To the Reader
Preface-We are the Synthesis of the History
The Age of the World
The Human Himself: Homo Sapiens
The Climatic Disasters of the World and the
Formation of the Races
The Ages That Marked the History
The Historical Ages and Anatolia
The Hittite Domination and the Hurries
The Collapse of the Great Hittite Kingdom and the
Return to Prehistory
The Sailor People of the East Mediterranean:
A General Overview to Hatay
Samandağ: Its Geographical Location
The First Inhabitants of Samandağ
Throughout the Written History in Samandağ
The Colony Age: Al-Mina
The Old Harbour of Antakya
The Hellenistic Era: Seleucia Pieria
The City Structure of Seleucia Pieria
Was the First Dam of the World in Seleucia?
Two Emperors Who Gave Their Names to the Tunnel
Seleucia and Afterwards
The Roman Age
The City Which Was Destructed By the Natural
The Story of St. Simon
From Seleucia to Süveydiye
Piri Reis Was In Süveydiye
The Last Eras of Ottoman Empire-The Event
Of Musa Mountain
Vakıflı Village: The Return of Armenian People
And Their Immigration
Yalnızköy The History of Vakıflı
The Foundation of Hatay Republic
20 Years of the Frenchmen
The English School
The Structure of Plants in Samandağ
The Monumental Tree of Hıdırbey
Conclusion: A Part of Heaven
TO THE READER
The publication by 21st Century Organisation of this book which will throw light upon the history of the town will not only enlighten our people but also will support researcher-author İsmail Zubari and will help us achieve our goals by the income to be obtained by our organisation. The publication of this book, which will be very helpful for all who care for and want to know Samandağ with its history, nature and people, is very elating for our organisation.
We would like to thank to everybody who worked for the realisation of this project including İsmail Zubari especially.
We also would like to thank you for purchasing Samandağ book, which is the first step of our publication chain, and thus contributing to our organisation.
We Are A Synthesis of the History
It is essential to get a proper education of history science in order to write a history book. A history book written without getting this education would be incomplete no matter it is well-prepared or not. This deficiency may cause some mistakes and I want to beg you because of this.
The main reason that made me write The History of Samandağ was our inability in understanding the wealth of the culture of our society and our deficiency in introducing our culture to others . Protecting our narrow-minded understanding of history and culture and showing that our country is A Cradle of Civilisations may help to destroy some fragments. Wider and more detailed researches should be made to understand the main source of the variety of the cultures. In this book, the briefly given histories of East Mediterranean Civilisations may just give us some pre-ideas. The mistakes made by people who are unaware of our cultural wealth may sometimes cause problems in people called identity confusion.
I believe that there is no danger in the togetherness of different societies living together, in contrast, they create the cultural richness of a country. The human kind reached this proper situation by the help of the developed civilisations in the history. This is more clearly understood when you look at the Anatolian History.
The researches showed that there were signs of human even in 100.000 BC in our country. Many different civilisations, which cant be seen at anywhere, have been living in peace here up to now.
When you read the Hittites part of our book, you will see that these people who created a developed civilisation in most of Anatolian, destroyed and took the advantage of the cultures of Hattites and Hurries who were the previous settlers of Anatolian. They even continued to use the previous name of Anatolia Hatti Land for themselves and believed in Hatti and Hurri Gods.
The barbarian Balkan Tribes destroyed Hittites and they even caused the disappearance of the writing in Anatolia, Greece, and Syria. The historians named this era as Dark Era. In this era, writing, which had been used for hundreds of years, was forgotten for a period of 300-400 years.
The Greek Commerce Colony Al-Mina, which was established at about 750 BC in our country, had been the most important harbour of East Mediterranean for about 500 years. And Seleucia Pieria founded at about 300 BC in this region had been a strategically important harbour city during the era of Greekisation called Hellenistic (333-64 BC) and during the Roman Era. It continued to be important during Roman Era, but then it lost its importance. During this era, different cultures of people continued to live in peace. One of the most tragic events of Anatolian History appeared at the beginning of the 20th century during the disorders in the Age of Decline of Ottoman Empire. It is called Musa Mountain Event and I think it will be read with a big interest.
The French era ended in a peaceful way, which was rarely seen in history.
During Republic, our country was called Süveydiye, but after a decision taken in 1948, its name was changed to Samandağ which is not a good choice of name in my opinion.
We did not deal with the cultural, social, and customary characteristics too much. We thought that it belonged to a different study group.
A comprising study related with the plant structure of Samandağ hasnt been made. But there are some situational researches and these are included at the end of the book.
I think The English School story is very interesting for the curious people.
East Mediterranean Region, where Samandağ lies, is in the region known as Productive Gap ( Verimli Hilal) by many historians and authors. Actually, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia have the most productive lands of the world. So the main aim of the civilisations was to capture these regions throughout the history. They would control the world commerce with the help of the roads and the maritime lines and they would have wealth and luxury. The human movements caused by these reasons made East Mediterranean one of the most crowded areas of the world at any time of the history. These people combined with the help of the commerce and settlements. So when we ask the question Where did we come from to ourselves, the most realist answer will be that we are the synthesis of the history.
I hope we wont be a part of damaging this peaceful land and we wont be involved in the bad tricks, which would disturb the peace in this land.
A simular study was made in 1994 as a series of articles in Doğuş which was a local newspaper of Samandağ at that time. But I realised that some information was missing and wrong in that study because of lack of sources. In this study, I tried to use a simple language and I tried to complete that missing information. So I would feel happy if I could help some people.
I would like to thank the director and the members of Samandağ 21.Yüzyıl Derneği who encouraged me and helped me in costs of the book, the authorities from whom we took advise during the preparation stage of this book, all my friends, the traders who helped me in the costs of this book by giving their advertisements, and all other citizens who helped me in costs of the book without any expense.
