Aqueduct, Cappadocia, Hadrian's travels, Hadrian1900, Turkey

17 October AD 117 – Hadrian arrives in Tyana (#Hadrian1900)

On 17 October 117, Hadrian reached the city of Tyana, situated at the foot of the Taurus mountains near the Cilician Gates.

Thanks to epigraphical evidence, a fragment of an itinerary found in Rome, we know that Hadrian left Antioch at 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 17 October, Hadrian entered Tyana, the main city of southern Cappadocia.

Hadrian’s journey back to Rome 117-118 (part 1).
Map created by Simeon Netchev for Following Hadrian (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Click to enlarge.

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 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.).

Coin of Hadrian minted in Tyana with the club of Herakles on the reverse. AD 117-138, Æ (16mm, 4.77g).
Coin from the author’s collection.

The name Tyana was first reported on coins minted by the Cappadocian ruler Αriaramnes (c. 255-220 BC) when it became the second most 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. The 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 AD 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.

Coin bearing the image of Apollonius of Tyana.
The water-reservoir.
Tyana and Andabalis on the Tabula Peutingeriana.

Hadrian’s itinerary on the fragmented inscription found in Rome is cut after Andabalis, so the next station is unknown. Did Hadrian continue 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. Latinius Alexander, a local magnate, would help quarter the troops in the capital of Galatia.

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)



2 thoughts on “17 October AD 117 – Hadrian arrives in Tyana (#Hadrian1900)”

  1. I love these itinerary notes, Carole. Thank you so much. I especially appreciate your translations of road markers and monument texts, complete with explication of the Latin abbreviations! This is very respectful of your readers and represents a scholarly handling of Hadrianic epigraphy, which I find deeply evocative,. You are enriching my grasp of 2nd Century life. My imagination soars with your pictures and engineering histories of Rome’s aqueducts, which invariably earn my astonishment. More than anything about Rome, her aqueducts salute her aereas aequanimitas et aetas aeternitas.

Leave a Reply