History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia




MapKarkissa / Karkiya (Caria)

Karkissa (or Karkija, Greek Caria) is mentioned only once in cuneiform texts from the Hittite and Assyrian empires. It was situated on the extreme south-western corner of Anatolia, opposite Rhodes and immediately to the west of the Lukka (later Lycia). While its people were probably Luwian-speaking Indo-Europeans related to the Lukka or Arzawans, there is almost no history for the region before the sixth century BC.

Caria's second mention is by Homer, who includes it amongst the allies of Troy. He mentions that their capital is Miletus which, in about 1240 BC, is better ascribed to Ahhiyawa, but he does confirm that they are indigenous to the area - although if the stories of the Trojan War are to be believed, the Carians did not speak a recognisable western Anatolian language, so perhaps they had already been influenced by Greeks. Following the Mycenaean victory at Troy, the Greeks heavily settled the Anatolian coast between about 1200-800 BC, including Caria where the locals at Miletus spoke Greek with an accent. However, Caria's more concrete history begins with the Persian conquest of the region in 546 BC.

c.1336 - 1333? BC

Manapa-Tarhunta of Arzawa escapes a plot by his brothers to kill him by fleeing to Karkissa. Hittite joint kings Mursili II and his incapacitated brother, Arnuwanda, both write to the men of Karkissa, asking them to keep Manapa-Tarhunta safe.

fl 1230s? BC


King of Caria in Greek mythology.

c.1230s? BC

The Chimera (or Khimaira) in Greek mythology is a monstrous beast which ravages the countryside of Lycia. Raised by Amisodarus, Bellerophon is ordered to destroy it by King Iobates of Lycia (late Classical writers represent the beast as a metaphor for a Lycian volcano).

Bellerophon fighting the Chimera

Terracotta relief showing Bellerophon fighting the Chimera, made in Melos in about 450 BC

fl c.1180s BC


Ally of Troy.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Karkissa (Caria) is traditionally an ally of Troy during the Trojan War against Mycenae and the collected forces of the Achaean kingdoms, although its 'barbarian' language places it a little apart from the main Trojan allies. The Carian troops are led by Nastes and Amphimachus, sons of Nomion, but the latter is killed by Achilles after going 'into battle like a girl, decked in gold'.

c.1200 - 546 BC

It is possible that a minor state of Caria briefly flourishes during the period in which Hittite influence in Anatolia is waning, but it seems likely that it is afterwards pulled into whatever local administration is formed by the new wave of Greek settlers, which unfortunately remains unknown. In 546 BC the Persians conquer the region.

Caria (Karkā)

A fairly backwards and divided country by international standards of the time, Caria had been a subject state of the Lydians by the time it was conquered by the Persians in 546 BC. The capital was now Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum), which had originally been founded by Greek settlers. Established as the satrapy of Karkā, which also included Lycia, the Carians were already famous as mercenaries. Retaining a level of independence at first, Caria gained what was probably full autonomy within the empire in 499 BC.

One of its most famous sons is Herodotus of Halicarnassus, the fifth century BC Greek researcher. His father was Lyxes, a Greek rendering of a good Carian name, Lukhsu.

c.800 BC


Ruler of Milas.

c. 630 BC

Settlers from Miletus found the city of Sinope in Paphlagonia.

549 - 546 BC

The Persian defeat of the Medes opens the floodgates for Cyrus with a wave of conquests, beginning with Cilicia in 549 BC. Harpagus, a Median of the royal house and the main cause of the defeat of the Medes, commands Cyrus' army in Anatolia, conquering it between 547-546 BC. Taken during this campaign are Caria, Lycia, Lydia, Paphlagonia, Phrygia, and Tabal (Cappadocia), and Harpagus and his descendants reign thereafter in Caria and Lycia as satraps of the empire, normally within the satrapy of Caria.

546 - ? BC

Harpagus / Hypargus

Satrap of Caria & Lycia. Median general and vassal of Persia.

468 - 387 BC

Athens wrests control of Lycia away from its Median 'occupier' kings. Eventually it is re-conquered by Persia.

334 - 333 BC

The region is conquered by Alexander the Great's Greek empire. Upon Alexander's death and the first division of the empire, Caria is governed by Asander, one of his former generals.

323 - 320 BC


Greek satrap of Caria.

320 - 301 BC

A new agreement sees Caria as part of the Empire of Antigonus.

301 - 281 BC

Antigonus is killed and Caria falls under the rule of the Lysimachian empire.