Lycia and Pamphylia

Throughout their long history, the mountainous region of Lycia and the fertile plain of Pamphylia repeatedly changed hands among the dominant powers of Anatolia. During the Trojan War, Lycia was allied with the Trojans, and Pamphylia belonged to the Hittite Empire. Later, various Greek powers held sway over Lycia and Pamphylia until Cyrus the Great of Persia subdued the entire region. After Alexander the Great wrested the region from Persia, Lycia and Pamphylia were once again fought over by various powers, including the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, and the Rhodians. As time went on, Pamphylia became a haunt for pirates, but after Lycia and Pamphylia came under Roman control the region enjoyed greater security. It was also during this time that the cities of Lycia formed the Lycian League, the earliest known democratic union of city-states, which was headquartered at Patara. Even after the Romans took control over the region, the Lycian League was allowed to exercise some degree of autonomous rule. During New Testament times, the apostle Paul passed through Perga as he made his way to Antioch of Pisidia and also as he returned. From there he went to Attalia before setting sail for Antioch (Acts 13-14). Near the end of his third missionary journey, Paul changed ships at the port of Patara on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-2). Later, Paul changed ships at the port of Myra while being transferred to Rome to stand trial before Caesar (Acts 27:5). Myra is also the hometown of St. Nicholas, the fourth-century Christian bishop who became widely associated with gift-giving and Christmas.

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