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AMA´SIA (Ἀμάσεια, Ἀμασία: Eth. Ἀμασεύς: Amasia, Amasiah, or Amásíyah), a town of Pontus, on the river Iris, or Yeshil Ermak. The origin of the city is unknown. It was at one time the residence of the princes of Pontus, and after-wards appears to have been a free city under the Romans till the time of Domitian. It is said that all the coins to the time of Domitian have only the epigraph Amaseia or Amasia, but that from this time they bear the effigy and the name of a Roman emperor. The coins from the time of Trajan bear the title Metropolis, and. it appears to have been the chief city of Pontus.

Amasia was the birthplace of the geographer Strabo, who describes it in the following words (p. 561): “our city lies in a deep and extensive gorge, through which the river Iris flows; and it is wonder-fully constructed both by art and by nature, being adapted to serve the purpose both of a city and of a fort. For there is a lofty rock, steep on all sides, and descending abruptly to the river; this rock has its wall in one direction on the brink of the river, at that part where the city is connected with it; and in the other direction, the wall runs up the hill on each side to the heights; and the heights (κορνφαί) are twos naturally connected with one As Ptolemy another, very strongly fortified by towers; and within this enclosure are the palace and the tombs of the kings; but the heights have a very narrow neck, the ascent to which is an altitude of 5 or 6 stadia on each side as one goes up from the bank of the river and the suburbs; and from the neck to the heights there remains another ascent of a stadium, steep and capable of resisting any attack; the rock also contains (ἔχει, not ἐκεῖ) within it water-cisterns (ὑδρεῖα) which an enemy cannot get possession of (ἀναφαίρετα, the true reading, not ἀναφέρεται), there being two galleries cut, one leading to the river, and the other to the neck; there are bridges over the river, one from the city to the suburb, and another from the suburb to the neighbouring country, for at the point where this bridge is the mountain terminates, which lies above the rock.” This extract presents several difficulties. Groskurd, in his German version, mistakes the sense of two passages (ii. p. 499).

Amasia has been often visited by Europeans, but the best description is by Hamilton (Researches in Asia Minor, &c. vol. i. p. 366), who gives a view of the place. He explains the remark of Strabo about the 5 or 6 stadia to mean “the length of the road by which alone the summit can be reached,” for owing to the steepness of the Acropolis it is necessary to ascend by a circuitous route. And this is clearly the meaning of Strabo, if we keep closely to his text. Hamilton erroneously follows Cramer (Asia Minor, vol. i. p. 302) in giving the version, “the summits have on each side a very narrow neck of land;” for the words “on each side” refer to the ascent to the “neck,” as Groskurd correctly understands it. Hamilton found two “Hellenic towers of beautiful construction” on the heights, which he considers to be the κορυφαί of Strabo. But the greater part of the walls now standing are Byzantine or Turkish. Indeed we learn from Procopius (de Aedif. 3.7), that Justinian repaired this place. Hamilton observes: “the κορνφαί were not, as I at first imagined, two distinct points connected by a narrow intermediate ridge, but one only, from which two narrow ridges extend, one to t north, and the other to the east, which last terminates abruptly close to the river.” But Strabo clearly means two κορυφαί and he adds that they are naturally united (συμφυεῖς). It is true that he does not say that the neck unites them. This neck is evidently a narrow ridge of steep ascent along which a. man must pass to reach the κορυφαί.

The ὑδρεῖα were cisterns to which there was access by galleries (σύριγγες). Hamilton explored a passage, cut in the rock, down wa c h he descended about 300 feet, and found a “small pool of clear cold water.” The wall round this pool, which appeared to have been originally much deeper, was of Hellenic masonry, which he also observed in some parts of the descent. This appears to be one of the galleries mentioned by Strabo. The other gallery was cut to the neck, says Strabo, but he does not say from where. We may conclude, however, that it was cut from the κορυφαί to the ridge, and that the other was a continuation which led down to the well. Hamilton says: “there seem to have been two of these covered passages or galleries at Amasia, one of which led from the κορυφαί or summits in an easterly direction to the ridge, and the other from the ridge into the rocky hill in a northerly direction. The former, however is not excavated in the rock, [p. 1.118]like the latter, but is built of masonry above ground, yet equally well concealed.”

The tombs of the kings are below the citadel to the south, five in number, three to the west, and two to the east. The steep face of the rock has been artificially smoothed. “Under the three smaller tombs . . . . are considerable remains of the old Greek walls, and a square tower built in the best Hellenic style.” These walls can also be traced up the hill towards the west, and are evidently those described by Strabo, as forming the peribolus or enclosure within which were the royal tombs. (Hamilton.) The front wall of an old medresseh at Amasia is built of ancient cornices, friezes, and architraves, and on three long stones which form the sides and architrave of the entrance there are fragments of Greek inscriptions deep cut in large letters. Hamilton does not mention a temple which is spoken of by one traveller of little credit.

The territory of Amasia was well wooded, and adapted for breeding horses and other animals; and the whole of it was well suited for the habitation of man. A valley extends from the river, not very wide at first, but it afterwards grows wider, and forms the plain which Strabo calls Chiliocomon, and this was succeeded by the districts of Diacopene and Pimolisene, all of which is fertile as far as the Halys. These were the northern parts of the territory, and extended 500 stadia in length. The southern portion was much larger, and extended to Babonomon and Ximene, which district also reached to the Halys. Its width from north to south reached to Zelitis and the Great Cappadocia as far as the Trocmi. In Ximene rock salt was dug. Hamilton procured at Amasia a coin of Pimolisa, a place from which the district Pimolisene took its name, in a beautiful state of preservation.

The modern town stands on both sides of the river; it has 3970 houses, all mean; it produces some silk. (London Geog. Jour. vol. x. p. 442.)


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