On this day 1,900 years ago, Hadrian reached the city of Tyana situated at the foot of the Taurus mountains near the Cilician Gates.
We know from a fragment of an itinerary found in Rome that Hadrian left Antioch in the beginning of October AD 117 and travelled northwards towards Ancyra (modern Ankara). The inscription contains the places and dates of Hadrian’s journey in southern Asia Minor.
The Emperor was travelling from Tarsus to Andabalis, via Panhormos (Pozantı), Aquae Calidae (Çiftehan), Tynna (Zeyve) and Tyana (Kemerhisar). On October 17 Hadrian entered Tyana, the main city of southern Cappadocia.
Situated on a fertile plain along the main land-route to Cilicia and Syria, Tyana was already an important settlement at the time of Hadrian’s visit, with a history going back to the time of the Hittites. The ancient city was one of the most important cities of Central Anatolia for centuries and was known by the several names. It was first reported in the Hittite archives under the name of Tuwanuwa and Tawuna in the Assyrian sources. Xenophon, who visited the city and described it as a “worldwide, big and blessed city” (Anabasis 1.2.20), mentions it under the name of Dana.
Its situation on that road and close to so important a pass must have rendered Tyana a place of great consequence, both in a commercial and a military point of view. The plain around it moreover, was extensive and fertile, and the whole district received from the town of Tyana the name of Tyanitis (Τυανῖτις, Strab. l.c.).
The name Tyana was first reported on coins minted by the Cappadocian ruler Αriaramnes (c. 255-220 BC) when it became the second important city of the Cappadocian Kingdom. According to Strabo, the city was later renamed Eusebeia am Tauros by king Ariarathes IV in the 2nd century BC. Τhe new name remained in use until the Cappadocian Kingdom became a Roman province in AD 17 when the former name of Tyana was restored and established. Finally, in 213 Tyana was renamed Colonia (Aureliana) Antoniana Tyanorum when Emperor Caracalla made the city a Roman colony, perhaps due to the Emperor’s admiration for the native philosopher and orator, Apollonius.
Hadrian’s itinerary on the fragmented inscription found in Rome is cut after Andabalis so the next station is not known. Did Hadrian continued northwestward towards Colonia Archelais (Aksaray) or northeastwards towards Caesarea (Kayseri)? A stop at Archelais seems more plausible as it was the shortest route to Ancyra which he probably reached by the end of October 117. In the capital of Galatia, Latinius Alexander, a local magnate, would lend help in quartering the troops.
Sources & references:
- A. Birley, Hadrian, the Restless Emperor, Londres-New York 1997. p. 83
- D. Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor, Volume 1 (Text): To the End of the Third Century, Princeton University Press, 1950.
- Berges, D. – Nollé, J., Tyana. Archäologisch – historische Untersuchungen zum südwestlichen Kappadokien 1-2 (IK 55.1, Bonn 2000)
- Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire
- Bordeaux Pilgrim – Map II: Asia
- Tabula Peutingeriana (Bibliotheca Augustana)