following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, various Turkish clans under the leadership of the Seljuks began settling in Anatolia. With the rise of Turkish power in Anatolia, Cappadocia slowly became a tributary to the Turkish states that were established to the east and to the west; some of the native population converted to Islam with the rest forming the remaining Cappadocian Greek population. By the end of the early 12th century, Anatolian Seljuks had established their sole dominance over the region. With the decline and the fall of the Konya-based Seljuks in the second half of the 13th century, they were gradually replaced by successive Turkic ruled states: the Karaman-based Beylik of Karaman and then the Ottoman Empire. Cappadocia remained part of the Ottoman Empire until 1922, when it became part of the modern state of Turkey.
A fundamental change occurred in between when a new urban center, Nevşehir, was founded in the early 18th century by a grand vizier who was a native of the locality (Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Pasha), to serve as regional capital, a role the city continues to assume to this day. In the meantime many former Cappadocians had shifted to a Turkish dialect (written in Greek alphabet, Karamanlıca), and where the Greek language was maintained (Sille, villages near Kayseri, Pharasa town and other nearby villages), it became heavily influenced by the surrounding Turkish. This dialect of Eastern Roman Greek is known as Cappadocian Greek. Following the foundation of Turkey in 1922, those who still identified with this pre-Islamic culture of Cappadocia were required to leave, so this language is now only spoken by a handful of their descendants, most now located in modern Greece.