JULY 1998, SAMANDAĞ
THE FORMATION OF PLANTS, ANIMALS AND PEOPLE BY ORGANIC DEVELOPMENT
The Age of the World
Our world is older than 4.5 billion years.* The oldest sign of life that are known are the bacteria fossils of 3.8 billion years found in the south of Greenland. The first signs of plants are lichen-like living things of 2.5 billion years of age found in South Africa. and the first multi-cellular animals appeared in the seas more than 600 million years ago and the first vertebrates were first seen in seas again approximately more than 500 million years ago.
The invasion of the land started with the plants a little bit sooner than 400 million years and the first amphibious animals followed after a period, which is a little bit shorter than 50 million years. The first samples of reptilia formed nearly 320 million years ago. A branch of the reptile formed the mammals that are the ancestors of the human beings some 200 million years ago, while the other branch formed the dinosaurs, birds, alligators and turtles.
The hominids that are the ancestors of the human beings are the members of an animal group called primates including the monkeys, lemurs and people of today which appeared some 50 million years ago. The separation of hominids from big African monkeys, their nearest kin, happened with the formation of Rift Valley stretching near the east coast of the continent from East Africa, Sudan and Ethiopia to Zimbabwe, a little sooner than 7 million years. The primates that lived in West Africa receiving plentiful rain with forests formed chimpanzees and gorillas and those that lived in East Africa receiving periodic rain formed the hominids.
Hominids staying in open area without trees achieved the opportunity to work by their hands when their hands were free while walking straight and their volume of brain reached approximately 1500 cc, which is the present average, from 500 cc in a period of 3 million years. And the emergence of the first human being, as far as the fossils collected in the bed of Omo River in East Africa reveal, happened during the climate cooling which took place 3 million years ago. The age of the first tools made from cut stones is more than 2 million years.
Consequently, the history that tells the human life includes a period going back to approximately 3 million years.*
The main stages in terms of the lives of living things as of the beginning of living things to live on our earth until the present are classified in four ages of time. The age in which we live at present the fourth age and it is divided into two parts. It consists of the most recent age which is the ice age (Pleistocene) and all the recent ages (Holocene) which still continues.**
The first human skeletons are found in various parts of the earth and they date as far as 600.000 BC. Many human types are encountered within this period.
The human type that most resembles us is represented by the remains in the valley Neanderthal near Düsseldorf in Germany in 1856. These remains were named after the valley in which they were found. That is to say they were named as the Neanderthal man. This human type lived in the Old World; its remains were found in Java, Africa, Middle East and various parts of Europe.
The Neanderthal man lived in Europe between 150.000 and 60.000 BC. The tools used by these men were named after the excavation field called Lemoustier in Dordegna; and thus a part of this age was called Mousterien. These men knew the fire and how to make weapons by processing stones and they buried the dead together with their possessions.
THE HUMAN HIMSELF: HOMO SAPIENS
A new type of human being emerged between 60.000-10.000 BC. This type, called Homo Sapiens by the scientists, resembles the modern man and is his ancestor. Homo sapiens buried the dead carefully and placed food and jewels near them. The reason for this is the belief that they would have possessions in the other world and that they would live a comfortable life there. This type is also called Homo sapiens chevlikensis; and the region at the skirts of Moses Mountains at the north of Samandağ is called ÇEVLİK as the remains of the man of that period were found in the excavations realised there.
THE CLIMATIC DISASTERS THAT HAPPENED ON EARTH AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE RACES
No doubt, the greatest disasters lived on earth were experienced in ice ages. The events that took place within the millions of years as of the formation of the earth until the emergence of man can be determined with a very small deviance of time by the development of science and radio-carbon measurements. Although the ice ages are usually divided into four parts*, it is assumed that this event happened in the last twenty years. It is stated that the last ice age lasted between 80.000 years and 10.000 years ago.
In these ages, North America, North and Middle Europe were covered with glaciers. The regions covered with glaciers presented the view of the poles of today.
The regions were covered with tundra and steppe. Short trees and moss were observed in the regions of Europe that were preserved from the cold. The animals seen within this natural environment were mammoth, old elephant, rhinoceros, wild horse, reindeer, cave bear and cave lion. Hunting was generally realised with traps and it is supposed that arrow was used in addition to the spear. The man in the ice age was hunter and collector and they collected the old things that had become fossils.
Animal bones were burnt in those places where no tree barks were found for fire. The man in this age stocked mammoth and reindeer meat and could stay at one place for a long time. However, he migrates when the stock was consumed.
The people living in different continents on earth naturally formed regions close to each other. Due to these natural conditions, secondary external differences increased. The thing which we call race today is used in order to designate the differences such as the colour of the skin, the form of the eyes, hair etc. The size of the brain, the situation of the hands, intellectual and bodily abilities are the same in all the people.
THE AGES THAT MARKED THE HISTORY
The age when human mind started to awake slowly is approximately in The Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic age). It begins as of nearly 600.000 BC and lasts until the year 10.000. The people of this age lived on hunting and collecting food. Humanity marked a great step with the discovery of fire at the beginning of the age. Cave paintings and statues appeared towards the middle of the Palaeolithic age.
At the end of this period, the man, having developed himself as a social being, is split into small groups called clan where there was the division of labour. At the end of the Old Stone Age, the last age was over and our world started to heat slowly.
The vegetation on earth also changed on a great scale. The humanity was about to enter a new period. An intermediary period was lived called the Middle Stone Age within the era of a few thousand years between the end of the old stone age and the beginning of the new stone age (Neolithic age).
