Isauria ( _el. Ισαυρία), in ancient geography, is a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different periods, but generally covering much of what is now Konya/Bozkir province of Turkey, or the core of the Taurus Mountains. It derives its name from the contentious Isaurian tribe and twin settlements "Isaura Palaea" (Ίσαυρα Παλαιά, Latin: "Isaura Vetus", "Old Isaura") and "Isaura Nea" (Ίσαυρα Νέα, Latin: "Isaura Nova", "New Isaura"). Isaurian marauders were fiercely independent mountain people who created havoc in neighboring districts under Macedonian and Roman occupations.

The permanent nucleus of Isauria was north of the Taurus range which lies directly to south of Iconium and Lystra. Lycaonia had all the Iconian plain; but Isauria began as soon as the foothills were reached. Its two original towns, Isaura Nea and Isaura Palaea, lay, one among these foothills (Doria) and the other on the watershed (Zengibar Kalesi).

In the 4th century BC, Isauria began as it would end, and became the wild district about Isaura Palaea and the heads of the Calycadnus. When the capital, Isaura (also known as Isaura Vetus or Isaura Palaea), a strongly fortified city at the foot of Mt. Taurus, was besieged by Perdiccas, the Macedonian regent after Alexander the Great's death, the Isaurians set the place alight and let it perish in flames rather than submit to capture.

Roman domination

When the Romans first encountered the Isaurians (early in the 1st century BC), they regarded Cilicia Trachea as part of Isauria, which thus extended to the Mediterranean Sea; and this extension of the name continued to be in common use for two centuries. The whole basin of the Calycadnus was reckoned Isaurian, and the cities in the valley of its southern branch formed what was known as the Isaurian Decapolis.

The Isaurians were brought partially under control (76–75 BC) by the Romans. During the war of the Cilician and other pirates against Rome, the Isaurians took so active a part that the proconsul P. Servilius deemed it necessary to follow them into their rugged strongholds, and compel the whole people to submission, an exploit for which he received the title of Isauricus (75 BC). The Isaurians were afterwards placed for a time under the rule of Amyntas, king of Galatia; but it is evident that they continued to retain their predatory habits and virtual independence. In the 3rd century they sheltered the rebel emperor Trebonianus Gallus.

In the early 4th century all Cilicia was detached by order of Diocletian for administrative purposes from the northern slope of Taurus, and we find a province called at first Isauria-Lycaonia, and later Isauria alone, extending up to the limits of Galatia, but not passing Taurus on the south. Pisidia, part of which had hitherto been included in one province with Isauria, was also detached, and made to include Iconium. In compensation Isauria received the eastern part of Pamphylia.

In the 4th century they were still described by Ammianus Marcellinus as the scourge of the neighbouring provinces of Asia Minor but they were said to have been effectually subdued in the reign of Justinian I.

This comparatively obscure people produced two Byzantine emperors, Zeno, whose native name was Traskalisseus Rousoumbladeotes, and Leo III, who ascended the throne of Constantinople in 718, reigned until 741, and became the founder of a dynasty of three generations. The empire used Isaurians as soldiers, generals and at one point they even formed part of the emperor's personal guard, the Excubitores.

Later history

The site contains ruins of the town and its fortifications. The ruins of Isaura Palaea are mainly remarkable for their fine situation, fortifications and tombs. Those of Isaura Nea have disappeared, but numerous inscriptions and many sculpture stelae, built into the houses of Dorla, prove the site. It was the latter, and not the former town, that Servilius reduced by cutting off the water supply. J. R. S. Sterrett explored in the highland of Isauria in 1885 but it was not exhaustive. The site was identified by W. M. Ramsay in 1901.

Isaurians and modern Kurds

Several sources consider Isaurians as an ethnic designation for the ancient Kurds in the Taurus region or the ancestors of the Modern Kurds [L. Duchesne, C. Jenkins, H. Conrad, "Early History of the Christian Church: From Its Foundation to the End of the Third Century", Longmans, 1924, p.70] [R. Davey, "The Sultan and His Subjects",Gorgias Press, 2002, ISBN 0971598606.(see p.368)] [H. Falconar, B. Mackay, "Followers in the Way", Ayer Publishers, 1969, ISBN 0836913043. (p.86)] . According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Isaurians probably included tribes of Kurds in the Taurus ranges in the southeast of Asia Minor [The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III, 1908, Robert Appleton Company [] ] .



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  • ISAURIA — reg. Asiae min. ad Taurum mont. Ciliciae proxima, quam P. Servilius cogn. Isauricus, in ditionem Romanorum redegit. Strabo. l. 11. l. 13. p. 560. et 569. Claud. l. 1. in Eutrop. Carm. 18. v. 217. Indomitos curru Servilius egit Isauras. Ubi… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Isauria — Ubicación de Isauria en Asia Menor. Isauria (en griego antiguo: Ισαυρία) es la antigua región geográfica localizada en la accidentada y aislada zona sur de Asia Menor. La región ha sido sometida a numerosos cambios territoriales a lo largo de la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Isauria — Isaurien war in der Antike und im frühen Mittelalter ein Bereich im Inneren Kleinasiens mit ständig wechselnden Grenzen. Sein Kernland war das Gebiet nördlich des Taurus, das unmittelbar südlich an Ikonion und Lystra grenzt. Die Ebene von Ikonion …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Isauria — ▪ ancient district, Turkey       ancient inland district of south central Anatolia. Its inhabitants, a mountain people described by Greco Roman authors as warlike and uncivilized, were conquered by the Roman general Publius Servilius Vatia… …   Universalium

  • Isauria — geographical name ancient district in E Pisidia S Asia Minor on N slope of W Taurus Mountains • Isaurian adjective or noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Isauria — noun /aɪˈsɔːriə/ a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor; famous for its bandits …   Wiktionary

  • Isauria — ► Antigua región de Asia Menor, entre los montes Tauro y el Mediterráneo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • ISAURIA —    in ancient times this name was given to the northern slopes of the Taurus in Asia Minor, what is now Karamania; the Isaurians were a wild, savage people; from the 1st to the 4th centuries they were the terror of neighbouring States, and gave… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Isauria —    See Isaurians …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Isauria — /aɪˈsɔriə/ (say uy sawreeuh) noun an ancient region of southern central Asia Minor, mainly on the northern part of the western Taurus Mountains …   Australian English dictionary

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