Hellenistic period in Anatolia

The period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the rise of Augustus in Rome in 31 BC - some say the conquest of the Lagid kingdom of Egypt by Rome in 30 BC, OR the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC - is known as the Hellenistic Period. This three hundred years of Greek history is characterized by a division and a split of Alexander's former empire into numerous realms, with endless wars between the Diadochi and their successors. Many kingdoms, including the Macedonian, the Seleucid, and the Ptolemaic, arose during this period. These Hellenistic kingdoms were established throughout south-west Asia (Seleucid Empire and Kingdom of Pergamon), north-east Africa (Ptolemaic Kingdom) and South Asia (Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and Indo-Greek Kingdom).

When Alexander died mysteriously in Babylon in 323 BC, he left behind a sprawling empire which was composed of many autonomous territories called Satraps. Without a chosen successor there were immediate disputes among his generals as to who should be next king of Macedon. These generals were called as the Diadochi, meaning "Successors". Each of the successor kingdoms was ruled by Greeks and Macedonians. They tried to rule in the style of Alexander, rewarding their inner circles with riches, founding new cities, and expanding trade routes to foreign lands. Macedonia, Syria, and Egypt became the centers of power.

After Alexander's death;

  • Lysimachus was given the Thrace. After his death, one of his officers, Philetaerus, took control of the city of Pergamum in 282 BC.
  • Seleucus I Nicator founded the Seleucid kingdom and captured Asia Minor. He received Babylonia and expanded his empire to include much of Alexander's near eastern territories. The Seleucids ruled over Mesopotamia and Persia.
  • The Bithynians were a Thracian people living in northwest Anatolia.
  • Cappadocia, situated between Pontus and the Taurus mountains, was ruled by a Persian dynasty. After Alexander's death they were defeated by Eumenes in 322 BC.
  • The Kingdom of Pontus was founded by Mithridates I in 291 BC on the southern coast of the Black Sea and lasted until its conquest by the Roman Republic in 63 BC.
  • The Celtic invaders, a member of an early Indo-European people who spread over much of Europe between 2nd millennium BC and 1st century BC, settled in Serbia, Thrace, and Galatia in central Anatolia. Galatians attacked and plundered neighboring kingdoms such as Bithynia and Pergamon. After they're defeated by Pergamon king Attalus I in the 3rd century BC, the Galatians were slowly hellenized.

During the Hellenistic period, Greek cultural influence and power reached its peak in the Mediterranean and beyond. Many schools of Hellenistic philosophy were opened. Hellenistic thinkers made important discoveries in astronomy and mathematics. Greek sculptors were in high demand. Architecture during this period focused on theatricality and drama. Greek language and Greek culture spread throughout much of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. And the Greek gods continued to be worshiped. Alexandria and Antioch became great centers of culture.

The decline of the Hellenic states occurred as Rome gained strength and won wars against Macedonia and against the ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus, Mithradates VI Eupator, turning the kingdoms and their allies into Roman provinces. Egypt was the last to fall, after having been drawn into the civil war between Mark Antony and Octavian (Augustus).

Note that this article focuses on the Hellenistic period in Anatolia, not throught the Hellenistic world. Besides those mentioned above, there were many hellenistic kingdoms established during that period such as; Kingdom of Epirus was a northwestern Greek kingdom in the western Balkans; Kingdom of Macedon, kingdoms of the Dalmatae and of the Ardiaei in The west Balkan coast; The Odrysian Kingdom in the Balkans; Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt; The Nabatean Kingdom was an Arab state located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula; Orontid Armenia, Parthia in north-eastern Iran; Judea was a frontier region between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt; The Greek kingdom of Bactria around present-day Afghanistan; and Indo-Greek kingdoms.