Elaiussa Sebaste or Elaeousa Sebaste (Greek: Ελαιούσα Σεβαστή) was an ancient Roman town located 55 km (34 mi) from Mersin in the direction of Silifke in Cilicia on the southern coast of Anatolia (in modern-day Turkey). Elaiussa, meaning olive, was founded in the 2nd century B.C. on a tiny island attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus in Mediterranean Sea.
Besides the cultivation of olives, the settlement here of the Cappadocian king Archelaus during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus played a role in the development of the city. Founding a new city on the isthmus, Archelaus called it Sebaste, which is the Greek equivalent word of the Latin "Augusta". The city entered a golden age when the Roman Emperor Vespasian purged Cilicia of pirates in 74 AD. Towards the end of the 3rd century AD however its importance began to wane, owing in large part to incursions by the Sassanian King Shapur I in 260 and later by the Isaurians. The ancient sources tell the history of city’s existence and how the churches and basilicas survived into the late Roman and early Byzantine periods. When its neighbor Corycus began to flourish in the 6th century AD, Elaiussa Sebaste was slowly obliterated from the stage of history.
The island that was the site of the first settlement here, where excavations have been underway since 1995 headed by Italian archeologist Eugenia Equini Schneider, is almost completely buried under sand. The original settlement, at a location that provided security for the harbors on either side, is a peninsula today. The ruins of a bath, a cistern, a defense wall and a breakwater can be seen on the side overlooking the western bay of the peninsula. But the most important remains unearthed in the city are a bath whose floor is paved with mosaics and a small basilica on a circular base.
On the opposite side of the highway that divides Elaiussa and Sebaste today stands a theater dating to the 2nd century AD, an extremely small structure with only 23 rows of seats, whose steps and decorations succumbed to centuries of plunder. Next to the theater is the agora, built in all great probability during the imperial period. At the entrance of the agora, which is surrounded by a semi-destroyed defense wall once rose two monumental fountains in the shape of lions. Inside the agora stands a large church, its floor is covered by sand to protect the mosaic pavement. Elaiussa’s only temple stands outside the city on a hill overlooking the sea. Only two of the Corinthian columns of this temple, which had 12 on the long and 6 on the short side originally, are standing today. A large bath complex among the lemon groves between the temple and the agora was built by a technique characteristic of the ancient Roman period and little used in Anatolia.
The ruins of Elaiussa Sebaste also harbor the richest and most impressive necropolis among the cities of ancient Cilicia. The "Avenue of Graves", located on a hill to the north of the city, preserves close to a hundred graves of various shapes and sizes scattered among the lemon trees. The aesthetic forms of these monumental graves of Cilicia Tracheia are remarkable.
The ancient aqueducts that carried water to the ruins from the Lamos ("Lemon") river also adorn the city’s two entrances. The aqueduct to the west of the city in particular is in relatively good condition. Centuries ago these aqueducts formed a canal system that ran all the way to Corycus.
A lidded sarcophagus lies on a small rise exactly opposite the aqueduct. Known as "the Grave of the Princess", this sarcophagus is a prime example of the Anatolian tomb tradition.
Theatre in Elaiussa Sebaste
Shown within Turkey
|Alternative name||Elaeousa Sebaste|
|Location||Mersin Province, Turkey|
|Founded||2nd century BCE|
|Cultures||Cappadocian, Roman, Byzantine|
Alois Machatschek (born 25 November 1928 in Bratislava; died 5 May 2014 in Salzburg) was an Austrian architect, architectural historian, university professor and architectural preservationist.Archelaus of Cappadocia
Archelaus (Greek: Ἀρχέλαος; fl. 1st century BC and 1st century, died 17 AD) was a Roman client prince and the last king of Cappadocia.Archelaus of Cilicia
Archelaus (Greek: Ἀρχέλαος; born before 8 BC; died 38 AD) was a Cappadocian Prince from Anatolia and a Roman client king of Cilicia Trachea and Eastern Lycaonia. He is sometimes called Archelaus Minor (Minor which is Latin for the younger) and Archelaus II to distinguish him from his father Archelaus of Cappadocia.Ariassus
Ariassus or Ariassos (Ancient Greek: Άριασσός) was a town in Pisidia, Asia Minor built on a steep hillside about 50 kilometres inland from Attaleia (modern Antalya).Ayaş, Mersin
Ayaş is a Mediterranean coastal town in Mersin Province, Turkey.Battle of Sebastopolis
The Battle of Sebastopolis was fought at Sebastopolis (mostly identified with Elaiussa Sebaste in Cilicia but also with modern Sulusaray) in 692 CE between the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad Caliphate under Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. The battle ended the peace that had existed between the two powers since 680.
