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Tarsus is 14 miles east of Mersin and was indeed the largest city in Cilicia in ancient times. The city was along the Seyhan River in the ancient past and probably in marine contact with the Mediterranean Sea. Tarsus sits on the east side of the Cilician Gates and controlled all trade by this including that to Israel and Egypt. The route to Iran and Mesopotamia was further north across Anatolia by the Royal Road.
Its origin is lost in the mists of antiquity but it seems to have been of Semitic origin. The city was surely visited by the Phoenicians and trade with the north was carried on through Tarsus. Horses were imported through Tarsus destined for Solomon and Egypt. The city was mentioned several time in records of Salmanasar and Sennacherib circa 850 BC. It was later described by Xenophon circa 401 BC. Known to the ancient Egyptians as the place where one turns around this little plain was the Kue of the Old Testament and eastern Cilicia in the New Testament period .....
The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium