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Ancient Asia - In the ancient world Asia was known of as having three divisions: Asia Major, Asia Minor, and Asia Proper or just Asia. The Roman Province of Asia was formed out of the kingdom of Pergamus which included the region around the west side of Asia Minor, it included Mysia, Lydia, Caria, the coastal islands, and Western Phrygia. The borders of this province are virtually the same of the earlier kingdom of Pergamus. Ephesus was its main city and commercial center. During the Roman Empire Augustus desired that because of the great wealth of the province of Asia, it would have self-governing cities, each responsible for its own economy, taxation, and law in each city and territory. Augustus gave Asia over to the Senate with the administration of a proconsul, with the aid of 3 legates and a quaestor. There were procurators, city councils, magistrates, tax collectors, etc. Asia is mentioned many times in the Bible.
The Roman province of Asia or Asiana (Greek:Ασιανή), in Byzantine
times called Phrygia, was an administrative unit added to the late Republic. It
was a Senatorial province governed by a proconsul. The arrangement was unchanged
in the reorganization of the Roman Empire in 211.
Geography of the Province of Asia. Asia province originally consisted of Mysia, the Troad, Aeolis, Lydia, Ionia, Caria, and the land corridor through Pisidia to Pamphylia. Aegean islands except Crete, were part of the Insulae (province) of Asiana. Part of Phrygia was given to Mithridates V Euergetes before it was reclaimed as part of the province in 116 BC. Lycaonia was added before 100 BC while the area around Cibyra was added in 82 BC. The southeast region of Asia province was later reassigned to the province of Cilicia. During the empire, Asia province was bounded by Bithynia to the north, Lycia to the south, and Galatia to the east.
Augustus and the Province of Asia. After Augustus came to power, he established a proconsulship for the province of Asia, embracing the regions of Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and Phrygia. The proconsul spent much of his year-long term traveling throughout the province hearing cases and conducting other judicial business at each of the assize centers. Rome’s transition from the Republic to the early Empire saw an important change in the role of existing provincial cities, which evolved from autonomous city-states to Imperial administrative centers. The beginning of the principate of Augustus also signaled the rise of new cities in Mysia, Lydia and Phrygia. The province grew to be an elaborate system of self-governing cities, each responsible for its own economics, taxes, and law in its territory. The reign of Augustus further signaled the start of urbanization of Asia province, as public building became the defining characteristic of a city.
Emperor worship in the Province of Asia. Emperor worship was prevalent in provincial communities during the Roman empire. Soon after Augustus came to power, temples erected in his honor sprang up across Asia province. The establishment of provincial centers of emperor worship further spawned local cults. These sites served as models followed by other provinces throughout the empire. Emperor worship served as a way for subjects of Asia province to come to terms with imperial rule within the framework of their communities. Religious practices were very much a public affair and involved citizens in all its aspects including prayer, sacrifice, and processions. Rituals held in honor of a particular emperor frequently outnumbered those of other gods. No other cult matched the imperial cult in terms of dispersion and commonality. - Wikipedia
Asia. (Ἀσία), in the poets Asis (Ἀσίς). One of the three great
divisions which the ancients made of the known world. It was first used by the
Greeks for the western part of Asia Minor, especially the plains watered by the
river Caÿster, where the Ionian colonists first settled; and thence, as their
geographical knowledge advanced, they extended it to the whole country. The
southern part of the continent was supposed to extend much farther to the east
than it really does, while to the north and northeast parts, which were quite
unknown, much too small an extent was assigned. The different opinions about the
boundaries of Asia on the side of Africa are mentioned under Africa; on the side
of Europe the boundary was formed by the river Tanais (Don), the Palus Maeotis
(Sea of Azof), Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea), Propontis (Sea of Marmora), and the
Aegean (Archipelago). The most general division of Asia was into two parts,
which were different at different times, and known by different names. To the
earliest Greek colonists the river Halys, the eastern boundary of the Lydian
kingdom, formed a natural division between Upper and Lower Asia; and afterwards
the Euphrates was adopted as a more natural boundary. Another division was made
by the Taurus into Asia intra Taurum, i. e. the part of Asia north and north
west of the Taurus, and Asia extra Taurum, all the rest of the continent. The
division ultimately adopted, but apparently not till the fourth century of our
era, was that of Asia Maior and Asia Minor.
1. Asia Maior was the part of the continent east of the Tanaïs, the Euxine, an imaginary line drawn from the Euxine to Trapezus (Trebizond), to the Gulf of Issus and the Mediterranean; thus it included the countries of Sarmatia Asiatica, with all the Scythian tribes to the east, Colchis, Iberia, Albania, Armenia, Syria, Arabia, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Media, Susiana, Persia, Ariana, Hyrcania, Margiana, Bactriana, Sogdiana, India, the land of the Sinae, and Serica; respecting which, see the several articles.