One of the ages that played the most important role in the history of humanity is the new Stone Age (Neolithic). It is also possible to call this period the polished Stone Age. Although many researchers and historians give different accounts on the beginning and end up of this age, the point on which they all agree is the mark that this age left on the development of humanity. When the chronicle given by Ord. Prof. Dr. Ekrem Akurgal for Anatolian Civilisations is considered, this age was lived between 8.000-4.500 BC.
The people first passed to settled life in this period. Agriculture began. than. They started to cultivate plants and feeding animals. The production process began. For the first time people passed to the agricultural life in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Dog, horse, cow, ox, sheep were the first animals to be tamed by the people.
The first copper tools appeared about 5.500 BC. The Chalcolithic Age called also as the Metal-Stone Age started. Trade was born as the result of the wish to give valuable goods in return for copper that attracted everybody.
In Asia Minor, the bronze metal formed with the mixture of tin and copper was used for the production of tools and dishes towards 3.000 BC. After this age called The Bronze Age, the humanity reached a new stage with the emergence of iron in about 1.200 BC.
As writing was invented in Mesopotamia and Egypt when bronze works were being made (end of 4.000 BC), the chronology and classifications obtained from written documents were used for these regions instead of the definition The Bronze Age. However, the definition Bronze Age is valid for countries such as Anatolia, Hellas (Greece), the Balkans and Europe where writing was still not used. Again The Bronze Age began in Anatolia in the years of 3.000, in Crete, Aegean and Hellas in 2.500-2.000, and in Europe in 2.000. those who used writing for the first have been the Egyptians and the Sumerians.
THE HISTORICAL AGES AND ANATOLIA
The historians use the term Prehistoric for those periods before the invention of the writing and the term Historic Ages for those after it. As mentioned above, writing entered Anatolia between the end of 4.000 BC and the beginning of 3.000 BC with a delay of nearly 1.000 years while it had already been known in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The oldest name of Anatolia known is The Land of Hattians. This name, first used in Mesopotamia written sources during the period of Akkad dynasty (2.350-2.150 BC) lasts until the years 630 BC. In an Assyrian text dated nearly 1400s BC, the affairs of Akkad rulers who had lived nearly one thousand before the date of the text are told and it is mentioned that Naram-Sin fought with a Hattian ruler somewhere in the south of Anatolia. Akkad king Sargon (2.340-2.284 BC) tells about approaching to the Amanos and Taurus Mountains in his historical writings.
Hattians, living in Middle Anatolia and a part of Southeast Anatolia, were the native people of Anatolia and they were ruled under small kingdoms and provinces as of the latest the middle of the third millennium BC. These provinces, a set of city-states, were taken under the Hittite control one by one as of 1.200s BC.
No document was found to show that Hittites were literate. It is understood that this native people did not have any writing of its own. It is probable that they employed clerks speaking Assyrian in their trade with Mesopotamia.
HITTITE RULE AND HURRIS
Anatolia became subject to the invasion of Indo-European* tribes starting with the beginnings of 2.000s BC. The Indo-European originated peoples living in the north of Europe and maybe Asia migrates towards south in the region extending from Atlantic to India. These people migrating to Anatolia in-groups first appeared in small provinces in Middle and south Anatolia. Then they took the native Hattians under their control. Those who established a great civilisation in Anatolia beginning with 1.700s BC for a period of 500 years are the Hittites. The old city of Hattians, Hattutesh (Boğazköy) became the capital of the Hittites.
Just at these dates, Hurris lived in a part of Anatolia as the native people. Hurris had established a modern civilisation extending over to Alalah in the East and the Southeast Anatolia (a place of settlement near Antakya) together with the Hittites. However, they emerged as a political power on the historical scene in 1.500s BC. Hurris, whose leader surrendered to the rule of the Indo-European people, became the second great political power of the east after Egypt under the name Mitanni state for a period of approximately 250 years. Hurris, later taken under the Hittite control, emerge as the Urartus in 1.000s BC. Ord. Prof. Ekrem Akurgal, in his work Anatolian Civilisations tells us that the Urartus spoke a dialect of Hurri language and that they were their descendants. Urartu Kingdom disappeared at the end of the 7th. Or at the beginning of 6th Century with the establishment of a powerful kingdom by Medes.
After this short information, we can get back to the Hittites. The Hittites, who started to come to Anatolia as of 2000s BC lived in provinces until 1660. Then, having become a kingdom, they were active until 1640. At the end, they ruled over the majority of Anatolia as a great kingdom until 1200 BC.
Hittites, who had taken the cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia and who were among the most advanced peoples of their age as modern people, benefited a lot from the native inhabitants of Anatolia. They ruled native Anatolian tribes, especially the Hurris and Hattians with understanding and toleration.
They benefited from the tribes, which were superior to them in terms of civilisation on a great scale at the beginning. In addition to showing respect to their traditions and religions, they even did not change the name of the country. Hittites were speaking three languages at this period. These languages, all Indo-European languages, changed according to the region.
Luwi was spoken at the south of Anatolia, Pala was spoken in the region between Kızılırmak and Sakarya rivers and Nesi was spoken in Kültepe, where the Hittite state was first established.
The Sun Disc that we know as the Hittite Sun today is an old God of abundance or Sky statue of Anatolia worshipped by the Hattians. In those days, polytheism was dominant in Anatolia. For example, the mountain called Keldağı today which is at the south border of Samandağ was considered holy and was worshipped at the age of the Hurris.
The names for mountains Hazzi and Nanni, which Hittites took from Hurris were in relation to the god of sky. Hazzi is the mountain called Mont Casius by the Romans located near the place where Orontes (Asi) river reaches the sea. It could not be determined which mountain was Nanni.
