Amastris (modern Amasra) is a city on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia. It first appears in Byzantine history when Kyros, a local monk, predicted to Justinian II in 695 that he would regain the throne. Amastris gained importance in the 9th century as a port for communication across the Black Sea and as a military base. The vita of George of Amastris mentions an attack of the Rus' on Amastris, but the date of the attack and even its historicity are under discussion. The city prospered in the 10th century: Niketas David Paphlagon, in an enkomion of a local saint Hyakinthos, calls it "the eye of Paphlagonia and even of the oikoumene" and the Emporion for trade with the northern Scythians. Amastris was a city of the theme of Paphlagonia and seat of a kalepano in the 10th century. In the 12th century, it was administered by a doux. Amastris was ruled by the Laskarids after a brief occupation (1204-1214) by David Komnenos of Trebizond. Its later history is obscure: in the late 13th or early 14th century. it apparently was turned over to the Genoese, whose merchants were already established there. Amastris was a suffragan bishopric of Gangra; it became a metropolis by 940. The site occupies the neck and steep slopes of a peninsula, with two harbors. The ancient city, which stretched to the mainland, was abandoned, apparently after the Rus' attack, as Amastris contracted within new walls. Its Byzantine monuments include two small single-aisled churches, perhaps of the late 9th century, and remains of a monastery that have been dated to the early 8th century.

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Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium


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