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Cappadocia (kăpədō´shə), ancient region of Asia Minor, watered by the Halys River (the modern Kizil Irmak), in present E central Turkey. The name was applied at different times to territories of varying size. At its greatest extent Cappadocia stretched from the Halys valley E to the Euphrates River, from the Black Sea S to the heights of the Taurus and Anti-Taurus ranges. Mostly a high plateau, it was famous for its mineral resources, particularly its copper and iron. Cappadocia maintained its local Asian traditions in contrast to the Mediterranean seacoast of Asia Minor, which was dominated by the Aegean culture.

Several thousand tablets, written in cuneiform by Assyrian colonists in Cappadocia, have been found at Kültepe (Kanesh); they show that a highly developed trade existed between Assyria and Asia Minor before 1800 BC At that time Cappadocia was the heart of an old Hittite state. Later the Persians controlled Cappadocia. It did not yield fully to the conquest of Alexander the Great, and during the 3d cent. BC it gradually developed as an independent kingdom. Pontus now became completely separated from Cappadocia. The kings had their capital at Mazaca (later Caesarea Mazaca); the only other important cities were Tyana and Melitene, though Iconium was at times in Cappadocia.

In the 2d and 1st cent. BC the Cappadocian dynasty maintained itself largely by siding with Rome. Invaded in 104 BC by Mithradates VI and c.90 BC by his son-in-law, Tigranes of Armenia, Cappadocia was restored by Pompey. Antony replaced the king, who had been disloyal to Rome in the Parthian invasion at the time of Julius Caesar, and in AD 17 Rome annexed the region as a province and Cappadocia became prosperous. It was a refuge for persecuted Christians in 2d cent. AD, and several major saints came from there, including St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Kayseri.

Modern Cappadocia is famed for its unusual rock formations and caves. Deep valleys bordered by steep cliffs have formed out of rock and ash from prehistoric volcanic eruptions. Among the unusual formations are "fairy chimneys," cones of volcanic tufa and ash that resemble hats perched on columns. Ancient peoples dug underground cities that date back to the 4th cent. BC or earlier, including Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu, S of Neyşehir, and a more recently discovered one at Neyşehir itself. Christian monks carved caves and churches out of the cliffs; notable examples are found at Göreme, in the center of the region 45 mi (72 km) W of Kayseri.

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CAPPADOCIA (Gr. Καπποδοκία), country in Asia Minor, which was made a Roman province by Tiberius in 17 c.e. The first known Jewish settlement there dates back to the second century b.c.e., when Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, was asked by the Romans to maintain friendly relations with the Jews in view of the treaty between the Hasmoneans and Rome (i Macc. 15:22). In the first century b.c.e. friendly relations existed between the Herodian dynasty and the royal house of Cappadocia. Archelaus, the last Cappadocian king, gave his daughter Glaphyra in marriage to Alexander, the son of Herod (Jos., Ant, 16:11); Agrippa and Herod traveled to Cappadocia together (ibid., 16:23), and Archelaus visited Herod in order to reconcile him with Alexander (ibid., 16:261–69). In the quarrels between members of the Herodian dynasty, Archelaus acted as the mediator and succeeded in bringing a brief peace (Jos., Wars, 1:498–512). In appreciation, Herod reconciled Archelaus with the governor of Syria (Jos., Ant., 16:270). Glaphyra's return to Cappadocia after the execution of her husband Alexander did not mark a rupture of relations with the Herodian dynasty; she had borne Alexander two sons, Alexander and Tigranes (ibid., 17:139), and was subsequently married to Archelaus, the brother of Alexander (ibid., 18:350). Contacts between Cappadocia and Ereẓ Israel were not restricted to the royal families. At a later period, Cappadocian Jews lived in Jerusalem (Acts 2:9), in Sepphoris (tj, Shev. 9:5, 39a), and in Jaffa (see *Frey in bibl.). A tombstone inscription found at Jaffa mentions a Cappadocian flax merchant buried there. Two Cappadocian sages who had settled in Ereẓ Israel are mentioned: Judah of Cappadocia (tj, Pe'ah 1:4, 16c; tj, Kil. 8:1, 31b), and Samuel of Cappadocia (Ḥul. 27b; tj, Ber. 2:6, 5b). Nathan the Babylonian (Ḥul. 47b; Tosef., Shab. 15:8) and R. Akiva (tj, Yev. 16:4, 15d) visited Cappadocia, the latter reaching the capital, Megizah (Mazaga) of Cappadocia (Caesarea in Cappadocia). Cappadocia was considered one of the great Jewish settlements, like Babylonia and Alexandria (tj, Shab. 2:2, 4d). The conditions of life of the Jews in Cappadocia were familiar to the sages, as is evidenced, for example, by their permitting the Cappadocian Jews to use naphtha for their Sabbath lights, since no other oil was available to them (tj, Shab. 26a; Tosef., Shab. 2:3). Contacts between Ereẓ Israel and Cappadocia are further attested to by the Mishnah (Ket. 13:11), which states that in the view of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, a Jew who married a woman in Cappadocia and later divorced her in Ereẓ Israel was to pay her ketubbah in Cappadocian currency.


Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (1909), 23; A. Schalit, Hordos ha-Melekh (1960), 287ff., 300ff; Frey, Corpus, 2 (1952), 910, 931; S. Shapira, Ha-Aliyyah la-Regel bi-Ymei Bayit Sheni (1965), 69, 86 n.266; A.H.M. Jones, Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces (1937), 175–91.

[Lea Roth]

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Cappadocia an ancient region of central Asia Minor, between Lake Tuz and the Euphrates, north of Cilicia. It was an important centre of early Christianity.