THE COLLAPSE OF THE GREAT HITTITE KINGDOM AND RETURN TO PREHISTORY
When the Hittites reached the south, to the abundant land and the sea extending rapidly from Middle Anatolia, their borders had also expanded plentifully. After being blocked by the Egyptians in South Syria, the structure of the state lost its power in great extend towards 1200s BC. In these periods, great waves of migration of primitive tribes from Central Europe and Balkans demolished Greece, Anatolia and Syria.
This invasion caused by the barbarians was so violent both from the sea and the land that writing was forgotten for 600 years in Anatolia, 200 years in Hellas (Greece). Both the countries would use writing after nearly 400 years in 8. Century BC.
The historians use the term Dark Age for the period in-between.
These waves of migration happening during the latest periods of the Hittites most usually occurred in the east Anatolia River-basin. In this period, when the uprising Anatolian provinces became active, the Hittite Kingdom collapsed (1190 BC). So that, the name Hittite was forgotten thoroughly in Anatolia. However, the small Hittite provinces survived until 650 BC in South and Southeast Anatolia. Meanwhile, many independent small city-states appeared in Anatolia. As Akurgan states, the number of the provinces in Anatolia exceeded 60 around 1000 BC.
Although the Hittite Empire had a slavery nature, it was one of the most civilised societies of the age. For example, women were granted extensive rights. Slaves could own properties and they could demand compensation for the harm they suffered. In case of a divorce between a male slave and a free woman, they could share the children and the properties.
THE SAILOR PEOPLE OF THE EAST MEDITERRANEAN: THE PHOENICIANS
We tried to summarise the affects of the events of Anatolia on the present day in the parts above. We especially showed concern to present notes on the civilisations reaching East Mediterranean. However, leaving aside the Phoenicians while mentioning East Mediterranean, the region in which Samandağ is located, would not be proper. For this reason, it is beneficial to have an overview of the Phoenicians.
Phoenicians, who had lived in the south and the west of Palestine called the Kenan Land and in Israel before 3000s BC established many areas of settlement along the Syrian coast starting from that date. These people divided into tribes speaking Semitic languages* were administered in independent small cities under kingdoms.
The main kingdoms are the cities Ugarit, Sydon and Tyr. These cities passed under the rule of the Egyptians in 1500s BC and they were ruled by the Egyptians for 300 years. Later, the cities of Gebal and Ugarit passed under the Hittites.
After Egypt lost its power and the Hittite Empire collapsed, the Phoenician kingdoms regain their independence.
They were taken under the Assyrian control at the end of the 7. Century BC.
Phoenicians were a seafarer people who took their place in the historical scene as the best seafarers of the age. They traveled as far as Egyptian and Aegean coasts by sea as of the beginning of the third millennium BC. They began to reach the Spanish coasts in the second millennium.
Getting out of Mediterranean in the first millennium BC, Phoenicians reached West African coast even to Cameroon.
However, the greatest gift of the Phoenicians to the civilisation was their creation of the Alphabet Letters. The Phoenician letters later acted as the source for the formation of the Greek, the Aramaic (Arabic) and the Latin alphabets. The lack of the Phoenician alphabet was that it did not have any letters representing the vowels. This principle was followed by the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets.
A GENERAL OVERVIEW TO HATAY
Hatay plain, beginning to form in the second half of the third period, is located in the region called Lower Asi Channel. In the geological researches, it was found that the region started to form at the end of Miocene** and it continued throughout Pliocene***, and thus it took a shape resembling the present form at the end of this period and the beginning of the first period. Samandağ plain on the other hand, took its present shape by being filled with the alluviums carried by the Asi River at the end of the period. Although slowly, this formation still continues at present. Asi River, in the Hatay sediment area between the mountains of Amanos and Keldağı, used to discharge to the region previously called Amik Lake before which is now named Amik Plain. and Asi River flowed to the Mediterranean Sea, the area was a close river basin. The alluviums carried by Asi and its branches accumulated near this close area. Asi Valley and other plateaus got united and very wide plains were formed. Asi River later united the river basin with the Mediterranean forming a bed between Amanos Mountains and Kel Mountain.
ASİ RIVER: The total length of the Asi River, whose spring water is provided by the skirts of el-Bekaa valley towards Lebanon mountains between Lebanons mountains and other countries mountains, is 380 km. Having crossed Syrian lands, it enters Turkey in Etun. After flowing in a way to form the Turkey-Syria border for 30 kms, it turns to the west and near Kavţit, joins the Small Asi which is the branch of nearly totally dried up Amik Lake. Asi River, that flows in the south east direction after Kavţit reaches Samandađ approximately after 40 km. it discharges to the Mediterranean Sea at this point. Some small rivers and streams originated from Hatay also mix with Asi in addition to the Small Asi formed by the union of the Afrin Stream and Karasu. These are, Big Karaçay at the length of 25 km, Small Karaçay at the length of 19 km and Hüseyinli River of 12 km and Kavaslı and Defne (Harbiye) streams.
In the past, one of the most important harbours of the history of humanity (Al Mina) was founded at the mouth of the Asi River reaching the sea in Hatay, founded at the crossroads of the roads to Egypt and Mesopotamia known as Near Asia.
The river, enabling the entrance of the great ships during the Greek colonialism (750-64 BC) and during the majority of the Roman period, took its present form by becoming slim in time.
In the ancient ages, the area surrounding Asi which enabled the entrance of the ships as close as Antakya- was covered with intensive forests. For this reason, the flow of the water was nearly the same in winter and summer. It had clean water, which was drinkable.
When the forests cut down in an unplanned and unreasonable manner by the people got extinct, the floods discharged millions of metre cubes of soil to the Mediterranean Sea. While the erosion of thousands of years caused a great soil loss and barren areas, the depths of the sea took a muddy state. The dams with the purposes of irrigation and power production established within the recent years took Asis rebellion away. (Translators note: Asi means rebel in Turkish.) A few numbers of spring water and the water of the rivers flowing down the mountains in summer prevent the river from being totally dried up. The Orentes of history in no way resembles Asi of our day.
