The history of Elaiussa Sebaste  





The name of the town - Elaiussa - probably has its origin in the cultivation of olives (Greek: elaion).
The main part of the city was located on an island about 100 meters from the coast. Due to the sedimentation the city grew together very early. Where today the modern coastal road runs, the ships once anchored to load the wood of the hinterland, olives and wine. The city also profited from its location on the ancient road along the coast leading to Syria and thus also bound it into the long-distance trade by land.
Little is known about pre-Roman times. The city is mentioned for the first time in history when in 20 B.C. the Roman Emperor Augustus extended the empire of the Cappadocian King Archelaos I by a part of the so-called "rough Cilicia" and by areas of small menias. Archelaos moved his residence to Elaiussa and built a palace on the island. In honour of Emperor Augustus, Archelaos renamed the city "Elaiussa Sebaste" (after Sebastos, the Greek form of Augustus). In 38 AD Antiochos IV took over Kommagene, a vassal king of the Roman Empire, parts of Cilicia and thus also the city.
Since 72 A.D. Elaiussa belonged to the Roman province of Cilicia. 260 the Persian Sassanids conquered the city under Shapur I. With this their decline began. In Byzantine times, Elaiussa Sebaste was a bishop's seat and belonged to the diocese of Tarsus. A basilica was built on the Roman Agora below the theatre, another on the platform of the Roman temple. A feudal bishop's palace was erected at the harbour, which was probably already sinking into the ground at that time.

Photo: @chim    

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