Turkey Black Sea coast travel guide and destinations


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Sinop city travel
Sinop travel
situated on a narrow peninsula at Turkey’s northernmost point, Sinop is like a Black Sea island with its good-natured people and streets where time passes slowly.

pontian greek Development of the Pontic Greek Dialect
Development of the Pontic Greek Dialect
Will Pontic Greek continue to be spoken? Bortone (2009) believes Pontic Greek spoken in the Pontos in Asia Minor today will probably disappear. The challenge is to keep the Pontic Greek dialect alive. The more recent work of researchers like Emeritus Professor Peter Mackridge, Assistant Professor Pietro Bortone, Dr Theofanis Malkidis, Ömer Asan, Dr Anthi Revithiadou and Dr Vassilios Spyropoulos have increased our knowledge of the dialect.

Time For to Discover the Black Sea Highlands

Time For to Discover the Black Sea Highlands

Discover the Black Sea highlands in September when time is suddenly rent by a blanket of fog or the cry of a vulture, and make the acquaintance of nature in its most beautiful aspect.

Greek settlements pontos map
Formation of the First Greek Settlements in the Pontos

According to Liddell and Scott’s An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, the word Pontos stands for the sea, especially the open sea. In time, the word Pontos became associated with the north-eastern portion of Asia Minor that borders the Black Sea (see Map 1).1 The Greeks first called the Black Sea, Aξεινος πóντος (inhospitable, unfriendly pontos), but later it was called Εϋξεινος πóντος (hospitable pontos) when they became aware of its wealth in the lands around it ...

Chrypto-christians Trabzon Pontos Matsouka

Crypto-Christians of the Trabzon Region of Pontos

The crypto-Christians (also called cryphi, klosti, Stavriotes, Kromledes) were Christian Greeks who due to the Muslim persecution against Christians publicly declared themselves Muslims. However, in secret, they upheld their Greek language, customs and Christian religious practices...


