), in the poets Asis
). 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;
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.
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.
Asia Minor (Anatolia) was the peniusula 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.
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.