The Anatolian Route of the Royal Road
Van Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü Van/Türkiye.
Keywords: Anatolia, Persian (Achaemenid) Empire, Royal Road, Darius I, Herodotus
In the first half of the 6th century BC Cyrus II came to the throne of the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire. A number of innovations were made and the Persians (Achaemenids) gained a rising momentum under his rule between the years 559-530/29 BC. The Persians ruled over a wide geography as far as India in the east, the Aegean in the west and Egypt in the south. They ruled this geography with an administrative system called Satrapy. Persians used the existing roads to be aware of the developments in this geography and to reach this geography at the same time. Although these roads served for military purposes at first, they started to be used in many areas such as administrative, economic and communication. The road known as the Royal Road in the literature was also used for this purpose.
These roads, which were built and used by the states/empires residing in Anatolia (Türkiye) before the Persians, continued to be used after some improvements in the Persian period Anatolia. In particular, with the accession of the Persian King Darius I to the throne, revisions were made in the administrative system and taxation. In addition, military expeditions to expand the empire also increased the use of these roads and thus the roads were improved.
The Royal Road is described in the Historia (V.52-54) of the ancient text writer Herodotus. According to this narrative; The Royal Road has gone beyond our borders by passing many parts of our country. The road ends in Sousa, within the borders of the Khuzestan province of present-day Iran. It is seen that topographic factors were effective in the shaping of the road starting from Ephesos (Selçuk). In addition, the existence of many different views on the route of the road after Sardis (Sart), caused the formation of controversial routes regarding the progress of the Royal Road in the Lydia and Phrygia Regions.
In this study, The part of the Royal Road within the borders of Anatolia, which is used in many areas such as administrative, economic, military and communication, has been discussed in the light of cuneiform documents, archaeological data and ancient text records. The different routes that this road passed through were investigated and it was determined that two different routes were used in the north and south of Anatolia. Because of this, the places worth being added to the list of important centers and settlements where the Royal Road passed were reached through this study. The fact that the settlements of Daskyleion (Hisartepe), which was of geostrategic importance for the Achaemenids, and Oluz Höyük (Kritalla?), which was important because it was located at the crossroads of the roads, should be included to the Royal Road was stated with reasons. In addition, the role of the Royal Road in the cultural interaction between the east and west of the Empire was determined and the importance of this road was seen once again.