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Phrygia

phrygia
Phrygia, ancient country of Asia Minor, in what is now Turkey, the extent and boundaries of which varied greatly at different periods. Early in the 1st millennium BC it is believed to have comprised the greater part of the Anatolian Peninsula, but at the time of the Persian invasion in the 6th century BC it was limited to the districts known as Lesser Phrygia and Greater Phrygia. Lesser Phrygia stretched west along the shores of the Sea of Marmara and the Hellespont to Troas, a region afterward part of Mysia. Greater Phrygia lay farther east and inland, where the Phrygian capital, Gordium (near present-day Ankara), was located. In the 3rd century BC the Gauls occupied the northern part of Greater Phrygia. For purposes of provincial administration the Romans divided Phrygia into two parts, attaching the northeastern part to Galatia Province and the western portion to Asia Province.

Greater Phrygia was in general a high and barren plateau; the most fertile region was the valley of the Sangarius. Grapes were cultivated extensively, and Phrygian marble, celebrated in antiquity, was quarried. The religion of the Phrygians was an ecstatic nature worship, in which the Great Mother of the Gods, Rhea, or Cybele, and a male deity, Sabazius, played a prominent part. The orgiastic rites of this religion influenced both the Greeks and the Romans.

The Phrygians are believed to have been an Indo-European people who entered Asia Minor from Thrace about 1200 BC and seized control of the whole central tableland. Records exist of numerous kings, bearing alternately the names of Gordius and Midas, but their power was apparently broken by the invasions of the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. In the 6th century BC Croesus, king of Lydia, conquered all that was left of Phrygia, which passed successively under the rule of Persia, Macedonia, Pergamum, and Rome.

The Phrygian cap, a cloth head-covering worn by the Phrygians, was adopted by freed slaves in Roman times, and thus this cap became a symbol of liberty.