Excavations have shown that the region was inhabited during the Late Copper Age, around 3000 BC. The city came under the influence of the Hittites around 1500 BC. These were overtaken by the Sea Peoples around 1200 BC. The Phrygians established their kingdom in central Anatolia in the 8th century BC. Xenophon describes Iconium, as the city was called, as the last city of Phrygia. The region was overwhelmed by Cimmerian invaders c. 690 BC. It was later part of the Persian Empire, until Darius III was defeated by Alexander the Great in 333 BC. Alexander’s empire broke up shortly after his death and the town came under the rule of Seleucus I Nicator. During the Hellenistic period the town was ruled by the kings of Pergamon. As Attalus III, the last king of Pergamon, was about to die without an heir, he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Under the rule of emperor Claudius, the city’s name was changed to Claudioconium, and during the rule of emperor Hadrianus to Colonia Aelia Hadriana.
Saint Paul and Barnabas preached in Iconium during the First Missionary Journey in about 47-48 AD (see Acts 14:1-5 and Acts 14:21), and Paul and Silas again visited it during the Second Missionary Journey in about 50 (see Acts 16:2) and probably also the Third Missionary Journey in about 52 (see Acts 19:1). In Christian legend, it was also the birthplace of Saint Thecla. During the Byzantine Empire the town was destroyed several times by Arab invaders in the 7th-9th centuries.
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