(Sainsat) SW Anatolia.
is cited in a Latin inscription as Samosate (CIL
1409). On the coins from the time of Hadrian to that
of Philippos (244-49) it appears as Samosateon. The
ruins are located 140 km S of modern Malatya and on
the W bank of the Euphrates (Ptol. Bell
The city was at the crossroads of five important routes
going to Melentenis (Melitene), Comana, Heracome,
Tarsa, and Zeugma. Today the Euphrates passes some
500 m from the city as it has changed its course.
Founded on a plain bordered by high mountains at
the NW and the Euphrates at the SE, it controlled Euphrates traffic. It is divided into two parts, the lower city
and the acropolis (Lucian De Hist. Conscrib
. 24), which
is somewhat conical in shape, 45 m above the level of
the plain. In both parts of the settlement, remains of
the city walls, of different heights, can still be seen.
The acropolis (approximately 250 x 150 m) is situated in
the S part of the city. Little was to be seen before the excavations. The necropolis, in the N and NE part of the
city, was covered with alluvial deposits of the river. In
some parts of the city walls Roman opus reticulatum,
which is very rare in this area, can clearly be seen.
For the earlier phases of the settlement we have little
information, but a stele from the Hittite period and
the pottery collected from the surface indicate earlier
habitation than Roman. Samosata was the capital of
Commagene, which is cited as the Land of Qummuh in
Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions. Lucullus in 69 ac. and
Ventidius in 38 B.C. occupied the province, but it is not
known whether Samosata was also occupied at these
times. In A.D. 17 Samosata became a Roman province
and Caligula appointed Antiochos IV as king of Commagene and perpetuator of the native dynasty. Later,
in the time Vespasian, L. Caesennius Paetus, consul of
Syria, with the permission of the emperor, attacked
Commagene; and Antiochos left Samosata. Vespasian
then stationed the 16th Legio Flavia in the city (Cass. Dio
55.24.3; Ptol. 5.14.8). Samosata was mentioned once
again, during Trajan's (A.D. 114) Parthian raid, and
in A.D. 120 was the birthplace of the famous satirist
Lucian. For a short time after Diocletian, the region
was called Euphratesia (Amm. Marc. 14.8.7 Eufratensis). At the time of Justinian the Arabs attacked and
occupied the area extending from Samosata and its environs to Edessa. After the 7th c. Commagene became a province of the Islamic world.
In 1964 soundings were made at the city gate called
Urfa Kapisi, SE of the modern village and on the S
end of the acropolis. Excavations were carried out in
1967 and 1970, and at the top a typical fortress settlement composed of magazines, halls, kitchens, baths, and
several rooms were cleaned out. On the mound Roman
terra sigillata have been found.
(1841) 224ff; W. F.
Ainsworth, A Personal Narrative of the Euphrates Expedition
(1888) I 195f; Humann-Puchstein, Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien
(1890) 181ff; Weissbach, RE
Ia (1920); M. Mellink 74 AJA
(1970) p. 280 no. 3.