Pontus

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This article is about the geographic location. For the Greek god, see Pontus (mythology).
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A man in traditional clothes from Trabzon, illustration

Pontus (Greek Πόντος) is the name which was applied, in ancient times, to extensive tracts of country in the northeast of Anatolia (or 'Asia Minor' ) bordering on the Euxine (Black Sea), which was often called simply Pontos (the main), by the Greeks, after the colonisation of the Anatolian and other Black Sea shores by the Ionian Greeks. The exact signification of this purely territorial name varied greatly at different times. The Greeks used it loosely to denote various parts of the shores of the Euxine, and the term did not get a definite connotation of being a separate state until after the establishment of the 'kingdom of Pontus', founded beyond the Halys during the troubled period following the death of Alexander the Great, shortly after 302 BC, by Mithradates I Ktistes, son of Mithridates II of Kios (Mysia) a Persian ruler in the service of Antigonus, one of Alexander's successors. The kingdom of Pontus was henceforth ruled by a succession of kings, mostly bearing the same name, till 64 BC.

As the greater part of this kingdom lay within the immense region of Cappadocia, which in early ages extended from the borders of Cilicia to the Euxine, the kingdom as a whole was at first called "Cappadocia towards the Pontus", but afterwards simply "Pontus," the name Cappadocia being henceforth restricted to the southern half of the region previously included under that title. Under the last king, Mithradates Eupator, commonly called the Great, the realm of Pontus included not only Pontic Cappadocia but also the seaboard from the Bithynian frontier to Colchis, part of inland Paphlagonia, and Lesser Armenia. With the subjection of this kingdom by Pompey in 64 BC, in which little changed in the structuring of life, neither for the oligarchies that controlled the cities nor for the common people in city or hinterland, the meaning of the name Pontus underwent a change. Part of the kingdom was now annexed to the Roman Empire, being united with Bithynia in a double province called Pontus and Bithynia: this part included only the seaboard between Heraclea (Eregli) and Amisus (Samsun), the ora Pontica. Hereafter the simple name Pontus without qualification was regularly employed to denote the half of this dual province, especially by Romans and people speaking from the Roman point of view; it is so used almost always in the New Testament.

With the reorganization of the provincial system under Diocletian (about AD 295), the Pontic districts were divided up between four provinces of the Dioecesis Pontica:

  1. Paphlagonia, to which was attached most of the old province Pontus
  2. Diospontus, re-named Helenopontus by Constantine, containing the rest of the province Pontus and the adjoining district, eight cities in all (including Sinope, Amisus and Zela) with Amasia as capital
  3. Pontus Polemoniacus, containing Comana, Argyroupolis, Polemonium, Cerasus and Trapezus with Neocaesarea as capital
  4. Armenia Minor, five cities, with Sebasteia as capital.

This rearrangement gave place in turn to the Byzantine system of military districts (themes).

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The Pontos (Pontus) is roughly the northern coastal basin from the barrier mountains northerly to the the Black Sea coastal features.

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[edit] Geography

The Black Sea region, loosely called Pontus by various scholars, has a steep, rocky coast with rivers that cascade through the gorges of the coastal ranges. A few larger rivers, those cutting back through the Pontic Mountains (Dogukaradeniz Daglari), have tributaries that flow in broad, elevated basins. Access inland from the coast is limited to a few narrow valleys because mountain ridges, with elevations of 1,525 to 1,800 m in the west and 3,000 to 4,000 m in the east in Kackar mountains, form an almost unbroken wall separating the coast from the interior. The higher slopes facing southwest tend to be densely wet. Because of these natural conditions, the Black Sea coast historically has been isolated from the Anatolian interior proper.

[edit] Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern history

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The Pontus region

Pontus continued to be an autonomous state under the Imperial rule of Constantinople through most of the history of the Byzantine Empire. Its fall gave rise to the Empire of Trebizond, which existed in the area from 1204 to 15 August 1461. After that, the name Pontus was preserved as a state within the Ottoman Empire.

In the 20th century, the situation of Christian minorities in Pontus worsened with the increasing influence of the Young Turks, culminating in mass killings and deportations. <ref> The Blight of Asia, by G. Horton full E-text available </ref> <ref> The Hellenic Genocide Quotes from historical documents </ref> <ref> Home page of Pontus and Asia Minor Genocide The Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies </ref> The Greek parliament has declared 19th May as a memory date for the Pontic Greek Genocide.

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Traditional rural Pontic house

After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, Pontus was not recognised as autonomous. In 1921, an independent Pontic state was proposed, but never realized. Under the Treaty of Lausanne, the borders of Turkey were renegotiated and in 1923, the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey required approximately 1.5 million Greeks living in Turkey to resettle in Greece, and approximately 500,000 Turks living in Greece to resettle in Turkey. Among the former were the remaining 300,000 Pontic Greeks of Muslim faith, of an original population of more than 700,000.

Article 1 of the Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations, dated 30 January, 1923, between the governments of Greece and Turkey reads as follows:

“As from 1 May, 1923, there shall take place a compulsory exchange of Turkish nationals of the Greek Orthodox religion established in Turkish territory, and of Greek nationals of the Muslim religion established in Greek territory. These persons shall not return to live in Turkey or Greece respectively without the authorization of the Turkish Government or of the Greek Government respectively.”

A number of Pontic Greeks moved from Turkey to countries in the Caucasus region, mainly Georgia and Russia. The majority of the Greek diaspora in the countries of the former USSR descends from these Pontic Greeks.

[edit] Source

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

  • Ramsay MacMullen, 2000. Romanization in the Time of Augustus (Yale University Press)

[edit] Footnotes

<references />

[edit] See also


Roman Imperial Provinces (120)
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Achaea | Aegyptus | Africa | Alpes Cottiae | Alpes Maritimae | Alpes Poenninae | Arabia Petraea | Armenia Inferior | Asia | Assyria | Bithynia | Britannia | Cappadocia | Cilicia | Commagene | Corduene | Corsica et Sardinia | Creta et Cyrenaica | Cyprus | Dacia | Dalmatia | Epirus | Galatia | Gallia Aquitania | Gallia Belgica | Gallia Lugdunensis | Gallia Narbonensis | Germania Inferior | Germania Superior | Hispania Baetica | Hispania Lusitania | Hispania Tarraconensis | Italia | Iudaea | Lycaonia | Lycia | Macedonia | Mauretania Caesariensis | Mauretania Tingitana | Moesia | Noricum | Numidia | Osroene | Pannonia | Pamphylia | Pisidia | Pontus | Raetia | Sicilia | Sophene | Syria | Thracia |
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Pontus

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