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Asia Minor

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The term ‘Asia Minor’ denotes the westernmost part of the Asian continent, equivalent to modern Turkey between the Aegean and the Euphrates. The west and south coastal fringes were part of the Mediterranean world; the heartland of Asia Minor lay in the hilly but fertile uplands of Phrygia, the steppic central plateau, and the rugged and harsh country of Cappadocia. These areas were framed by the Pontic ranges, which rise steeply from the Black Sea in the north, and the long range of the Taurus, which snakes through southern Asia Minor from Lycia to the Euphrates and separates Asia Minor from Syria. In the Graeco‐Roman period the region's history is illuminated by an almost limitless flood of information, which makes it possible to identify the separate languages, cultures, and religious traditions of its various regions, and also to document the influence of external powers and cultures, above all of Persia, Greece, and Rome. Asia Minor was one of the economic powerhouses of the Persian empire. Much of the population of eastern Asia Minor had strong Iranian connections, and Persian settlements were also widespread in the west after the mid‐6th cent. bc. Greek influence—Hellenism—was naturally strongest in the coastal areas, where Greeks had established settlements between c.1100 and 600 bc. The cultural process, however, was not one‐way, and the Greeks of Caria and Pamphylia were also much influenced by pre‐existing cultures. During the 4th cent. Hellenization spread to the indigenous inhabitants of Pisidia and Lycia in the SW; most of the interior, however, was barely touched before the 1st cent. bc. Roman rule made the strongest impact. In the time of Hadrian Asia Minor was divided into six provinces: Asia, Pontus and Bithynia, Galatia, Lycia and Pamphylia, Cilicia, and Cappadocia. The creation of an all‐embracing road network, the universal ruler‐cult, the founding of cities to act as administrative centres, a permanent military presence, and the creation of far‐reaching systems of taxation forged a new society in Asia Minor, which was as much Roman as it was Anatolian.

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