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30 May 18:45

Comana (Cappadocia)

TR > Adana Province > Tufanbeyli

Comana was a city of Cappadocia and later Cataonia (Latin: Comana Cataoniae; frequently called Comana Chryse or Aurea, i.e. "the golden", to distinguish it from Comana in Pontus). The Hittite toponym Kummanni is considered likely to refer to Comana, but the identification is not considered proven. Its ruins are at the modern Turkish village of Şar [tr], Tufanbeyli district, Adana Province.

History

According to ancient geographers, Comana was situated in Cappadocia (and later Cataonia). Another epithet for the city, found in inscriptions, is Hieropolis /ˌhaɪəˈræpəlɪs/ (Ancient Greek: Ἱεράπολις) 'sacred city', owing to a famous temple of the Syrian Moon goddess Enyo or, in the local language: Ma (cf. Men, the moon goddess of Caria ). Strabo and Julius Caesar visited it; the former enters into long details about its position in a deep valley on the Sarus (Seihoun) river. The temple and its fame in ancient times as the place where the rites of Ma-Enyo,

a variety of the great west Asian nature-goddess, were celebrated with

much solemnity. The service was carried on in a sumptuous temple with

great magnificence by many thousands of hieroduli

(temple slaves). To defray expenses, large estates had been set apart,

which yielded a more than royal revenue. The city, a mere apanage of the

temple, was governed directly by the chief priest, who was always a

member of the reigning Cappadocian family, and took rank next to the

king. The number of persons engaged in the service of the temple, even

in Strabo's

time, was upwards of 6000, and among these, to judge by the names

common on local tomb-stones, were many Persians. Under the Romans the

temple was reassigned to Bellona and Lycomedes established as high priest. Emperor Caracalla, made Comana a Roman colony, and the temple-city received honors from later emperors down to the official recognition of Christianity. Comana Chryse, or the golden, appears from one of the Novellae of Justinian (Nov. 31. c. 1), to distinguish it from the Comana in Pontus. It was in the division which he named the Third Armenia, and which, he observes, contained Melitene, near the Euphrates.

There was a tradition that Orestes, with his sister, brought from Tauric Scythia the sacred rites of this temple, which were those of Tauropolos Artemis. Here Orestes deposited the hair that he cut from his head to commemorate the end of his sufferings (ἡ πένθιμος κόμη),

and hence, according to a folk etymology of the Greeks, came the name

of the place, Comana. And in later times, to make the name suit the

story better, as it was supposed, it was changed to ἡ Κόμανα. (Eustath. ad Dionys. v. 694; Procop. Persic. i. 17.)

The city minted coins in antiquity that bear the epigraphs Col. Aug. Comana, and Col. Iul. Aug. Comanenoru or Comainoru.

The site lies at Şarköy or Şar (once usually transcribed Shahr), a village in the Anti-Taurus on the upper course of the Sarus (Sihun), mainly Armenian, but surrounded by later settlements of Avshar Turkomans and Circassians.

The place has derived importance both in antiquity and now from its

position at the eastern end of the main pass of the western Anti-Taurus

range, the Kuru Çay, through which passed the road from Caesarea-Mazaca (modern Kayseri) to Melitene (modern Malatya), converted by Septimius Severus

into the chief military road to the eastern frontier of the empire. The

extant remains at Şar include a theatre on the left bank of the river, a

fine Roman doorway and many inscriptions; but the exact site of the

great temple has not been satisfactorily identified. There are many

traces of Severus's road, including a bridge at Kemer, and an immense

number of milestones, some in their original positions, others reused in

cemeteries.