MAIASP. 2023. No. 15

Temür Akın (Samsun, Turkey)

Two Pontos castles in Vezirköprü, reg. Samsun: Büyükkale (Sagylion) and Küçükkale

DOI: 10.53737/6909.2023.99.33.004

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Pages: 121—141

Vezirköprü, the district of Samsun, is an area of a continuous sedentism for millennia, from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age until the present, due to its location at an important crossroads, with wide plains and numerous streams all around, and a landscape suitable for settled life. Being a village named Phazemon, in Strabo’s words, the site gained the identity of a city with the Roman domination in the region and took the name Neoklaudiopolis (Neapolis). The city has witnessed many wars and showed that it had an important strategic position. Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus, was the biggest enemy of Roman domination in Anatolia back then. In Pontus’s coastal parts, castles have already been known, while those in the inner parts of the region have not been adequately researched. Büyükkale and Küçükkale, which are the scope of the paper, are among the latter. Both castles display many things of traditional Mithridatic fortification, with castle walls, rock tunnels, stairs, and tombs. The one in Büyükkale is identified with Sagylion of old written accounts. The castles under study have not yet been published elsewhere, and the paper is expected to contribute to the illumination of the construction activity of the Pontic Kingdom and the Hellenistic Period in Vezirköprü.

Key words: Black Sea studies, Samsun, Vezirköprü, Neoklaudiopolis, Büyükkale, Sagylion, Küçükkale, Pontic Kingdom, stepped tunnel, rock tomb.

Received July 24, 2023.

Accepted for publication August 5, 2023.

About the author:

Temür Akın (Samsun, Turkey). Doctor of Archaeology, Ondokuz Mayıs University.