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Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

 

 

MapMaeonia & Lydia
c.13th Century - 547 BC

Situated in western Anatolia, Maeonia had been a Hittite territory within Arzawa. Its language was closely related to the Luwian which was spoken all around it, but perhaps with minor differences as the Lydians are often recognised as a separate group of South Indo-European-speakers. Herodotus states that the nearby Mysians were of the same stock as the Lydians. Potential support for this comes from the fact that the two were always stationed together in the later Persian armies (although that could also be due to the fact that their home states were similarly close together).

As Hittite power collapsed during the thirteenth century BC, Maeonia became an independent neo-Hittite kingdom. Independence didn't last for long, however, as it soon fell to the Heraclidae (the Mycenaean Greeks under Heracles) some time after they defeated Troy. Although Mycenaean civilisation disappeared from most of Greece following the Dorian invasions, Lydia survived with its capital at Sardis. Unfortunately, none of the kingdom's history is datable until the accession of Gyges in 685 BC, while its traditions, mythology and rituals have been lost, leaving us to rely on Greek mythology for its earliest events.

FeatureEphesus, a few kilometres from Sardis, near the coast, was later a major city in the Roman world, being an important centre for early Christianity, as well as home to a gladiator school.

(Additional information from External Link: the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith (Ed, 1854).)

1300s BC

The first Mycenaean Greek settlements are founded along the coastline of western Anatolia. Indo-European Hittite and Luwian peoples still govern the territory however, probably from the state of Arzawa.

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

c.1200 BC

The weakened Hittite empire is destroyed, and the former subjects of western Anatolia form a neo-Hittite state called Maeonia.

Herodotus claims that colonists from this state land in Etruria around this time and become the Etruscans.

MapAtyad Kings of Maeonia / Maionia (Tantalids)

The information on Maeonia before the seventh century BC comes from sources such as Herodotus. He gives the founder and namesake of the kingdom, Manes, as the first king of Maeonia, with a son named Atys (Atyllus). Other sources, such as Strabo, name Tmolus and his son Tantalus as kings of the region at the same time, ruling from Sipylus (Mount Sipylus, near Manisa and Izmir in western Anatolia). As Omphale is shown as a member of both families, the probability is that they are identical.

The region was on the edge of late Hittite territory, within former Arzawa, and its Indo-European Maeonian kings were neo-Hittites who ruled independently after the empire collapsed. The rulers are all semi-legendary figures.

c.1200? BC

Manes / Tmolus

Founder of Maeonia. Gored to death by a bull.

c.1195 - 1173? BC

Omphale

Wife. Reigned after Manes' death.

c.1190? BC

Atys / Tantalus

Son of Tmolus and Plouto. m Dione.

Herodotus states that in the time of Atys there is a 'great scarcity [of food] throughout the whole land of Lydia', which appears to be a remembrance of the widescale famine that affects the region at the end of the thirteenth century BC.

Tantalus is a name from Greek legend, ruling in Sipylus (Mount Sipylus), otherwise known as the kingdom of Tantalus. It seems likely that he and Atys are one and the same. To test the gods, he kills his son, Pelops, and they revive him.

Pelops

Son. m Hippodamia, dau of Oenomaus. King of Pisa.

The sons of Pelops, Atreus and Thyestes, fight between each other for the kingdom of Mycenae. Atreus wins and becomes king. He founds the dynasty at Mycenae which produces Agamemnon but which is cursed to suffer misfortune.

? - c.1183 BC

Lydus / Broteas

Brother. Went mad and threw himself into a fire.

Died c.1200 BC

Tantalus (of Pisa)

Son. m Clytemnestra & killed by Agamemnon of Mycenae.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Mesthles and Antiphus, the sons of Telaemenes, lead the Maeonian contingent to the Trojan War on the side of Troy.

c.1183 - 1100 BC

Maeonia becomes a Heraclid post-Mycenaean, Ionic colony after the defeat of Troy. It is unclear whether the new masters are part of the Ionian League, but it seems that Omphale still rules for a time (perhaps as a vassal?).

Following the collapse of Mycenaean civilisation in Greece by around 1140 BC, it seems that the Mycenaean settlers in Maeonia either take over the kingdom, or replace it with one of their own in the same region.

