Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Elaiussa Sebaste

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Alternate name  Elaeousa Sebaste
Condition  In ruins
Region  Cilicia
Type  Settlement
Founded  2nd century BC
Elaiussa Sebaste Elaiussa Sebaste Elaeousa Sebaste Ancient Village or Settlement

Location  Mersin Province, Turkey
Cultures  Cappadocian, Roman, Byzantine
Similar  Yumuktepe, Mamure Castle, Kaman‑Kalehöyük, Alinda, Nevalı Çori

Elaiussa sebaste

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.

Elaiussa Sebaste The Road Goes Ever On Elaiussa Sebaste 3

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.

Elaiussa Sebaste Elaiussa Sebaste

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 unfortunately 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.

Elaiussa Sebaste Elaiussa Sebaste Archaeological excavations of the theater Flickr

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.

Elaiussa Sebaste httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

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 aqueduct, as delicate as necklaces, actually formed a canal system that ran all the way to Corycus.

Elaiussa Sebaste Elaiussa Sebaste Wikipedia

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.

Elaiussa sebaste yemi kumu


Elaiussa Sebaste Wikipedia