A SHORT HISTORY: Hatay area is one of the oldest settlement areas of Anatolia. According to the surface researches and excavations carried out in the area, the date of the settlements in the area go back as far as Middle Palaeolithic Age which is supposed to start in 100.000 BC.
The area is taken under the control of Sargon, the Akkad King and his grandson Naram-Sin in the first part of the second millennium BC. After the Akkads, the Hurris (Subarids) migrate a little before the second millennium.
The area was added among the lands of a small province under Semitic Yamhad Kingdom whose center was Halpa (Halep) between 1800s and 1600s. The capital of this province, independent in domestic affairs and under the rule of the kingdom in foreign affairs, was Tell Achana (Alalah).
Yamhad kingdom on the other hand, recognised Babylonian kingdom as the higher authority. The area later got under the sovereignty of the Hittites and the Egyptians.
After the corruption of the Hittite Kingdom in 1200s BC, the new Hittite Principalities surviving around Hatay were united under the name Hattena Kingdom. The events that arouse corrupted this kingdom as well. The city of Hatay, which was a state under the name of Hatay Republic in 1938-1939, was known as the state of İskenderun-Antakya before these dates.
Its Geographical Location
Samandağ is settled on a young land between the southern arms of Amonos Mountains. It was like a natural bay during the age of Greek and Roman Colonies. But today, it is impossible for the big ships to come alongside the coast since the Asi River has filled all the coastal areas. The Asi River, which passes through the city, is originated from a gutter pipe called Rahip Cave in high Lübnan Mountains. It is fed with the torrents of Lübnan Mountains, it passes through the cities called Hums and Hama in Syria and it enters the lands of Hatay at the Turkish border. It continues to flow to west and then to south-west at the edge of Hatay Valley. It divides Antakya into two, it curls up between the hills and it is poured out to Mediterranean Sea at the old AL-MINA city. Since the Asi River passes through an arid area during summer, its water amount decreases. But its water amount doesnt end completely since it is fed with springs which have huge amount of water and which originate from calcareous areas. It has the hugest amount of water during winter and spring.
Keldağı ( Kel Mountain ), in the west of Samandağ, is totally bare, even at its slopes. Keldağı was known as HAZZİ by Hurris, CEBEL-İ AKRA by Arabian people, CEBEL-HALAK by Jewish people, and it was called as MOUNT CASIUS during the Classical Age. Musa Mountain, where antique Seleucia was founded, is at the north of Samandağ. There is Seman Mountain and some hills between the mountains at the east. The Mediterranean Sea is at the at the west of Samandağ. It is possible to see the Mediterraneans typical bush type of plants in the mountains. The inner parts of Musa Mountain is covered with forests. The Arabian Books say that the road to SELEUCIA was full of dense forests and there were so many trees that even during the day, the forests were dark. Although these kinds of plants completely disappeared today, we can still see some pieces of forests.
It rarely snows in Samandağ where the Mediterranean climate prevails. This climate, softened by the sea, can be seen in the inner parts by the help of Asi River, Although it rains too much in the winters, the summers are hot and dry. Most of the year, it is possible to go swimming. The annual average temperature is 18.8 0C and average precipitation is 726.1mm.
The people generally live on vegetable and fruit production. But they have also been interested in commerce, transportation, communication and other small industrial areas for several years. The problem of unemployment caused by the huge amount of population growth force many of the young generation to go abroad as workers. People live on fishery at the coastal areas of Samandağ. In the villages of Musa Mountain and throughout Asi Valley, people live on vegetable and fruit production. In a few villages at the south of Samandağ, people live on tobacco and Persian tobacco production. The inhabitants, who give importance to modern greenhouse and management, have become very successful in this area. The areas available for agriculture are about 188.700 decar. It is possible to water 41.000 decar of this area.
The number of the villages of the country is 31, the number of the districts is 10. Its area is 382km2 and its population is 32.260 according to the counting made in 1992.
The population settled in the village is 31.989. It is 31.987 in the districts. The total population is found to be 96.236.
The cosmopolitan Samandağ inhabitants, who directed the development of the historical events, form a rare population where Alawi, Sunni and Christian people live together without any problems. The only Armenian village of Turkey is also here. The Arab population, who give much importance to their traditions, celebrate the 14th of July as summer festival every year.
The village has a wide and a long coastal area. Its length is about 13km.
These coasts are the centres of spawning and reproduction for some sea animals. Every year, between May and October, the Chelonia Mydas (Green Turtle) type sea animals, whose generation is threatened by the exhaustion problem and who are protected by some international treaties, come to these coasts and lay their eggs. But unfortunately, these animals reproduction areas are also disappearing because of the destruction of the coasts and dirtiness of the sea.
Samandağ was accepted as a tourist area in 1993. It is also one of the most important migration region and the halting place of the birds.
The previous name of the city was Süveydiye, but after 1948 it was changed to Samandağ.
This name is originated from Seman Mountain at the east of the village. The name of Seman Mountain comes from Saint Simon who was a holy religious man living here.
THE FIRST INHABITANTS OF SAMANDAĞ
(The Caves Are Directing History)
Muzaffer Ţenyürek and Enver Bostancý, who made research related with the Prehistorical Settlements in Samandađ, digged a few caves at Mađaracýk district at the slopes of Musa Mountain which is 4.5km away from the north-west of Samandađ. There are many more caves some of which are natural or artificial except the researched caves. The researched caves were the settlements of people at the prehistoric times. These caves are at the lime stones of Musa Mountains southern slopes.
