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Caesarea was an important city in Asia Minor during the Late Classical Period. The seat of the kings of Cappadocia, Caesarea was originally called Mazaca until Cappadocian king Archelaus changed its name to Caesarea circa 10 BC to honor the Roman Emperor Augustus. Caesarea remained an important trade center throughout the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period and remains so even today. Now located in Turkey, the city's name is spelled Kayseri in modern Turkish.

History

As Mazaca, the city was the capital of Cappadocia from the 3rd century BC when the region emerged as an independent kingdom from out of the chaotic remains of the old empire of Alexander the Great. In the 1st and 2nd centuries BC, Cappadocia avoided direct Roman conquest by becoming a staunch Roman ally. The city fell under the sway of Pontus when Mithradates VI invaded Cappadocia in 104 BC, but was later "liberated" by the Romans who now held the kingdom in quasi-colonial status. The city was captured again circa 90 BC by Mithradates' son-in-law, Tigranes of Armenia, and was later restored by Pompey. In about 40 BC, Mark Antony finally ended the farce of Cappadocia's independence by replacing the king with a Roman puppet, and in AD 17 Rome officially annexed the region as a province.

With the fall of the West, Casarea became part of of the Byzantine Empire. After falling to the Seljuk Turks in the mid 11th century, it was briefly occupied by the Crusaders in 1097, and was later captured by the Mongols in 1243. With the decay of the Mongol Empire, the city was occupied by the Mamluk Turks of Egypt in 1419 and was finally incorporated as part of the Ottoman Empire in 1515.

Other Caesareas

The Romans loved to name places "Caesarea" and there were doubtless countless villages and hamlets named Caesarea-something-or-other throughout the Empire. Other than Caesarea of Cappadocia, here are a few of the other well-known Caesareas...
Caesarea Palestinae was a city in northern Judea on the cost of the Mediterranean Sea. Formery an old Phonecian port, Herod the Great made the city his capital, renovating it extensively along Roman lines and renaming it Caesarea after his Roman patrons. In later times the city was an important Byzantine port and a Crusader citadel. The city is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, and was the home of Christian historian Eusebius of Caesarea and the birthplace of Byzantine historian Procopius. Today the site is abandoned, with only ruins remaining, but is still known by its ancient name, now spelled "Kaiseriyeh."

Caesarea Philipi was a city in northern Palestine at the foot of Mount Hermon. It was built by Philip the Tetrarch in the 1st century AD on the site of an old center for the worship of Pan. The modern name of the city is Baniyas.

Caesarea Mauretanensis was the capital of the Roman province of Mauritania in northwestern Africa, and was the birthplace of Latin gramarian Priscian. Today the town is called Cherchel.

Caesarea Augusta was a town in Roman Spain, so named in honor of the Emperor Augustus. Echoes of the Roman name can still be heard in the town's modern name, as it is now the Spanish city of Zaragoza.

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