History Files



Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia




MapKhilikku / Hilakku

This region lies to the north-east of Cyprus, on the southern Anatolian coast where it meets Syria, stretching from its eastern plains (Celicia Pedias, or 'flat') to the rugged western section (Celicia Trachea, or 'rugged'), formed by spurs of the Taurus mountains. Although it had been inhabited since the eighth millennium BC, it first emerged into history during the Hittite period where it formed part of Kizzuwatna, and included the ancient city of Adaniya. Its earlier Anatolian name of Khilikku came to be known as Cilicia by later Greeks and Romans. In Greek mythology the land was named after King Cilix.

c.2600 BC


'Brother' of Asterion of Crete in Greek mythology.

Exiled by his brother from Crete, Sarpedon seeks refuge with his Uncle Cilix. From here he conquers Lycia to the west along the Mediterranean coastline.

c.2200 - 1200 BC

The region is settled by Luwians as part of Kizzuwatna and then controlled by the Hittites. In late Hittite times a people called the Denyen or Danuna settle in Adana. They could be connected to the Sea Peoples known as the Danya. Other groups of Denyen are also believed to settle in Cyprus.

Luwian bronze seal
A bronze seal written in the almost universal Anatolian language of Luwian which was discovered at Troy in 1995

Hiyawa (Que / Quwe / Qawe)

This was a Luwian-speaking neo-Hittite state which emerged in former south-western Kizzuwatna. It occupied the area of the far eastern Anatolian section of the Mediterranean coastline, including the city of Adana (or Adaniya or even Adanawa), and followed the two main rivers north to the borders of Tabal. Bordering it to the east were Gurgum, Yadiya and Pattin, while the later region of Khilakku seems to have occupied a pocket of territory to the west, between Que and Tabal.

The name Hiyawa appears to mirror that of the state of Ahhiyawa, which existed until the general collapse into a dark age at the end of the thirteenth century BC. Little is known about that state, even down to its exact location and the origin of its people. Hiyawa was not a continuation of it, however. Despite the uncertainties about Ahhiyawa, it is know to have been situated in western Anatolia, not in Hiyawa's south-eastern location. The similarity in name may be down to language. The Ahhiyawans probably spoke a form of Luwian, the Indo-European language of southern and western Anatolia, as did the Hiyawans, so the meaning of both names is probably similar.

The state possessed a stronghold at the city of Karatepe, while its Luwian name of Hiyawa is usually replaced by the better-known Assyrian form - Que. However, the name Que was not formally applied to the state until its annexation into the Assyrian empire. In late Hittite times a people called the Denyen or Danuna had settled in Adana, with a possible but entirely unconfirmed connection to the Sea Peoples known as the Danya, making the Hiyawans a mixture of Luwians, Hittites and Danya.

(Additional information from External Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA.)

c.9th century BC

The neo-Hittite state of Hiyawa has emerged out of the collapse of its predecessor, the state of Kizzuwatna. Probably from the ninth century onwards, it becomes an Assyrian client state, as this is when Assyria begins to dominate many of the states that border it.

c.730s BC

Midas of Phrygia conquers several fortresses in the west of the state. The act seems to go unpunished by the Assyrians who are the overlords of Hiyawa, possibly because Tiglath-Pileser III is heavily involved in campaigns in Syria. This may be one of the earliest incidents to involve Midas as a significant nuisance factor for Assyria.

River Seihan at Adana
The River Seihan (or Seyhan) runs into the eastern Mediterranean at Adana, providing vital irrigation in a tough, mountainous environment

? - 720s BC

Warikas (Urikki)

Last king of Que.

c.726 - 720 BC

The last king of Hiyawa is Warikas (known in Assyrian as Urikki). Previously a loyal servant of the empire, he throws off the shackles of Assyrian domination. The result is Assyrian invasion, the defeat of Hiyawa and the removal of its king, and its incorporation into the empire as a province named Que. The date of this event is uncertain, and it may be that several years elapse from the rebellion of Warikas to the fateful invasion. The events take place either during the poorly documented reign of Shalmaneser V or at the very start of the reign of Sargon II.

Rarely with such events, the transformation of Warikas from steadfast vassal to self-assured sovereign is documented in his own inscriptions at Çineköy and Karatepe. They are written both in Luwian hieroglyphs and the Phoenician alphabet - a key source in deciphering Luwian. Warikas' change of heart may be connected to the increasing influence of the western Anatolian kingdom of Phrygia, with its capital city of Gordion lying not very far from Hiyawa.

