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COMANA PONTICA Pontus, Turkey.

Site of the temple of Ma, in the valley of the Yeşil Irmak (Iris fl.), 11 km upstream from Tokat on the road to Niksar (Neocaesarea). The cult of Ma, identified with the Roman Bellona, was derived from Comana in Cappadocia, an old Hittite sanctuary. The priest of Ma ranked second to the king of Pontus and wore a diadem; the temple had 6000 serfs, including sacred prostitutes. Comana Pontica was both a trading center for goods from Armenia and a resort. In Pompey's settlement of Pontus (64 B.C.) Comana became an independent principality, and it so remained under a succession of Roman nominees until it was annexed to Pontus Galaticus in A.D. 33-34 or 34-35. Its importance as a religious center was marked by adopting the additional name Hierocaesarea in or before the reign of Titus. Comana's territory included the plains of Kazova and Tokatovasi (Dazimonitis) on the Yeşil Irmak as well as Artova farther to the S. The natural center of this region is not Comana but Tokat (Dazimon), and after Comana had ceased to be a major religious site, with the triumph of Christianity, it lost its ancient local importance also.

The actual site of Comana Pontica is a low natural hill beside the bridge called Gömenek Köprüsü. The Kazova irrigation canal cuts through the edge of this hill. Eight columns of gray marble now supporting the porch of the 16th c. mosque of Ali Paşa at Tokat may well be derived from the tetrastyle temple of the goddess Ma. The Roman bridge and post-Roman buildings recorded at Comana in the 19th c. no longer survive. A number of inscribed stones from Comana are now in the museum at Tokat.


W. F. Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor, Pontus, and Armenia (1842) I 349-50; J.G.C. Anderson, Studia Pontica I (1903) 63-67; F. & E. Cumont, Studia Pontica II (1906) 248-53, pl.


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