Home / Samsun


Samsun is a city with a population over half a million people on the north coast of Turkey. It is the provincial capital of Samsun Province and a major Black Sea port. The growing city has two universities, several hospitals, shopping malls, a lot of light manufacturing industry, sports facilities and an opera.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk began the Turkish War of Independence here in 1919.

The present name of the city may come from its former Greek name of Amisos (Αμισός) by a shortening of Eis Amison (meaning to Amisos) + ounta (Greek suffix for place names) to Sampsunda (Σαμψούντα) and then Samsun[1] (pronounced [sɑmsun]).

The early Greek historian Hecataeus wrote that Amisos was formerly called Enete, the place mentioned in Homer's Iliad. It has also been known as Peiraieos by Athenian settlers and even briefly as Pompeiopolis by a Roman statesman who wanted it named after him.[2]

The city was called Simisso by the Genoese and during the Ottoman Empire the present name was written in Ottoman Turkish

Paleolithic artifacts found in the Tekkeköy Caves can be seen in Samsun Archaeology Museum.

The earliest layer excavated of the höyük of Dündartepe revealed a Chalcolithic settlement. Early Bronze Age and Hittite settlements were also found there[3] and at Tekkeköy.

Samsun (then known as Amisos, alternative spelling Amisus) was settled between the years of 760–750 BC by people from Miletus,[4] who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. The city's ideal combination of fertile ground and shallow waters attracted numerous traders.

The city was captured by the Persians in 550BC and became part of Cappadocia (satrapy).[2]

In the 4th century BC the city came under the expanded rule of the Kingdom of Pontus. The Amisos treasure may have belonged to one of the kings.

The Romans took over in 71 BC[5] and Amisos became part of Bithynia et Pontus province (and later Dioecesis Pontica) of the eastern Roman Empire.

Tumuli, containing tombs dated between 300BC and 30BC, can be seen at Amisos Hill but unfortunately Toraman Tepe was mostly flattened during construction of the 20th century radar base.[6]

For the period after the fall of Rome the Eastern Roman Empire became known as the Byzantine Empire. The city was part of the Armeniac Theme.[7] Samsun Castle was built on the seaside in 1192, it was demolished between 1909 and 1918.

Samsun was part of the Seljuk Empire[8] and Sultanate of Rum and the Empire of Trebizond and was one of the Genoese colonies. After the breakup of the Seljuk Empire into small principalities (beyliks) in the late 13th century, the city was ruled by one of them, the Isfendiyarids. It was captured from the Isfendiyarids at the end of the 14th century by the rival Ottoman beylik (later the Ottoman Empire) under sultan Bayezid I, but was lost again shortly afterwards.

The Ottomans permanently conquered the town in 1420, and it became part of the Sanjak of Canik (TurkishCanik Sancağı), which was at first part of the Rûm Eyalet.

In the later Ottoman period, the land around the town mainly produced tobacco, with its own type being grown in Samsun, the Samsun-Bafra, which the British described as having "small but very aromatic leaves", and commanding a "high price."[9] The town was connected to the railway system in the second half of the 19th century, and tobacco trade boomed. There was a British consulate in the town from 1837 to 1863.[10]

Samsun, then home to an Armenian community numbering over 5,000, was heavily affected during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. According to local eyewitnesses, such as Hafiz Mehmet, many of the Samsun Armenians were drowned in the Black Sea.[11] Others were deported from Samsun and ultimately massacred in provinces further south. After the Armenian Genocide, there remained eleven islamicized Armenians and two Armenian physicians. Armenian orphans who had survived were given to Turkish families

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Turkish liberation movement against the Allies in Samsun on May 19, 1919, the date which traditionally marks the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. Atatürk, appointed by the Ottoman government as Inspector of the Ninth Army Troops Inspectorate of the Empire in eastern Anatolia, left Constantinople aboard the now-famous SS Bandırma May 16 for Samsun. Instead of obeying the orders of the Ottoman government, then under the control of the occupying Allies, he and a number of colleagues declared the beginning of the liberation movement. Later in the War of Independence, the city was bombarded by the Greek Navy and the United States Navy.