2. Asia Minor (Anatolia) was the peninsula on the extreme west of Asia, bounded by the Euxine, Aegean, and Mediterranean on the north, west, and south; and on the east by the mountains on the west of the upper course of the Euphrates. It was divided into Mysia, Lydia, and Caria, on the west; Lycia, Pamphylia, and Cilicia, on the south; Bithynia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus, on the north; and Phrygia, Pisidia, Galatia, and Cappadocia, in the centre.
3. Asia Propria, or simply Asia, the Roman province formed out of the kingdom of Pergamus, which was bequeathed to the Romans by Attalus III. (B.C. 130), and the Greek cities on the western coast, and the adjacent islands, with Rhodes. It included the districts of Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and Phrygia; and was governed at first by propraetors, afterwards by proconsuls. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers.
Asia, I. one of the three divisions of the world known to the
ancients. Bounded n. by Tanais (or, according to Herodotus and Plato, the Phasis),
the Euxine, the Bosphorus, and the Hellespont; s. by the Oceanus Indicus; w. by
the Red Sea and the Isthmus jEgypti (or, according to Herodotus, Mela, and
others, the Nile); E. by the unascertained limits of Scythia and Serica. It was
divided into Asia Citerior, or Minor, and Asia Ulterior, or Magna. The name is
variously derived from Asia, wife of Prometheus; from Asius, grandson of Manes;
from Asi, Phsenice " intermediate ;" from Asis, Grace " mud," in relation to
Asia palus; and from the Asse (Aspurgitani), the subjects of Wodin. II. Magna,
Asia, E. of the Euphrates. III. Minor, vel Citerior, the division of Asia w. of
the Euphrates. Bounded N. by the Euxine, the Propontis, and the Hellespont; s.
by the Mediterranean; w. by the yEgean; E. by Apsarus fl., Scydiscus m.,
Euphrates fl., Taurus m., and Amanus m. It comprised jEolis, Armenia Minor,
Bithynia, Cappadocia, Caria, Cilicia, Galatia, Ionia, Lycia, Lycaonia, Lydia,
Mysia, Painphylia, Paphlagonia, Pisidia, Pontus, and Troas. Under the Romans it
was divided into two provinces, Asiana and Pontica. Its population was
originally derived from Asia Magna, and augmented from time to time by Iones,
Pelasgi, and other tribes from Europe. Anadoli. IV. Palus, marshes on Caystrus
fl., in Asia Regio. Frequented by water-fowl, the property of the priests of
Ephesus. V. Propria (Consularis), a Roman division of Asia Minor, comprising
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, and Sardes. VI. Regio, a district of Lydia, on
Caystrus fl., from its mouth towards Tmolus m. and Sardis. The Asia of Homer,
which, before the time of Herodotus, had communicated its name to the entire
Asiatic continent. VII. its capital, of uncertain position. Here the
three-stringed harp was invented. VIII. (Isia), Bruttii, i. q. Tisia.
- Classical Gazetteer
Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.
The Roman Province of Asia
A´SIA (Ἀσία), a Roman provincial division of the country, which we call Asia Minor. The Roman province of Asia originated in the testamentary bequest of Attalus (B.C. 133), the last king of Pergamum, to the Romans; and after the rising of Aristonicus (B.C. 131--129) was put down, the province was formed (B.C. 129) in the usual way, by the consul M Aquillius with the assistance of ten Roman commissioners. (Strab. p. 645.) Strabo observes that the province was reduced to the same form of polity which existed in his time; but this gives no exact information as to the limits. Cicero (pro Flacco, 100.27) mentions “Phrygia, Mysia, Caria, and Lydia” as the component parts of the province. Within these limits Aeolis and Ionia were of course included; and probably the Dorian towns on the main land. But the province was not originally so exr tensive. Phrygia, which had been in the possession of Mithridates VI., was declared free after it was taken from him. (Appian, Mithrid. c. 57.) Cicero (Verr. Act. 2.1. 100.38) speaks of Phrygia (Phrygiam totam) as one of the countries which Dolabella and his quaestor Verres plundered; and the province of Dolabella was Cilicia (B.C. 80). In the republican period the province of Asia was generally governed by a Propraetor, who, however, is often called Praetor, and sometimes Proconsul. Upon the division of the provinces between Augustus and the Senate, the Senate had Asia, which was governed by a Proconsul. (Strab. p. 840.; D. C. 53.12.)
