published on 14 May 2012
The region of Cilicia is located in the southern part of Anatolia. Located on an active Mediterranean trade route, Cilicia is generally associated with its area of native rebellion and piracy. Cilician pirates particularly dominated between 133 and 67 BCE when they were defeated by Pompey the Great. Pompey revolutionised warfare at this time by offering the pirates a peaceful chance to surrender and receive leniency.
Cilicia is surrounded by a natural fortress provided by the Taurus Mountains to the North and East and the Mediterranean on the South with a coast full of ideal hiding places for pirates. Archaeological features in many areas include mooring, construction of buildings and shore access, stairs, defensive walls, fortresses, submerged columns, anchor remains and shipping jars, indicative of a coastal culture. Within Cilicia are two sub-regions known as Flat/Smooth Cilicia or Cilicia Pedias (the Eastern region), and Rough Cilicia or Cilicia Tracheia. Evidence from the 13th century BCE indicates that the region was originally called Kedi/Kode before the fall of the Assyrian Empire in the 7th century BCE when it became an independent region ruled by the Syennesis dynasty of kings and then being absorbed into the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.
The pirate attacks in Cilicia appear to originally have been directed against Seleucid Kings involving slave and wine trade before they became more indiscriminate at the end of the 2nd century BCE and defensive walls were built. Rome thus implemented an official ban of pirate interactions in 102-100 BCE and created the Roman province of Cilicia to legitimise these laws. The general M.Antonius was commissioned to curb the pirate menace while the pirates allied themselves to the King of Pontus, Mithridates, to fight against Roman dominance. Eventually they were defeated by Pompey and Mithridates committed suicide in 63 BCE. With this, the Pontic kingdom also became a Roman province attached to Bithynia. The death of Julius Caesar saw some minor pirate wars in succeeding years but these were easily curbed.
At one point Cilicia was gifted to Cleopatra VII by Anthony but with their deaths it was again split up and handed over in part to Antiochis IV of Commagene. While older tribes such as the Cetae, Lalasseis and Cennatae stayed settled in certain areas of Cilicia, Cilicia then became two Byzantine provinces; Cilicia Prima and Secunda.
- Marten, M.G., Spatial and Temporal Analyses of the Harbor at Antiochia ad Cragum (2005)