Tarsus (city)


Tarsus (city)

Infobox Settlement

settlement_type =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = Turkey
timezone=EET
utc_offset=+2
map_caption =Location of Tarsus within Turkey.
timezone_DST=EEST
utc_offset_DST=+3
official_name = Tarsus


image_caption = Berdan Reservoir
image_blank_emblem =
blank_emblem_type =
subdivision_type1=Region
subdivision_name1 = Mediterranean
subdivision_type2=Province
subdivision_name2 = Mersin
population_total = 348205
population_footnotes=
population_urban =
population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes = [http://www.tarsus.bel.tr/tr/about/nufusBilgileri.jsp]
population_density_km2 =
area_total_km2 = 2240
elevation_m =
pushpin_

pushpin_label_position =
pushpin_map_caption =Location of Tarsus
pushpin_mapsize =
latd = 36
latm = 55
latNS = N
longd = 34
longm = 54
longEW = E
postal_code_type=Postal code
postal_code = 33
blank_info = 33
blank_name=Licence plate
area_code = (0090)+ 324
leader_name =
website =
leader_name1 =
gwebsite = http://www.tarsus.gov.tr

Tarsus (Greek Ταρσός) is a city, and a large district, in Mersin Province, Turkey, convert|15|km|mi|0|abbr=on from the city of Mersin and near (40 km) to the city of Adana.

With a history going back over 9,000 years Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders, a focal point of many civilisations including the Ancient Romans when Tarsus was capital of the province of Cilicia, scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra and birthplace of Saint Paul.

Geography

Located on the mouth of the Tarsus Çay (Cydnus), which empties into the Mediterranean Sea, Tarsus is a junction point of land and sea routes connecting the Cilician plain (today called Çukurova), central Anatolia and the Mediterranean sea. The climate is typical of the Mediterranean region, summers very very hot, winters chilly and damp.

Tarsus has a long history of commerce and is still a commercial centre today, trading in the produce of the fertile Çukurova plain; also Tarsus is a thriving industrial centre refining and processing that produce same for export. Industries include agricultural machinery, spare parts, textiles, fruit-processing, brick building and ceramics.

Agriculture is an important source of income, half of the land area in the district is farmland (1,050 km²) and most of the remainder is forest and orchard. The farmland is mostly well-irrigated, fertilised and managed with the latest equipment.

Etymology

The ancient name is Tarsos, (Greek: "polytonic|Ταρσός") possibly derived from a pagan god, "Tarku"; at other times the city was named "Tarsisi"; "Antiochia on the Cydnus" (Greek: "Αντιόχεια του Κύδνου", Latin: "Antiochia ad Cydnum"); and "Juliopolis". [Տարսոն, Darson] in Armenian.

History

Antiquity

Foundation and prehistory

Excavation of the mound of "Gözlükule " reveals that the prehistorical development of Tarsus reaches back to the Neolithic Period and continues unbroken through Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages.

The settlement was located at the crossing of several important trade routes, linking Anatolia to Syria and beyond. 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

However, much of this legend of the foundation of Tarsus appeared in the Roman era and none is reliable; the geographer Strabo records that Tarsus was founded by people from Argos who were exploring this coast. Another legend states that the winged horse Pegasus was lost and landed here hurting his foot and thus the city was named "tar-sos" ("the sole of the foot"). Other candidates for legendary founder of the city include the hero Perseus, Triptolemus son of the earth-goddess Demeter (doubtless because the countryside around Tarsus is excellent farmland). Later the coinage of Tarsus bore the image of Hercules due to yet another tale in which the hero was held prisoner here by the local god, Sandon. Tarsos has been suggested as a possible identification of the biblical Tarshish, where the prophet Jonah wanted to flee, but Tartessos in Spain is a more likely identification for this. (See further [Jonah 1:3 and the entry for Jonah in the [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=389&letter=J&search=jonah Jewish Encyclopedia] ] )

Early antiquity, Greece and Persia

In historical times, the city was first ruled by the Hittites, followed by Assyria, and then the Persian Empire. Tarsus was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 BC onward. Indeed Xenophon records that in 401 BC, when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch.

