previous next

TRAPEZOUS (Trabzon) Pontus, Turkey.

On the S coast of the Black Sea (Pontos Euxeinos), it was the N terminus of a trade route leading over the Zigana Pass from Armenia and the Euphrates, and the first Greek city to be reached by the Ten Thousand in 400 B.C. (Xen. Anab. 5.5.10). The foundation date given by Eusebius, 756-755 B.C., may refer to an early emporium in Colchian territory; if so, this was subsequently refounded (after 630 B.C.?) by Sinope, to whom Trapezous paid annual tribute. The city was added to the Pontic kingdom by Mithridates VI Eupator, and under Polemon II, if not before, it became the depot of the royal fleet. When the kingdom was annexed to Galatia as Pontus Polemonianus (A.D. 64-65), Polemon's fleet became the nucleus of the Roman classis Pontica, and Trapezous assumed increasing importance as a supply port for the Euphrates frontier. It was, nevertheless, still a harborless roadstead when visited by Hadrian (ca. A.D. 131), and it was described by Arrian at that period as culturally backward (Perip.P.E. 1.2 Roos). A harbor was built by Hadrian. The city was sacked by the Goths ca. A.D. 257 and was slow to recover. Legio I Pontica was based there in the Late Empire. The Byzantine period saw the old trade route regain importance, and in the 8th- 10th c. Trapezous was a major commercial center. The Empire of Trebizond, established 1204, fell to the Turks in 1461.

The walled city, on a coastal ridge at the foot of the Pontic mountains (Paryadres Mons), is cut off on E and W by two parallel steep-sided ravines. Some sectors of the walls rest on Hellenistic masonry, but most of the fabric is Byzantine. Below the citadel two moles of large undressed blocks are the only traces of Hadrian's harbor. In a suburb E of the citadel and S of the modern harbor the Church of Panaghia Theoskepastos occupies the site of a probable mithraeum.


F. & E. Cumont, Studia Pontica II (1906) 363-71; K. Lehmann-Hartleben, “Die antiken Hafenanlagen des Mittelmeeres,” Klio (1923) suppl. 14 (= NF 1) 199P.


hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: