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Mallus (Greek: η Μαλλός Mallos; ethnonym: Μαλλώτης) was an ancient city of Cilicia Campestris (later Cilicia Prima) lying near the mouth of the Pyramus (now the Ceyhan Nehri) river, in Anatolia. In ancient times, the city was situated at the mouth of the Pyramus (which has changed course since), on a hill opposite Magarsus which served as its port. The district was called from it, Mallotis. The location of the site is currently inland a few km from the Mediterranean coast on an elevation in the Karataş Peninsula, Adana Province, Turkey, a few km from the city of Karataş.[1]


According to Strabo,[2] Mallus was founded by Amphilochus and Mopsus, sons of Apollo, who together founded Mallus after they left Troy following the Trojan War and whom Strabo credits with powers of divination.[3] Alexander the Great erected a bridge over the Pyramus and visited Mallus during his conquest of the region, and at Mallus he performed sacrifices to Amphilochus.[1][4] Alexander also exempted the town from paying taxes.[1]

It allied itself with Tarsus against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who according to the Bible, had presented both cities to his concubine Antiochis.[1][5] Mallus was a town of considerable importance, though it does not appear to have possessed any particular attractions.[6] In the second century B.C., it was the hometown of the notable philosopher and grammarian Crates of Mallus, credited with having built the first known globe; however, he left the city at a young age and his scholarly career mainly took place elsewhere.

Its port-town was Magarsa, though in later times it seems to have had a port of its own, called Portus Palorum.[7] Numerous coins from Mallus have been preserved, and those of the third century bear the inscription Mallus Colonia or Colonia Metropolis Mallus. The city is mentioned by numerous ancient authors, and in the Middle Ages by Arabian, Armenian, and Italian writers. The city declined in importance and disappeared with the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.[1] The ancient site of Antiochia ad Pyramum lies a few km away on the coast.

Mallus figures in the various revisions of the Antiochene Notitiae Episcopatuum as suffragan of Tarsus. Six bishops are recorded. Bematius, present at the Council of Antioch (377); Valentine, present at the First Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Tarsus (434); Chrysippus at the Council of Chalcedon (451).[1] The see is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees.[8] No titular bishop of the see has been appointed since the death of its last bishop in 1990.[9]


The precise location of Mallus has been the subject of some study. From the ancient sources we learn that it was situated near the mouth of the river Pyramus, on an eminence opposite to Megarsus (modern Karataş), as we must infer from Quintus Curtius,[10] who states that Alexander entered the town after throwing a bridge across the Pyramus. Mallus therefore stood on the eastern bank of the river. According to Scylax (p. 40) it was necessary to sail up the river a short distance in order to reach Mallus; and Pomponius Mela (i.13) also states that the town is situated close upon the river; whence Ptolemy (v.8.4) must be mistaken in placing it more than two miles away from the river.[6]

Mallus is commonly believed to be in the town of Kızıltahta, Adana Province. The nearby town of Terkosan is mentioned being its necropolis.[11] The city's location at Kızıltahta has been extrapolated by reference to the ancient sources. Stadiasmus indicates that Mallus was 150 stades away from Megarsus (Megarsus is identified to be modern Karataş).[12] One stadia equals 600 feet and 150 stades is 27.4 km. When this distance is measured from Karataş within a 1:100,000 scale map of Turkey, the city's location is in the periphery of Kızıltahta.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pétridès 1910.
  2. ^ Strabo 1924, 14.5.16.
  3. ^ Arrian, Anab. ii. 5.
  4. ^ Strabo 1924, 14.5.17.
  5. ^ 2 Maccabees, 4:30, 31.
  6. ^ a b Smith 1857, p. 256.
  7. ^ Smith 1857, p. 256 notes that "Geogr. Nub. p.195; Sanut. Secret. Fid. ii. 4, 26, whence we learn that in the Middle Ages it continued to be called Malo; comp. Callim. Fragm. 15; Appian, Mithrid. 96; Dionys. Per. 875; Ptolemy viii. 17. § 44; Pliny H. N. v. 22; Stadiasmus Mar. M. §§ 151, 152; William Martin Leake, Asia Minor, pp. 216, &c."
  8. ^ Segreteria di Stato Vaticano 2013.
  9. ^ Mallus (Titular See)
  10. ^ Quintus Curtius, iii.7.
  11. ^ Seton-Williams 1954, p. 171.
  12. ^ Cohen 1995, p. 360.
  13. ^ Akpinar 2006, Ancient....


  • Akpinar, E. (2006), Ancient Settlement Pattern Analysis for the region of Cilicia between Bronze Age and the Byzantine Era, Chicago 
  • Cohen, G. (1995), The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor Hellenistic Culture and Society, p. 17 
  • Quintus Curtius, Histories of Alexander the Great, iii.7 
  • Segreteria di Stato Vaticano (2013), Annuario Pontificio 2013, Vatian City: Libreria editrice vaticana, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1 
  • Seton-Williams, M.V. (1954), "Cilician Survey", Anatolian Studies, 4: 121–174 
  • Strabo (1924), Jones, H. L., ed., Geography, Book 14, chapter 5, section 17, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, retrieved 9 April 2017 


Further reading[edit]

  • MacDonagh, Bernard (1989). Blue guide Turkey : the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. London: A & C Black. p. 563. ISBN 0-393-30489-2. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°45′27″N 35°29′12″E / 36.7575°N 35.4868°E / 36.7575; 35.4868