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Comana Aurea

COMANA AUREA, a city of Cappadocia [frequently called Chryse or Aurea, i.e. the golden, to distinguish it from Comana in Pontus; mod. Shahr], celebrated in ancient times as the place where the rites of Ma-Enyo, a variety of the great west Asian Nature-goddess, were celebrated with much solemnity. The service was carried on in a sumptuous temple with great magnificence by many thousands of hieroduli (temple-servants). To defray expenses, large estates had been set apart, which yielded a more than royal revenue. The city, a mere apanage of the temple, was governed immediately by the chief priest, who was always a member of the reigning Cappadocian family, and took rank next to the king. The number of persons engaged in the service of the temple, even in Strabo's time, was upwards of 6000, and among these, to judge by the names common on local tombstones, were many of Persian race. Under Caracalla, Comana became a Roman colony, and it received honours from later emperors down to the official recognition of Christianity. The site lies at Shahr, a village in the Anti-Taurus on the upper course of the Sarus (Sihun), mainly Armenian, but surrounded by new settlements of Avshar Turkomans and Circassians. The place has derived importance both in antiquity and now from its position at the eastern end of the main pass of the western Anti-Taurus range, the Kuru Chai, through which passed the road from Caesarea-Mazaca (mod. Kaisarieh) to Melitene (Malatia), converted by Septimius Severus into the chief military road to the eastern frontier of the empire. The extant remains at Shahr include a theatre on the left bank of the river, a fine Roman doorway and many inscriptions; but the exact site of the great temple has not been satisfactorily identified. There are many traces of Severus' road, including a bridge at Kemer, and an immense number of milestones, some in their original positions, others in cemeteries.

See P. H. H. Massy in Geog. Journ. (Sept. 1905); E. Chantre, Mission en Cappadocie (1898).

(D. G. H.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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