Samsun was established in a small settlement under the name Amisos by Miletusians (Miletus), which was one of the Ionian city-states, between 760-750 BC. It was inhabited beginning from the antiquity at the Kizilirmak Basin – Kavak Tekkekoy Carsamba Lowlands and the life has continued in the area.

Bafra Ikiztepe Tunnel Grave

The traces of the first settlement in Samsun, which was one of the most important cities of the region called Paphlagonia in the Old Stone Age, has been found in the caves at the south of Tekkekoy. It is known that people lived in shelters in Tekkekoy in the Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic, 10000-1000 BC), and they are the oldest inhabitants of the area. Again, it is evident from the archeological excavations that people continued to live in central Samsun, Dundartepe, Kavak, Kalenderoglu, and Bafra Ikıztepe in permanent settlements during the New Stone Age (Neolithic: 5000-4000 BC) and Copper-Bronze Age (Chalcolithic: 4000-1700 BC).

The oldest community that has settled within the borders of Samsun city and established a state are Kaskians. (5000-3500 BC) Paphlagonians, who have dominated the entire North Anatolia following this first known civilization lived in the Kizilirmak Basin. (3000-1100 BC) Hittites, (2000-1200 BC) Phrygians, (1182 BC-676 BC), Cimmerians, Lydians (1200-547 BC) established a site called ENETE, which is known as ‘Kara Samsun’ today. Miletusians (Ionia) (2000 BC - 400 BC) settled in ENETE from the Aegean through Black Sea and called the site ‘Amisus’ or ‘Amisos.’ Amisos changed hands to the Persian Empire as a result of the Persians (550-330 BC) defeating the Lydian King Croesus (546 BC). Amisos, which was taken by the Macedonian Empire after Alexander the Great defeated Persians at 331 BC, has become the capital of the Persian origin Pontic Kingdom (255-63 BC) following Alexander’s death.

Thereafter falling under the rule of the Roman empire at 1 BC, Amisos remained within the borders of the Byzantine Empire when the Roman Empire was divided at 385. Although Amisos was taken by the forces commanded by the Fearful Omer of Malatya with the order of Caliph Mutasim during the period of the Abbacies at 860, it was taken back by the Byzantines. After the Turks arrived in Anatolia, Samsun was sieged, however, it could not be taken. During the period of the Anatolian Seljuks, the Muslim settlements in Samsun were subordinated to the Anatolian Seljuk at 1185. For the first time, the name Amisos was started to be used as Samsun by the Seljuks. Coming under the domination of the Empire of Trebizond after the Crusades, they lived at the location for 100 years as a result of the Samsun Genoese taking over the trade in the Black Sea. During this period, the region where the Turks lived in Samsun was called ‘the Muslim Samsun’ and the trade site where the Genoese lived 3 km away was called ‘Giaour Samsun.’

Samsun Castle

After a castle was built to establish the Muslim Samsun at the Coast of Samsun, which could not have been taken by the Danishmends after the Battle of Malazgirt at 1071, and although Samsun came under the dominion of the Empire of Trebizond following the Battle of Kosedag at 1243, it was dominated by the Anatolian Turks again at 1296 and joined the Ottoman lands during the rule of Bayezid I at 1289. It was also the capital of Canik Beylic as the Anatolian Seljuk Empire declined.

The Turkish expansion in the Black Sea had stopped following the Battle of Kosedag. After that, the Canik Beylic took over the Seljuk mission. The beylics can be said to have been very efficient in the Turkization of the Canik area. After this date, Pervaneogullari, Hacıemirogullari, Kubatuogullari, Tacettinogullari, Tasanogullari, and Isfendiyarogullari took over the area at different dates and intervals.