The Umayyad army was led by Muhammad ibn Marwan. The Byzantines were led by Leontios and included a "special army" of 30,000 Slavs under their leader, Neboulos. The Umayyads, incensed at the breaking of the treaty, used copies of its texts in the place of a flag. Though the battle seemed to be tilting to the Byzantine advantage, the defection of upwards of 20,000 Slavs ensured a Byzantine defeat. One source states that the Emperor Justinian II massacred the remaining Slavs, including women and children, at the Gulf of Nicomedia, but modern scholars do not consider it a reliable account.Erdemli
Erdemli is a town and district of Mersin Province in the Mediterranean region of Turkey, 35 km (22 mi) west of the city of Mersin.Gaius Julius Agrippa
Gaius Julius Agrippa (Greek: Γαίος Ιούλιος Άγρίππας, about 72 – before 150) was a Cilician Prince and the first-born son of King Gaius Julius Alexander and Queen Julia Iotapa of Cetis. He had two younger siblings: a brother called Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus and a sister called Julia Iotapa.
Surviving inscriptions on his family reveal that his family were related to important members of Asian, non-Jewish and Jewish aristocracy. He was of Jewish, Nabataean, Edomite, Greek, Armenian, Medes and Persian origins. His paternal grandparents were King Tigranes VI of Armenia and his wife Opgalli. Through Tigranes, he was a descendant of King Archelaus of Cappadocia, King of Judea Herod the Great and his wife Mariamne. Agrippa along with his family and paternal relatives were among the last known descendants of the Herodian Dynasty. He was an apostate to Judaism. It is unlikely that Agrippa attempted to exert influence on Judean Politics. His name indicates that the family connections from the Herodian Dynasty were not wholly broken. His maternal grandparents were King Antiochus IV of Commagene and Queen Julia Iotapa.
The Kingdom of Cetis was a small client state in the Roman Empire. Cetis was a small region in Cilicia that was previously ruled by his Cappadocian royal ancestors and Antiochus IV. The city in Cilicia Elaiussa Sebaste was a part of the Kingdom. When his parents married in Rome in 58, then Roman Emperor Nero crowned his parents as monarchs and gave them that region to rule. He was born, raised and educated in Cetis.
There is an honorific inscription dedicated to him as a ‘son of King Alexander’. In 94, Agrippa along with his brother Berenicianus entered the Roman Senate. Surviving inscriptions also reveal the career of Agrippa. Agrippa became and served as a Quaestor for the Roman Province of Asia. Before 109, Agrippa served as a Praetorian Guard, before his father reached and served as a consul or suffect consul.
Agrippa married a Roman woman who belonged or was related to the Fabia (gens). From this marriage Agrippa had two sons, a younger Gaius Julius Agrippa and Lucius Julius Gainius Fabius Agrippa. A possible descendant from his family was the usurper of the 3rd century Jotapianus.Gaius Julius Alexander
Gaius Julius Alexander (Greek: Γαίος Ιούλιος Αλέξανδρος) was a Herodian Prince that lived in the 1st century and 2nd century in the Roman Empire.
Alexander was of Jewish, Nabataean, Edomite, Greek, Armenian and Persian ancestry. He was the son of the Herodian Prince, later king Tigranes VI of Armenia and his wife Opgalli. His father in the spring of 58 was crowned as king of Armenia by Roman Emperor Nero in Rome and ruled until 63. Alexander had a sister called Julia, who married the Anatolian Roman Senator Marcus Plancius Varus.
Alexander's paternal grandparents were the Judean Prince Alexander and his unnamed wife. Through his father, Alexander was the great-grandson of Cappadocian Princess Glaphyra and Judean Prince Alexander. He was the great-great-grandson of king Archelaus of Cappadocia, king of Judea Herod the Great and his wife Mariamne. Alexander along with his sister and father were the last of the known descendants of the kings of Cappadocia. Prior to the year 58, little is known on Alexander's life. He was an apostate to Judaism. It is unlikely that he attempted to exert influence on Judean Politics.
Tigranes had arranged with king Antiochus IV of Commagene, who he was an ally to when he was crowned king, to marry Alexander to Antiochus' daughter Julia Iotapa. The betrothal was held in Rome after Tigranes' coronation. The marriage was mostly a political alliance that occurred between the fathers of Alexander, Iotapa and possibly Nero. After the betrothal, Nero crowned Alexander and Iotapa as Roman client rulers of the small Cilician region of Cetis, that had previously been ruled by Alexander's Seleucid ancestors, his ancestor Archelaus of Cappadocia, the son of this, Archelaus of Cilicia, and Antiochus IV. The Cilician city of Elaiussa Sebaste was made a part of their kingdom. Alexander and Iotapa ruled Cetis from 58 until at least 72.
