Anatolia (present day Turkey) represents part of the Alpine-Himalayan orogen and exposes previously buried and metamorphosed rocks now covering an area of ~300 x 400 km. So far, the exhumation history of these rocks has been poorly constrained. For the first time a major, >120 km long, top-NE ‘Ivriz’ extensional detachment is shown to have controlled the exhumation of the HP/LT metamorphic rocks in southern Central Anatolia. Its activity is dated using field relations and absolute ages of syn-kinematic granites at between the latest Cretaceous and Early Eocene times. Combined with previously documented isolated extensional detachments found to the north, this suggests that a major province governed by extensional exhumation was active throughout Central Anatolia between ~80 and ~48 Ma. Although similar in dimension to the Aegean extensional province to the east, the Central Anatolian extensional province is considerably older and was controlled by a different extension direction. In fact the Central Anatolian extensional province is the oldest major extensional province above Mediterranean subduction zones and suggests that the African lithosphere that subducted below Anatolia must have rolled back relative to the Aegean region since at least the latest Cretaceous.