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ATROPATE´NE

ATROPATE´NE (Ἀτροπαρηνή, Strab. xi. pp. 524--526; Ἀτροπάτιος Μηδία, Strab. xi. pp. 523--529; Ἀτροπαρία and Ἀτροπάτιος, Steph. B. sub voce Τροπαρηνὴ, Ptol. 6.2.5; Atropatene, Plin.6.13.) Strabo, in his description of Media, divides it into two great divisions, one of which he calls Μεγάλη, Media Magna; the other Ἀτροπάτιος Μηδία or Ἀτροπαρηνὴ. He states that it was situated to the east of Armenia and Matiene, and to the west of Media Magna. Pliny (l.c.) affirms that Atropatene extended to the Caspian Sea, and that its inhabitants were a part of the Medes. Its extent, N. and E., is nowhere accurately defined; but it seems probable that it extended E. beyond the river Amardus. It seems also likely that it comprehended the E. portion of Matiene, which province is considered by Strabo (xi. p.509) to have been part of Media. It must therefore have included a considerable part of the modern province of Azerbaijan. It derived its name from Atropates, or Atropes, who was governor of this district under the last Dareius, and, by a careful and sagacious policy with regard to the Macedonian invaders, succeeded in preserving the independence of the country he ruled, and in transmitting his crown to a long line of descendants, who allied themselves with the rulers of Armenia, Syria, and Parthia (Arrian, 3.8, 6.19, 29; Strab. xvi. p.523; and Arrian, 7.4, 13). The province of Atropatene was evidently one of considerable power, Strabo (xi. p.523), on the authority of Apollonides, stating that its governor was able to bring into the field 10,000 horse and 40,000 foot; nor does it ever appear to have been completely conquered, though during the most flourishing times of the Parthian empire it was sometimes a tributary of that warlike race, sometimes governed by one of its own hereditary sovereigns, descended from Atropates. (Tac. Ann. 15.2,31.)

The whole of the district of Atropatene is very mountainous, especially those parts which lie to the NW. and W. The mountains bear respectively the names of Choatras, Montes Cadusii, and M. Iasonius, and are connected with M. Zagros. They were respectively outlying portions of the great chains of Taurus and Anti-Taurus (at present the mountain ranges of Kurdistan, Rowandiz, and Azerbaijan). Its chief rivers were the Cambyses, Cyrus, Amardus or Mardus, and the Charindas (which perhaps ought rather to be counted with the streams of Hyrcania). It had also a lake, called Spauta (Strab. xi. p.523), which is probably the present lake of Urmiah.

The capital of Atropatene is called by Strabo (xi. p.523) Gaza, by Pliny Gazae, by Ptolemy (6.18.4), Stephanus and Ammianus (23.6), Gazaca (Γάζακα). It is described thus by the first: “The summer residence of the kings of Media Atropatene is at Gaza, a city situated in a plain and in a strong fort, named Vera, which was besieged by M. Antonius in his Parthian war.” It has been inferred from this that Strabo is speaking of two different places; but the probability is, that Gaza was the town in the plain, of which Vera was the keep or rock-citadel, especially as he adds, evidently speaking of one place, and on the authority of Adelphius, who accompanied Antony, “it is 2,400 stadia from the Araxes, which divides Armenia from Atropatene.” Colonel Rawlinson has shown, in a very able and learned paper in the Roy. Geogr. Journ. (vol. x.), which has thrown more light on the geography of this part of Asia than any other work, ancient or modern, that this city bore at different periods of history several different names, and that its real name ought to be the Ecbatana of Atropatene, in contradistinction to the Ecbatana of Media Magna, now Hamadán. [ECBATANA]

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