Several thousand tablets, written in cuneiform by Assyrian colonists in Cappadocia, have been found at Kültepe (Kanesh); they show that a highly developed trade existed between Assyria and Asia Minor before 1800 BC At that time Cappadocia was the heart of an old Hittite state. Later the Persians controlled Cappadocia. It did not yield fully to the conquest of Alexander the Great, and during the 3d cent. BC it gradually developed as an independent kingdom. Pontus now became completely separated from Cappadocia. The kings had their capital at Mazaca (later Caesarea Mazaca); the only other important cities were Tyana and Melitene, though Iconium was at times in Cappadocia.
In the 2d and 1st cent. BC the Cappadocian dynasty maintained itself largely by siding with Rome. Invaded in 104 BC by Mithradates VI and c.90 BC by his son-in-law, Tigranes of Armenia, Cappadocia was restored by Pompey. Antony replaced the king, who had been disloyal to Rome in the Parthian invasion at the time of Julius Caesar, and in AD 17 Rome annexed the region as a province and Cappadocia became prosperous. It was a refuge for persecuted Christians in 2d cent. AD, and several major saints came from there, including St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Kayseri.
Modern Cappadocia is famed for its unusual rock formations and caves. Deep valleys bordered by steep cliffs have formed out of rock and ash from prehistoric volcanic eruptions. Among the unusual formations are
fairy chimneys, cones of volcanic tufa and ash that resemble hats perched on columns. Ancient peoples dug underground cities that date back to the 4th cent. BC or earlier, including Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu, S of Neyşehir, and a more recently discovered one at Neyşehir itself. Christian monks carved caves and churches out of the cliffs; notable examples are found at Göreme, in the center of the region 45 mi (72 km) W of Kayseri.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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