Lycia, along the southwestern coast of Anatolia is dominated by the massive mountain chains. Its boundaries start from Fethiye on the west and stretch down to the famous Pamphylian city of Antalya on the east.

Ak Daglar (Solyma Mountains) on the west and Bey Daglar (Massicytus Mountains) on the east, cover most of the Lycian land on every direction. They also form the northern borders of the area. Ak Daglar with its 3016 metres peak is one of the highest points of Taurus mountains chain.

Alakir Cayi (Lymirus Brook), Kocacay (Xanthos) and Basgoz Cayi (Arycondos) are the only rivers of the area. They carry reasonable amounts of fresh water all along the year.

Most of the area is covered by forests and a thick flora on the lowlands. Its climate is mild most of the year; a typical Mediterranean characteristic.

The current knowledge about the earliest Lycian settlements stems to the early Bronze Age (2800 - 2200 B.C.)

Lycia has always been governed in the form of a federation of cities. The earliest settlers are thought to be the native Anatolians and some migrants from the island of Crete, according to the famous historian Herodotus. Lycians are considered to be one of the oldest people of Anatolia and always resisted any new colonialists, mainly Greeks.

The first signs of the existance of Lycians are found in the early Hittite and Egyptian documents. These documents mention the nation of "Lukka" and a city named as "Dalowa" in the land of Lukka. Lukka can only be Lycia and Dalowa must be the city of Tlos in the valley of Xanthos.

Again, the famous historian Herodotus mentioned these people as matriarchal as opposed to the Greeks' patriarchal society.

According to Strabo, the political stability due to the strong union of cities under the Lycian Federation was the main reason for these city states to survive under various occupations.

The Lycian Federation, consisting of 23 cities, was governed by a council named Lyciarch which was formed during an assembly meeting each year with the votes of the member states of the federation. The cities had different numbers of votes in this assembly, according to their political and financial strength. The cities of Myra (Demre, Kale), Olympos (Cirali, Yanartas), Patara (Gelemis), Pinara (Minare), Tlos (Asar Kale) and Xanthos (Kinik) were the important states with three votes against the others with only one or two votes for governing the federation.

The first major occupation came from the east. The Persians defeated the last king of Lycia, Croesus in 546 B.C.

The Persian rule did not interfere with the internal affairs of Lycia as long as they continued to pay their contributions to Persia in time. Until 333 B.C., when Alexander the Great conquered most of the western Anatolia, Lycia was controlled by Persian straps.

Ptolemy, one of the generals of Alexander, took over Lycia and Hellenized the Lycian cities. First, Lycian language was replaced by Greek and then the cities adopted the Greek political system. This era lasted for one hundred years.

The Syrians gave up after a short period of rule over the Lycian federation. The Roman domination of Anatolia with the help of Rhodians, led to colonization efforts on Lycia by the Rhodians. The strong resistance of Lycia to this effort led the Romans to declare Lycia as an independent state in 167 B.C.

Lycia's opposition against Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus, who was fighting against Roman domination of Anatolia was appreciated by Rome and after the defeat of Mithridates, the Lycian federation was rewarded with independence from the Roman province of Anatolia and some extra territories were given.

This independence continued until the reign of Emperor Claudius. He included Lycian and Pamphylian territories into the Roman Empire. Under the Roman rule, Lycians became more wealthy and prosperous. Lyciarch still remained and controlled the Roman officials under a special agreement with the Roman Senate.

The real end of the cities came in the 7th century A.D. when the Arabs started to attack the west of Anatolia.

The main contribution of Lycia to the art of Anatolian civilizations is its reliefs, sculptures and most importantly its funeral architecture.

There were a total of 19 Lycian cities in the federation, of which 6 were the most important ones with 3 votes in the assembly. The following is the list of these 19 cities of Lycia :

Andriace (Kale, Demre),

Antiphellus (Kas),

Aparlae (Sicak Iskelesi),

Arycanda (Arif),




Simena (Kale),

Sura (Sura),

Phaselis (Tekirova),

Telmessus (Fethiye),

The Letoum (Bozoluk),

Teimiussa (Ucagiz).




Xanthos (Esen Cay).

Myra (Demre).

Olympos (Yanartas).

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