715 BC

Despite sharing culinary and aesthetic tastes, Assyria and Phrygia are on bad terms. Although there are no relevant sources prior to Sargon's reign, his own inscriptions describe Midas of Phrygia as having long been a thorn in the empire's side, having never submitted to Sargon's predecessors and refusing diplomatic contacts.

Now, Sargon's army conquers some fortresses in western Que that Midas of Phrygia had taken 'very long ago', indicating that Midas must have been in power for some time. This campaign results in an Assyrian foray deep into Phrygia but does not stop Midas from his continuing intervention in Que and Tabal. However, Que itself disappears into history, only to re-emerge in the sixth century as Khilakku.

Khilakku (Cilicia)

This was a Luwian-speaking neo-Hittite state which emerged in former south-western Kizzuwatna in the mid-ninth century BC. It occupied a pocket of territory on the fertile coastal plains of Çukurova, ancient Cilicia, which was sandwiched between Tabal to the north and the kingdom of Que to the east, with Pamphylia to the west. How much of Khilakku was independent of or subject to Que, and how much of later Cilicia formed part of Que, is entirely unknown. The territory that formed ancient Cilicia had effectively formed the predecessor state of Que, although borders for either state are highly speculative.

(Additional information from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from The Augustan Empire, 43 BC-AD 69, A K Bowman, E Champlin, & A Lintott (1996), from The History of Esarhaddon (Son of Sennacherib) King of Assyria, BC 681-688, Ernest A Budge, and from External Links: Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History, and Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

679 BC

Esarhaddon of Assyria conducts a campaign against the Cimmerians. He defeats them and their leader, Teuspa, in the region of Hubusna (probably Hupisna-Cybistra), but the area is not pacified. In the same year Esarhaddon's troops also fight a war in Hilakku (Khilakku), and a few years later they punish the Anatolian prince of Kundu (Cyinda) and Sissu (Sisium, modern Sis), who has allied himself with Phoenician rebels against Assyrian rule. The regions to the north of the Cilician plain repeatedly cause trouble for Assyria.

Cimmerian warriors
This image shows Cimmerians battling early Greeks - prior to the advent of accepted 'Classical' Greece - with the mounted Cimmerians warriors apparently being accompanied by their dogs

652 BC

One serious invasion of Anatolia by Cimmerians has already been repulsed, with the states or regions of Hilakku, Lydia, and Tabal requesting help from Assyria. Now the Cimmerians return (leader unknown). King Gyges of Lydia is killed during a second attack. His capital of Sardis is captured, all except the citadel which manages to hold out. The fact that it does suggests either that either the Cimmerians do not hang around for long after their victory or that (as before) they are moved along by an Assyrian force. Excavations at the site of Sardis later discover a destruction layer that appears to be associated with this event.

fl 557 - 546 BC


Son of Syennesis I?

557 - 556 BC

Cilicia is invaded and annexed by Babylonian king Nergalsharusur, although some sources state that Appuashu resists him.

549 - 539 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. Although Appuashu probably resists again, but this time he is unsuccessful and probably becomes a vassal for a decade or so. The region eventually forms part of the wide swathe of lands under the control of the Armenians and later the Lesser Armenians.

? - 385 BC


Carian by birth. Killed.

385 BC

Camissares is in favour with the Persian court of Artaxerxes II. He is made satrap of Khilakku at an uncertain date but is killed in the war against the Cadusii, in the Iranian mountains on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. A son of his becomes his successor, but it is not clear whether this is the same person as the Datames who becomes satrap of Katpatuka around 375 BC.

385 - ? BC


Son by a Paphlagonian or Scythian mother.

364 - 362 BC


Satrap of Cilicia (including Katpatuka & Paphlagonia). Killed.

323 - 319 BC


Greek satrap of Cilicia.

301 BC

Following the conclusion of the Fourth War of the Diadochi, Cilicia and Lycia both go to the brother of Cassander of Macedonia, Pleistarchus. He apparently loses Lycia very quickly to the Lysimachian empire.

301 - ? BC


Brother of Cassander of Macedonia. King of Cilicia & Lycia.