Heraclid Kings of Maeonia / Lydia (Tylonids)

Following the Mycenaean conquest of Troy, the descendants of semi-legendary Heracles eventually seem to have established the capital at Hyde (perhaps the name of the region in which Sardis was located). They were bordered by the Ionian League of city states to the west and Phrygia to the north-east. At some point up to the reign of Gyges in circa 685 BC Maeonia became Lydia after the last king of the previous dynasty. The change in the kingdom's name supports a level of social change in the region which could include the replacement of a Maeonian royal house for a Mycenaean one, or perhaps the Heraclids for the later Mermnads.

The Heraclids comprised of twenty-two kings who reigned for a total of 505 years, according to Herodotus. They were descended from a liaison between Omphale and Heracles (known as Tylon to the Lydians), although Herodotus suggests that the Lydian kings may not have descended from Omphale at all. Perhaps this was a later Mycenaean attempt at establishing the legitimacy of their rule.

Lydian warriors were famous archers by the sixth century BC who were known by the Israelites (Jeremiah 46:9), and despite the Greek influences, their language remained Lydian, an Indo-European language related to Hittite, which finally became extinct during the first century BC.

c.1183 BC

Heracles / Herakles

Married Omphale, widow of Manes, but apparently didn't rule.

c.1183 - 1173 BC

In Greek mythology, Omphale is the ruler of Lydia, whom Heracles is required to serve for a period of time. During his time in Lydia Heracles enslaves the Itones, kills Syleus (who had been forcing passers-by to hoe his vineyard), and captures the Cercopes.

c.1160? BC

Alcaeus / Alkaios

Son. Later chroniclers named these three as kings of Lydia.

c.1140? BC

Belus / Belos

Son.

c.1120? BC

Ninus / Ninos

Son.

c.1100? BC

Agron

Son. First Heraclid king of Lydia.

c.1100 - 795 BC

Seventeen unknown kings over 505 years, all succeeding each other in an unbroken line of descent.

795 - 759 BC

Ardys I / Ardysus I

Son of his predecessor.

759 - 745 BC

Alyattes I

Son.

745 - 733 BC

Meles / Myrsus

Son.

733 - 716 BC

Candaules / Myrsilus

Son. Murdered by former friend Gyges.

731 (695) BC

Phrygia loses the territory of Pergamum to Lydia about 695 BC, seemingly upon the defeat and suicide of King Midas III. Five years later, nomadic Cimmerian warriors overrun Phrygia and sack the capital, Gordion. However, this Cimmerian sacking is also stated to be the cause of Midas committing suicide, so the situation seems to be mildly confused. Either way, Lydia becomes the dominant power in western Anatolia whilst Phrygia is eclipsed.

716 (685) BC

Gyges murders Candaules and usurps the kingdom, marrying Candaules' widow to cement his claim to the throne. From this point onwards, dates are calculated against those of Assyrian history.

Mermnad Kings of Lydia

From the reign of Gyges onwards the kingdom is fully historical. However, the dates for this dynasty have never been determined with certainty. The traditional dates are derived from Herodotus, who gives the lengths of each king's reign; but these have been questioned by modern scholars on the basis of matching events with confirmed dates in Assyrian history. The dates calculated against Assyrian history are shown here, with the traditional dates in the notes.

Gyges founded a new capital at Sardis, a few miles further inland from Sipylus. During his reign and afterwards, Lydia was the leading power in western Anatolia, now that Phrygia had been severely reduced in strength following the sacking of its capital city. Lydia is also noted as the birthplace of coinage in circa 660 BC, and had subjugated Caria by the sixth century.

(Additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

c.685 - 644 BC

Gyges (Guggu)

(716-678 BC). Married Candaules' widow. Reigned 38 years.

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 (with Ardys II of Lydia helping them on their way at the point of a sword).

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

Excavations at the site of Sardis later discover a destruction layer that appears to be associated with this event. The dating is clearly off when matched against the dates given here for Gyges, or even the alternative dates shown in parentheses in his notes, but that is not unusual when many events are being pieced together from various ancient inscriptions, tablets, and 'annals'.

c.644 - 615 BC

Ardys II / Ardysus II

(678-c.625 BC). Son. Reigned 49 years.

c.626 - 590 BC

Lydia seizes control of the kingdom of Phrygia.

c.615 - 610 BC

Sadyattes

(629-617 BC). Son. Reigned 12 years.

c.610 - 560 BC

Alyattes II

(617-560 BC). Son. Reigned 57 years.

c.600 BC

The Lydians conquer the southern Anatolian region of Pamphylia and expand the kingdom in all directions, coming into direct contact with Greek settlers in western Anatolia. During this period the kingdom is bordered in the north-east by Scythians and Cimmerians, tribes which are aggressive and unruly, although most of their antagonism is directed towards Assyria.

