The title given to certain men of high honorary rank in the Roman province of Asia. What their exact functions were is not altogether clear. They derived their appellation from the name of the province over which they presided (compare BITHYNIARCH; CARIARCH; SYRIARCH).
Brandis has shown that they were not "high priests of Asia," as some have thought, but delegates of individual cities to the provincial Council (Commune Asioe; see ASIA MINOR) which regulated the worship of Rome and of the emperor. They were probably assembled at Ephesus, among other places, to preside over the public games and the religious rites at the festival, in honor of the gods and the emperor, when they sent word to Paul and gave him a bit of friendly advice, not to present himself at theater (me dounai heauton eis to theatron,
LITERATURE. CI, 2511, 2912; CIL, 296, 297; Brandis, Pauly-Wissowa’s Real-Encyclopedia, articles "Archiereus" and "Asiarches"; Strabo, XIV, 649; Eusebius, HE, IV, 15; Hicks, Ancient Greek Inscrs in the British Museum; Ramsay, Classical Review, III, 174 ff; Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, I, 55-58, and II, chapter xi; Guiraud, Les assemblees provinciales de l’Empire Romain; Lightfoot, Ignatius and Polycarp, II, 987 ff.