Cilicia (sĭlĭshˈə) [key], ancient region of SE Asia Minor, in present S Turkey, between the Mediterranean and the Taurus range. It included a high and barren plateau, Cilicia Trachia or Cilicia Tracheia, and a fertile plain, Cilicia Pedias. The area was under the domination of the Assyrian Empire before it became part of the Persian Empire. Greeks early settled on the coast, and Cilicia was hellenized to a great extent. In the Hellenistic period the region was disputed by the Seleucid kings of Syria and the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt. Tarsus and Seleucia (not to be confused with the port of Antioch) were the principal cities. They flourished after the region became part of the Roman Empire (a portion in 102 B.C., but most of it only after Pompey's campaign against the pirates there in 67 B.C.). Later Cilicia was included in the Byzantine Empire and in the 8th cent. was invaded by the Arabs. In 1080, Prince Reuben set up an Armenian state there, which became a kingdom in 1098 and is generally called Little Armenia. The Armenians cooperated with the rulers of the neighboring Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. They maintained their independence against the Turks until 1375, when the Mamluks conquered them. (For the later history of the region, see Armenia.) Cilicia is mentioned in the Bible (Acts 6.9; 21.39; 22.3; Gal. 1.21).
See T. S. Boase, ed., Cilician Kingdom of Armenia (1979).
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