Sis (Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia)

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The ruins of the old Armenian Capital Sis.

Sis (Armenian: Սիս) was the capital of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia.[1]


From 3000 BC onwards there were Hittite settlements on the plains beyond the Mediterranean coast, living of farming and grazing animals. The area then changed hands many times, eventually becoming known as Flavias or Flaviopolis in the former Roman province of Cilicia Secunda. The city was known by the names of Issos, Pindenissos. The names Sisan or Sisia are first mentioned in the fifth and sixth centuries in Greek and Latin sources. In 703 AD the city was conquered by Arabs. According to Arabic sources from the eighth century, Sis' population was mainly Armenian.

During Thoros I, Prince of Armenia's reign, Armenian forces with the help of native Armenians conquered Sis. Thoros also established the Drazark monastery, which later became the Rubenid dynasty's mausoleum. In 1173 AD Mleh made Sis Cilician Armenia's capital. During the reigns of Leo II and Hethum II Sis was rebuilt and beautified with palaces, civilian and religious buildings, and gardens. Sis is well presented in the works of Villebrand, an Austrian ambassador to Sis from 1211 to 1212. After Hromkla was conquered by Mamluks, Sis became the Catholicos' residence. In 1266 Mamluks looted and burnt the city. In 1275 Mamluks again surrounded the city, but were defeated by Armenian forces. A century later, in 1369 Mamluks again conquered the city, but were forced to leave. Finally, in 1375 Mamluks took the city, looted and burnt it, and captured the king and many lords. With Sis fallen also fell the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.

According to Gregory of Akanc,

They burned the town of Sis, which was the seat of the Armenian kings. They cast wood into the fire and great church which was the center of Sis and they burned it. They demolished the tombs of the kings.[2]


  1. ^ Ecclesiastical Architecture in the Fortifications of Armenian Cilicia - Robert W. Edwards, Page [155] of 155-176
  2. ^ Byzantine studies: Études byzantines: Volumes 3-4. University Center for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh. 1976. p. 44. 

See also[edit]