Alexander the Great passed through with his armies in 333 BC and came near meeting his death here after a bath in the Cydnus. By this time Tarsus was already largely influenced by Greek language and culture, and as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers, poets and linguists. The schools of Tarsus rivaled 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. In his time the library of Tarsus held 200,000 books, including a huge collection of scientific works.

Rome

Pompey subjected it to Rome and Tarsus became capital of the Roman province of Cilicia ("Caput Ciliciae"), the metropolis where the governor resided. To flatter Julius Caesar, it took the name Juliopolis; it was here that Cleopatra and Mark Antony met, the scene of the celebrated feasts they gave during the construction of their fleet. In 66 BC, the inhabitants received Roman citizenship.

When the province of Cilicia was divided, Tarsus remained the civil and religious metropolis of Cilicia Prima, and was a grand city with palaces, marketplaces, roads and bridges, baths, fountains and waterworks, a gymnasium on the banks of the Cydnus, a stadium and the church of St Paul. Tarsus was later eclipsed by nearby Adana, but remained important as a port and shipyard. Several Roman emperors were interred here: Marcus Claudius Tacitus, Maximinus, and Julian the Apostate.

Christianity

Tarsus was the birthplace of Saint Paul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), who returned here after his conversion (Acts 9:30). From here Barnabas retrieved him to help with the work in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:25). Already by this time a Christian community probably existed, although the first recorded bishop, Helenus, dates only from the third century; he went several times to Antioch in connection with the dispute concerning Paul of Samosata. Later bishops of Tarsus included 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. [Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", VI, xlvi; VII, v). Le Quien ("Oriens christianus", II, 869-76] From the sixth century the metropolitan see of Tarsus had seven suffragan bishoprics; ["Echos d'Orient", X, 145] the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople archdiocese is again mentioned in the tenth century ( [op. cit., X, 98] ), and has existed down to the present day, part of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

Owing to the importance of Tarsus, many martyrs were put to death here, among them being: Saint Pelagia, Saint Boniface, Saint Marinus, Saint Diomedus, Saint Quiricus and Saint Julitta.

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.

A cave in Tarsus is one of a number of places claiming to be the location of the legend of the Seven Sleepers, common to Christianity and Islam.

Islam and beyond

The Tarsus region was annexed by the Forces of Rashidun Caliphate under the command of Khalid ibn Walid in the 637, retaining it until 965, when Nicephorus Phocas returned it to the Byzantine Empire for nearly a century. The area was lost to the Seljuk Turks, recaptured in 1097 during the Crusades and then 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 the Ramazanoğlu Turks. Finally, the area was brought under the control of the Ottomans by Selim I in 1517.

In the Middle Ages Tarsus was renowned throughout the Middle East; a number of Arab writers praised it as a beautiful and well-defended city, its walls being in two layers with five gates and earthworks outside, surrounded by rich farmland, watered by the river and the lake. By 1671 the traveller Evliya Çelebi records "a city on the plain, an hour from the sea, surrounded by strong walls two-storeys high, moated on all sides, with three distinct neighbourhoods inside the walls".

Despite its excellent defences, Tarsus was captured from the Ottomans in 1832 by the Mamluks of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, son of Muhammad Ali, and for 8 years remained in the hands of the Egyptians, who began growing cotton on the surrounding plain. Upon the return of the Ottomans this cotton drove a substantial growth in the economy of the area, due to increased world demand for the crop during shortages caused by the U.S. Civil War. A new road was built to the port in Mersin and the city of Tarsus grew and thrived. Still today many large houses in the city stand as reminders of the wealth generated during this period. However after being a port for 3,000 years, by the end of the 19th century neglect resulted in Tarsus no longer having access to the sea, and the delta became a swamp. At this point Tarsus was a typical Ottoman city with communities of Muslim Turks, Christian Greeks and Armenians. At the founding of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s the swamp was drained and the River Berdan was dammed to build Turkey's first hydro-electric power station. Irrigation, roadworks and a railway brought the economy of Tarsus back to life, with new factories, particularly producing textiles.

Life in Tarsus today

Tarsus has slightly more in the way of culture (cinema, theatre, museums) than most Turkish country towns, but in many ways still has a small town feel; people walk in the road rather than on the pavements. Predictably, the people of the mountain forests in the hinterland have an even quieter rural existence.

