Pontus

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Pontus or Pontos (Greek: Πόντος, "sea"[1]) is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Pontos Euxeinos ("Hospitable Sea"[2]), or simply Pontos. Having originally no specific name, the region east of the river Halys was spoken of as the country en Pontôi, "on the [Euxeinos] Pontos", and hence acquired the name of Pontus, which is first found in Xenophon's Anabasis. The extent of the region varied through the ages, but generally it extended from the borders of Colchis (modern Georgia) until well into Paphlagonia in the west, with varying amounts of hinterland. Several states and provinces bearing the name of Pontus or variants thereof were established in the region in Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times.

Contents

Geography

The north-eastern Black Sea region of Turkey, historically known as Pontus, 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 (Doğu Karadeniz Dağları), 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 Kaçkar 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.

Pontus was a mountainous country—wild and barren in the east, where the great chains approach the Euxine; but in the west watered by the great rivers Halys and Iris, and their tributaries, the valleys of which, [p. 1301] as well as the land along the coast, are extremely fertile. The eastern part was rich in minerals, and contained the celebrated iron mines of the Chalybes.

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