Samsun, once known as Amisus, is the ancient port-city located on the edge of the Black Sea, in the Roman province of Pontus.[15] It was situated on the north of the trans-Anatolian highway that ran from the Mediterranean to the Black sea.[16] The estimated population of the city around 150 CE is between 20,000-25,000 people, classifying it as a relatively large city for that time.[17] The city functioned as the commercial capital for the province of Pontus; beating its rival Sinope (now Sinop) due to is position at the head of the trans-Anatolia highway [15]

Before Amisus was settled by the Milesians in the 6th century BCE,[18] it is believed that there was much Greek activity along the coast of the Black Sea predating the fragmentary archeological evidence of that time.[19] The only archaeological evidence we have as early as the 6th century is fragment of wild goat style Greek pottery, housed at the Louvre.[20] In the 5th century BC, Amisus became a free state after it was conquered by the Athenians [15] It was then renamed Peiraeus under Pericles.[21] In the 1st century BC Mithridates VI of Pontus- the Greek King of Pontus- was conquered by the Romans under Lucullus.[22] Pliny the Younger's address to the Emperor Trajanin the 1st century CE "By your indulgence, sir, they have the benefit of their own laws," is interpreted by John Boyle Orrery to indicate that the freedoms won for those in Pontus by the Romans was not pure freedom and depended on the generosity of the Roman emperor.[22] Around 46 BC, during the reign of Julius Cesar, Amisus became the capital of Roman Pontus.

Though the roots of the city are Hellenistic,[18] it was also one of the centers of an early Christian congregation.[18] Its function as a commercial metropolis in northern Asia Minor was a contributing factor to enable the spread of Christian influence. As a large port city –the commercial capital of Pontus [23] - travel to and from Christian hotbeds like Jerusalem was not uncommon.[24] According to Josephus, there was large Jewish diaspora in Asia Minor,.[25] Given that the early evangelist Christians focused on Jewish diaspora communities, and that the Jewish diaspora in Amisus was a geographically accessible group with a mixed heritage group, it is not surprising that Amisus would be an appealing site for evangelist work. The author of 1 Peter 1:1 addresses the Jewish diaspora of the province of Pontus, along with four other provinces: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” (Peter 1:1) As Amisus would have been the largest commercial port-city in the province, it is believed certain that the spread of Christianity in the region would have begun there.[25] In the 1st century Pliny the Younger documents accounts of Christians in and around the cities of Pontus.[26] His accounts center on his conflicts with the Christians when he served under the Emperor Trajan and describe early Christian communities, his condemnation of their refusal to renounce their religion, but also describes his tolerance for some Christian practices like Christian charitable societies.[27] Many great early Christian figures had connections to Amisus, including Caesarea MazacaGregory the Illuminator (raised as a Christian from 257 CE when he was brought to Amisus) and Basil the Great (Bishop of the city 330-379 CE).[28]

Christian bishops of Amisus include Antonius, who took part in the Council of Chalcedon in 451; Erythraeus, a signatory of the letter that the bishops of Helenopontus wrote to Emperor Leo I the Thracian after the killing of Patriarch Proterius of Alexandria; the late 6th-century bishop Florus, venerated as a saint in the Greek menologion; and Tiberius, who attended the Third Council of Constantinople (680), Leo, the Second Council of Nicaea (787), and Basilius, the Council of Constantinople of 879. The diocese is no longer mentioned in the Greek Notitiae Episcopatuum after the 15th century and thereafter the city was considered part of the see of Amasea. However, some Greek bishops of the 18th and 19th centuries bore the title of Amisus as titular bishops.[29] In the 13th century theFranciscans had a convent at Amisus, which became a Latin bishopric some time before 1345, when its bishop Paulus was transferred to the recently conquered city of Smyrna and was replaced by the Dominican Benedict, who was followed by an Italian Armenian called Thomas.[30] No longer a residential diocese, it is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.