L. Cornelius Sulla, after the close of the Mithridatic war (B.C. 84), divided Asia into 40 Regiones, a division which was made apparently for the purpose of raising money, and particularly the heavy contribution which Sulla laid on Asia. (Plut. Sull. 100.25; Cic. ad Q. Fr. 1.1, 11, pro Flacco, 100.14). This province contained a large number of rich towns; five hundred are mentioned in the first [p. 1.239]century of our aera, a number which must have included, as one may suppose, every place that could be called a town. These 40 regions contained as many chief towns, and they also included all the smaller towns; and the vectigalia for these several regions seem to have been let at their respective chief towns. But in consequence of the extortions of the Publicani, the dictator Caesar no longer allowed the Publicani to farm the taxes. He remitted to the Asiatic cities one third of the payments, which used to be made to the Publicani, and allowed the cities to collect the decumae from the cultivators (Appian, App. BC 5.4; D. C. 42.6). Under this arrangement many smaller towns were placed under the larger towns, as contributory places, and reduced to the rank of dependent places (ὑπηκόοι κῶμαι. In these chief towns were the offices (ἀρχεῖα, γραμματεῖα, γραμματοφυλάκια) which contained the documents that related to the taxes on produce, the titles to land, and the contracts of hypothecation.
There was another division, later than that of Sulla, into “conventus juridici,” as in other Roman provinces, for judicial purposes, as Cicero says (pro Flacco, 100.29: “ubi . . . jus a nostro magistrate dicitur” ), and for other business which it was necessary to do before a court. These were much larger than the 40 districts, and quite independent of them. The following were the chief places of these conventus, so far as we know them: Ephesus, Tralles, Alabanda, Laodicea (or the Jurisdicto Cibyratica, which contained 25 towns: see Plin. Nat. 5.28), Apamea Cibotus, Synnada; Sardes containing all Lydia, but Philadelphia in the second century was also the chief town of a Conventus; Smyrna; Adramyttium, and Pergamum. These Conventus were also called dioceses (διοικήσεις: Strab. p. 629). Cicero (ad Farn. 13.67), when he was governor of Cilicia, mentions three dioceses of Asia, Cibyratica, Apamensis, and Synnadensis, which belonged to Phrygia, as attached to his province of Cilicia; but this arrangement appears to have been only temporary. (Strab. p. 631, mentions the Cibyratica as belonging to Asia.) The 40 regions probably disappeared altogether, for the division into Conventus seems to have been the division for all administrative purposes.
Under the empire there was a division of the cities of Asia according to rank. The chief cities were called Metropoleis (Modestinus, Dig. 27, tit. 1. s. 6, De Excusationibus). Besides Ephesus, there are mentioned as Metropoleis--Smyrna, Sardes, Pergamum, Lampsacus, and Cyzicus. Ephesus, which was always considered the chief place of the Province, was called “first of all and the greatest,” and “the Metropolis of Asia.” Metropolis (μητρόπολις) in this sense of chief town is quite different from the earlier Greek meaning of “mother” or “parent city.” As one province contained several of these Metropoleis, the name seems to have been conferred merely as a title of honour, at least in the case of these cities of Asia. If any privilege was connected with the name, it is conjectured that the cities which had the title of Metropolis were in turns the places at which were held the great festival of Asia (τὸ κοινὸν Ἀσίας.).
There were also autonomous towns in Asia, towns which had the self-government (αὐτονομία). The term αὐτονόμος corresponds to the Latin “libera civitas.” Such towns are sometimes described as having “freedom and immunity from taxation” (ἐλευθερία καὶ ἀτελεία). The second term is expressed by the Latin “immunitas.” The following list of autonomous towns in Asia has been made out: Alabanda, Apollonis, Aphrodisias, the island Astypalaea, Caunus, Chios, Halicarnassus (doubtful), Cnidos, Cos, Cyzicus, Ilium, Magnesia ad Sipylum, Mytilene, Mylasa, Phocaea, Samos, Stratonicea, Termera in Caria, and Teos These places received their privileges at various times and under various circumstances, so that this list, which is also probably incomplete, may not be exact as to any one time. Alexandria Troas, and Parium, were made Roman coloniae, and, as it appears, Tralles also.
The limits of the province Asia have been determined from the classical writers. In the Acts of the Apostles (2.9, 16.6), Phrygia is excluded from Asia, which means the province Asia; and in the Apocalypse (1.4), when the seven churches of Asia are addressed, the term also seems to have a limited signification. This discrepancy may arise from Phrygia having been divided, the south and east part of it being attached to Galatia. (Strab. pp. 568,569.) But there appears to be some difficulty about this matter of Phrygia.
