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Samosata, ancient city of N Syria, on the Euphrates. It was founded c.150 B.C. as the capital of the Commagene kingdom. Taken by the Romans in A.D. 72, it was of some importance in later Roman times. The Arabs took it in the 7th cent. Lucian was born there.
Samosata (Շամշատ, Shamshat) was an ancient city on the right (west) bank of the Euphrates whose ruins existed at the modern city of Samsat, Adıyaman Province, Turkey until the site was flooded by the newly-constructed Atatürk Dam.

The founder of the city was Sames, was King of Sophene who made it his capital, after whom the city is named. The city is often confused with Arsamosata. Located in southeast Turkey on the upper Euphrates River, it was fortified so as to protect a major crossing point of the river on the east-west trade route. It also served as a station on another route running from Damascus, Palmyra, and Sura up to Lesser Armenia and the Euxine (Black) Sea. For a time, the city was called Antiochia in Commagene (Greek: Αντιόχεια η Κομμαγηνή). As Antiochia in Commagene, it served as the capital for the Hellenistic kingdom of Commagene from circa 160 BC until it was surrendered to Rome in 72. A civil metropolis from the days of Emperor Hadrian, Samosata was the home of the Legio VI Ferrata and later Legio XVI Flavia Firma, and the terminus of several military roads.

Samosata was the birthplace of Lucian (c. 120-192), a famous comic writer of antiquity, whose Trips to the Moon is sometimes called the first space novel, as well as 80 works which have survived to this day.

Samosata was also the birthplace of Paul of Samosata, the third leader of the Elkasites, an order of Essene Gnostics, who lived in the mid 3rd century.

In the Christian martyrology, seven Christian martyrs were crucified in 297 in Samosata for refusing to perform a pagan rite in celebration of the victory of Maximian over the Persians: Abibus, Hipparchus, James, Lollian, Paragnus, Philotheus, and Romanus. Saint Daniel the Stylite was born in a village near Samosata; Saint Rabulas, venerated on 19 February, who lived in the sixth century at Constantinople, was also a native of Samosata. A Notitia Episcopatuum of Antioch in the sixth century mentions Samosata as an autocephalous metropolis (Echos d'Orient, X, 144); at the synod that reinstated Patriarch Photius I of Constantinople (the Photian Council) of 879, the See of Samosata had already been united to that of Amida (Diyarbakır). As in 586 the titular of Amida bears only this title it must be concluded that the union took place between the seventh and the ninth centuries. Earlier bishops included Peperius, who attended the Council of Nicaea (325); Saint Eusebius of Samosata, a great opponent of the Arians, killed by an Arian woman (c. 380), honoured on 22 June; Andrew, a vigorous opponent of Cyril of Alexandria and of the Council of Ephesus. Chabot gives a list of twenty-eight Jacobite bishops.

It was at Samosata that Julian II had ships made in his expedition against Sapor, and it was a natural crossing-place in the struggle between Heraclius and Chosroes in the 7th century.

In February, 1098, the emir Baldoukh (Bulduk) of the Turkish Artukid or Ortoqid (Artuklu) dynasty, attacked by Baudouin of Antioch, cut his army to pieces there. In 1114 it was one of the chief quarters of the Muslims hostile to the Count of Edessa, to whom it succumbed, but was recaptured by the Muslims about 1149.

Samosata remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Samosatensis; the seat is currently vacant following the death of the last bishop in 1967.

Modern Samsat

Ancient Samosata continues to the present day as the Turkish town of Samsat. The old town of Samsat was submerged in 1989 under the Ataturk Dam. A new town bearing the same name was built for the population dislocated by the sinking of the old town. Modern Samsat is a town of approximately 2000 inhabitants. It is the capital of the district of the same name in the Turkish province of Adıyaman.


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