190 - 188 BC

Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire and Rome fight each other at the Battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum in 190 BC. The Romans win a resounding victory, ending the Seleucid War. Anatolia (Asia Minor) is taken as a Roman province in 188 BC. The Seleucid ally, Cappadocia, negotiates friendly terms with Rome, notably because Stratonice, the king's daughter, is about to marry the king of Pergamum, a Roman ally. Lydia is probably lost to Pergamum at the same time, while Seleucid Lycia is awarded to Rhodes. Rome's enforced Treaty of Apamea in 188 BC has denuded the Seleucid empire of all of its Anatolian holdings bar Cilicia. It is reduced to Syria, Mesopotamia, and western Iran.

134 - 129 BC

Antiochus VII is the last Seleucid emperor of the east. After the death of the Arsacid King Mithradates I in 132 BC, Antiochus launches a campaign to recover lost Seleucid domains there. The campaign is initially successful, recapturing Media and Babylonia in 130 BC. Antiochus demands that the Parthians restore all Seleucid territories in Iran, so they defeat him in battle in 129 BC and he commits suicide later that year. His death ends Seleucid rule in Mesopotamia and Iran and limits them to Syria and Cilicia, plus Babylonia.

115 - 104 BC

Antiochus IX, a son of Cleopatra Thea and her marriage to Antiochus VII, attempts to seize the Seleucid throne. He revolts against his half-brother, occupying southern Syria and then Antioch, while Antiochus VIII retains Cilicia, although he is unable to prevent Cilician pirates from becoming increasingly powerful. In 104 BC, a Roman commander, Marcus Antonius, attacks the Cilician pirates while the Seleucid civil war peters out.

95 - 94 BC

Seleucus VI meets his uncle, Antiochus IX, in battle and defeats him, but the Seleucid empire remains divided with neither side able to deliver a knock-out blow. With Antiochus IX dead, his son, Antiochus X, continues to hold the southern part of the empire. At last, this time the civil war is ended when Seleucus VI is defeated (in 94/93 BC depending on precise dating), being burned to death in the gymnasium of the city of Mopsus in Cilicia.

66 - 65 BC

Even at this stage of their decline, the Seleucids cannot stop fighting one another. In 67/66 BC, supported by the population of Antioch and a local ruler from Cilicia, Philip II Philoromaeus expels his relative, Antiochus XIII, from Antioch, but Antiochus is restored in 66/65 BC.

39 BC


Son. Vassal king of Cilicia & Pontus to Mark Antony. Died 37 BC.

39 BC

Having made Darius a vassal king of Cilicia, Mark Antony moves him to Pontus in 39 BC and hands Cilicia to one Polemon I Pythodoros in thanks for services rendered to Rome by his father, Zenon. When Arsaces of Pontus dies in 37 BC, Pontus is added to Polemon's domains.

39 - 8 BC

Polemon I Pythodoros

Roman vassal king of Cilicia, Kolkis, & Pontus.

31 - 30 BC

With Octavian's defeat of Mark Antony at Actium and no other opponents to his hold on power, Egypt and Libya become provinces of Rome upon the death of Cleopatra in the following year. Octavian also recognises the authority of the turncoat Polemon I, confirming his governance of Cilicia, Kolkis, and Pontus.

13 or 12 BC

Polemon's marriage to Dynamis of the Bosporan kingdom is relatively brief. In either 13 or 12 BC he replaces her with Pythodoria of Pontus by whom he has two sons and a daughter. During this period he is also able to expand the borders of the Bosporan kingdom to the River Tanais (otherwise known as the Jaxartes/Iaxartes or Syr Darya, which traditionally forms the boundary between Sogdiana and Scythia). Upon the death of Polemon in 8 BC, Dynamis resumes command of her kingdom while his second wife retains Pontus and its holdings.

8 BC - AD 17

Pythodoria of Pontus

Wife. Queen of Cilicia, Kolkis, & Pontus.

AD 17

Archelaus of Cappadocia proves relatively popular with Rome but is less liked by the Cappadocians. For angering the Emperor Tiberius after favouring one of his rivals for the imperial diadem, Archelaus is summoned to Rome where he dies, possibly of natural causes (or suicide). Tributary Cappadocia now becomes a Roman province with Pythodoria of Pontus having to return to her own lands, while Armenia and Lesser Armenia are recombined and handed to the elder son of Polemon I, Artaxias III, who rules there as a client king. Cilicia is handed to Archelaus' own son to rule as another client king.

AD 17 - 38

Archelaus II / Archelaus Minor

Son of Archelaus of Cappadocia.


The junior Archelaus dies childless after a largely unremarked and unrecorded reign. Antiochus IV of Commagene is restored to his ancestral dominion as a Roman client king and is given Cilicia Trachaea and other Cilician territories.