In 1956, in the excavation of Enver Bostancı and Muzaffer Şenyürek at Merdivenli Cave at Çevlik Region, 5 layers were determined. Some tools, founded at the 4th and the 5th layers, were determined to belong to the Middle Palaeolithic Age; (100.000-40.000 BC) In the collective excavation made at Tıkalı Cave, which was also at the same place (1958), it was found that there was settlement in this area only during this age. It was abandoned after this age. Some tools of Middle Palaeolithic Age were found 145-180cm below the rubble layer which covered the surface of the cave. (triangular tips, the diggers of sides and tips, punching machines, large knives and molar teeth of four people)
The first cave was researched at Ţenyürek and Bostancý. It was 1km away from the sea and it was 39m higher than the sea. Some hard sandstone remainders, which contained fossils, bones and teeth of mammals, and some barks of snails living on land were found at the eastern and western walls and front parts of the ceiling of the cave. These sandstone remainders show that the cave was flooded by sweet water and it was completely full of this sweet water once upon a time. It is found that this cave was used as a stone quarry during the Roman Age. The carved stairs over the cave were built during the Roman Age. The second and the third layers below these stairs belong to Upper Palaeolithic Age.(40.000-10.000BC) The fourth and the fifth layers below these stairs belong to Musterien Culture.
Many tools made by bones, many fossil animal barks, some barks of unvertebrated animals eaten by the cave inhabitants and some remainders of inhabitants were found in these excavations. In the searches of Şenyürek, some remainders of cave lions, bears, rhinoceros, hedgehogs, oxen and wild boors belonging to the First Age Mammals were found. And also there were some other remainders, which could not be identified. And some barks of snails which live on land and some sea animals were also found.
The inhabitants of these caves were aware of the fire. It is understood from the remainders of the furnaces and burnt animal bones. The findings show that these Old Age inhabitants lived under difficult conditions because of the natural disasters. Big rock particles were found above the sand layer in the researches made in these caves. These rock particles above the sand layer show that people had abandoned this place for a long time when the sea-sand was collected. The sea-sand found at the digger parts of the cave is 35-36m. above the current sea level. This situation shows that the cave was flooded by the sea at the old ages. Prof. Dr. Guido Tavani, who also worked on some fossils of these sand layers, also agrees with this idea.
The fire and the ash remainders founded at the searched caves showed that the hunted animals and fish were eaten after cooking. Enver Bostancı claims that the settlements in this area also continued in the Upper Palaeolithic Age. (40.000-10.000 BC) Enver Bostancı found some tools and a remainder of Homo Sapiens(a wise man using tools) molar tooth at Çevlik Canal Cave at the second and the fifth layer which were estimated to belong to the same age. He also found some tools of flint (bone, niddle, chisel, etc ) at the second and the third layers of Merdivenli Cave which resembled to the ones found at Canal Cave. At the excavation made between 1970-1973 at İncili Cave, which was at the same region, some bones of Homo Sapiens belonging to Upper Palaeolithic Age were found at the eleventh and the twelfth layers.
A layer of sand which contained barks of unvertebrated sea animals and remainders of pots and pins were found 2-3m above the current sea level at Mağaracık District during the researches throughout the road to Çevlik and at the outer walls of the Antique Seleucia Harbour. This sand layer is 150-200m east of current coast. There is another layer of sand which contains unvertebrated sea animals and some pottery tools of Classical Age at the east of this place near the road. This sand layer is 3m above the current sea level. The researches think of the possibility that this 2-3m difference occurred between the sea and the land in this region during the last 2250-2300 years.
THROUGHOUT THE WRITTEN HISTORY IN SAMANDAĞ
The ideas we tried to give above is like an abstract of the era between the first ages and the corruption of the Hittite Empire. Some brief knowledge is given related with the civilisation that ruled the region of Samandağ at that era. Although it was determined that people had been living in the natural caves since the very early ages from the excavations made here, no knowledge related with Samandağ was found in written sources. This situation continued till the 8th century BC when the Greeks founded AL-MINA. Before dealing with AL-MINA, lets give some information about the developing events between the corruption of the Hittites and the 8th Century.
The big wave of the migrations known as Aegean Migration or The Tribe of the Sea starts in 1200 BC from Thrace and Balkans to Greece, Anatolia and Syria. This migration wave, composed of barbarian communities, was blocked near Egypt. During this age, the previous sculpture used in Greece and Anatolia was forgotten and this region faced towards darkness for about 400 years. We again see a dark era of 100-300 years in Syria. During this age, many city-states produced in forms of provinces.
As one of the results of the Aegean Migration, three huge communities (Dor, Ion, Aiol) founded new cities in South-east and West Anatolia. The Ion clans founded important cities in a short time and became famous in the east Mediterranean. So the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, and Persians called all Hellens as Ionian people. Today , the reason of our calling Hellens as Grreks comes from this old, eastern tradition.
THE COLONY AGE: AL-MINA
In 750 BC, when the Greeks founded Al-Mina Colony at the south of Antakya and when they came to the Eastern World, they met the late Hittite provinces there. They got information about their monuments. They started to buy and then copy the golden, silver, bronze and ivory monuments. They also took the Phoenicia Alphabet from Al- Mina and adopted it to their own language. So, they again became literate after 400-years-time. The Greeks also benefited from Egyptians, Urates(Urartular) and other Mesopotamian Civilisations effecting East Mediterranean at those times.
