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The Tokat - Hıstorıcal Ruıns

Tokat, is at the mid Black Sea region of Anatolia. Its landscape is uneven. The fertile plains watered by the Yesilirmak, Kelkit and Cekerek drew attention and the area became important for settlement. It is on the route joining the East to the West, central and Southern part of Anatolia to the Black Sea. Due to this geopolitical situation it has become one of the important places of settlement of the region.

As we known Tokat's history started with the first bronze period. The area had become one of the important places of settlement of the Hittites, the Phrygs, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Seljuks and the Ottomans. The archaeological treasures belonging to the first brozne periods. The Hittites and the Phrygs, were found at the Aktepe (Bolus) in the central part of Tokat, and the Masat Hoyuk of the Zile region. These were not only the first sites of settlement for Tokat but for the whole of Anatolia. Tokat was also the first place in Anatolia to be conquered, and settled by the Turks. The Yagibasan medresses of Niksar and Tokat, the Ulu mosque of Niksar, and the Garipler mosque of Tokat are the important architectural works of the Turkish period.

Tokat was also important during the Ottomans. The voyagers of that period in their writings say that: Tokat is the second beautiful place and appropriate for settlement after Bursa. With its mild climate and geographical position the area became archaeologically one of the richest places in the world.

Sebastopolis The Antique City

Sulusaray (Sebastopolis) is a town located about sixtyeight kilometres from the city centre of Tokat, and about thirty kms. from the city of Artova. The city is situated on a plain surrounded by the mountains and the river of Cekerek runs near the city.

The foundation of this antique city is not yet known. According to some sources it was first established in the first century A.D. During the Roman emperor Trajan's period (98-117 A.D.) the city was separeted from the Pontus Galaticus Polaminiacus district and was included in the Capatocia region. There is an epitaph about this. The epitaph was written as a monument for the Arrian, the Governor of the Capadocia region.

The word Sebastopolis is Greek. Sebasto means huge, great or magnificent. Polis means city. Therefore Sebastopolis means: great, magnificent city. In some of the resources the city was named as Heracleopolis.

Heracleopolis means the city of Herakles. Herakles symbolized power and strength in the Greek and Roman mythology.
Architectural pieces recovered during the diggings organised by the Directorate of the Tokat Museum in 1987, showed that the city was an important place of settlement during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.
The pieces recovered at the Comana Pohtica (Antique Tokat) are seen to be very similar to those recovered from the city of Sebastopolis. This let us think that these two antique cities had a close relationship with each other.
The route running from the east to the west (Sebastia-Sivas Sebastopolis; the Sulusaray, Ankara route) and the route joining the southern and the central parts of Anatolia to the Black Sea coast, passes through Sebastopolis. This shows the importance of the City of Sebastopolis in the network of routes during the Roman and Byzantinian periods.

The Localization Plan of The City of Sebastopolis

During our diggins we discovered that the city was surrounded by a city wall. This wall was made from small, neatly cut stones. They were put together without using mortar. These walls are supported by rectangular stone supports, and at some positions there are semicircular towers. A bath and a temple were also spotted during the digging. The architectural elements found on the surface let us think that the theatre is near the temple. A palace, other temples, an Agora, streets and other public buildings will be found at the end of our digging plan. As far as we discovered, there is a great similarity between our antique city and the antique city of Bergama.

The Temple

A temple was discovered at the north-east side of the city while the digging of the wall was going on. The temple has semicircular shaped apsis in the eastern direction, it is cornered from outside and has a smaller semicircular shaped apsis in the inside. The walls are built in blocks. The neatly cut stones are put together without mortar. İnside the big apsis, there is another semicircularly shaped building made from rough stones showing that there had been another addition to the main building. Under the beginning of the curve of the big apsis, just beneath it, and under the support of the neatly cut stones, there is a grey coloured octagonal column with writings on it. As it is seen from the remains, the floor of the temple was covered with dark coloured marble. On the eastren part we discovered other in situ marble pieces. These had different colours and were put together in a zigzag pattern, the rest of which is under a house which is in use for the time being.

We can't say to whom it has been devoted till the end of the digging. The marble floor and the circular shape let us think that the temple belongs to the same period as the Temple of Aesculapius of the Bergama Aesculapium.

The Bath

It is situated in the eastern part of the antique city. At first a part with the earth floor and with rough stone walls was discovered. Later on there are neatly cut stones leading to the chamber inside. This wall is built in three steps. Between these steps there are two column bases. One of the bases is still in situ while the other was removed by the peasants years ago. The space between the base in situ and the step was used as a door leading to a chamber with an evenly cut stone floor. On the floor there is a water discharging channel which comes from the north-south direction and runs towards the east-west direction. This shows us that we have not yet discovered the main bathing room and the source of the water. To the south of the steps we discovered two columns placed symetrically. Except for its upper part, one of the columns is still intact. The other column serves as a support to a building which we think was built later on. We also discovered a stone basin to the north of the columns.

