You may wish to read a short introduction to this section with a map of the region first.
The ruins of Elaiussa, a very ancient port, are located just a few miles to the east of the Armenian fortress of Korykos; Hittite records found at Hattusa name the port as Vilhousa; in Roman time Sebaste, the Greek word for Augustus, was added to form Elaiussa Sebaste
Ancient buildings along the coastal road east of Korykos
From Korghos the shore presents a continued scene of ruins, all of which being white, and relieved by the dark wooded hills behind them, give to the country an appearance of splendour and populousness; that serves only, on a nearer approach, to heighten the contrast with its real poverty and degradation.
Francis Beaufort, Captain of HMS Frederikssteen, a frigate of 32 guns: Karamania; or a brief description of the South Coast of Asia Minor, and of the Remains of Antiquity collected during a survey of that coast, under the orders of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, in the years 1811 & 1812 - Published in 1817
The section of the large coastal road between Korykos and Elaiussa is flanked by the ruins of many buildings of the Roman and Byzantine periods; they are scattered in the fields and they indicate that the region enjoyed a period of economic development and security between the Ist and the VIth centuries AD.
The most striking proof of their former opulence and grandeur of this place, appears in the elaborate pains that were bestowed on providing it with a supply of water. F. Beaufort
The first evidence of Elaiussa Sebaste can be noticed in a side valley which is crossed by the arches of a Roman aqueduct which provided fresh water to the port.
Roman portico along the northern harbour
Elaiussa, similar to many other ancient ports (e.g. Iasos), was built on a short headland which formed two natural harbours; the northern one was more protected (today it is silted) and in Roman time a circular portico was built between the two harbours; later on the portico was turned into the residence of the Byzantine governor of Elaiussa; the town retained some importance until the beginning of the VIIth century.
The coastal road separates the archaeological area of the two harbours from a series of important buildings and from the necropolis which are located inland. Here archaeologists have recently unearthed a very interesting complex, which can be regarded as a historical summary of the development of Elaiussa Sebaste.
The lowest layers of the complex are decorated with mosaics portraying marine subjects; they belonged to a Roman villa of the Early Imperial period. In the IInd century AD, the expansion of Elaiussa led to building a small agora above the villa: it consisted of a quadrangular portico with fountains: a tholos, a small circular temple, stood at its centre.
Agora: (left) baptistery; (centre/right) mosaics
In Byzantine time a large basilica replaced the agora: it had two apses, one of which most likely was used for displaying relics; archaeologists have found the facility for providing baptism by immersion near one of the apses.
(left) Street leading to the theatre; (right) walls and pillars near the the theatre and behind them the hill where some tombs and small temples have been identified
The complete excavation of Elaiussa Sebaste meets significant obstacles, because the area is farmed and the object of touristic development, yet the unearthing of the agora has given archaeologists more leverage for convincing authorities to let them expand the excavated area; at the time this page was written there were no restrictions/controls on the access to the ancient buildings.
The theatre of Elaiussa was located on a commanding position facing the sea; the audience, in case of boring performances, could always listen to the distant sound made by the waves.