"Love is patient, love is kind ..." That beautiful and most famous passage was written by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians. Paul, also known as "Saul of Tarsus," was born in this city in the first century AD. He grew up here and later wrote those words in the city of Ephesus, in Western Turkey, where he lived for three years during his many travels spreading the new religion of Christianity. Tarsus, like all of Turkey, is full of such history. It is believed that civilization has been ongoing here for as many as six thousand years. This part of Turkey has been controlled throughout the ages by the Hittites, the Assyrians and Phoenicians, the Persians, and Romans all in the centuries before Christ. The famous Roman orator Cicero once governed Tarsus. Emperor Julius Caesar came to Tarsus in 48 BC and gave various decrees. Thus for a time the city was known as Juliopolis. After the death of Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony, who was in charge of the Eastern territories of the Roman Empire, came to Tarsus to meet Queen Cleopatra of Egypt in 41 BC. The Roman Emperor Hadrian came here in 123 AD. Later it was under the control of the Crusaders and Byzantines before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. It was even under control of the French for a short while during Turkey's War of Independence. It was liberated from the French in 1921 to become an important area in modern day Turkey.
History is all around where Christine and I live. Right behind the campus is an excavation site known as the Gözlükule Mound. Finds there date as far back as the Neolithic Period and include discoveries from the Early Bronze Age. I could go on and on about the history here, but you get the idea. I'll share some pictures of these historical places later in this blog. We're of course getting excited for our return home. Our bags are out, and the packing is almost completed. Christine won't be returning with me next year, so she's got a lot to take home. But as excited as she is to get back, she knows she will miss a lot of people here. I'm still amazed at how she jumped right into the mix when she got to Turkey. She has made many friends, American and Turkish, has helped many of her students and the elementary school's students get better at English, and thoroughly enjoyed the culture, food, and opportunity to travel while here.