Greek Penetration of the Black Sea

Gocha R. Tsetskhladze

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In 1948 R. Carpenter expressed his opinion that the Black Sea was closed to Greek sailors
before c. 680 BC and only with the development of the first powerfully oared vessel - the
pentekonter - were the Greeks able to pass through the Bosphorus, thus explaining why there
is no archaeological evidence of colonization in the Pontus area before about 680 BC
(Carpenter 1948). In response to this two articles appeared written by B. W. Labaree (1957)
and A. J. Graham (1958), in which it was demonstrated that the Greeks were able to sail into
the Black Sea. Graham based his thesis on information provided by ancient authors, to the
effect that the first Greek colonies - Sinope and Trapezus - had been founded as early as the
8th century BC. The lack of archaeological proof for such early dates he explains by the fact
that the region to the south of the Black Sea has not been investigated (Graham 1958, 31-3;
cf. Cook R. 1946, 71-2, 84). Soon more general works appeared whose authors were more
cautious in their approach to the question of the dating of the founding of the Greek colonies
on the Black Sea, trying to bring together written sources and archaeology (Roebuck 1959,
116-24; Cook J. 1962, 53-9; Huxley 1966, 64-9, etc.).
In 1971 Graham (1971, 39) reasserted his original position, and he was supported by R.
Drews (1976) who took Graham's ideas one stage further. The theory assumed its complete
form in the Chapter on colonization by Graham in CAH in 1982 (CAH, 122-30, 160-2).
Archaeologists had more confidence in archaeological material, placing the date of the
founding of the first colonies on the Black Sea in the second half of the 7th century.'
In 1990 the controversy flared up again and the opposed views of historians and
archaeologists were aired once more. Graham accepts the first date given for the founding of
Sinope by the Milesians, before 756, as found in Ps.-Skymnus (986-97), and accepts 756
(1990, 52-4; cf. CAH, 122-3) as the foundation date for Trapezus, colony of Sinope (Xen. An.
IV. 8. 22). In support of the appearance of Greeks in the Black Sea as early as the 8th century
he calls attention to early pottery (Graham 1990, 53^1) alleged to have been found in Histria
(the rim of an LG kotyle) (Graham 1990, 53; cf. Alexandrescu 1978a, 21, no. 15) identified
by J. N. Coldstream as a Euboean copy of a Corinthian type dated to c. 750-720 BC (1968,
377, no. 8). Another vessel is allegedly from Berezan (Graham 1990, 53). It is a small
Geometric hydria bought from a dealer (cf. Farmakovsky 1910, 227) called Attic or Atticizing by Coldstream (1968, 337, no. 7) and assigned by him to MG II (c. 800-760). Reference is also made to fragments of Cypriot "White Painted IV" ware from the Cypro-Archaic period (c. 740-660) found at Histria and Berezan (Graham 1990, 53-4; cf. Alexandrescu 1978a, 63, no. 256; Demetrion 1978).
In response to this J. Boardman published a short but very detailed article, in which he
clearly stated his purpose: "Whether there is any archaeological evidence for earlier [8th
century] exploration or settlement is another matter, but Graham has pressed claims which,
as I hope to show, cannot be upheld, since the dating of the pottery or its pedigree are either
wrong or too dubious to be taken seriously, however tempting they may seem" (1991, 387).
The author did, indeed, succeed in showing that the 'fact' that the vessel had been found in
Berezan and in a tomb was merely the assertion of a dealer, while excavation of that site over
many years had not produced any pottery earlier than the late 7th century. "In the
circumstances such a dealer's provenance should not be taken seriously" (Boardman 1991,
387; for the same opinion, see: Vinogradov Y. G. 1989, 35, Note 13). Fragments allegedly
originating from Histria, currently kept in the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge, were found in Al Mina, and it is possible "that an unlabelled fragment could move from one tray or box to another, in the course of an exercise in comparison of colonial pottery" (Boardman 1991, 387-8). This opinion was supported by Professor R. M. Cook of Cambridge, who catalogued the fragments in 1961, despite the fact that the fragments had been acquired in 1950. "It seemed to Cook improbable that an excavator [Mme Lambrino] who was also a pottery expert would have given away what was obviously the earliest piece from the site" (Boardman 1991, 387). Moreover, the Cypro-Archaic pottery is of the "Cypro-Archaic II" period, which may bring it well down into the 6th century (Boardman 1991, 389).2
After this it might have appeared that the questions concerned had all been clarified, but
Graham, who considers that "it is bad method to prefer an archaeological argumentum e
silentio to statements in literary sources" (CAH, 123), in December 1993 stressed in his paper
in Washington entitled "Greek and Roman settlements on the Black Sea Coasts. Historical
Background" that archaeologists were unable to agree amongst themselves over the chronology of pottery: while criticizing Boardman's article in OJA, he expressed his mistrust of archaeologists and once again repeated his opinion regarding the appearance of the Greeks in the Black Sea in the 8th century BC.3 He agreed, however, that the Histria pottery should be disregarded, and implied that Boardman had "re-dated" the Cypriot pottery, which is not the case.
What lies behind this controversy? The answer is simple: written sources are contradictory
and offer differing dates for the founding of one and the same Greek cities. The value of such
information has long been exhausted. In archaeology the situation is far from ideal. No strict
chronology for early Greek pottery has been elaborated; the Greek cities on the southern coasts of the Black Sea have not yet been investigated for a number of objective and subjective reasons. 'Western' scholars use, to a limited degree, the achievements and publications of new material from the excavations of the last decade undertaken by 'eastern' archaeologists. At the same time 'eastern' scholars have only had access to 'western' literature for the last three to five years.4 Yet more important is the fact that in the archaeology of the Black Sea, owing to the limited range and character of the archaeological material now available, there are more questions being asked than answers being found. This region of the ancient world is today a hotbed of 'scholarly wars' in which virtually every scholar indulges his own subjective opinion. We are, at present, too far removed from the conclusion of a general academic cease-fire in this region.5
Early and Precolonial Contacts