THE OLD HARBOUR OF ANTAKYA
Al-Mina comes to mind when the Era of Colonies or the Greek Era in Samandağ is mentioned. In the old ages, the harbour of Antakya was the one at the mouth of Asi River. Asi River was available for the ships to go from Mediterranean to Antakya in the old ages when it had huge amount of water. At the coast of Asi where the old city lied and at the part of the city where the bridge was founded was a large quay and a wide agora that lied throughout the river. The life of commerce and culture was very popular. Export and transportation were one of the most important sources of their income and richness. In this era, Al-Mina was an important centre of harbour and commerce between the east and the west. Actually ORONTES mouth, (the place where the Asi River poured into the sea) where Al-Mina was founded, was the only place for the ships to anchor. Because of its own situation, you can easily understand the importance of the city in overseas commerce. The wide river curling through the flat, alluvial valley was an ideal shelter for the ancient world ships. It still continued to be a shelter for the small fishery crafts till the building of a fishery shelter in Çevlik.
In 1936, Sir Leonard WOOLLEY, who made excavations on behalf of English British Museum, couldnt find any trace of a building at the place of customs office of ancient times. ( The place of old police headquarters, new school ) There is holy tomb of Sheikh Yusuf away from this place of customs. The soil in this place is a few meters higher near the small house where the visitors the tomb shelter. There are some canals and small mounds which show that the river was flowing here in the past. ORONTES (Asi) could often change its bed at those times when it had huge amount of water. Actually until it flooded in the last 50-60 years, (till the bed of the river was changed about 1970 and a barrier was built) it had been understood that it had changed its bed many times.
Some layers belonging to the 8th and 4th Century BC were estimated in the researches. But they couldnt find any harbour-castle. It can be thought that Orantes may have taken the parts of the castle during the floods. After the excavations, some layers were found. These layers showed that the settlements were moved to the west because of the ascension of the river or the broodening of the country. Although the upper layers are very wide, they become narrower when you go downwards.
The buildings resemble each other. The walls are always made of earth bricks built over stone bases. The stone bases are built as high as the flood level. The walls of the single storeys are of about two-feet-width. The surface is made up of clay and mud. Lower layers are covered with pebbles because of the moisture. Since the structure of the upper layers is above the environmental level, pebbles are not used here. The buildings form rectangular blocks of the same dimension.
This town was not suitable for the people to live in. Those buildings were not available to live in since they were insufficient shelters. The buildings were for the merchants who lived on imports and exports between Asia and Aegea. This could be estimated especially from the upper parts of the buildings where there was not too much damage. The rooms were full of tools that resembled each other. One room was full of wine barrels, one with small oil bottles, and the other was full of Greek jars and some other things like that. Each of the buildings in the block belonged to one merchant. The goods taken from the ships were stored for the last sale in the depots and then they were sold to the merchants who would carry them to the inner parts of the country with the caravans.
Since the harbour was easily effected by the floods and since there were swamps around the harbour, the merchants had to find a better halting place. Some information was determined showing that this halting place was SABUNİ (the place near Çöğürlü Village) which was near the river.
The researches made in SABUNİ showed that some parts of pots found in the 10th layer of AL-MINA were also here. Some Michen pots were found in this region proved that the merchants were staying in this area.
It is possible to find some traces showing that there were some other settlements except for Sabuni in Samandağ. Some graves, old building bases and pots found during the excavations of wells and buildings are the proofs for the settlements. The reason of the poorer settlements in AL-MINA can be explained on the settlements of some shop guards, harbour staff, sailors and merchants.
The findings show both that the harbour was used since the very old times and that this place was an export harbour for ALALAH (ALALAH: Tel Açana: An ancient settlement at the north-east of Antakya)
Most of the pots and pans found at the 10th and the 9th layers were export goods. This shows that when the Greek Commerce Colony started working here, the import goods could not develop too much. Most of the export pots were made at the Eastern Greek Islands between 750-700 BC. The disappearance of the Michen pots from the 12th Century until this time shows that commerce was also made at some other harbours in Syria.
The commerce, which had only been made at Cyprus and Crete, developed more with the coming of the Greek merchants. The Casius Mountain (Kel Mountain), which was 60 miles away from Cyprus, could be seen from there and the sailing could be easily made from this route.
Herodotus (484?-425? BC) says that a Greek hero, called Amphilokhos, founded POSIDEUM city in Syria. The city developed in 5th Century BC. The later Greek authors found relationship between Sabuni, Al-Mina and Posideum.
Although it was seen that some walls before the 8th layer were used as bases, the general plan was different. The pots were completely different, they had the characteristics of The Iron Age. Cyprus and the import pots resembled each other and could not be separated.
The archaeological findings make us return to a historical story. In the book of the Byzantian historian Malalas about Antakya, he says that a Greek hero, Casius founded a city at North Syria and he settled some people of Cyprus and Crete. Wolley said that the city founded by Casius might be Posideum. But Herodotus claimed that Posideum was founded by Amphilokhos before. However, there is still a remainder built in the name of Casius at the feet of Kel Mountain. The foundation of this city by Casius proves the Cyprus pots of the 8th layer. Of course this place was not the first settlement place of these holy lands. It is possible to understand the events that took place here by looking at the plans of the 8th and the 9th layers. Casius was a commerce adventurer at those days when the merchants and the pirates meant the same thing. He saw that the merchants of the island profited from Inner Asia and he captured Posideum after taking gun powers away from the rival merchants in Cyprus. He provided the safety of the caravan roads by having good relations with the natives. So the harbour commerce was under his command for a time.
The buildings build up of the bricks were higher at the 7th level and it was also possible to find Cyprus pots here. There were also Cyprus pots at the 6th layer. But it was seen that there was a decline in the commerce with Cyprus. There were some colourful Greek pans which had beautiful motifs at the 6th and the 5th layers. At those times, the centre of Posideum was Rhodes. The last pan found at the 5th layer belonged to the year of 550. But a time interval occurs since the 4th layer belongs to a time of 30 years later. In this period, it was believed that the commerce might be propped temporarily because of the political reasons or there was a work of clearing away. The work of clearing away seemed to be more logical. Because the structure of the 5th layer, which didnt have a relation with the 4th layer, had a different style. The buildings of the 4th layer were completely different. There were the ruins of the buildings of the 5th layer under the 4th layer surfaces. This proves that there was a work of clearing away.
