During the Roman expansion into the Near East, they were astonished by the Attolos III, the king of the Pergamon Kingdom when he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Empire in 133 BC . After becoming a Roman province, western Anatolia attracted more attention because high level of wealth due to agricultural exploitation was recognizable. And, the Romans accepted privileged Anatolian leaders over imperial Roman authorities.

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This situation constituted a model for Anatolian civilizations like Btyhnia, which voluntarily accepted the sovereignty of the Roman Empire in 74 BC. Yet, there were others like Kingdom of Pontic and Cappadoccia which had to be captured by the Romans. In order to sweep the corsairs from crucial Mediterranean trade routes in 67 BC Romans also dominated Cilicia. In this period, Asian cities of Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Side demonstrated great prosperity and well-being in all aspects. Besides, the Hellenistic winds in Anatolia initiated by Alexander the Great combined with Roman culture, and led to a high level of development and creativity in every branch of art.

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Statuette of Apollon. Bronze. H: 53 cm. Roman Period, 2nd century A.D. Seleuceia (Sihlar) Manavgat.Antalya Museum

This would in return gave rise to the development of succeeding civilizations. Anatolia was at her height in the economic sense, too. Ephesus and Antioch were important centers of transit trade; precious metals such as iron and bronze, wool products and marble were exported to the major centers of the Empire. From whence to architecture, the Roman influence can be seen in Ephesus, Nicea and Diocaesare. There were two major tendencies in the Roman architecture: to adapt buildings of previous civilizations according to their own style such as the situation in Ephesus, Priene, Miletos, Pergamon, Aphrodisias theatres, they, as well, constructed buildings in styles of their own invention, such as Aspendos (Belkiz), Hierapolis (Pamukkale) and Side (Selimiye) theatres. Thermae (combined bath and Gymnasium ); one of the Roman innovations was applied in Ephesus and Miletos. The influence of the Hellenistic School of Pergamon on sculpture, especially in marble sculpture, was keenly felt. Paintings, mosaic-work, frescoes, maintained their importance as works of fine art and were exported to other provinces.

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Statue of Artemis. Marble. H: 178 cm. Roman Period, 2nd century A.D. Perge.Antalya Museum

In the 3rd century AD. the Roman Empire covered a vast territory from Britain to Mesopotamia, but it was experiencing internal conflicts sourcing mainly due to the cosmopolitan character of the empire and economic problems. In other words, there was no notion of nationality in any citizen’s mind and also no unity in religious thinking. Diverse religious customs pulled the empire in different directions.

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Statue of Aphrodite Marble. H: 194 cm. Roman Period, 2nd century A.D. Perge.Antalya Museum

With regard to the economy, the fertile lands of the empire were unpopulated and the citizens were suffering from a severe rate of inflation. Apart from these internal problems the Empire was threatened by Germanic and Asian invasions (Barbarians). In 285 AD Emperor Diocletion divided the Empire into two; East and West which was also confirmed by Theodosiu in 395. The aim of this division was to lessen the attacks of Barbarians and extend control over the greatest area possible. On the other hand the birth of Christianity was a growing threat which was felt in the Near East and also in Anatolia. Finally in 313 AD Constantine, the East Roman emperor, accepted Christianity as official religion and moved capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul)

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Statue of Apollon. Marble. H: 210 cm. Roman Period, 2nd century A.D. Perge.Antalya Museum

The threatening attacks of barbarians were so fierce and disordering that the Western Roman Empire eventually collapsed in 476. However, the East Roman Empire ( the Byzantine Empire) held her strength and unity and survived until the Turks came to knock on their door in 1453.

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