The tribes that inhabited the Black Sea region had enjoyed some kind of contact with the
Aegean world since the beginning of the second millennium BC. No Mycenaean pottery has
been found along the Black Sea coast and finds at Masat, inland from Samsun (shoulder of
an LH IIIA2 stirrup jar) (Mellink 1984, 445; 1985, 558; Mee 1978, 132-3), cannot be seen
as penetration from the Black Sea: they are more likely to have made their way there overland
(French 1982, with extensive bibliography on the problem).6 Some Mycenaean-type objects
are known from West and North-West Pontic areas: swords, spears and double axes of
Mycenaean types (Bouzek 1985, 31-5, 41-6, 213-4; 1990, 13-5). Aegean swords have been
found in Transcaucasia, gold roundels of the Shaft Graves period and double-axes (Bouzek
1985, 35, 46, 82). These finds do not demonstrate Mycenaean colonization of the Black Sea
and are probably the result of royal trade (along the Danube and in the Transcaucasian region), which included, among the commodities, amber (Kilian 1990, 465).
Stone anchors of the second half of the second and beginning of the first millennia BC at
many points on the Bulgarian coast (Ropotamo, Masalen Nos, Kaliakra, Sozopol, Nesebar)
have given rise to the view that native Thracian chieftains sponsored sailing along the coast,
both long before and after the Greek settlements.7 Some scholars see these as a sign that Greek sailors penetrated as far as the Black Sea as early as the Late Bronze Age (Bouzek 1990, 13; cf. Nibbi 1993).
The eastern part of the Black Sea region, where Greek colonies appeared as early as the
mid-6th century, provides material to justify the assumption that there were precolonial links
in the 8th-7th centuries. This includes the so-called Caucasian bronze arc-shaped fibulae,
which probably appeared there in the 8th century: Greek fibulae clearly played a large part
their evolution, giving rise to the emergence in the Caucasus of a local north-eastern
in variant, and it is evident that the Greek models must have made their way to the region along the southern coasts of the Black Sea (Bouzek 1983, 204-5; 1985, 153; 1990, 15; Voronov 1983). For a long time bronze figurines of a sleeping woman holding a child to her breast, from Samos (Jantzen 1972, 80-5) and Nigvziani (Mikeladze 1985, 59-62; 1990, 63-6), and small bronze bells from Samos, were believed to have been made in the Caucasus (Jantzen 1972, 80-5; Boardman 1980, 240-1). M. Voyatzis, however, has doubts about this and sees the figurine from Samos as being of local Greek origin (1992, 262-9). Clay figurines depicting two- and three-headed fantastic animals from Vani, dating from the 8th-7th centuries, are also of debatable origin. It is difficult to form a clear opinion: they could have been made under the influence of Luristan bronzes, or that of the Greek world, where they are known from the 8th-7th centuries on (Lordkipanidze 1991, 150-9, pi. 2a, b; Tolordava 1990, 243-7, 298-301).
It is unlikely that these early relations were of any regular kind (Buchholz 1983). It can
be assumed, with a good deal of probability, that the Greeks knew the Black Sea as early as
the 8th century BC. This is indicated both by archaeological material from Georgia, and by
the first information about Pontus in Greek literature (Eumelus, fr. 2; Hesiod., Theog., 337-340). Thus the 8th century appears to have been a time of exploration (Huxley 1990,
Greek mythological tradition links the first contacts between the Greeks and the peoples
of Pontus in the story of the Argonauts' voyage to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece.
Some scholars place this myth in the category of those that reflect history, and believe that
the voyage took place before the Trojan War. They support this idea by reference to the fact
that Homer mentions the myth (Lordkipanidze 1966, 9-18; 1986, 15-47; Urushadze 1980,
21-28, etc.).8 They consider it to have been second only in its popularity to that of the Trojan
War (Lordkipanidze 1979, 4), and they are even convinced that the "Journey of the Argonauts
was a journey after gold!" (Lordkipanidze 1984, 43).
I should like to approach this myth9 from the archaeologist's viewpoint, to determine
whether or not it was so popular. It is unjustified from the methodological point of view to
see the myth as a reflection of reality - this question is too delicate and complex (Brillante
1990; Sourvinou-Inwood 1987; Thomas E. 1976; Thomas C. 1993, etc.) - especially when we
have it most fully presented only in Hellenistic poetry, when the Greeks were already well
acquainted with Colchis.
Virtually all scholars, apart from the Georgians, maintain that the land of Aia, where the
Golden Fleece was to be found, had no real geographical existence. For them, it is one of
those fantastic countries at the edge of the world, which include the Isles of the Blessed, the
Gardens of the Hesperides, the Island of Erytheia, the mythical Ethiopia, most of the countries
visited by Odysseus, the Dionysiac Nysa, Plato's Atlantis, etc. With the growth of rationalism,
attempts were made to identify all these places. Since Aia was imagined to lie somewhere in
the North and at the same time in the East (closer to sunrise), it was finally identified with
Colchis. The word aia is found in poetic speech signifying 'earth, country' - but, of course,
a fabulous region must have borne a less abstract, more expressive proper name. Moreover,
the Odyssey describes another locality with a very similar name, the island of Aiaie, where
Aeetes' sister, the sorceress Circe, lived (Cook J. 1962, 52; Astour 1967, 283-8; Huxley 1969,
60-79; Boltunova 1976, etc.).
When did the identification of Aia with Colchis take place? Eumelus (c. 700) is the earliest
