Tarsus district of Mersin is a very old township. Archaeological excavations show that the history of the city dates back to 7000 BC. The district, which was the center of Cilician civilization, hosted many civilizations. Despite its historical importance from Byzantium to Rome, the city does not stand out with this aspect. Tarsus has an important place especially for Christians around the world. This is because Tarsus was the hometown of Saint Paul, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. According to historical sources, Tarsus became a center of interest from the time Hittite Civilization to the Assyrian, Phoenician, Persian, and Roman Civilizations. Also, important historical personalities such as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra visited Tarsus in their most brilliant times.
The Story of the Eshab-ı Kehf
The story of the Seven Sleepers passes in the 2nd century AD when belief in mythological gods declined and belief in the single god began to become evident. Eshab-ı Kehf, which is claimed to contain seven sleepers who sleep 309 years in a cave they took shelter due to their rulers, is also known as ‘Seven Sleepers Cave’. In the times when belief in mythological gods lost power, seven young men named Yemliha, Mekseline, Mislina, Mernuş, Sazenuş, Tebernuş, and Kefeştetayuş, who fled to torment because they believed in one God, came to the presence of the Greek Monarch Dakuskan because they did not agree to return to Paganism.
Dakyanus, the Greek ruler of the period, tortured them. The ruler gives these seven young people a few days, saying that they adhere to the religion of Paganism, otherwise they will kill them. Young people, who do not give up their ideas, decide to flee to the mountains. On the way, they meet a shepherd and his dog (Kıtmir). The shepherd tells the situation, the shepherd takes them to a cave where they will hide.
Meanwhile, the monarch, who realizes that the young people have escaped, sends his soldiers to them. The soldiers find them in the cave. They close the mouth of the cave with stones so that they do not come out and die. It is said that; young people sleep more than 300 years in this cave. When they wake up, they send Yemliha to the city to buy bread because they are hungry. People who suspect Yemliha, who wants to shop with money from the time of the Ocean, ask him where he came from.
Yemliha brings people to the place where the cave is to learn the truth. However, thinking that his waiting friends will be afraid of the crowd, he enters his cave first. Outside the cave, they wait for a long time, when no one goes out, they enter. They are the seven baby birds they see in the cave. Therefore, this place is also known as the Seven Sleepers Cave. People have been telling this story to each other for thousands of years.