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AMASTRIS (Amasra) Pontus, Turkey.

Founded in the early 4th c. B.C. by Amastris, queen of Herakleia Pontica, by the synoecism of four small Ionian colonies on the coast E of Herakleia: (1) Tios, which soon seceded; (2) Sesamos, center of the new city, later named Amastris; (3) Kromna, 40 km to the E, on Zeytin Burnu, W of Kurucalile; and (4) Kytoros, now Gideriz, 25 km E of Kromna. Its tyrant Eumenes presented the city of Amastris to Ariobarzanes of Pontus in ca. 265-260 B.C. rather than submit it to domination by Herakleia, and it remained in the Pontic kingdom until its capture by Lucullus in 70 B.C.

The original nucleus of the city itself was a peninsula and adjacent island (now linked by bridge) on the W side of a sheltered bay which formed the main harbor. This part of the city is covered by Genoese fortifications and the modern Turkish town. In the Roman period Amastris also extended inland over the little valley behind this bay, and the suburbs covered some of the lower hills. Roman buildings can still be traced for 1.5 km inland from the sea. The most impressive are a temple, and a warehouse 115 m long and three stories high. Other buildings, no longer visible, were recorded in the mid 19th c. The stream, “nomine quidem flumen, re vera cloaca foedissima,” covered over by Pliny (Ep. 10.98), still runs beneath a Roman vault. Four ancient moles protect the main harbor. A lesser harbor W of the city provided refuge from E gales. Inscriptions and architectural fragments are housed in the municipal museum. Four km S-SW of Amasra, at Kuşkaya, the Roman road from Bartin (Parthenia) runs on a rock-cut terrace, with associated inscriptions and relief sculpture.

The site of Kromna is marked by occupation material but no surviving buildings. Construction of the harbor offices at Kurucaşile revealed columns which now adorn the administrative buildings at Bartin. At Kytoros the remains of impressive harbor buildings used to be indicated by columns along the seashore.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

W. F. Ainsworth, Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Chaldea, and Armenia (1842) I 54-58; X. Hommaire de Hell, Voyage en Turquie et en Perse (1860) IV 389-92; W. von Diest, “Von Pergamon über den Dindymos zum Pontus,” PM 20 (1889) 69-71P; E. Mendel, “Inscription de Kytoros,” BCH 26 (1902) 287-88; K. Lehmann-Hartleben, “Die antiken Hafenanlagen des Mittelmeeres,” Klio Suppl. 14 (=NF 1) (1923) 131-32, plan XX; A. Gökoğlu, Paphlagonia (1952) 23.

D. R. WILSON

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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 10.98
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