Pontus


Pontus

Pontus (Greek: "polytonic|Πόντος") is a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea located in modern day Turkey. "Pontos" (the main) following the exploration and the colonization of the Anatolian and other Black Sea cities by the Ionian Greeks beginning about the end of the Greek Dark Ages. The name eventually became more specific to the area of northeast Anatolia in late classical times. In modern Greek it can refer to either. Today it is located in Turkey.

Pontus is the most northeasterly district of Asia Minor, along the southern coast of the Euxine, east of the river Halys, having originally no specific name, was spoken of as the country en Pontôi, “on the Pontus” (Euxinus), and hence acquired the name of Pontus, which is first found in Xenophon's Anabasis.

Geography

The Black Sea region, loosely called Pontus by various scholars, has a steep, rocky coast with rivers that cascade through the gorges of the coastal ranges. A few larger rivers, those cutting back through the Pontic Mountains ("Doğu Karadeniz Dağları"), have tributaries that flow in broad, elevated basins. Access inland from the coast is limited to a few narrow valleys because mountain ridges, with elevations of 1,525 to 1,800 m in the west and 3,000 to 4,000 m in the east in Kaçkar Mountains, form an almost unbroken wall separating the coast from the interior. The higher slopes facing southwest tend to be densely wet. Because of these natural conditions, the Black Sea coast historically has been isolated from the Anatolian interior proper.

Pontus was a mountainous country—wild and barren in the east, where the great chains approach the Euxine; but in the west watered by the great rivers Halys and Iris, and their tributaries, the valleys of which, [p. 1301] as well as the land along the coast, are extremely fertile. The eastern part was rich in minerals, and contained the celebrated iron mines of the Chalybes.

The area is known for its fertility. Cherries were supposed to have bought from Pontus to Europe in 72 BC. [CathEncy|wstitle=Pontus]

History

The inhabitants of Pontus were called generically Leucosyri (q.v.). [Meyer, Geschichte d. Königr. Pontos (Leipzig,1879) [http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999%2e04%2e0062&query=id%3dpontus#id,pontus] ] .

Kingdom of Pontus

The term did get a definite connotation of being a separate state after the establishment of "The kingdom of Pontus", beyond the Halys River (Kızıl river). The Persian dynasty which was to found this kingdom had during the fourth century B.C. ruled the Greek city of Cius (or Kios) in Mysia, with its first known member being Ariobarzanes I of Cius and the last ruler based in the city being Mithridates II of Cius. Mithridates II's son, also called Mithridates, would become Mithradates I Ktistes of Pontus ("Ktistes" meaning "The Founder").

During the troubled period following the death of Alexander the Great, Mithradates Ktistes was for a time in the service of Antigonus, one of Alexander's successors, and successfully maneuvering in this unsettled time managed, shortly after 302 BC, to create the Kingdom of Pontus which would be ruled by his descendants mostly bearing the same name, till 64 BC. Thus, this Persian dynasty managed to survive and prosper in the Hellenistic world while the main Persian Empire had fallen.

As the greater part of this kingdom lay within the immense region of Cappadocia, which in early ages extended from the borders of Cilicia to the Euxine (Black Sea), the kingdom as a whole was at first called "Cappadocia towards the Pontus", but afterwards simply "Pontus," the name Cappadocia being henceforth restricted to the southern half of the region previously included under that title.

This kingdom reached its greatest height under Mithridates VI or Mithradates Eupator, commonly called the Great, who for many years carried on war with the Romans. Under him, the realm of Pontus included not only Pontic Cappadocia but also the seaboard from the Bithynian frontier to Colchis, part of inland Paphlagonia, and Lesser Armenia.

Roman province

With the subjection of this kingdom by Pompey in 64 BC, in which little changed in the structuring of life, neither for the oligarchies that controlled the cities nor for the common people in city or hinterland, the meaning of the name Pontus underwent a change. Part of the kingdom was now annexed to the Roman Empire, being united with Bithynia in a double province called Pontus and Bithynia: this part included only the seaboard between Heraclea (Ereğli) and Amisus (Samsun), the "ora Pontica".

Hereafter the simple name Pontus without qualification was regularly employed to denote the half of this dual province, especially by Romans and people speaking from the Roman point of view; it is so used almost always in the New Testament. The eastern half of the old kingdom was administered as a client kingdom together with Colchis. Its last king was Polemon II.

In AD 62, the country was constituted by Nero a Roman province. It was divided into the three districts: "Pontus Galaticus" in the west, bordering on Galatia; "Pontus Polemoniacus" in the centre, so called from its capital Polemonium; and "Pontus Cappadocius" in the east, bordering on Cappadocia (Armenia Minor).

With the reorganization of the provincial system under Diocletian (about AD 295), the Pontic districts were divided up between four provinces of the "Dioecesis Pontica":
#"Paphlagonia", to which was attached most of the old province Pontus
#"Diospontus", renamed "Helenopontus" by Constantine the Great after his mother, containing the rest of the province Pontus and the adjoining district, eight cities in all (including Sinope, Amisus and Zela) with Amasea as capital
#"Pontus Polemoniacus", containing Comana, Argyroupolis, Polemonium, Cerasus and Trapezus with Neocaesarea as capital
#"Armenia Minor", five cities, with Sebasteia as capital.

Emperor Justinian further reorganized the system in 536:
#"Pontus Polemoniacus" was dissolved, with the western part (Polemonium and Neocaesarea) going to Helenopontus, Comana going to the new province of "Armenia II", and the rest (Trapezus and Cerasus)joining the new province of "Armenia I Magna"
#"Helenopontus" gained Polemonium and Neocaesarea, and lost Zela to '"Armenia II". The provincial governor was renamed to "moderator".
#"Paphlagonia" absorbed "Honorias" and was put under a "praetor".

This rearrangement gave place in turn to the Byzantine system of military districts (themes) in the late 7th century.

Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Empire

Pontus continued to be an autonomous state under the Imperial rule of Constantinople through most of the history of the Byzantine Empire. Its fall gave rise to the Empire of Trebizond, which existed in the area from 1204 to 15 August 1461. After that, the name Pontus was preserved as a state within the Ottoman Empire.

ee also

*Pontic language
*Pontic Greeks
*Lazistan
*Laz people
*Cheveneburi
*Ajarians
*Amazons (mythological women warriors)
*Pontic Greek Genocide
* [http://www.greek-genocide.org/ The Greek Genocide 1914-23]

Notes and References

*Ramsay MacMullen, 2000. "Romanization in the Time of Augustus" (Yale University Press)


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