Tarsus, as the principal town of Cilicia, was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 BC onward. At this period the patron god of the city was Sandon, of whom a large monument existed at Tarsus at least until the 3rd century AD. Coins showed Sandon standing on a winged and horned lion. By this time Tarsus was already largely influenced by Greek language and culture, and as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers, poets and linguists. The schools of Tarsus rivaled those of Athens and Alexandria. 2 Maccabees records its revolt in about 171 BC against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had renamed the town Antiochia on the Cydnus. The name did not last, however, due to the confusion of so many cities named Antioch. At this time the library of Tarsus held 200,000 books, including a huge collection of scientific works. In 67 BC, Pompey, after crushing the Cilician pirates, subjected Tarsus to Rome, and it became capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. Following the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the 630s, the city came first into contact with the forces of the Rashidun Caliphate. It is unclear when the town was first captured by the Arabs, but it is clear that it, and the wider region of Cilicia, remained contested between the Byzantines and the new Caliphate for several decades, up to the early 8th century. According to the Muslim sources, during his retreat the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641) deliberately withdrew the population and devastated the region between Antioch and Tarsus, creating an empty no man's land between the two empires. In 965, the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (r. 963–969) captured the city, ending Muslim rule there. Throughout this period, the governors of Tarsus also operated an active mint in the city. The terms of surrender of the city allowed any Muslim who wished to leave with as many of his possessions as he could carry. Many of those who left eventually settled, according to al-Muqaddasi, at Baniyas. Most of those who remained behind became Christians, and the local main mosque was either torn down or turned into a stable. The city remained under Byzantine rule until 1085. It was thereafter disputed between Latin Crusaders, Byzantines (1137–72), Seljuk Turks, and the Armenians of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (Kingdom of Lesser Armenia). The city was the capital of the Armenian Principality of Cilicia for 118 years, between 1080 and 1198.These last became definitively masters until about 1359, when it was captured by the Ramadanids with Mamluks. Finally, the area was brought under the control of the Ottoman Empire by Selim I in 1516.

Antiochus I Hover to enlarge Antiochus I

Antiochus I
Mint: Tarsus
Denomination C
280 to 261 BC
Obvs: Head of Athena right in crested Corinthian helmet, dotted border.
Revs: BA above AN below, two stars. Dotted border.
14x15mm, 3.34g
Order # G 337
Ref: SC 333; HGC 9, 168(R2)

Antiochus Son of Seleucus IV Hover to enlarge Antiochus Son of Seleucus IV

Antiochus Son of Seleucus IV
Mint: Tarsus
AR Drachm
October/November 175 BC
Obvs: Diademed head of the child Antiochus right, dotted border.
Revs: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ on right ANTIOXOY on left, Apollo seated left on omphalos testing arrow and resting hand on grounded bow with grip marked by 3 pellets. ΣA outer left above, club outer left below. ΠA monogram outer right.
17mm, 4.12g
Order # G 344
Ref: SC 1367; HGC 9, 611(R3)