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Adana - Historical Ruins

Şar Site at Tufanbeyli District

The site is located at the northern tip of the Tufanbeyli District of the province, a few kilometres from the provincial boundary and has works from the Hittite, Roman and Byzantine periods. However, the majority of the works which have remained until now are mostly from the Roman period.

This place which was known as the "Cilician Common" was the second religious centre of the Hittites, the first being the "Pontus Common". The Hittite kings used to personally attend the religious ceremonies held here. Six thousand men and women were serving under the chief priest in this religious centre. The income obtained from the rich lands donated to the Common was collected by the chief priest. The Great Priest and the King were members of the same dynasty and the priest's rank came just after that of the King at Cilician and Cappadocian commons.

Most of the findings at Şar, still standing, are Roman remains. Among these the "Amphitheatre", the levelled open air theatre, is particularly interesting. This theatre, which was built in the south end of the upper neighbourhood on the slope on the left bank of the river, unfortunately lies in ruins today. The only intact remains are a high wall and some of the stepped seats. Underneath these stepped seats there are cellars which provide support to the upper structure and also serve as a shelter for the wild animals. Some of these are still underground.

Another important finding here is a church which is a Byzantine relic. This house of worship, the dome of which was destroyed by lightning, was built with smoothly carved, very large stone blocks. In the district which is known as the Church quarter, a 5 metre high wall from the apse of this Christian temple has managed to remain upright. The stone blocks from the building which lie on the ground have various geometrical motifs and there is a figure of the cross on one of them.

The most valuable and unique relic from the past that Şar possesses is the "Alakapı". The district it stands in is known by the same name. This high structure, which is 6 metres long and 3 metres wide, is built with large marble blocks and can be identified as the gate of the temple of the Mother Goddess. Despite the fact that the temple has been completely destroyed, front and side facade stones found next to this gate which are decorated with plant motifs, give us an idea about the original position and dimensions of the building.

In this location, which was known as the Hieropolis in the Roman times, there are some building remains, reliefs and inscriptions and a large number of architectural elements, such as columns and column capitals, architraves and arches strewn around haphazardly.

Ancient Cilicia: Anavarza Historical Site

This site, which was known as Caesarea or Anazarbus during the times of the Roman Empire, is 28 km south of the Kozan District of Adana province. The small village built just outside the antique city walls is called Dilekkaya.

We have practically no knowledge of the history of the city before the Roman Empire era. It was named Caesarea by Emperor Augustus, who visited the city in 19 B.C., and it started to be known as "Caesarea near Anazarbus". Anavarza did not show any significant presence during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire period and was shadowed by Tarsus, the capital of the Cilicia province. Tarsus manage to survive to the present times but lost the majority of its historical monuments. The city Isos, which the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus entered with Pescennius Niger and sided with Severus during the power struggle, was rewarded when the Emperor won his battle in 192 A.D. and became the sole ruler of the empire and hence it started to enjoy its days of glory. In the period 204-205 A.D. Cilicia became the metropolis of the Isaura and Licaonia states. In 206 A.D. Anavarza, like other Cilician cities, was captured by the Sasani King Shapur. Anavarza, which was destroyed by Balbinos of Isaura in the 4th century A.D., became the capital of Cilicia Secunda (Cilicia of the Plain) which was established during the reign of Theodosius II. The city was badly hit by an earthquake in 525 and was later restored by Emperor Justinianus and renamed “Justiniopolis”. In 561 it experienced a second earthquake disaster and in the 6th century was hit with a major plague epidemic.

During the chaotic centuries which followed the rise of the Islam, Anazarbus remained as a buffer zone between the Arabs and the Byzantines and frequently changed hands between the two sides. In 796 Harun el Reşid re-built the city and the Caliph Mutacvakil (846-861) rebuilt the Sis castle and carried out active work at Anazarbus. His name is mentioned in an inscription piece in the Kufi language found at the ruins of the tower located outside the west gate. In the 10th century, when Aynı Zarba was once more on the brink of ruin, Hamdanid al-Dawla turned it into a fortified settlement by spending the tremendous sum of three million dirhems. The city then became the focus of interest of the Byzantines again and during the 964 campaign, which ended in victory, Nicephorus Phocas took over Anazarbus along with several important fortifications including Tarsus and Mopsuhestia. In the 11th century, the Armenians, whose capital was conquered by Alpaslan, were driven towards the southwest under the pressure of the Seljuk Turks and established a kingdom in the Taurus region. Later on they slowly progressed towards the Cilician plain and there they chose Anazarbus as their capital until the year 1100. Except for a gap of 7 years, when the Byzantines again gained control under the rule of John Commeneus between 1137-1144, the city remained as a capital for almost a whole century. In 1184 Tarsus and later Sis became the capital. Despite the fact that Anazarbus remained as an important fortification, the city built further below on the flat plain was gradually destroyed. It was finally totally ruined when the Memlüks destroyed the Little Armenian Kingdom in 1375 and this antique settlement has never been used again since.

The ruins in Anavarza consist of a 1500 metre long city wall with 20 bastions, four entrances, a collonaded street, and ruins of a bath house and a church. Important remains also include the theatre and the stadium outside the city walls, aquaducts, rock tombs, the necropoli in the western side of the city, the antique road which was constructed by splitting the rock mass and the pooled mosaics which are conserved in situ (the mosaic of the sea goddess Thetis from 3rd century A.D.), the victory arc with three entrances, which is the only example of its kind in the Adana region and the castle from the Middle Ages on the hill which rises like an island in the centre of the plain.

About fifty metres to the northeast of the stadium, the rock is separated with a man-made fissure. The Muslims of the region consider this as the crack cut by Hz. Ali and tell a legend about how the son-in-law of the Prophet pulled out his sword and made a crack in the rocks for himself and his horse when he was being persued by the enemy. This legend aside, the fissure seems to be opened to allow for the road which went from Anazarbus to Flaviopolis (Kadirli) and Hieropolis - Kastabala during the Byzantine Period. The pass is 250 metres long and its width varies between 4-15 metres. On both sides of the road the rocks' faces reach up to 50 metres. For a traveller emerging into sunshine towards the east from the deep shadows of the pass, to see one of the inscriptions on the face of the high rocks no doubt must be a rather moving experience.

"Hence, we shall not be afraid, should the earth move and should the Mountains be moved to the middle of the sea, should the waters rise and roar and should the mountains tremble with the rising waters" The collonaded street running North-South starts with this three-spaned arch. Anavarza has witnessed numerous earthquakes (including the severe earthquake of 1945) but the Triumph Arch managed to remain standing at least partially up to our days. It is a three-arched passage with six Corinthian column capitals from black granite on its south façade. There are statue niches on both sides of the main arch on the northern façade.

The amphitheatre, which was also the scene of performances with wild animals, was a structure built completely with stones. It was apparently systematically pillaged (as was the case for many buildings) during the antiquity to provide material for other buildings. Today we have a sufficient amount of architraves, friezes, cornish blocks, column bodies, inscriptions, and even Corinthian column capitals which were used everywhere that give an idea about the splendor of the Anazarbus of Antiquity.

The castle can be defined in three sections. The barracks section including the first wall and the church; the three storey tower built on the flat rock between the two walls; the second wall and the adjacent complex of rooms, storage areas and water tanks it encloses.

Introducing Hieropolis - Kastabala

There is a fort from Middle Ages called Bodrum Castle rising on a rock protrusion, which dominates a small plain between Kesmeburun and Bahçeköy, to the north of the Ceyhan river. The castle is at a distance of 110 km from Adana, on the road which connects Osmaniye to Aslantaş Dam and the Karatepe – the Aslantaş Open Air Museum. The ruins of the ancient city which was once located there can still be seen today around the castle.

The name of this ancient city could be determined as Hierapolis - Kastabala only from the antique inscriptions which were discovered by the end of the 19th century. Since then scholars from various countries had taken an interest in the monuments, inscriptions and coins of Kastaba and due to their investigations, it was possible to bring some light to the history of the Acient City. The oldest information about Kastabala comes from the Bahadarlı village near Karatepe. An inscription written in the Arami language, which was the formal language of the Persians who ruled Anatolia in 5/4th centuries B.C., was discovered there. The inscription was actually a border stone and stated that part of the lands of Kubaba, the Mother Goddess of Anatolia, also known as Pirvasua, belonged to a woman who was ruling over Kashtabalay.

Whether the name Kashtabalay used here refers to a city or to some piece of land cannot be deducted definitely. The fact that Kastaba as the name of the city can be seen on the coins minted during the rule of Antiochos Epiphanes IV (175-164 B.C.), a king of the Hellenistic Period, shows that the city was built during his reign. Antiochos named the settlement as the holy city because of the temple of the goddess named "Perasia" who was worshiped for a long time. The name Perasia most probably is a derivative from Pirvashua of the above mentioned Arami inscription, whose roots go as far back as the Late Hittite Period.

In the 1th century B.C. Roman commanders Lucullus and Pompeius brought this region under the dominance of the Roman state. The region where Kastabala and Anavarza are located was at first not incorporated into the Roman province of Cilicia, but put under the rule of the local king Tarkondimatos. Kastabala was the capital city for this king. The famous Roman orator Cicero led a military campaign in this region against the mountain tribes which were rebelling against the Roman state. Tarkondimatos fought on the side of Marcus Antonius during the sea war fought between Marcus Antonius, who wanted to be the sole ruler of the Roman Empire, and Octavianus, in the year 31 B.C. near Preveze and died there. His son of the same name was pardoned by Octavious, who emerged as the victor from this battle only after 10 years, and could sit on his father's throne. Following his death, Kastabala and its surroundings were ruled by the local nobles. It was annexed to the Cilicia province of this region with Tarsus as the capital only by the time of the reign of the Roman Emperor Vespasianus (69 - 79 A.D.). Roman rule brought economic and cultural welfare to the region. This can be observed from the major construction work which was carried out in the area. In later centuries Kastabala was visited by the Roman Emperors Traianus, Hadrianus and Caraccala and the visitors were honoured by the citizens by putting up their statues. As the eastern borders of the Roman Empire started to witness increasing unrest in the 3rd century A.D., a large number of Roman military troups going east passed through the region. In the year 260 A.D. Sasani King Shapur I conquered Kastaba and looted it. Kastabala was never able to recover after this destruction and was abondoned after a while.

