Now a village on the coast between Korykos and Lamus. The city may have been founded about the 2d or 1st c. B.C. Under the Romans it was given perhaps to Tarcondimotos some time before 31 B.C., and in 20 B.C. with Korykos and other areas of Rough Cilicia to Archelaos I of Cappadocia, who changed the name to Sebaste in honor of Augustus. A son of Archelaos by the same name may have succeeded, and in A.D. 38 Antiochos IV of Commagene took over. He died in A.D. 72, at which time or soon after both Cilicias were formed into one province under a legatus pro praetore. Elaeussa flourished during the Roman period in spite of various setbacks; it was apparently prosperous in the 6th and 5th c. A.D., although its harbor had silted up by the 6th. It seems not to have recovered from the period of Arab invasions, and has been more or less deserted since.
Elaeussa is situated on the sandy shore of a shallow bay with an island in the center, now a peninsula, which in antiquity sheltered the harbor. On the island Archelaos built a palace in which he spent much of his time. There are numerous ruins on the island including the remains of a church, but all are apparently later than the palace. An aqueduct led to the island, and the remains of two more span the ravine to the W of the city (Cambazli or Çukurbağ Deresi). A well-preserved water course and arched aqueduct runs along the coast from the Lamus river to Elaeussa and Korykos; a building inscription on it dates not earlier than A.D. 400.
The theater cavea is cut in the rock slope a little inland opposite the island, facing S. The seats have been robbed, but the bedding for them can be seen. Some remains of the stage building are preserved, and just S of them parts of another building (stoa?) with some column bases preserved along its S side; in 1818 there were said to be 16 of them. On a high tongue of land at the W end of the bay are the conspicuous remains of a Roman peripteral temple, oriented NW-SE, the entrance at the NW. The columns, 6 x 12, are fluted, five are left standing higher than their bases, but none is complete. The stylobate measures 17.60 x 32.94 m and is set on a podium where the ground falls away on all sides but the NW. The capitals are described as a cross between the Composite and Corinthian orders. The architrave has three fasciae, the one remaining frieze block is decorated with a dolphin rider and hippocampus. No trace of the original cella remains. In the Early Christian period a church was built on the temple stylobate, at right angles to it, the apse at the NE side of the stylobate, with an adjoining enclosure filling the NW end of the temple. The columns of the S half of the SW side of the temple and all the columns of the SE side were removed, leaving an open platform. Part of the E end of the church and the apse is paved with a fairly well-preserved garden and animal mosaic, very similar to some at Antioch dated to the 5th c. A.D. West of the temple and near the two aqueducts across the stream are the remains of a large building of opus reticulatum with four barrel-vaulted rooms, perhaps a bath.
The inhabitants of Elaeussa eventually lived by a forest of tombs, which fill almost every available space along the ancient shore road, the majority dating from the 2d c. A.D. into the Christian period. There are sarcophagi, freestanding and rock-cut, some decorated with garlands and inscriptions. There are rock-cut and masonry chamber tombs and mausolea. From the 2d or 3d c. A.D. there are eight or more heroa of the Corinthian order, faced with ashlar masonry. Some of these are rectangular with pilasters at the corners and vaulted interiors; others are tetrastyle prostyle podium temples with narrow doorless porches. In the necropolis along the road NE of the city is a sarcophagus under an elaborate baldachino.
From near the theater an ancient paved road leads NW to a site called Çati Ören (skeleton ruins) in a plain where are a (Hellenistic?) fortress of polygonal masonry, a Temple of Hermes and an early basilica, and nearby a cave temple to Hermes. To the NE about 1.5 km is another (Hellenistic?) fort on the edge of a ravine, with club symbols carved on it. Both these sites might have belonged to Olba in the Hellenistic period and later. At Çati Ören an inscription of ca. the Augustan period mentions a dynast, possibly Archelaos of Elaeussa or Polemo, dynast of Olba in the 1st c. A.D. Northeast of Elaeussa, ca. 3 km inland, is the town of the Kanytelleis or Kanytelideis, which was a deme of Elaeussa in the Roman period, but was in Olban territory in the late 3d c. B.C. On the roads leading from this site to the coast and inland are necropoleis, including heroa; on the road to Elaeussa are numerous rock-cut tombs and reliefs. The main area of the site is around a large rectangular depression, a natural limestone cave whose roof has collapsed. At the edge of this is a large rectangular tower of polygonal masonry, with an inscription dedicating it to Zeus Olbios, by the priest Teucer son of Tarkyaris, presumably the same man who built the great tower at Uzuncaburç There are house remains here and there and five churches, some well preserved. (T. S. MAC KAY)Wikidata ID: Q1324870
Info: Princeton Encyclopedia
(Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, from Perseus Project)