At the close of the 4th century Asia was divided into six divisions. 1. Asia proconsularis, a strip along the coast from Assus to the Maeander, with Ephesus the capital. 2. Hellespontus, with Cyzicus the capital. 3. Lydia, with Sardes the capital. 4. Phrygia Salutaris, the north-east part of Phrygia, with Eucarpia the capital. 5. Phrygia Pacatiana, the west part of Phrygia, extending to Ancyra of Phrygia and Aezani or Azani, with Laodicea the capital. 6. Caria, with Aphrodisias the capital.
The islands which belonged to the province of Asia were formed into a Provincia Insularum (ἐπαρχία νήσων), by Vespasian as it appears. In the time after Constantine it contained 53 islands, of which Rhodes was the Metropolis. (Becker, Röm. Alterth. vol. iii. pt. i. by J. Marquardt.) - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.
Asia in Easton's Bible Dictionary is used to denote Proconsular Asia,
a Roman province which embraced the western parts of Asia Minor, and of which
Ephesus was the capital, in Acts 2:9; 6:9; 16:6; 19:10,22; 20:4, 16, 18, etc.,
and probably Asia Minor in Acts 19:26, 27; 21:27; 24:18; 27:2. Proconsular Asia
contained the seven churches of the Apocalypse (Rev. 1:11). The "chiefs of Asia"
(Acts 19:31) were certain wealthy citizens who were annually elected to preside
over the games and religious festivals of the several cities to which they
belonged. Some of these "Asiarchs" were Paul's friends.
Asia in Fausset's Bible Dictionary In the New Testament not the continent, nor Asia Minor, but the W. of Asia Minor, with Ephesus as its capital, including Mysia, Lydia, Caria. Attalus, king of Pergamus, left it to the Romans 138 B.C. It was placed by Augustus among the senatorial provinces, as distinguished from the imperial provinces. Hence it was governed by a "proconsul," as Acts 19:38 (anthupatos), with the minute propriety which marks truth, incidentally intimates. It had its "assize days" (agoraioi, margin "the court days are kept.") Here were the seven churches addressed in the Revelation. In the Old Testament "Asia" does not occur.
Asia in Hitchcock's Bible Names muddy; boggy
Asia in Naves Topical Bible Inhabitants of, in Jerusalem, at Pentecost Ac 2:9; 21:27; 24:18 -Paul and Silas forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach in Ac 16:6 -Gospel preached in, by Paul Ac 19; 20:4 -Paul leaves Ac 20:16 -The congregations of 1Co 16:19; Re 1:4,11
Asia in Smiths Bible Dictionary (orient). The passages in the New Testament where this word occurs are the following; Ac 2:9; 6:9; 16:6; 19:10,22,26,27; 20:4,16,18; 21:27; 27:2; Ro 16:5; 1Co 16:19; 2Co 1:8; 2Ti 1:15; 1Pe 1:1; Re 1:4,11 In all these it may be confidently stated that the word is used for a Roman province which embraced the western part of the peninsula of Asia Minor and of which Ephesus was the capital.
Asia in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE a'-shi-a (Asia): A Roman province embracing the greater part of western Asia Minor, including the older countries of Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and a part of Phrygia, also several of the independent coast cities, the Troad, and apparently the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Patmos, Cos and others near the Asia Minor coast (Acts 16:6; 19:10,27). It is exceedingly difficult to determine the exact boundaries of the several countries which later constituted the Roman province, for they seem to have been somewhat vague to the ancients themselves, and were constantly shifting; it is therefore impossible to trace the exact borders of the province of Asia. Its history previous to 133 BC coincides with that of Asia Minor of which it was a part. However, in that year, Attalus III (Philometer), king of Pergamos, bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Empire. It was not until 129 BC that the province of Asia was really formed by Rome. Its first capital was Pergamos, the old capital of Mysia, but in the time of Augustus, when Asia had become the most wealthy province of the Empire, the seat of the government was transferred to Ephesus. Smyrna was also an important rival of Ephesus. The governor of Asia was a pro-consul, chosen by lot by the Roman senate from among the former consuls who had been out of office for at least five years, and he seldom continued in office for more than a single year. The diet of the province, composed of representatives from its various districts, met each year in the different cities. Over it presided the asiarch, whose duty it was, among other things, to offer sacrifices for the welfare of the emperor and his family. In 285 AD the province was reduced in size, as Caria, Lydia, Mysia and Phrygia were separated from it, and apart from the cities of the coast little remained. The history of Asia consists almost entirely of the history of its important cities, which were Adramyttium, Assos, Cnidus, Ephesus, Laodicea, Miletus, Pergamos, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Thyatira, Troas, etc.
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