1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Amasia

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AMASIA (anc. Amasia), the chief town of a sanjak in the Sivas vilayet of Asia Minor and an important trade centre on the Samsun-Sivas road, beautifully situated on the Yeshil Irmak (Iris). Pop. 30,000; Moslems about 20,000, of whom a large proportion are Kizilbash (Shia); Christians (mostly Armenians), 10,000. It was one of the chief towns of the kingdom of Trebizond and of the Seljuks, one of whose sultans, Kaikobad I., enriched it with fine buildings and restored the castle, which was thus enabled to stand a seven months’ siege by Timur. It was also much favoured by the early Osmanli sultans, one of whom, Selim I., was born there. Bayezid II. built a fine mosque. The place was modernized about a generation ago by Zia Pasha, the poet, when governor, and is now an unusually well built Turkish town with good bazaar and khans and a fine clock-tower. The Americans and the Jesuits have missionary schools for the Armenian population. Amasia has extensive orchards and fruit gardens still, as in Ibn Batuta’s time, irrigated by water wheels turned by the current of the river; and there are steam flourmills. Wheat, flour and silk are exported.

Ancient Amasia has left little trace of itself except on the castle rock, on the left of the river, where the acropolis walls and a number of splendid rock-cut tombs, described by Strabo as those of the kings of Pontus, can be seen. The cliff is cut away all round these immense sepulchres so that they stand free. The finest, known from its polished surfaces as the “Mirror Tomb,” is about 2 m. from the modern city. Amasia rose into historical importance after the time of Alexander as the cradle of the power of Pontus; but the last king to reign there was the father of Mithradates Eupator “The Great.” The latter, however, made it the base of his operations against the Romans in 89, 72 and 67 B.C. Pompey made it a free city in 65, after Mithradates’ fall. It was the birthplace of Strabo.  (D. G. H.)