585 BC

Alyattes loses the Battle of the Eclipse to Media in a fifteen year war which is otherwise relatively evenly matched. Lydia expands in his reign to form an empire that covers all of western Anatolia and includes Paphlagonia. The end of the war signals the start of closer ties between the two kingdoms. Alyattes II of Lydia gives his daughter in marriage to Astyages, son of Cyaxares.

560 - 547 BC

Croesus / Kroisos

(560-546 BC). Son. Reigned 14 years.

547 BC

Croesus is the source of the term 'rich as Croesus'. His powerful kingdom now finds itself neighboured across the River Halys by the recently-established Persian empire which has overthrown his own brother-in-law, Astyages, as ruler of the Medes. The Persian ruler, Cyrus, may also be making overtures to the Ionian Greeks behind his back, attempting to destabilise the Lydian domains. Croesus crosses the Halys with his formidable cavalry and captures Pteria but is forced back by Cyrus after an indecisive battle.

Thinking the campaigning season over, he dismisses his mercenaries and is surprised when Cyrus follows him. The Battle of the Lydian Plain sees a hurriedly-assembled Lydian force scattered. The capital at Sardis falls in fourteen days and Croesus is taken as a prisoner. Lydia is absorbed into the empire and becomes the centre of a satrapy named Sparda. The empire of Croesus had included various neighbouring territories, including Pamphylia and Paphlagonia, and Persia takes these too.

Coins of Croesus of Lydia
Croesus was reputed to have minted the first gold and silver coins - two sides of such a silver coin are shown here - and was famous for his wealth until he became too ambitious and was conquered by the growing Persian empire

Index of Persian SatrapiesPersian Satraps of Sparda (Lydia & Sardis)

By 547 BC the former kingdom and now-region of Mysia had become part of the kingdom of Lydia. At this time Lydia itself was conquered by Persia under the leadership of Cyrus the Great and was created a province within the new Lydian great satrapy of Sparda. Fortunately this is the best-documented of all the great satrapies. Thanks to this, it provides a good deal of information and extrapolation to help detail other satrapies. Its capital was the old Lydian metropolis of Sardis (Sparda to the Persians).

The satrapy initially controlled not only the territory of the former kingdom of Lydia, but also Katpatuka which had been the initial target of Lydia's aggression, the reason that Lydia had been conquered in the first place. Perhaps Cyrus enjoyed the irony of the situation. More specifically, the great satrapy of Sparda consisted of the central minor satrapy of Lydia around its capital of Sardis, and the more peripheral minor satrapies of Hellespontine Phrygia, Greater Phrygia, Karkâ, and Skudra/Thracia (the last of these between 512-479 BC at which time Persian control was shrugged off there). The Ionian and Aeolian regions did not strike the Persians as clearly defined geopolitical entities, with the result that various descriptions are used for them. Mysia itself was rarely important enough to warrant many further mentions in history, but subsequent references to it are handled under the Lydian satraps, below.

Demaratus was a king of Sparta who had been exiled for being obstructive and churlish (but perhaps a greater motive was his questionable parentage). He fled to Persia where he advised Darius I and then Xerxes on Greek affairs, and accompanied the Persian army in its invasion of Greece in 480 BC. When that failed, Xerxes made him governor of the cities of Pergamum, Teuthrania, and Halisarna within the province of Mysia, in the Lydian satrapy. His descendants inherited the office over the subsequent eighty years or so.

(Additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Lives of Eminent Commanders, Cornelius Nepos (1886 Edition).)

546 - 545 BC

Tabalus

Persian satrap.

545 - c.544 BC

Mazares

A Mede. Satrap. Died in office.

c.544 - ? BC

Harpagus

A Mede. Satrap of Caria, Lycia, & Sparda.

bef 530 - c.520 BC

Oroetus / Oroites

Persian satrap of Sparda. Assassinated.

c.520 BC

Oroetus has remained entirely unmoved during the many revolts against the new Persian king, Darius, providing neither help nor hindrance. However, he has already lured Polycrates, tyrant of the island of Samos, to his death and now takes the opportunity to avenge an insult by removing Mitrobates, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, and seizing the province for himself. When Darius sends him orders Oroetus kills the messenger, so Darius dispatches a 'volunteer', Bagaeus, who assassinates the rogue satrap.

The brother of Polycrates, Syloson, is restored to Samos by Darius as a Persian subject. Two other Greek islands, Chios and Lesbos, also submit to the Persians, probably giving Darius his rather nebulous province of Yauna (Ionia, the islands of the East Greeks). Bagaeus, his mission successfully concluded, becomes satrap of Sparda.

c.520 - ? BC

Bagaeus / Bagaios

Persian satrap of Sparda. Assassin of Oroetus.

fl 520? BC

Gadates

Persian satrap of Sparda. Recipient of the 'Gadates Letter'.

Gadates is the recipient of the 'Gadates Letter' from Darius. It reprimands him for curtailing the privileges of the priests of Apollo at Magnesia on the Maeander, but commends him for introducing fruit trees from Abarnahara (Syria). Although Gadates' position is not mentioned, the location of his areas of influence suggest him as a satrap of Sparda at a point between the assassination of Oroetus and Darius' Scythian campaign of 513 BC.

fl 517 BC

Otanes

Persian satrap of Sparda.

513 - 492 BC

Artaphernes I

Brother of Darius I. Persian satrap of Sparda.

513 - 512 BC

The Persians enter northern Greece, with Darius conquering Thrace south of the Danube. They hold onto it for about fifty years, possibly until they are forced out of Macedonia by Alexander I. This territory is subjoined as a minor satrapy to the great satrapy of Sparda with King Amyntas of Macedon as its local governor. Colchis on the eastern shore of the Black Sea is taken during the same campaign and is created a minor satrapy under the oversight of Armina.

507 BC

The Athenians are threatened with attack on three fronts by hostile Greek neighbours. They send to Sardis, asking for a Persian alliance. This involves the Greek envoys recognising Persian suzerainty, something which the Athenians promptly disavow after the emergency is over. The Persians probably see it differently, viewing the Athenians as rebellious subjects when they renounce the alliance, what Darius the Great calls 'the Lie'.

c.500 BC

Aristagoras, tyrant of Miletus, sees the opportunity for self-aggrandisement in the restoration of some exiled oligarchs to the large, rich island of Naxos. He approaches Satrap Artaphernes for support and, with agreement from Darius, a fleet of two hundred triremes is sent to Naxos. The expedition fails in its goal when Naxos is warned by Greek members of the fleet, but Aristagoras has seen an opportunity to rid himself (and his detained uncle, Histiaios) of Persian control.

499 - 493 BC

The Ionian Greeks of western Anatolia and the islands of the eastern Aegean who are under Persian hegemony now rise in the Ionian Revolt. The Carians join in and, with the Ionians being led by Aristagoras, tyrant of Miletus, they inflict heavy losses on the Persians. Similar revolts arise in Aeolis, Salamis, and Doris as the Greeks see a chance for freedom. Athens sends troops to aid the Ionian islands but the Persians gradually gain the upper hand and the revolt crumbles.

The end of the revolt probably sees the Persians breath a sigh of relief that these troublesome Greeks are back under proper control. Aristagoras, the main leader of the revolt, flees to Thrace in the hopes of setting up a colony outside Persia's control, but he is killed in a battle against a nearby town. His chosen successor in Miletus is Pythagoras, but Darius the Great kills the men of the city and enslaves its women and children, ensuring that the city is deserted. For its part in the revolt, Athens will soon face the first of two Persian invasions of Greece itself.

492 - ? BC

Mardonius

Persian satrap of Sparda.

482 - aft 480 BC

Artaphernes II

Son of Artaphernes I.

480 - 479 BC

FeatureInvading Greece in 480 BC, during the Greco-Persian War the Persians subdue the Thracian tribes (except for the Satrai, precursors to the Bessoi) and the Macedonians. Then the vast army of Xerxes makes its way southwards and is swiftly engaged by Athens and Sparta in the Vale of Tempe. The Persians are subsequently stymied by King Leonidas at Thermopylae and then defeated by the Delian League. The naval Battle of Salamis is a resounding Greek victory. It leaves much of the Persian navy destroyed and Xerxes is forced to retreat to Asia.

