), a town in the interior of Pontus, on the left bank of the Iris, towards the Galatian frontier, was believed to have been erected on a mound constructed by Semiramis. (Strab.xii. p. 561, comp. pp. 512, 559.)
It seems to have originally been a [p. 2.1337]
place consecrated to the worship of the goddess Anaitis, to whom a temple was built there by the Persians in commemoration of a victory over the Sacae.
The chief priest of this temple was regarded as the sovereign of Zela and its territory (Ζηλῆτις
). Notwithstanding this, however, it remained a small place until Pompey, after his victory over Mithridates, raised it to the rank of a city by increasing its population and extending its walls. Zela is celebrated in history for a victory obtained in its vicinity by Mithridates over the Romans under Triarius, and still more for the defeat of Pharnaces, about which Caesar sent to Rome the famous report “Veni, Vidi, Vici.” (Plin. Nat. 6.3
; Appian, App. Mith. 89
; Plut. Caes. 50
; D. C. 42.47
, where the place is erroneously called Ζέλεια;
Hirt. Bell. Alex.
73, where it is called Ziela; Ptol. 5.6.10
; Hierocl. p. 701; Steph. B. sub voce
Zela was situated at a distance of four days' journey (according to the Peut. Table 80 miles) from Tavium, and south-east of Amasia.
The elevated ground on which the town was situated, and which Strabo calls the mound of Semiramis, was, according to Hirtius, a natural hill, but so shaped that it might seem to be the work of human hands.
According to Hamilton (Researches,
i. p. 306), is a black-coloured isolated hill rising out of the plain, and is now crowned with a Turkish fortress, which still bears the name of Zilleh.