Generally speaking, ancient Pisidia was a mountainous district bounded to the west and north by Phrygia, to the east by Lycaonia, and to the south by Lycia and Pamphylia. These lands more or less correspond to the Turkey's Lakes Region plus the mountains to the north of Antalya. Surveys and excavations of this region reveal that it has been continuously occupied since prehistoric times. According to present evidence, the first settlements date to the Upper Palaeolithic. It is possible to follow the development of cultures from höyüks, or man-made settlement mounds, which are found mainly on plains or natural eminences, and this is especially the case with Hacılar Höyük, which lays 25 kilometres south-west of Burdur. Hacılar is one of the most important sites not only for this region but for all Anatolian prehistory. British excavations here from 1957 to 1960 illuminated one of the unknown epochs of Anatolia's past; the culture discovered here proved to be superior to its contemporaries and to have had its own creative character. Nine occupation levels have been identified at Hacılar, and according to carbon 14 tests, these all fit into the period between 5600 and 4750 BC .In addition, below this, remains belonging to an A-ceramic Neolithic culture dating to 7000 BC were uncovered. Most distinctive of the material remains from Hacılar, is a series of baked clay female figurines. Sitting in various postures, lying or holding a child, these figurines are full breasted and have clearly delineated sexual organs. They can be identified with a Mother Goddess symbolizing the fecundity and abundance of the Anatolian woman.
A survey in the Hacılar region has uncovered widespread settlement of 30 mounds, testifying to this region's dense settlement in the late 3rd millennium BC as well. As for the historical period, there is no mention of Pisidia until about the middle of Persian rule in the region, but there was a partial increase in settlement during Hellenistic times. In contrast to the pattern seen in the prehistoric era, during this period the local inhabitants moved up into the mountains where they lived in cities. Possessing a warlike spirit, the people of Pisidia were constantly engaged in internecine intrigues. Their love of freedom, however, prevented the mountain people of Pisidia from ever uniting to with a single state. Undoubtedly the cantonal disposition of the lands also contributed to this factionalism. The people of Pisidia took advantage of both the area's mountainous terrain and the fact that no major trade routes through their lands; they were thus able to preserve their independence, not coming under the direct control of any other state until the second half of the first millennium B.C.
Alexander the Great, after taking the cities of Pamphylia, had intended to go on to Phrygia through the Pisidian mountains. At the same time this was meant to be a show of force for the Pisidians, but Alexander's plan backfired, because the people of Termessos, who controlled the Yenice pass leading to Phrygia, blocked the pass. After losing a few days, Alexander broke through the blockage and surrounded Termessos, but realizing that capturing the city would cost him too much time, he abandoned the siege. Proceeding due north, Alexander passed onto another big Pisidian city, Sagalassos. The historian Arrianos, in giving details of the engagement between Alexander's army and that of Sagalassos, has this to say; "Sagalassos was an important city. Like the other cities, it was inhabited by the Pisidians. These were reckoned to be the bravest of a very warlike people".After taking Sagalassos. Alexander also conquered the other Pisidian cities lying along his route.
Despite the fact that Alexander was hailed in Lycia and Pamphylia as a liberator, we could draw important conclusions from the fact that he was met by fierce resistance from Pisidian cities like Termessos and Sagalassos. Their unyielding stance suggests that the Pisidians, even though Alexander had just taken control of the whole of western Anatolia, were freedom loving people, and such noble warriors that they felt themselves strong enough to take him on.
After defeating Antiochos III, Rome gave its allies, Pergamum and Rhodes, those lands they had gained during the war, since it did not want any land in Asia Minor. According to their agreement, western Pisidia went to Pergamum. Pisidia found freedom in 133 BC when it remained outside the province of Asia founded by the king of Pergamum. We know nothing of events in northern Pisidia at this time. The people of southern Pisidia took to piracy. Roman interference remained superficial and the cities enjoyed a perceptible economic boom. For these reasons, in the middle of the first century BC, a significant proportion of the settlements of Pisidia gained city-state or polis status and began minting their own coins.
With the Pax Romana, settlement once again returned to the plains of Pisidia, and even the mountain hideouts of robber barons became centres of art and culture. Social, cultural, and commercial life revived. At this time many colonies were started, both as observation points and as a means of speeding the Romanization of the population. Colonies were founded in cities like Cremna, Comama, Antiocheia, Olbasa, and Parlais; built like forts, they also functioned as centres for the diffusion of the Roman culture and the Latin language.
Supported by various emperors, there was a building boom in this area lasting the whole of the second century AD. New roads linked the cities of the region. Even when the empire was in decline, there was a lot of building, especially in Termessos, but also in other Pisidian cities. Beginning in the middle of the third century, the brigands gained power in eastern Pisidia and, seizing Cremna, used it as a base. Emperor Probus (reigned 276-282 AD) came to Asia Minor and personally cleaned up the region, ridding it of the brigands.
The first years of the fourth century AD marked the beginning of the decline of Pisidian cities. During this period an interesting situation developed in the colonies. In spite of the fact that many Roman citizens lived there, Greek was far more prevalent than Latin, which remained in use as a written language only. So that the people could understand them, proclamations were written in the two official languages of the day, Greek and Latin.
Strabo, in naming the thirteen Pisidian cities quotes Artemidoros, a man who is know to have lived in the first century BC. However, according to recent reckoning, the names of 51 the Hellenistic and Roman period sites are now known, in addition to the five colonies already mentioned above. Of these, some are as yet are not located. Of all these cities, we will content ourselves with describing three lying within the boundaries of the present day Antalya province- Termessos, Ariassos and Selge.
These pages are prepared with the information from the book "Antique Cities Guide - Antalya" by Kayhan Dörtlük, published by Keskin Colour A.Ş.