The local cuisine includes: hummus; şalgam (pickled turnips); tantuni (a sandwich of grilled meats; the tiny pizzas called "fındık lahmacun"; and cezerye (a confection made out of carrots).

Places of interest

Tarsus has a great many ancient sites of interest, with many in need of restoration and research. The best known include:
* Cleopatra Gate - to the west of the city, the only ancient city gate still standing, where Anthony and Cleopatra entered the city in 41 BC, though the "restoration" of this structure has involved covering much of it over with shiny new stone (see [http://www.abu.nb.ca/Courses/Pauline/TarsusGate2.jpg] for a picture of the gate before the work was done).
* The Roman bridge of Justinian over the Berdan River. Still in good condition.
* Tarsus Museum - contains lots of ancient coins and a severed mummified arm.

Sites of religious interest and pilgr

* The church and well of St Paul.
* The tomb of the Seven Sleepers, busy place of pilgrimage for Muslims today.
* The mosque said to be the burial place of the Prophet Daniel.

From the Turkish era:
* The old baths; the dark brown spots on the white marble walls are said to be the bloodstains of Shah Meran, the legendary Snake King who was killed in an ambush in the baths.
* Tarsus American College; founded in the Ottoman period, still active today.
* "Nusret (Nusrat)" the minelayer used to defend the straits before the Battle of Gallipoli is being restored in Tarsus; it is to be part of a memorial park to those lost in the fighting.

Places of natural beauty include:
* Tarsus Waterfall; since the construction of the Berdan dam the water of the Tarsus river has been distributed in canals for irrigation, with the result that the waterfall can now be seen only in seasons of very heavy rainfall.

Notable residents

* Antipater, Stoic philosopher
* Chrysippus, Stoic philosopher
* Mark Antony
* Cleopatra
* Paul the Apostle (Saul of Tarsus), Christian apostle, saint and missionary, was born here and returned for a period later in life.
* Tarsus is one of a number of cities that claims to be the burial place of Bilal ibn Rabah, first muezzin, or caller to prayer, in Islam.
* Caliph Al-Ma'mun died near Tarsus.
* Lokman the Physician
* Journalist Oral Çalışlar was born in Tarsus.
* Saint Nerses of Lambroun, Armenian Catholicos
*Tarsus Idman Yurdu is the local football team.

References

*Catholic


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tarsus — (from the Greek ταρσός, for flat basket ) may refer to:*Tarsus (skeleton), the skeletal region between the tibia and fibula and the metatarsus *Tarsus (eyelids)*The final segment of an arthropod leg *Tarsus (city), ancient and modern city in… …   Wikipedia

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  • Tarsus — • A metropolitan see of Cilicia Prima Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Tarsus     Tarsus     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Tarsus American College — (official Turkish name: Özel Tarsus Amerikan Lisesi, aka Tarsus Amerikan Lisesi) is a private coeducational high school located in Tarsus, province Mersin, Turkey.The college was established in 1888 under the name St. Paul s Institute at Tarsus… …   Wikipedia

  • Tarsus — [tär′səs] city in S Turkey, near the Mediterranean: in ancient times, the capital of Cilicia & birthplace of the Apostle Paul: pop. 169,000 …   English World dictionary

  • Tarsus — /tahr seuhs/, n. a city in S Turkey, near the Mediterranean, on the Cydnus River: important seaport of ancient Cilicia; birthplace of Saint Paul. 74,510. * * * City (pop., 1997: 190,184), south central Turkey. It is located near the Mediterranean …   Universalium

  • tarsus — /tahr seuhs/, n., pl. tarsi / suy, see/. 1. Anat., Zool. the bones of the proximal segment of the foot; the bones between the tibia and the metatarsus, contributing to the construction of the ankle joint. See diag. under skeleton. 2. the small… …   Universalium

  • Tarsus — Original name in latin Tarsus Name in other language Antiochia ad Cydnum, Gorad Tarsus, Tars, Tarsas, Tarse, Tarso, Tarson, Tarsos, Tarsous, Tarsus, Tarsus i Mersin, Tersus, da shu, taleususeu, tarususu, trsws, Горад Тарсус, Тарс, Тарсус State… …   Cities with a population over 1000 database


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