History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia





Inhabited since prehistory, by the fifteenth century BC the southern coast of western Anatolia was home to the Lukka (or Luqqa). With Arzawa to the north and Tarhuntassa to the east, they apparently formed a minor state (or vassal region) of Arzawa, but may have been little more than a confederation of tribes or minor states. The region had no political power - no treaties with the Hittites are recorded - and no Lukka king is ever named. However, they may have been expert seafarers who made yearly attacks along the coast of Alashiya, as well as frequently being involved in land-based attacks inside Anatolia. The nearest relative to their language and that of their later Lycian descendants was Indo-European Luwian, which was generally spoken throughout Anatolia, but they left very few inscriptions. Most of the region's settlements were along the coastline, away from the extremely rugged interior (although some scholars doubt this location for them and refuse even to link Lukka with later Lycia).

According to Herodotus, later Classical Lycia was so-named because of Lycus, the son of Pandion II of Athens after the kingdom was founded by Sarpedon of Crete, implying a Cretan connection to the settlement of western Anatolia. The Greeks give the earliest Lycians (or Lukka) Greek names which of course they did not possess at this time, but perhaps these people existed anyway, to be later altered by oral tradition and changing languages. Either way, the Greek information on Lukka-period kings should be used with caution.

c.2600 BC


Brother of Minos of Crete in Greek mythology.

According to Greek mythology, Sarpedon conquers the region after leaving Cilicia. The name of Lycia comes from his successor.

Aegeus and the Oracle
The brother of Lycus, King Aegeus of Athens consults the Oracle at Delphi for advice


King, and son of Pandion II of Athens in Greek mythology.

c.2000/1700 BC


Son of Lukka.

The name of Kukunnis (also the name of a king of Troy in the late fourteenth century BC) can be found in hieroglyphs on the 'Byblos obelisk' found in that city and dating from either 2000 BC or 1700 BC. It has been identified (by Albright) as an authentic Lukkan name, but just who Kukunnis is remains a mystery, although the Lukka are often to be found operating as mercenaries.

c.1370s BC

The Lukka are mentioned in the Armana letters from Egypt, in which they are accused of attacking the Egyptians in conjunction with the Alashiyans.

fl c.1280s BC

Iobates / Amphianax

King of Lycia in Greek mythology.

Iobates is the host of the exiled Bellerophon, and sends the latter to kill the Chimera in Caria. The successful Bellerophon marries the king's daughter and succeeds his father-in-law.

fl c.1230s? BC

Bellerophon the Corinthian

Son-in-law. King of Corinth.


c.1208 BC

A body of Lukka take part in the Libyan-led attack on Egypt which includes various Sea Peoples. Two hundred casualties are recorded for the Lukka, a very small part of the overall number. Families had accompanied the warriors, showing that this was not just a normal raid, that they had been intent on settling there instead.

c.1200 BC

The Hittite empire collapses, and the Lukka apparently re-emerge as the Lycians.

MapLycia / Lykia

Trm̃mis to the Lycians themselves (Likya in modern Turkish and Termilae to the Greeks), the name comes from the region of Trimili (the modern village of Dirmil stands in the same region). Not to be confused with its more powerful northerly neighbour, Lydia, Lycia emerged from the twelfth century dark age as a neo-Hittite state which was (almost certainly) a direct descendant of the Lukka and retained its structure as a tightly-knit confederation of fiercely independent minor states. According to Homer, the state was led in the Trojan War by one Sarpedon, but little else is known of any Lycian rulers.

The state was bordered by Caria to the west and north-west, Pamphylia to the east, and Pisidia to the north-east. Its main cities were Xanthos, Patara, Myra, Pinara, Tlos and Olympos (each of these was entitled to three votes in the later Lycian League), plus the city of Phaselis.

? - c.1183 BC


Grandson of Bellerophon. King of Lycia in Greek mythology.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Lycia is traditionally an ally of Troy during the Trojan War against Mycenae and the collected forces of the Achaean kingdoms (as frequently mentioned by Homer). The Lycian troops are led by Sarpedon and Glaucus, descendants of Glaucus of Corinth, but the former is killed by Patroclus.

c.1183? - ? BC


King of Lycia in Greek mythology.

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


Satrap of Caria & Lycia. Of the royal house of Media.

468 - 387 BC

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

Lycian rock tombs
The rock-cut Lycian tombs, near Dalyan, were created around 400 BC

mid-400s BC


late 400s? BC


fl 390s BC


387 BC

Lycia is re-conquered by Persia.

334 - 333 BC

The region is conquered by Alexander the Great's Greek empire. Nearchus, chief admiral under Alexander and his friend, governs the region as satrap of Lycia and Pamphylia in 333 BC, being responsible for the ports in southern Anatolia. This forces the Persian navy to sail across open waters between Cyprus and the Aegean Sea. The Persian commanders Memnon of Rhodes and Pharnabazus are active in Aegean waters in 333 BC but receive no reinforcements, possibly due to Nearchus' efforts.

333 - 329 BC

Nearchus / Nearkhos the Admiral

Also ruled in Pamphylia. Recalled in 323 BC. Died c.300 BC.

329 - 323 BC


Unknown. Also ruled in Pamphylia?

329 BC

Nearchus is recalled to Alexander's side. He brings with him reinforcements for the campaign in Persia and is accompanied by Asander, who becomes satrap of Caria in 323 BC. Nearchus' replacement as satrap is not recorded in history.

323 - 301 BC

Upon the death of Alexander, Lycia becomes part of the Empire of Antigonus. Nearchus remains an ally of Antigonus. At this time a series of tombs are being used in the city of Rhodiapolis (located in the Kumluca district of present day Antalya in Turkey). The cemetery complex is formed of a series of tombs that surrounds a larger necropolis. Often elaborate styles of tomb architecture are used, and the tombs probably grow incrementally, expanding in width and height over multiple generations. When a fresh burial takes place in the tombs, it is placed on top of other graves. Large, two to three-story structures are often the result of such additions. The structures are made of brick and topped with arched roofs.

301? BC


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

301 - 281 BC

Antigonus is killed and Lycia is initially given to the brother of Cassander of Macedonia, Pleistarchus, but apparently it soon falls under the rule of the Lysimachian empire.

c.240 - c.198 BC

Lycia becomes part of the Ptomolaic kingdom.

200 - 190 BC

To achieve his part of a treaty with Philip V of Macedonia that is designed to carve up Egypt's colonial possessions, Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire invades Coele Syria. This triggers the Fifth Syrian War and sees Ptolemaic General Scopas defeated at Panion near the source of the River Jordan in 200 BC. This gains Antiochus control of Palestine and Phoenicia (which includes the city of Miletus). The campaign ends in a peace deal in 195 BC which gains for Antiochus permanent possession of southern Syria (which includes Idumaea, while Ammon takes advantage of the shift in power to declare its own independence), and also of Egyptian territories in Anatolia (which include Lycia). Lycia remains a Seleucid possession for only five years.

190 - 64 BC

Lycia is officially awarded to Rhodes in the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC, following the Roman victory at the Battle of Magnesia.

64 BC

Lycia becomes a Roman province. It remains within the subsequent empire until that is conquered by the Ottoman empire.