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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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An ancient district of Asia Minor, situated 40n the Euxine Sea between Bithynia and Pontus, separated from Galatia by a prolongation to the east of the Bithynian Olympus. According to Strabo, the river Parthenius formed the western limit of the region, which was bounded on the east by the Halys. Although the Paphlagonians play scarcely any part in history, they were one of the most ancient nations of Asia Minor (Iliad, ii. 851). They are mentioned by Herodotus among the races conquered by Croesus, and they sent an important contingent to the army of Xerxes in 480 B.C. Xenophon speaks of them as being governed by a prince of their own, without any reference to the neighbouring satraps, a freedom due, perhaps, to the nature of the country, with its lofty mountain ranges and difficult passes. At a later period Paphlagonia passed under the Macedonian kings, and after the death of Alexander the Great it was assigned, together with Cappadocia and Mysia to Eumenes. It continued, however, to be governed by native princes until it was absorbed by the encroaching power of Pontus. The rulers of that dynasty became masters of the greater part of Paphlagonia as early as the reign of Mithradates III. (302266 B.C.), but it was not till that of Pharnaces I. that Sinope fell into their hands (183 B.C.). From this time the whole province was incorporated with the kingdom of Pontus until the fall of the great Mithradates (65 B.C.). Pompey united the coast districts of Paphlagonia with the province of Bithynia, but left the interior of the country under the native princes, until the dynasty became extinct and the whole country was incorporated in the Roman empire. All these rulers appear to have borne the name of Pylaemenes, as a token that they claimed descent from the chieftain of that name who figures in the Iliad as leader of the Paphlagonians. Under the Roman Empire Paphlagonia, with the greater part of Pontus, was united into one province with Bithynia, as we find to have been the case in the time of the younger Pliny; but the name was still retained by geographers, though its boundaries are not distinctly defined by Ptolemy. It reappears as a separate province in the 5th century (Hierocles, Synecd. c. 33).

The ethnic relations of the Paphlagonians are very uncertain.

It seems perhaps most probable that they belonged to the same race as the Cappadocians, who held the adjoining province of Pontus, and were undoubtedly a Semitic race. Their language, however, would appear from Strabo to have been distinct. Equally obscure is the relation between the Paphlagonians and the Eneti or Heneti (mentioned in connexion with them in the Homeric catalogue) who were supposed in antiquity to be the ancestors of the Veneti, who dwelt at the head of the Adriatic. But no trace is found in historical times of any tribe of that name in Asia Minor.

The greater part of Paphlagonia is a rugged mountainous country, but it contains fertile valleys, and produces great abundance of fruit. The mountains are clothed with dense forests, which are conspicuous for the quantity of boxwood which they furnish. Hence its coasts were from an early period occupied by Greek colonies, among which the flourishing city of Sinope, founded from Miletus about 630 B.C., stood pre-eminent. Amastris, a few miles east of the Parthenius, became important under the Macedonian monarchs; while Amisus, a colony of Sinope, situated a short distance east of the Halys, and therefore not strictly in Paphlagonia as defined by Strabo, rose to be almost a rival of its parent city. The most considerable towns of the interior were Gangra, in ancient times the capital of the Paphlagonian kings, afterwards called Germanicopolis, situated near the frontier of Galatia, and Pompeiopolis, in the valley of the Amnias (a tributary of the Halys), near which were extensive mines of the mineral called by Strabo sandarake (red arsenic), which was largely exported from Sinope.

See Hommaire de Hell, Voyage en Turquie (Paris, 1854-1860); W. J. Hamilton, Researches (London, 1842); W. M. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of Asia Minor (London, 1890).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Paphlagonia'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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