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