Elaiussa Sebaste

Elaiussa Sebaste was an ancient coastal city off the eastern coast of Cilicia, now a peninsula located 55 km west of Mersin on the southern coast of Anatolia. The Greeks founded the settlement in the early 1st century BC which became one of the most important centres of Eastern Rough Cilicia. Archelaus I of Cappadocia (r. 36 BC-AD 17) made the city his capital and changed its name to “Sebaste” in honour of his benefactor, Emperor Augustus. The city lived its heydays after the Cilician shores were cleaned from the pirates in AD 74 and became part of the Roman province of Cilicia. During the Byzantine period, Sebaste became a Christian city, and many churches were built. When its neighbour Corycus began to flourish in the 6th century AD, the city slowly sank into obscurity and seems not to have recovered from the period of Arab invasions. The area has been more or less deserted since.

Some interesting remains still exist on the peninsula, consisting of a small theatre from the 2nd century AD, an agora, a large Byzantine church, a Roman bath complex, and a temple on a hill overlooking the sea outside of the city.

Coordinates: 36°28’59.9″N 34°10’26.1″E


The construction of the theatre started in the first half of the 2nd century AD, while its final stage may be dated to the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (AD 161-169).
The theatre had a capacity of about 2,300 spectators. The orchestra was originally paved with marble slabs.
The scaenae frons of the theatre built over a sturdy ashlar structure with arches and pillars.
View of the Roman Agora and Christian Basilica. The agora was built in the latter part of the 2nd century AD and a two-apses basilica occupied the interior of the public building during the latter part of the 5th century AD.
The Roman agora was a vast open area with a quadrangular plan (31.60 x 32 m), bounded on all sides by a 6.85-metre-high wall in opus quadratum made of large limestone blocks.
Inside the Roman agora, there was a colonnaded portico on all four sides. They were paved in opus sectile during the Christian period.
During the Early Byzantine era the interior of the agora was entirely occupied by an imposing Christian basilica oriented east-west. It was divided into a nave and two aisles by two rows of columns.
The floors of the Christian basilica were decorated in opus sectile, composed of marble and limestone tiles arranged to create various geometric motifs.
Excavations carried out inside the tholos (circular structure) of the Roman Agora have brought to light the remains of a polychrome mosaic with marine motifs.
Mosaic with geometric patterns and sea animals.
Broken arched bridge which was part of the aqueduct that brought water to the city from the Lamas River.
Elaiussa Sebaste.
The Harbour baths complex lying in the promontory’s north-western edge on the bank of the northern port basin.
The Harbour Baths were erected directly against the limestone rocks of the hill and therefore do not follow the traditional plan of Roman bathing complexes. They were first built in the second half of the 1st century BC and underwent great restructuring works until the 5th century AD when the bathing function of the complex fell into disuse.
In the building’s southern section, hypocausts were brought to light.
The ruins of the The Byzantine Palace, built in the mid-5th century AD over the Roman fortifications.
The large round courtyard of the Byzantine Palace that connected the two wings of the palace.
The Yemişkumu aqueduct bridges (Lamas Aqueduct) near Elaiussa Sebaste. The Lamas River to the east of the city provided the source of water for Elaiussa. Along the route the water channel had to traverse a total of 7 aqueduct bridges to Elaiussa Sebaste. (Source)

Source: Source: Silifke (Seleucia on Calycadnus ) and Environs: Lost Cities of a Distant Past in Cilicia by Celal Taşkıran (Sim Matbaasi, 1993)



Kanytelis was an inland town of ancient Cilicia, built in the Hellenistic period around a giant karstic sinkhole, around 70 m deep and 160 m across. Today, its ruins are located in a rural area near the town of Erdemli (about 55 km west of Mersin) in Turkey’s rugged eastern Mediterranean coastline. Archaeological highlights include the Hellenistic Tower of Zeus Olbios, the Armaronxas Family Relief, the Papylos Basilica, the Aba mausoleum, and the Çanakçı rock tombs. Many of the best-preserved buildings are the three-aisled basilicas built by Theodosius II (r. AD 402-450) when the town became a Christian religious centre and was renamed Neapolis.

Coordinates: 36°31’31.2″N 34°10’44.0″E


The Hellenistic tower dedicated to Zeus Olbios on behalf of the Olbian priest king Teukros, son of Tarkyares in about 200 BC.
The three-storied Hellenistic tower was built entirely of polygonal masonry. It stands on the southern edge of the sinkhole and was used as a dwelling until early Byzantine times.
The three-nave Basilica A, with its well-preserved outer walls, stands west of the Hellenistic tower.
The only surviving nave of Basilica A.
The Armaronxas Family Relief is a portrait of a family of six (the father and mother sitting next to their four children) carved into the face of the cliff of the sinkhole in the 1st century BC. A badly eroded five-lined inscription records the name of the Armaronxas family.
One of the cisterns that supplied the city with water.
Presses for the production of olive oil.
The three-columned tomb in the north necropolis, built in 3rd or 4th century AD.
The Aba mausoleum is a temple-tomb built in the second half of the 2nd century AD by a noble woman named Aba for her husband and her two sons who were probably victims of the plague.
The burial chamber of the Aba mausoleum bears an inscription mentioning the name of the city of Kanytelis.
A sarcophagus in the north acropolis.
A sarcophagus in the north acropolis.
The three-nave Papylos Basilica (Basilica D) is the most recent in date (end of the 5th century AD) and is located on the northern edge of the sinkhole.
The approximately 22-metre-long church Papylos Basilica was richly decorated with frescoes.
The Papylos Basilica (Basilica D).
The Çanakçı rock tombs lies 300 m left of the sinkhole. It contains a few sarcophagi and nine chamber tombs carved into a cliff. Some of these chambers have figures carved in relief above their doors, unquestionably belonging to the deceased.
The Çanakçı rock tombs: a man reclining on a couch (left) and a soldier holding a lance (right).
The Çanakçı rock tombs were carved in around 2nd century AD. Each tomb has a rectangular opening.
The Çanakçı rock tombs: a woman, a man and a soldier holding a battle-axe.

Source: Silifke (Seleucia on Calycadnus ) and Environs: Lost Cities of a Distant Past in Cilicia by Celal Taşkıran (Sim Matbaasi, 1993)