XANTHOS

 
 
         

Xanthos is the Greek appellation of the name of the city of Arñna, of Lycian origin. The Hittite and Luwian name of the city is given as Arinna. The Romans called the city Xanthus, as all the Greek -os suffixes were changed to -us in Latin. Xanthos was a center of culture and commerce for the Lycians, and later for the Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, and Romans who in turn conquered the city and occupied the adjacent territory. Xanthos is mentioned by numerous ancient Greek and Roman writers. Strabo notes Xanthos as the largest city in Lycia. Both Herodotus and Appian describe the conquest of the city by Harpagos on behalf of the Persian Empire, in approximately 540 BC. According to Heredotus, the Persians met and defeated a small Lycian army in the flatlands to the north of the city. After the encounter, the Lycians retreated into the city which was besieged by Hapargos. The Lycians destroyed the Xanthos acropolis, killed their wives, children, and slaves, then proceeded on a suicidal attack against the superior Persian troops. Thus, the entire population of Xanthos perished but for 80 families who were absent during the fighting. During the Persian occupation, a local leadership was installed at Xanthos, which by 520 BC was already minting its own coins. By 516 BC, Xanthos was included in the first nomos of Darius I in the tribute list. Xanthos' fortunes were tied to Lycia's as Lycia changed sides during the Greco-Persian wars, archeological digs demonstrate that Xanthos was destroyed in approximately 475 BC-470 BC, whether by the Athenian Kimon or by the Persians is open to debate. As we have no reference to this destruction in either Persian or Greek sources, some scholars attribute the destruction to natural or accidental causes. In the final decades of the 5th century BC, Xanthos conquered nearby Telmessos and incorporated it into Lycia. Reports on the city's surrender to Alexander the Great differ: Arrian reports a peaceful surrender, but Appian claims that the city was sacked. After Alexander's death, the city changed hands among his rival heirs; Diodorus notes the capture of Xanthos by Ptolemy I Soter from Antigonos. Appian, Dio Cassius, and Plutarch each report that city was once again destroyed in the Roman Civil Wars, circa 42 BC, by Brutus, but Appian notes that it was rebuilt under Marc Antony. Remains of a Roman amphitheater remain on the site. Marinos reports that there was a school of grammarians at Xanthos in late antiquity. The archeological excavations at Xanthos have yielded many texts in Lycian and Greek, including several bilingual texts that are useful in the decipherment of Lycian.

 

 

 

     

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