Samsun in 1841, sketched by Dr. J.F. Moor

After the Ottoman Empire took over the city, it established the Canik Banner centered in Samsun. Canik Banner covered Fatsa and Unye, which are districts within the borders of today’s Ordu city, and reached out to Bafra and Kavak. Although Canik appeared to be subject to Trabzon state until the Tanzimat (reform era), it was officially subject to Sivas state. After the Tanzimat, it was subjected to the Trabzon state officially and preserved its status, first as a banner and then as an Ottoman provincial government (as subject to a governor) until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. After the proclamation of the Republic, it became a province in 1923.

The general view of Samsun city between 1870-1884

After the 19th century, Samsun emerged as an increasingly growing city on the Black Sea coast. As a result of the environmental and populational growth, the trade expanded significantly in the city. The city started to grow outward with the muhajir’s (immigrants) arrival, following the Ottoman – Russian War between 1877-1878.

Samsun City Plan – The Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives

The Ottoman Empire started to took over Samsun during the rule of Bayezid I (1389-1402). The Ottoman Empire annexed the Muslim Samsun in 1389, however, when it was defeated by Timur at the Battle of Ankara in 1402, the area fell under the ruling of Muslim beylics. The Ottomans dominated Samsun once and for all in 1419. Samsun remained under the Ottoman rule until the collapse.

A postcard featuring the Grand Mosque and surroundings in the front and the Canik ridges at the background. At the back, the Italian and Greek consulates, in the front, the training soldiers are climbing the ropes at the barracks. 1870s.

In the province which had been founded as a result of the intensive public works during the 1860s, the fire on the 3rd of August 1869 created great destruction. In this fire, it was recorded that 415 houses, 10 mosques, 5 public houses were burnt.

View of Karasamsun, Cape Kalyon and Fener from the coast, 1890

During the First World War, the city was bombed by the warships of the Russian navy on the 10th of July 1915. After the bombing by the Russian navy, in addition to the buildings belonging to the excise office, the Chemindefer port belonging to the Regie Administration, and the gas house storage were completely destructed. The lodgings of the civilians were damaged and 16 large and small ships at the Samsun offshore were destructed. The Samsun coasts were bombarded in 1916 and 1917.

On the 9th of March 1919, the English Invasion Commandery landed a 200-person troop at Samsun on account of maintaining order and invaded the city. The number of troops raised to 450 and some of them was sent to Merzifon.

12 count of ships belonging to the American navy was dispatched to the Black Sea in order to protect the economic interests in the Black Sea and vicinity. From the start of 1919, American businessmen started to arrive in Samsun with the support of the warships belonging to the American navy. In particular, there was an American warship at the Samsun port or offshore, and the purpose was to guard the Christians in the city, support the Pontus Sympathizer, and provide security for American companies and representatives.

At the start of the 20th century, Samsun was physically smaller compared to the first half of the Republic, however, it was the most important city in the Black Sea and the trade was developing step by step. After 1923, the political, social, cultural changes and improvements in Turkey affected Samsun closely and triggered the transition and transformation of the social and cultural life in Samsun.

View of Samsun from the Port

With the railroads being built, the port gained more importance and the need for a modern port increased. Due to the economic challenges during the first years of the Republic, the previous efforts made in order to bring Samsun a port worthy of its location and significance could not yield results. However, in the following years, the foundation for modern port facilities was laid in 1953, the construction of the breakwaters and docks were finished in 1960 and the port was opened to service, as a result of these efforts. Samsun came to be one of the prominent cities in Turkey with the triple support of the maritime line, highway, and railroad. The city was the stage of important developments during the 1970s with the Nitrogen and Copper factories built, the tobacco production, which continued from the past to the present, and the tobacco industry depending on this production. This economic buoyancy was crowned with the 2nd largest fair of Turkey and Samsun allowed a considerable number of immigrants by becoming an attraction for the neighboring provinces. The process continued to the 1980s.

Samsun has become one of the cities that have the biggest potential for tourism in the Black Sea region with the maritime, airlines, railroad transportation opportunities in addition to the fact that it is the door to the Black Sea for the Central Anatolia and its natural, historical and cultures richness and has always kept its significance as the place where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk took the first step in order to start the war of independence on the 19th of May 1919.