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ZELA (Zile) Pontus, Turkey.

Some 57 km S of Amasya (Amaseia) on the old route to Sebasteia, where this was crossed by one of the Roman roads from Tavion to Neocaesarea. Under the Mithridatids Zela was a temple settlement with its own territory tilled by the temple serfs and governed by the priest of Anaitis. The Hellenized Persian cult of Anaitis, Omanos, and Anadatos was apparently established during the Persian occupation. Zela was a less important sanctuary than Comana Pontica, 67 km to the E, but it had special sanctity for making oaths. The precinct of Anaitis was defended by a wall. In Pompey's settlement of Pontus (64 B.C.) Zela, unlike Comana, received a civic constitution and a sizable territory. It was near here that Julius Caesar defeated Pharnakes II of Pontus (47 B.C.) and reported “Veni, vidi, vici.” Under Antony, Zela lost the E part of its territory to Comana and temporarily reverted to its previous status as a temple domain. A generation later it was in the hands of Pythodoris of Pontus, and it remained in the Pontic kingdom until its annexation by Rome in A.D. 64-65.

The site is a low hill rising from the fertile plain of Zile Ovasi, ca. 18 km from the Yeşil Irmak (Iris fl.). Byzantine and Turkish fortifications have replaced the temple precinct of Anaitis on the summit. On the NE flank a small theater was partly carved in the living rock, partly built up in masonry or timber. Nearby is a single rock-cut tomb.


F. & E. Cumont, Studia Pontica II (1906) 188-94; J.G.C. Anderson et al., Studia Pontica III.1 (1910) 233-42.


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