The ruins seen at Kastabala historic site today are all from the Roman Period. The collonaded street of 300 metres, which was built around 200 A.D., can be seen from the asphalt road which connects Kastabala to Karatepe. This street passes close to the rock bed where the castle is situated and goes down to the valley behind where the main settlement area is located. At the terrace, which is reached when going up from this valley, a great number of inscribed statue bases were found. Turning back to the valley, a flat area is reached which used to be a stadium. A little further on, on the slope there is a theatre which has survived in fairly good condition. Across the theatre there are the ruins of a bath from the Roman Period. The remains of two church structures from 5/4th centruies A.D. are also of interest. One of these is just next to the collonaded street and architectural elements taken from the Roman Empire era buildings were used in its construction. Around the city there are many tomb structures and rock tombs. The water supply of the city was taken from the spring near Karagedik village on the eastern shores of the Ceyhan river and transferred through the channels and carried over the aqueducts built over the Ceyhan near Nergis and brought into the city.

The land of the Goddess Perasia of Kastabala, which apparently was a very old religious centre, was no doubt very spacious. This land spread over a rich and productive plain irrigated in the south by the meandering Ceyhan (Antique Pyramos) River which started from the present day Karatepe and Bahadırlı villages in the north.

We have emphasized that Hierapolis - Kastabala was a sacred centre. According to Strabon of Amasya, in Kastabala, Artemis Perasia, after the long lasting dances of the religious ceremonies would reach a state of ecstasy and continue dancing on hot coals like the dervishes and at the climax of her ecstatic state would run towards the valleys of Ceyhan and to the wooded hills with her torch in hand. Again in the Hellenistic and Roman Empire Periods sacred Pan-Hellenic competitions used to be organized here in honour of Perasia. The coins have the pine tree and the torch, the symbols of Perasia, in front of the tower a female head with a hat, representing the city.

Artemis Perasia, the Goddess of Kastabala as mentioned by Strabon, is one and the same as Kubaba. Going around a defined border, such as perambulating the Kaaba, can be equated with the whirling that had an important place in the religious ceremonies which were significant in the Semite religion. It has become apparent that the cult status of Kastabala in particular went back much further than previously assumed, and the Goddess Kubaba was its ruler. Kubaba is the old name of Kybele we know and recognize as the Mother Goddess of Anatolia. She takes her place among other gods and goddesses for the first time in the sources of the Kültepe archives of the Assyrian Trade Colonies Period in 1800s B.C. and in the royal archives of Boğazköy (historical Hattusas) capital of the Hittites dated to 1500-2000 B.C.

Following the decline of the Hittite Empire around 1200 B.C. Kargamısh was a capital of some sorts of the Last Hittite Age of the Hittite world and Kubaba was its Mother Goddess and was known as the "Queen of Kargamısh". In this period the Kubaba cult made great sudden progress and there is a related relief at Domuztepe. We see the goddess Kubaba who was recognized by the Phrygians also at sites of Pessinus and Sard. She was moved to Rome in 204 B.C. and settled at the Palatinum. She was known as Artemis Perasia during the Greco-Roman period.

During the late Roman Period up to the 5th century A.D. a rich olive oil boom was observed in the Karatepe and Düziçi regions. Press stones and remains of mashers, which are evidence of olive oil production, can be seen almost at every step in the region and there are also traces of basilicas with coloured floor mosaics and temples at 7-10 km intervals. The olive oil was most likely collected at Hieropolis - Kastabala and from there taken down to the ports of the Issos Bay.

A great number of inscriptions and coins were discovered at Hierapolis - Kastabala from the Roman Period belonging to the Roman governors as well as to the independent kingdoms which were established at that time. These independent kingdoms existed at Kastabala from around the second half of the 1st century B.C. until the 17th century B.C. The most important and the most renowned among these kings were Tarkondimotos I and Philopater II. These kings had coins minted in their name. It is a known fact that the independence of a nation is proved and evaluated with the existence of its own currency and to the extent this currency is valid.

Kastabala ruins contain significant historical and archaeological assets. Were these monuments preserved with great care and supplied with orienting and informing sign posts to facilitate easy visits, Kastabala would become one of the tourist attractions of the region alongside Karatepe -Aslantaş, Anavarza and Toprakkale.