After 520 BC, every vase found at the harbour city was from Athens. There were some small statues from Cyprus, some holy stones from Egypt, some Phoenicia glasses from South Syria. The goods were in high quality as the ones before. They were of course for the Persian administrators who claimed to buy the best quality products. Some of these goods were taken from cheap markets; the others were produced to be sold expensively. The vases of Athens had the same motifs and this showed that they were produced together at Athens workshops. The 4th layer belonged to 520 and 430 BC.
The Eastern Commerce was under the management of the Athenians. There were also some important political events of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia. We will deal with these political events at the end of this chapter.
The 3rd layer is simply the rebuilding of the 4th layer. But there was a great fire in 375 BC which damaged most of the new stores and buildings. The later stores were built on new bases, but since the surface was built on the burnt ruins, they were 3 feet higher than the previous ones. And especially the wide classifications of Mesopotamia, Syria and Greece proved the international characteristic of the commerce. The metal works probably came from Van Lake region. Syria was sending amulets in the shape of human heads and the glazes used by the jewellers were coming from the mines in Spain.
The great development of the harbour and the corruption of Persian Empire by Alexandros in 333BC, the single management founded in West Asia and East Asia made the commerce more independent and the Macedonian currency took the place of Athenian currency in the safes.
The natives of the region seemed to believe in a new wealth era. Maybe because of this belief, a marble statue of city goddess was built at local tomb with the help of Alexandros and his assistants. But during the researches, a damaged head was found which had been used as a war shield and which had worn a bronze and a golden crown. A few coins and a clay vase, belonging to the later periods of Alexandros, showed that this place continued for a long time.
Seleucia Harbour was founded at 5 miles north of Al-Mina in 300 BC with its magnificent buildings and artificial pools. The life of the previous ones came to an end because of a rival like this. The founder of this harbour, Seleucos Nicator, used force to bring people to this city. The old city had once been plundered by Egyptian Ptolemaios. The reason of the damage of the statue of the goddess might be this. But it was completely damaged although it should have been rebuilt.
The city stayed damaged for about 400 years and then it disappeared from the memories. The Romans cleaned away the shallow parts of Orontes to Antakya (Antiochia) in 1st Century BC and made it available for the small ships to sail freely. There were some natural customs offices and a few buildings at the mouth of the river. Then this place was converted into harbour till the 4th Century. The BYTYLLION harbour mentioned in some authors books might be AL-MINA. (Some authors had the tendency of accepting Bytyllion as Al-Mina in their documents which was a harbour city near Seleucia)
Some remainders of the buildings were found in Al-Mina in 5th and 6th Century BC. And also some coins of Empire Justin, Justinian and Heraklius found here proved that the harbour was in use in 6th Century AC. and later. As we will mention later, the big earthquake in 526 AC and small earthquakes that continued throughout the century damaged Celeucia. Although they tried to mend it, it was impossible to rebuild the rare monuments of the past. The poor people of Antiochia (Antakya) gave up their relations with the sea. So the only place for the settlers of the region to go to sea was the old bay at the mouth of the river. The corruption of Seleucia and Anthiochia and the stopping of the commerce left a short life to Bytyllion.(Al-Mina)
There was no remainder here belonging to the 7th and the 8th Centuries. But there were some buildings and pans belonging to the middle of the 9th Century and later. Some of the pans were produced in local factories; the others were Mesopotamian traces that were exported to Al-Mina. The development of Al-Mina continued to 969 AC. this wealth came to an end then. Antiochia was in the hands of Byzantium. The commerce with Mesopotamia came to an end. Because Byzantium had no goods to export.
Antiochia was captured during the Crusades in the 7th and the 8th Centuries. The same year, the Geneose fleet captured Al-Mina. It was the beginning of a new wealth era. After the capture of Lower Syria by Selahaddin Eyyubi after 1188, the harbour in the hands of Antiochia Dukes became very important. In this era, the harbour was known as St. SIMON Harbour. The harbour took its name from a holy devout who lived here.
When the Antiochia Harbour was captured by the Memlukes in 1200 and 1268, there was pan production here. These magnificent pans then inspired Italian pottery and were used as modals.
After the capture by the Memluke Sultan Baybars, the harbour was left damaged in time. The buildings were scattered and the places on the surface were converted to a crop field. The old names disappeared from the memories. Sultan Alaiddin took the remaining goods from Sheikh Yusuf and St. Simon Harbours.
Everything was damaged here except for one thing. There was still a dome a few miles north of the harbour, which had black sand. In this isolated coast, the Muslims and the Christians felt respect for this dome and they used to burn BAHHUR there.(Bahhur is a fine odored plant, a fumigant) This holy place had been called as SHEIKH EL-BAHR (The Sheikh of the seas). Many years ago by the inhabitants. Today it is called as Hızır by Arabic Muslims and as Marcircus by Christians. When the Greeks came here 4000 years ago, the sea god became Posideum according to the belief Alalah sailors and the city was also named like this. This worshipping tradition was known as SHEIKH EL-BAHR, then as MARCIRCUS and HIZIR later.
A little thing left from Al-Mina today which had been a busy harbour before. Some parts of this region had been covered with swamps and the other parts were full of gardens of citrus fruits, but in time it was covered with soil. It is possible to find some remainders of the walls in some parts of the region. The buildings around Sabuni were under soil and in time they were converted into soil. Al-Mina and some other modern artificial mounds were not excavated and there were some pieces of bricks on the surface.