Just off the highway
along Turkey's Mediterranean
coast in the modern
town of Ayaş (ah-YAHSH), 5.5 km (3.4 miles) northeast of Kızkalesi and 55 km (34 miles) west of Mersin (map), are the ruins of the Roman city
Elaiussa (or Elaeousa,
"olive") was founded here in the 2nd
century BCE and flourished by raising
and exporting olives and their oil.
Archelaus, king of Cappadocia, founded
a new city next to Elaiussa and called
it Sebaste ("Augusta")
in honor of the Roman emperor Augustus.
Elaiussa-Sebaste thrived in the 1st
century AD and continued inhabited
through the Roman and into the Byzantine period, but in the 500s, as the nearby
city of Corycus flourished, Elaiussa-Sebaste lost importance, and was gradually
The main city ruins, excavated since
1995 by an Italian team of archeologists
led by Eugenia Equini Schneider,
are on the sea side of the highway
next to a small beach and picnic
the highway is the small 2nd-century theater,
with only 23 rows of seats. Near it
are the ruins of the agora.
The little theater...
far away are the ruins of an extensive necropolis, one
of the largest on the Mediterranean
—by Tom Brosnahan