witness to its localization in Colchis beside the River Phasis, which traditionally marked the
eastern boundary of the known world. This identification points to the period of increasing
exploration and colonization, when a New World was fitted to old perceptions. The
identification was probably arbitrary. For Eumelus (fr. 2) the River Phasis was the eastern
border of the known world, and in the myth of the Argonauts Aia was also the eastern
kingdom. This identity probably became more credible only thanks to Herodotus (VII. 193)
in the 5th century, when it was already known to the Greeks that Colchis, like the mythical
Aia, was a 'gold-rich' country. It was then that the wealth of gold and the Golden Fleece
merged together for the Greeks of Colchis, as a single concept and image.10
To determine whether the myth of the Argonauts was as widely popular as it is held to
have been by Georgian scholars, we must turn to visual art." In architectural sculpture the
only scenes linked with the Argonauts are on the so-called Sicyonian Treasury at Delphi, of
the second quarter of the 6th century (Ridgway B. 1966, 196-7; 1993, 341-2; Szeliga 1986;
Griffin 1982, 92-119; cf. Voyatzis 1982, 32-3). These need not be explained with reference to the myth's popularity or to links with Colchis itself. Such travel myths found their first
monumental expression in the western areas of colonization and in the great pan-Hellenic
sanctuaries, especially Delphi, once the oracle assumed the role of leader of colonists
(Ridgway B. 1991; Penglase 1994, 8).
Some twenty general scenes from the voyage have been found dating from the 5th-2nd
centuries BC (LIMC 2, 593-7; Simon 1990, 227-9; Olmos 1990, 231-4). Jason was depicted
57 times. The early depictions date from around 600, as does that on a Corinthian vase. Most
date from the 5th-4th centuries (LIMC 5, 630—7). Medea was more popular in Roman than
Greek art. Only about ten depictions of her are known in Greek art and six on Etruscan vases.
The early depictions on Etruscan vases date from 630-600, the early Greek ones from 530 BC, while the rest are of the 5th-4th centuries (LIMC 6, 388-95; Sourvinou-Inwood 1990).
Altogether approximately 93 depictions of subjects from the myth are known.13 It must be
judged poorly illustrated. Several vase paintings indicate versions of myths that are lost or
almost lost in literature (Schefold 1992, 183-97). Jason does not seem to be a very common
figure - he was an anti-hero (presented as such by Apollonius Rhodius), helpless (LIMC 5,
630). It was only thanks to Medea, a barbarian princess, that he was able to bring the Golden
Fleece to Greece and, again thanks to her, become king of Corinth. Medea - a murderess with
a tragic destiny from a barbarian world - was better known to the Greeks via tragedy (Kerenyi
1979, IO-^Q). The majority of the depictions are from the 5th century, which again serves to
underline that Aia was probably then first identified with Colchis. So the myth could not
reflect any voyage to the Black Sea allegedly undertaken by Greeks in the 13th century.14 We
frequently want to believe the myths of the Greeks more than they did themselves (Breamer
1987; Penglase 1994, 9-14; Henrichs 1987; Buxton 1994, 155-68).
Penetration of the Black Sea region by the Greeks began in the second half of the 7th
century (Fig. 7.1 overleaf). This is linked in the main with the colonizing endeavours of
Miletus, which was reputed to have possessed as many as 75 or even 90 colonies. In the
words of Strabo: "the city [Miletus] is known to many, and mainly thanks to the large number
of its colonies, since the whole of Pontus Euxinus, Propontis and many other places have been settled by Milesians" (XIV. 1. 6). What follows is a series of observations on some aspects of the three archaic stages of Milesian colonization.15
The First Greek Colonies
The question as to the identity of the first Greek colonies in the Black Sea is controversial.
Some scholars have more faith in written sources (Graham 1958; CAH; Drews 1976), and
others in archaeological ones (Boardman 1980, 242); the controversy focuses on Sinope. We have accounts by two ancient authors Eusebius and Pseudo-Skymnus. Most troublesome is the 756 foundation-date given by Eusebius (II. 81) for Trapezus and, by implication, a date thereabouts for Sinope, its mother city. Eusebius, however, dates the foundation of Sinope to the 37th Olympiad (631/630). Pseudo-Skymnus (941-952) mentions an earlier foundation of Sinope by Habrondas, which was destroyed by the Kimmerians, to be refounded later by two exiles from Miletus, Kretinus and Kous, when the Kimmerians were pillaging Asia. Some scholars consider that Sinope was founded in the first half of the 8th century BC by the Corinthians, others that it was founded by the second half of the 7th century, and a third group by the end of the 7th century, and so on (Hind 1988; Kacharava and Kvirkveliya 1991,
Without dwelling on the Kimmerian advance into Asia I should like to draw attention to
one point. Virtually all scholars refer to the account by Herodotus (I. 15; 104; 109) and hold
that the Kimmerians used the Maeoto-Colchian (eastern) route. The second account, which
deserves our confidence, is usually ignored, namely Strabo's (I. 3. 21). According to Strabo
the Kimmerians advanced along the western shore of the Black Sea. Archaeological material
supports this. The most important question is also controversial - identification of Kimmerian
culture (Sulimirski 1960; Kvirkveliya 1985; Ivantchik 1993). Thus it is inappropriate to speak
of two different Sinopes - Sinope I and Sinope II - in other words of the founding of Sinope
in two stages: before and after the Kimmerian campaign. It is unlikely that one controversial
issue will be resolved with the help of another.

