province asia minor
LYCAONIA, in ancient geography, was the name given to a province in the interior of Asia Minor, north of Mount Taurus. It was bounded on the E. by Cappadocia, on the N. by Galatia, on the W. by Phrygia and Pisidia, while to the S. it extended to the chain of Mount Taurus, from which it Was, however, in part separated by Isauria, though some writers included that district in Lycaonia. Its boundaries appear indeed to have varied at different times, as was the case with all the nations of Asia Minor. The name is not found in Heroclotus, but Lycaonia is mentioned by Xenophon as traversed by Cyrus the younger on his march through Asia. That author, however, de- scribes Iconium, one of the principal cities of Lycaonia, as included in Phrygia. But in Strabo's time the limits of the province were more clearly recognized, though Isauria was by some authors considered as a part of Lycaonia, by others as a distinct province. Ptolemy, on the other hand, includes Lycaonia as a part of Cappadocia, with which it may have been associated by the Romans for administrative purposes ; but the two countries are clearly distinguished both by Strabo and Xenophon.
'Lycaonia is well described by Strabo as a cold region of elevated plains, affording pasture to wild asses and to sheep. It in fact forms a part of the great table-land which constitutes the whole interior of Asia Minor, and has throughout its whole extent an elevation of more than 3000 feet above the sea. It suffers, moreover, severely from the want of water, aggravated by the abundance of salt in the -soil, so that the whole northern portion of the province, extending from near Iconium to the salt lake of Tatta, and the frontiers of Galatia, was almost wholly barren. Other portions of the country, however, notwithstanding the deficiency of water, were well adapted for feeding sheep, so that Amyntas, king of Galatia, to whom the district was for a time subject, maintained there not less than three hundred flocks, which brought him in a large revenue.
Though the greater part of Lycaonia is a broad open plain, extending as far as the underfalls of the Taurus, its monotonous character is interrupted by some minor ranges, or rather groups of mountains, of volcanic character, of winch the Kara Dagh in the southern portion of the district, a few miles north of Karaman, rises to a height of above 8000 feet, while the Karadja Dagh, to the north-east of the preceding, though of very inferior elevation, presents a striking range of volcanic cones. The mountains in the north-west of the province, near Iconium and Laodicea, on the other hand, are the termination of the great range of the Sultan Dagh, which traverses a large part of Phrygia.
The Lycaonians appear to have been in early times to a great extent independent of the Persian empire, and were like their neighbours the Isaurians a wild and lawless race of freebooters ; but their country was traversed by one of the great natural lines of high road through Asia Minor, from Sardis and Ephesus to the Cilician gates, and a few considerable towns would naturally grow up along this line of route. The most important of these was Iconium, in the most fertile spot in the province, of which it has always continued to be the capital. It is still called Konieh. A little farther north, immediately on the frontier of Phrygia, stood Laodicea (Ladik), called Combusta, to distinguish it from the Phrygian city of that name ; and in the south, near the foot of Mount Taurus, was Laranda, now called Karaman, which has given name to the province of Karamania. Derbe and Lystra, which appear from the Acts of the Apostles to have been considerable towns, were apparently situated in the same part of the district, but their sites have not been identified. The other towns mentioned by ancient writers were insignificant places.
The Lycaonians appear to have still retained a distinct nationality in the time of Strabo, but we are wholly in the dark as to their ethnical affinities, or relations to the tribes by which they were surrounded. The mention of the Lycaonian language in the Acts of the Apostles (xiv. 11) is evidently only intended to designate the vernacular tongue, as opposed to Greek, and cannot be regarded as any proof that they spoke a different language .from their neighbours the Phrygians or Cappadocians.