Colchis has probably also been lost to the Persians by now, and Sardis may be too close to the new reach of the Greek navy to be safe for a satrap. The satrapal seat may be moved further inland, perhaps to Kelainai, although the satrapy generally becomes obscure during this period. It is not until the Peace of Kallias in 449 BC that Sardis again becomes safe for the Persians.

469 BC

Athenian statesman and general, Kimon (or Cimon) leads an allied Greek fleet to Karkâ. The attack focuses on destroying Persian strongholds as far as Phaselis on the border with Pamphylia. The response from Xerxes is to send an army under Pherendates to Pamphylia and a joint fleet from Khilakku and Phoenicia (rebuilt after the loss of the Persian fleet in 479 BC) under the command of Tithraustes, a bastard son of Xerxes. The new fleet is destroyed and captured, and the Persian army is utterly defeated.

bef 440 - 415 BC

Pissouthnes

Persian satrap of Sparda.

c.415 BC

Pissouthnes has been bolstering his position by hiring Greek mercenaries, perhaps as a response to the uncertainty in the empire following the death of Artaxerxes I. Pissouthnes himself is a legitimate heir to the throne and knows that he may be placed in a position in which he either has to launch a claim of his own or be destroyed by an opponent. He appears to launch his bid during the rather more stable reign of Darius II. Tissaphernes, son of Hydarnes, is sent to deal with the 'revolt' and take over as satrap. Pissouthnes' son, Amorges, continues the revolt on the coast with Athenian support between about 414-412 BC.

c.415 - 408 BC

Tissaphernes

Descendant of Hydarnes, satrap of Media c.499 BC.

408 BC

During such periods, the satrap of Sparda becomes directly responsible for the entire region, including Katpatuka.

408 - 401 BC

Cyrus the Younger

Brother of Artaxerxes II.

400 - 395 BC

Tissaphernes

Restored to office. Also satrap of Caria.

385 - ? BC

Tiribazus

Persian satrap of Sparda.

fl 367 BC

Autophradates

Persian satrap of Sparda, & Caria. Rebelled in 362 BC.

367 - 358 BC

Ariobarzanus, satrap of Phrygia, joins Datames, satrap of Cilicia and Katpatuka and independent ruler of Paphlagonia, in revolt against Artaxerxes II. Autophradates, satrap of Sparda, is ordered to suppress the rebellion and he manages to expel Ariobarzanes from the greater part of his satrapy. In 365 BC, Athens sends thirty ships and 8,000 mercenaries to aid Ariobarzanus. He rewards Athens with the gift of Sestos and Crithote, cities on the Thracian Chersonesus.

Soon all of Asia Minor (Anatolia) revolts against Artaxerxes II, with Datames also having seized Paphlagonia. In 362 BC, even Autophradates is driven to join the rebels. Sparta, and also Takhôs, pharaoh of Egypt, send substantial help to the rebels. Two years later, in 360 BC, Ariobarzanes is betrayed by his son, Mithridates and is executed. In 359-358 BC the satrapal revolt is finally suppressed.

? - 334 BC

Spithridates

Persian satrap of Sparda.

334 - 323 BC

Index of Greek SatrapsLydia is conquered by Alexander the Great's Greek empire. Spithridates joins his king, Darius, at the decisive Battle of Granicus in 334 BC. He is involved in the fighting to prevent Alexander the Great from reaching Darius and as he aims a blow at Alexander's back, his hand is cut off by Clitus the Black (later Greek satrap of Bactria).

By now the town of Cius within Mysia's territory is ruled by Prince Mithradates of Cius (337-302 BC), subject to Mysia's authority. He is murdered, probably on the orders of Antigonus Monophthalmos to prevent him from teaming up with Antigonus' rival in Greece, Cassander. The murder does nothing to assure Antigonus of the loyalty of Mithradates' son and, having succeeded his father, this younger Mithradates secures Pontus for his own kingdom in 301 BC.

323 - 320 BC

Menander

Greek satrap.

320 - c.180 BC

Lydia becomes part of the Greek Seleucid empire (it is unclear whether Greater Phrygia or the Lysimachian empire claim it for any time during the Wars of the Diadochi (322-301 BC), although the latter certainly appears to gain it as a spoil of war in 301 BC).

c.180 - 133 BC

Rome defeats the Seleucids in the Seleucid War, taking Asia Minor as a 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. Pergamum annexes Lydia and Pamphylia around this point in time.

133 BC

Pergamum and Lydia become Roman provinces.