Fig. 7.1 Map of the Black Sea showing major Greek cities.

Excavation at Sinope (modern Sinop), which occupies a peninsula site with a superb
harbour, is complicated by the fact that it has since been built over. Smallscale excavations
have unearthed a cemetery. The pottery from the graves is largely from East Greece with a
little Corinthian. All pottery dates from the late-7th century to a little after 600 BC and the
Phrygian pottery that has been found attests to close relations with the peoples of the interior.

The same can be said of Amisos (Samsun) (Akurgal and Budde 1956, 9; Boysal 1959; Hind
1964, 174-5; 1984, 95; Boardman 1980, 254-5).16 We have no archaeological information
about Trapezus. G. Huxley's recent study shows that "neither excavations nor Eusebian
chronography confirm the notion of 8th-century settlement at Trapezus" (Huxley 1990, 200).17
Among the earliest Milesian colonies in the Black Sea region are Histria in the West and
Berezan in the North. They were both founded on peninsulae, were well protected and had
convenient harbours.18 Written sources offer a variety of dates. For Histria it is 656/5
(Eusebius) and the end of the 7th century (Pseudo-Skymnus).
Excavation in Histria has yielded 36 items of Middle Wild Goat Class pottery, which go
back to c. 630 BC, between the dates given by the literary sources. In any case, Histria
appears to have been a fully viable centre at the end of the 7th century (Alexandrescu 1978a,
19; 1978b; Bouzek 1990, 21-5; Coja 1990, 160; Dmitriu and Alexandrescu 1973; Dupont
The settlement on Berezan, which was identified with Borysthenites (cf. Hdt. IV. 17; 24;
78)19 is given a foundation date of 646/5 by Eusebius. The earliest examples of East Greek
pottery found on the modern island of Berezan can be dated to the second quarter of the 7th
century: they are, however, very few and scattered (fragments of kylikes with birds and
geometric decoration) (Kopeikina 1973, 240). The bulk of the pottery dates from the second
half of the 7th century. All the fragments were found in occupation deposits: L. Kopeikina
provides the following numbers for fragments of different classes of archaic pottery from the
1962-79 excavations, sector G and the NW sector together: Wild Goat (Milesian, Clazomenian and North Ionian) - 1083; Fikellura - 200; Chiot - 123; Ionian banded-ware - 536; Clazomenian Black Figure - 43; Corinthian - 125; Attic Black-Figured - 552; Attic
Red-Figured - 8 (Kopeikina 1986, 42). This pottery shows that the settlement was founded
by the Milesians no later than the third quarter of the 7th century and possibly nearer the
middle of it (Kopeikina 1979, 107).
The first settlers lived in dugouts or semi-dugouts. The 1989 excavation revealed a
rectangular pit-shelter (no. 51) 3.8 x 5.0m and 1m deep. East Greek painted pottery dates this
complex to the last quarter of the 7th century, making it the earliest reliably dated habitation
area on the site (Treister and Vinogradov 1993, 539). An important find was a hoard of coins,
which included coins of Miletus dating from the last third of the 7th century (Karyshkovskii
and Lapin 1979).
The question as to the nature of the settlement on the modern island of Berezan is
controversial. The scholars most likely to have resolved this problem consider that the
settlement had been an emporion (Kopeikina 1979, 109; cf. Vinogradov Y. G. 1989, 60-62).
This is borne out by the fact that in the 7th century the settlement did not have its own
agricultural area - chora. Fragments of early pottery have been found deep in Berezan's
hinterland (Nemirov, Trachtemirov, etc.) (Boardman 1980, 243-4).

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