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City (pop., 2000: 216,382), south-central Turkey. It is located near the Mediterranean Sea coast. Settled from Neolithic times, it was razed and rebuilt c. 700 BC by the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Later, Achaemenid and Seleucid rule alternated with periods of autonomy. In 67 BC it was absorbed into the new Roman province of Cilicia, becoming one of the principal cities of the Eastern and Byzantine empires. It was the site of the first meeting in 41 BC between Mark Antony and Cleopatra and was the birthplace of St. Paul. It remained a leading industrial and cultural centre through the early Byzantine period. It came under various powers in the 10th–15th century and passed to the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. Modern Tarsus is a prosperous agricultural and cotton-milling centre.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Tarsus, visit Britannica.com.