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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 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.

Caria (KarkÔ)

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 KarkÔ, 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. Cilicia would also appear to be under his control.

Hecatomnid (Persian) Satraps of KarkÔ (Caria)
Incorporating Halicarnassus & Miletus

Small Nav - Persian & Greek Empires

The attempt by the kingdom of Lydia to invade Anatolian lands which now belonged to the Persian empire saw an appropriate Persian response. Cyrus the Great invaded Lydia and crushed it, and then proceeded to capture the rest of Anatolia too. The kingdom of Phrygia and the minor city sates of Caria also fell between 549-546 BC. Following that, a Persian layer of administration was introduced to replace the lost kingships.

The new great satrapy of Sparda initially controlled not only the land 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. 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, KarkÔ, and Skudra/Thracia between 512-479 BC. The former kingdom and now-region of Mysia was rarely important enough to warrant many further mentions in history, but subsequent references to it are handled under the Lydian satraps.

In the fourth century BC, KarkÔ was governed by the Hecatomnid dynasty - as a separate satrapy from 395 BC. Its best-known representative was Mausolus, who developed the residence-town of Halicarnassus in magnificent style. In the previous century local dynasts had already appeared as tyrants of Halicarnassus, including Artemisia, who played a part in the Battle of Salamis (although not what Hollywood may tell you), Pisindelis, and Lygdamis. Local tyranny in fifth century KarkÔ or Caria was a normal form of government, as it was often elsewhere in the Greek world. In Achaemenid inscriptions, KarkÔ is first mentioned as a province after 512 BC. Yet why KarkÔ became a province and when it happened seems to be unclear, as is the situation involving Halicarnassus. Perhaps the most reasonable conclusion is that KarkÔ was a province from the conquests of Cyrus the Great onwards, but that Halicarnassus enjoyed a degree of regional autonomy under its tyrants for as long as they remained in power. Another option is that KarkÔ only became a province after the revolt of 499 BC had been quelled and another important city with its own tyrant, Miletus, had seen its citizens killed or taken into slavery.

(Additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from Anabasis Alexandri, Arrian of Nicomedia, from Panyassis of Halikarnassos: Text and Commentary, PanÝasis, and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

546 - ? BC

Harpagus / Hypargus

Persian satrap of Caria, Lycia, & Sparda. Median general.

fl 500s BC


Tyrant of Miletus. Detained at the Persian royal court.

fl 499 BC


Nephew. Tyrant of Miletus. Revolted against the Persian. Fled.

c.500 BC

Aristagoras sees the opportunity for self-aggrandisement in the restoration of some exiled oligarchs to the large, rich island of Naxos. He approaches Satrap Artaphernes I of Sparda 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.

494 - ? BC


Tyrant of Miletus.

fl 480s BC

Artemisia (I)

First tyrant of Halicarnassus.

480 - 479 BC

FeatureInvading Greece in 480 BC, the Persians subdue the Thracian tribes 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 a mixed force of Greeks - which includes Athenians, Corinthians, Helots, Mycenaeans, Thebans, and Thespians - led by Sparta under King Leonidas at Thermopylae. (These events are depicted somewhat colourfully - but no less impressively for that - in the 2007 film, 300.) The Persian army is held up long enough for the Athenians to prepare their navy for a seaborne engagement with the Persian fleet.

Athens, as the leader of the coalition of city states known as the Delian League, fights the Persian navy at the battles of Artemisium and Salamis, the latter being a resounding Greek victory. It leaves much of the Persian navy destroyed and Xerxes is forced to retreat to Asia, leaving his army in Greece under Mardonius (with the naval battles being shown to superb graphic effect in the 2014 sequel film, 300: Rise of an Empire, although it does contain a great many historical inaccuracies). As a reward for his support of Xerxes during the war, the exiled Demaratus of Sparta is granted a satrapy of his own in Pergamum, whilst the widowed Queen Artemisia I of Halicarnassus, who has set sail with five ships in support of Xerxes, is sent to Ephesus to care for the sons of Xerxes. The following year, Mardonius meets the Greeks in a final battle. The Spartans, now at full strength, lead a pan-Greek army at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC which decisively defeats the Persians and ends the Greco-Persian War.

