Tarsus (city)

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Tarsus – also Tarsos (Greek: Ταρσός); Antiochia on the Cydnus and Juliopolis – is a city in Cilicia, present day Mersin Province, Turkey, located on the mouth of the Tarsus Çay (Cydnus) which empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The population is 216,382 (2000 census).

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[edit] History

The prehistorical development of Tarsus reaches back to Neolithic Period. The Neolithic Period was followed by the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age settlements. In historical times, the city was ruled by the Hittites, Assyria, Persia, Macedon, the Seleucids, Rome, Arabs, Byzantium, Crusaders, Armenia, the Seljuks and the Ottomans.

The ancient name is Tarsos, possibly derived from a pagan god, Tarku. It was located at the crossing of several important trade routes, linking southern Anatolia to Syria and the Pontus region. As the ruins are covered by the modern city, it is not very well known archaeologically. The city may have been of Semitic origin, and is mentioned as Tarsisi in the campaigns of Esarhaddon, as well as several times in the campaigns of Shalmaneser I and Sennacherib. A Greek legend connects it with the memory of Sardanapalus (Ashurbanipal), still preserved in the Dunuk-Tach, called 'tomb of Sardanapalus', a monument of unknown origin. Stephanus of Byzantium quotes Athenodorus of Tarsus as relating another legend:

Anchiale, daughter of Iapetus, founded Anchiale (a city near Tarsus): her son was Cydnus, who gave his name to the river at Tarsus: the son of Cydnus was Parthenius, from whom the city was called Parthenia: afterwards the name was changed to Tarsus.

Tarsos has been suggested as a probable identification of the biblical Tarshish, where the prophet Jonah flees, although Tartessos in Spain has also been suggested for this. (See further the entry for Jonah in the Jewish Encyclopedia.)

In 401 BC, when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch. Tarsos was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 BC onward.

Alexander the Great came near meeting his death there after a bath in the Cydnus. As part of the Seleucid Empire, Tarsus was already Greek, and had a tendency to become more and more hellenized. By its literary schools, Tarsos rivalled Athens and Alexandria. 2 Maccabees (4:30) records its revolt in about 171 BC against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had renamed the town Antiochia on the Cydnus (Greek: Αντιόχεια του Κύδνου, Latin: Antiochia ad Cydnum).

Pompey subjected it to Rome. After the Roman conquest, it became capital of the province of Cilicia (Caput Ciliciae), the metropolis where the governor resided. To flatter Julius Caesar, it took the name Juliopolis; it was there that Cleopatra and Mark Antony met, and it was the scene of the celebrated feasts they gave during the construction of their fleet. In AD 66, its inhabitants received Roman citizenship. When the province of Cilicia, was divided it remained the civil and religious metropolis of Cilicia Prima. Later, it was eclipsed by nearby Adana, but the town remained important.

Tarsus was the birthplace of Saint Paul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), who took refuge there after his conversion (Acts 9:30), and was joined by Barnabas (Acts 11:25). It is probable that at the time a Christian community was established there, although the first bishop, Helenus, dates only from the third century; he went several times to Antioch in connection with the dispute concerning Paul of Samosata (Eusebius, Hist. eccl., VI, xlvi; VII, v). Le Quien (Oriens christianus, II, 869-76) mentions twenty-two of its bishops, of whom several are legendary. Among them are Lupus, present at the Council of Ancyra in 314; Theodorus, at the Council of Nicaea in 325; Helladius, condemned at the Council of Ephesus, and who appealed to the pope in 433; above all the celebrated exegete Diodorus, teacher of Theodore of Mopsuestia and consequently one of the fathers of Nestorianism. From the sixth century the metropolitan see of Tarsus had seven suffragan bishoprics (Echos d'Orient, X, 145); the Greek Orthodox archdiocese is again mentioned in the tenth century (op. cit., X, 98), and has existed down to the present day, being comprised in the Patriarchate of Antioch. Owing to the importance of Tarsus, many martyrs were put to death there, among them being Saint Pelagia, Saint Boniface, Saint Marinus, Saint Diomedus, Saint Quiricus and Saint Julitta; several Roman emperors were interred there – namely, Marcus Claudius Tacitus, Maximinus, and Julian the Apostate.

The Arabs took possession of Tarsus from the seventh century and kept it until 965, when Nicephorus Phocas annexed it again to the Byzantine Empire. The union continued for nearly a century. The crusaders captured it again from the Turks in 1097, and then it was disputed between Latins, Greeks, and Armenians of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (Kingdom of Lesser Armenia); these last became definitively masters until about 1360, when it was captured by Egyptians. Since then Tarsus has belonged to Muslims. At about the end of the tenth century, the Armenians established a diocese of their rite, which still exists; Saint Nerses of Lambroun was its most distinguished representative in the twelfth century.

[edit] Notable residents

[edit] Climate

In Tarsus, at the junction point of the land and maritime routes connecting Çukurova to Central Anatolia in the Mediterranean Region, the typical Mediterranean climate is dominant.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links


Image:Mersin Turkey Provinces locator.gif Districts of Mersin Image:Flag of Turkey.svg

Mersin | Anamur | Aydıncık | Bozyazı | Çamlıyayla | Erdemli | Gülnar | Mut | Silifke | Tarsus

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Coordinates: 36°55′N 34°54′Ebg:Тарс ca:Tars de:Tarsus (Stadt) el:Ταρσός es:Tarsos fr:Tarse (ville) ko:타르소스 it:Tarso (Asia Minore) la:Tarsus nl:Tarsus (stad) ja:タルスス no:Tarsus pl:Tars pt:Tarso (cidade) sv:Tarsus tr:Tarsus, Mersin zh:大數

Tarsus (city)

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