An Introduction to Pontic Greek History

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By Sam Topalidis

View and download part II here

This booklet is a brief introduction to Pontic Greek history for those who are not interested in reading detailed work on this topic.  My aim is to produce a well-researched work in English on Pontos to pass onto our youth. In this booklet I use the word ‘Pontic’, the academically accepted term in English for people from Pontos.  All the many academic references are included at the end of the booklet. 

My many more detailed articles on Pontic history and culture can be found at  least on the excellent PontosWorld website here. My book, Topalidis (2007), A Pontic Greek History, can be found in some libraries. I have referred often to the landmark research by Professor Anthony Bryer, the great doyen of Pontic history. For those who can read Greek, I recommend the excellent work by Dr Vlasis Agtzidis.  

In this booklet, the first three chapters give an outline of who are Pontic Greeks, where they came from and where they were relocated. Chapters four  to  seven  cover  the  history  of  four  Pontic  settlements: Sinope, Trabzon, Samsun and Gümüshane, the famous silver mining centre of the Ottoman empire. Chapters eight  to  12  describe  five  of  the  many  famous  former churches or monasteries in or around Trabzon which I visited in 2018.

Chapter 13, on ‘The  Pontic  Greek  Dialect’,  describes  when Pontos became  isolated  from  other  Greek  speaking  areas  its  Greek  language maintained many old characteristics which have now been lost in Demotic Greek. Chapter 14,  ‘Trabzon  Metropolitan  Chrysanthos’  describes  the  man who  protected  his  Greek  flock  but  who  also  assisted  Turkish  refugees during World War I. Chapter 15  on  the history  of  ‘The  Single-  and  Double-Headed  Eagle Symbols  in  Pontos’,  looks  at  the  importance  of  these  symbols  to  Pontic Greeks.

Chapter 16  summarises  the  significance  of  the  Greek  Crypto-Christians.    These  people  were  openly  Muslim  but  maintained  their Christian beliefs at home. Chapter 17  briefly  describes  the  Pontic  ‘Family  History  of  Sofia Dimarhos’.  What a story!  I warmly thank Sofia for allowing me to interview her several times and for the extra weight I gained as she force-fed me. The final chapter, ‘Where to From Here?’ points us to what we can do to foster Pontic history and culture for the coming generation.  

We should be in awe of the courage shown by our Pontic ancestors in defending their families, their Christian religion and Greek culture.  They were  great  survivors.    May  we  stand  upon  their  shoulders  so  we  can  see further.  -Sam Topalidis


1.  Who are the Greeks from Pontos?
2.  Formation of the Greek Settlements in Pontos
3.  The Relocation of Greeks From Pontos
4.  History of Sinope
5.  History of Trabzon
6.  History of Samsun
7.  History of Gümüshane
8.  Former Panagia Theoskepastos Monastery, Trabzon
9.  St Anne Church, Trabzon
10. Former Panagia Chrysokephalos Church, Trabzon — now Fatih Mosque
11. Former St Sophia Church, Trabzon — now Ayasofya Mosque
12. The Soumela Monastery
13. The Pontic Greek Dialect
14. Trabzon Metropolitan Chrysanthos
15. The Single and Double-Headed Eagle Symbols in Pontos
16. Greek Crypto-Christians in Pontos
17. Family History of Sofia Dimarhos
18. What to From Here?
19. References


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