Situated to the northwest of the gulf of the same name Antalya is, both historically and archaeologically, one of the most important cities of the Mediterranean area. The province has further importance in being one of the richest provinces of Anatolia from the point of view of archaeology. This region is covered with a great number of mounds dating back to Neolithic and prehistoric times. Findings in the Gurma cave east of Antalya, specimens of red and black pottery recovered from various sites and the characteristics of some of the mounds of the region all indicate that this province was an important area of settlement in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and the Copper Ages.
According to Strabo and Homer, the province of Antalya was inhabited as early as the 5th or 6th millenium B.C., and the earliest inhabitants are believed to be the Solims, who forgetting their original tongue after a time, began to speak Phoenician, Carian and Greek. Following to long wars between the Hittites and Egyptians, the Greeks from the Greek mainland and the Aegean islands came and settled in the province of Antalya during the VIIth century B.C. With the gradual increase of its population the region soon reached a high level of prosperity. It was invaded by the Persians in 547 B.C., and finally by Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. After a period of confusion under the successors of Alexander, Attalus II, King of Pergamum (159-138) realized the strategic importance of this region and decided to establish a naval base there.
The existance of excellent natural conditions for a harbor suggest the probability that there was a part there already. A modest naval base at first, it gradually grew into a prosperous city, and was called first Attaleia, Attalia, then Adalia, Adalya, and finally Antalya, after its founder Attalus II. It is soon overshadowed its neighbouring cities which were not so richly endowed.
The rule of Pergamum was short in Antalya, and the city was soon captured by Mediterranean pirates. With the defeat of the pirates by Consul P. Servilius, the city passed under Roman rule and entered a greater period of civilization. As people of Antalya remained loyal to Rome, they enjoyed all the privileges of Roman citizens.
While highly prosperous cities such as Aspendos, Side, Perge and Termessos began to decline during the Byzantine period, Antalya continued to flourish as an important center of trade.
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