Little is known on the marriage and reign of Alexander and Iotapa. Iotapa bore Alexander three children: two sons Gaius Julius Agrippa, Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus and a daughter Julia Iotapa. Their children were born and raised in Cetis. A possible descendant from their marriage was the usurper Jotapianus, who lived in the 3rd century. His name and the names Alexander gave his sons indicate that their family connections from the Herodian Dynasty were not wholly broken. In Vespasian’s reign (69-79) or Titus’ reign (79-81), Alexander had entered the Roman Senate; had reached and served either as a consul or suffect consul during Trajan’s reign before 109.Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus
Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus (Greek: Γαίος Ιούλιος Αλέξανδρος Βερενικιανός, about 75 – about 150) was a Cilician Prince and second-born son to King Gaius Julius Alexander and Queen Julia Iotapa of Cetis. His eldest brother was Gaius Julius Agrippa and his younger sister was Julia Iotapa.
Surviving inscriptions on Berenicianus reveals that his family were related to important members of Asian, non-Jewish and Jewish aristocracy. Berenicianus was of Jewish, Nabataean, Edomite, Greek, Armenian, Median and Persian origins. His paternal grandparents were King Tigranes VI of Armenia and his wife Opgalli. Through Tigranes, he was a descendant of King Archelaus of Cappadocia, as well as the King of Judea, Herod the Great, and his wife Mariamne. Agrippa along with his family and paternal relatives were among the last known descendants of the Herodian Dynasty. He was an apostate to Judaism. It is unlikely that Berenicianus attempted to exert influence on Judean politics. His name indicates that the family connections from the Herodian Dynasty were not wholly broken. His maternal grandparents were King Antiochus IV of Commagene and Queen Julia Iotapa.
The Kingdom of Cetis was a small client state in the Roman Empire, in Cilicia, that was previously ruled by his Cappadocian royal ancestors and Antiochus IV. The city of Elaiussa Sebaste was a part of the Kingdom. When his parents married in Rome in 58, the Emperor Nero crowned his parents as monarchs and gave them that region to rule. He was born, raised and educated in Cetis.
In 94, Berenicianus along with Agrippa entered the Roman Senate. Surviving inscriptions also reveal the career of Berenicianus. Berenicianus served as a suffect consul in 116. Between 132-133, he was Proconsul of the Roman Province of Asia, during which he appeared to have been a patron of the arts. In the later part of his proconsulship, the bishop and later saint Judas Cyriacus died or was killed in a riot during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 133.
A possible descendant of Berenicianus was the 3rd-century usurper Jotapianus. He married Cassia Lepida (born ca. 80), daughter of Cassius Lepidus (son of Cassius Longinus and Junia Lepida). Through her father and paternal grandmother, Cassia was a direct descendant of the Emperor Augustus. Berenicianus and Cassia had a daughter named Julia Cassia Alexandra (born ca. AD 105), who married Gaius Avidius Heliodorus (born ca. AD 100). Heliodorus was ab epistulis under the emperor Hadrian and praefectus Aegypti between AD 138 and 140. Heliodorus and Alexandra had children, including the usurper Avidius Cassius.Lamas Aqueduct
Lamas Aqueduct is a Roman aqueduct in Mersin Province, TurkeyLimonlu River
The Limonlu River (Ancient Greek: Λάμος Lamos; Latin: Lamus) is a river of ancient Cilicia, now in Mersin Province, Turkey.
The river rises at Yüğlük Dağı in the Taurus mountains and flows through deep gorges to the southwest until it reaches the Mediterranean Sea at Limonlu (the ancient Antiochia Lamotis) in the district of Erdemli. About halfway along its course it is receives the Susama Deresi from the west as a tributary.
In the town of Limonlu, about 500 metres west of the river mouth on a flat hill on the right bank is the Medieval castle Lamos Kalesi. Below the castle a late Ottoman bridge crosses the river, probably on the site of an earlier Roman bridge. North of the town are the remains of an aqueduct, which carried water from the river west to the ancient towns of Elaiussa Sebaste and Corycus.Lyrbe
Lyrbe (spelled Lyrba in the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia) was a city and episcopal see in the Roman province of Pamphylia Prima and is now a titular see.Mersin Archaeological Museum
Mersin Archaeological Museum is a museum in Mersin, TurkeyPaşa Türbesi
Paşa Türbesi (literally "The mausoleum of pasha") is a tomb in Mersin Province, TurkeyTower of Gömeç
The Tower of Gömeç (Gömeç Kalesi) is a Roman watch tower in Rough Cilicia in southern Turkey.Warrior relief of Efrenk
The Warrior relief of Efrenk is a rock relief from the Greco-Roman period, probably the 2nd century AD, located by the Lamos river (modern day Limonlu) in Cilicia, southern Turkey.Öküzlü
Öküzlü is an archaeological site in Mersin Province, Turkey.