The Persian forces retreat back into Asia Minor, but Colchis has probably also been lost to them by now. Subsequently, one of Xerxes' generals in the Greek campaign, Artabazus, grandson of Persian sub-king Arsames (see above) is made satrap of Phrygia. Xerxes is soon murdered along with his son and heir, Darius. Whether he is responsible or not, Xerxes' chief officer, Artabanus, takes control of the empire until he too is killed, this time by Artaxerxes I.

fl 470s BC


Son. Born c.510-500 BC. Tyrant of Halicarnassus.

469 BC

Athenian statesman and general, Kimon (or Cimon) leads an allied Greek fleet to KarkÔ. 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.

468 - 387 BC

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

? - 454 BC


Son. Tyrant of Halicarnassus.

454 BC

As the 'Halikarnassians' appear in the first Athenian tribute list of 454 BC, most scholars have suggested that the rule of Lygdamis as tyrant of Halicarnassus must end before this date. An opposing theory shows that the tribute list does not necessarily imply that Lygdamis has ceased to rule. At some point around this date, and probably by 450 BC at the latest, Lygdamis is driven out of Halicarnassus (Herodotus is a visitor to the city very soon after this event).

fl 400 BC


Persian satrap of Sparda with KarkÔ. Executed.

395 BC

KarkÔ becomes a satrapy in its own right, upon the execution of Tissaphernes. Its first satrap is a Carian of a leading family, possibly Hyssaldomos, previously a dynastic ruler of Mylasa. If so then he is almost immediately succeeded by his son, Hekatomnos. The latter spawns a dynasty which governs for almost half a century.

395 - c.390 BC


First Hecatomnid satrap.

c.390 - c.377 BC

Hekatomnos / Hekatomnus


c.377 - 353 BC


Son. Died.

Mausolus extends the territory under his command by expanding into Lycia and eastern Greece.

367 - 358 BC

Ariobarzanus, satrap of Phrygia, joins Datames, satrap of Khilakku and Katpatuka, in revolt against Artaxerxes II. Autophradates, satrap of Sparda and Mausolus' immediate superior, 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 Takh˘s, 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.

353 - 351 BC

Artemisia (II)

Widow and sister of Mausolus. Died.

351 BC

Artemisia of Caria, wife and sister of Mausolus, is famous for the grief she exhibits upon his death. She orders built the mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of Antipater of Sidon's 'Seven Wonders of the Ancient World'. The name itself, mausoleum, commemorates the memory of Mausolus and remains in use forever more to designate a grand sepulchral edifice. The grief of Artemisia is such that she quickly fades and dies.

351 - 344 BC


Brother of Mausolus. Died.

351 BC

Very shortly after his accession as dynastic satrap, Idrieus is required to assemble troops for an invasion of Cyprus. Once again the Cypriot king has rebelled against Persian authority. Despite not quite having the iron nerve of his late brother, Idrieus and an Athenian general work together to stifle the uprising.

? BC


Held out in Halicarnassus against Alexander's forces.

334 - 333 BC

Index of Greek SatrapsIndex of Greek Satrapies

In 334 BC Alexander of Macedon launches his campaign into the Persian empire by crossing the Dardanelles. The first battle is fought on the River Graneikos (Granicus), eighty kilometres (fifty miles) to the east. The Persian defeat forces Satrap Arsites of Daskyleion to commit suicide. Sparda surrenders but KarkÔ's satrap holds out in the fortress of Halicarnassus with the Persian General Memnon. The fortress is blockaded and Alexander moves on to fight the Lycian mountain folk during the winter when they cannot take refuge in those mountains.

The campaigning season of 333 BC sees Darius III and Alexander miss each other on the plain of Cilicia and instead fight the Battle of Issos on the coast. Darius flees when the battle's outcome hangs in the balance, gifting the Greeks Khilakku and Cappadocia, although pockets of Persian resistance remain in parts of Anatolia.

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.

? BC


Tyrant of Miletus. Killed.

261 - 256 BC

The interference by Ptolemy of Egypt in Greek affairs continues, triggering the Second Syrian War. Antigonus II of Macedonia and Antiochus II of the Seleucid empire team up to combine their attacks. Egypt loses ground in Anatolia and Phoenicia, and is forced to cede lands which include its ally, the city of Miletus. Antiochus gains his epithet, 'Theos' ('god') for killing Timarchus, the tyrant of Miletus.