The sulphur traces still found on the walls of the bathroom shows us that during the antique period, the water needed was recovered from a thermal spring located about 3 kilometres to the south-west of the city. One thinks that the thermal spring was a holy spring, like the one at the antique Bergama.

The City Wall

A wall found at the eastern part of the city had a height of seventeen metres. It is built from big stones without using mortar. We dug out only three rows of it. There are two rectangular supports. About a hundred metres to the east of this wall there is a semicircular building built from large stones, which is supposed to be a tower.

The Open Air Museum of Sebastopolis

The antique pieces recovered in 1987 from the excavations organized by the directorate of the Tokat Museum have been exhibited in an appropriate place. More than sixty of these pieces are now on display at an open air theatre given by the Municipality. The theatre is open to the public. The number of the antique pieces on display is increasing every day as we continue our surface digging.

The Statue of Lion

Shows a lion sitted. It is dull light brown in colour. The head is missing but the manes can be seen. It is carved on a stone base. There is a picture of a cavalier on a horse. There might be another statue of a lion. They were decorating the etrance of the palace of Sebastopolis. Helenistic period the 1st - the 3rd century B.C.

A Piece of Frieze

A bull's head and a medusa is carved between the garlands. The hair of the medusa is full and neatly arranged. The Roman period, the second century A.D.

A Piece of Frieze

There are bulls head and helezon shaped rosettes carved between the garlands. The Hellenistic period, the 1st - 3rd century B.C.

A Piece of Frieze

Consists of a simple rosette and a bulls head. Garlands are smooth. The Hellenistic period, the 1st-3rd century B.C.

The Heading of A Column

It is rectangular in shape and it widens at the top. There is a medusa carved at the top and there are elegantly carved acanthus leaves at the bottom. The rest of the faces of the heading are destroyed. The Hellenistic period, the 1st-3rd century B.C.

The Heading of A Column

An interesting heading. It is rectangular in shape and it widens at the top. There are 3 arches on each face. Corners are decorated with leaves.

A Piece of Frieze

A human head carved on a garland, which is hanged on the heads of two bulls. On top there is a row of eggs. The Hellenistic period, the 1st-3rd century


An Architectural Piece

Most probably belongs to a street decorated by columns. One similar to it is found at the colonnade of the Bergama Aesculapium.
An Architectural Piece
Most prabably it belongs to the theatre.

A Piece of A Column

It is made of marble and is one of the pieces found in the village.

A Grave Stela

It is triangular at the top. There are leaves carved in the corners, one of which is broken. In the centre of the triangle there are carved vegetables. There are seven lines of inscription written in Latin. The bottom part of it is broken. The Hellenistic period, the 1st-3rd century B.C.
A Grave Stela
The top part of it is broken. There are writings on two sides of a carving. Last row of the writing is quite interesting.
A Grave Stela
The writing is lined by a rectangular boundary. There are cypress and leaf carvings on the top. In the middle there is a shape which is similar to the one on the stela .

A Grave Stela

It is composed of 3 parts: first part is composed of a semicircular arch and a hole; the second part has a similar but smaller hole, on top of which there are writings and a cross; and the third part has a garland, most of which is broken.

An Epitaph

It is rectangular in shape with eight rows of writings carved on it. The name of the city, "Sebastopolis", can be seen written in the fourth row.


It is a light brown coloured rock with thirteen rows of writings carved on it.

An Epitaph

It is rectangular in shape, with eleven rows of writings, some of which are ruined.

The Rescuing Project of Sebastopolis

Sulusaray is a town with 4.000 dwellers, all of them are still living on top of the antique city. Antique pieces are still used as building materials for their houses. We should evacuate the town to make it possible to continue our diggings and protect the further destruction of the antique city. On the 10th of May, 1988, with the resolution numbered 187 of the Culturel and Naturel Resources Protecting Committee, it was decided that the hoyuk, where the town is situated has a first and third grade of archaeological importance and therefore Sulusaray should be evaculted enable the continuation of the excavation. The authorities are working on evacuation and settlement of the dwellers in a different place.

How Can We Reach Sulusaray

After the rest in the Hotel built on the side of the river of the Yesilirmak, and the visit to the historical and natural beauties of the city of Tokat we are ready to see the antique city of Sebastopolis. The city is on the Tokat-Sivas main road.

Taking the road from Tokat to Sivas turn right to get to an area with beautiful landscapes called the town of Artova. After travelling five more kilometres passing the districts of Artova and Yeşilyurt, you reach a plain surrounded with mountains. This plain was once the site of the city of Sebastopolis.