Pontos Limes: Romans in Eastern Black Sea Region





Pontus Limes, Caucasian frontier, Romans, Roman forts, Roman garrisons


The Ponto-Caucasian frontier defence system began function after the modernization-reorganization of the entire eastern defensive line by Vespasian (69-79). 72-76 significant forces began moving on the entire regions of the Roman Empire eastern borders. Created by Vespasian, the Cappadocian complex, which included Colchis, received two legions. These legions were stationed on the Cappadocia-Little Armenia line, at Satala and Melitene.In Melitene was stationed the Legio XII Fulminata (Lightning) transferred from Syria, and in Satala the newly formed XVI Flavia Firma, which later been replaced by the Legio XV Apollinaris. Satala and Melitene were considered as part of Cappadocia and, from a military-strategic point of view, the main distribution base of Roman forces in the Caucasus under the Cappadocian Legation. To the south of Melitene was beginning the Syrian Limes. Trabzon was the Rome's hub and the military-economic center in eastern black sea region. From 64 AD it became the main center of the Roman garrison - Classic Pontica. Trabzon get to be starting point of the Roman defence system - the Ponto-Caucasus border line, which included the castellums of Hisos, Rize, Athena, Apsarus, Phasis, and Sebastopolis.Until the middle of the 2nd century, the Ponto-Caucasian border line extended only to Sebastopolis. But between the years 132-152, the area of this defence system expanded to Pitsunda. The material and technical provision of the castellums located on the Ponto-Caucasus line was carried out from Trabzon.It is known that the Romans built temporary wooden fortifications before the construction of permanent, long-lasting castles, ’Pilum Murale’. We assume that it is possible the Romans built the same temporary wooden fortification in Apsarus as Flavius ​​Arian (95-175 AD) mentions in Phasis. According to recent studies the construction of a permanent, long-term fortress in Apsarus begun in second half of I century. The Apsarus castle over the next two centuries was one of the most significant military centres in eastern Black sea region. During the reign of Hadrian (117-138), as Ariane describes, a permanent ‘Castella Murata’ type defensive structure was already functioning in Apsarus, with five cohorts stationed there.The presence of such a significant military force in Apsarus was due to its strategical circumstance. The fort was a main crossroads from the Colchis lowlands to the interior of East Asia Minor and, at the same time, closed the coastline. Its main function was to prevent the nomads of the North Caucasus and to Roman provinces of Minor Asia. The geostrategic importance of Apsarus increased even more from 20-s of second century, when kingdom of Iberia conquered a part of the Colchis coast. Through the Ponto-Caucasian border defence system, which successfully maintain military and economic stability in the region until the middle of the 3rd century. The attacks of the North Caucasian nomads on the Colchis and other Roman provinces ceased; Piracy and robbery were prevented; the security of the distant provinces of the empire was ensured and the local tribes also came under the real control of Rome.From the beginning of the 4th century, the Roman border defence system, damaged by the barbarians, was renewed in the Eastern Black Sea region with its usual force, and its functioning lasted until the second half of the 4th century.

Author Biography

Sulkhan Mamuladze /Sakartvelo, Niko Berdzenishvili Research Institute at Shota Rustaveli Batumi State University

Sulkhan Mamuladze, PhD student, Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University. I am currently employed in the Department of History and Archaeology of Niko Berdzenishvili Institute of Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University. The field of scientific interests is the history and archaeology of Ancient Period. At the same time, for last 7 years I have been actively involved in research process of Roman period archaeological sites. I participate in various international and local projects. I have published up to 10 scientific papers and I am co-author of 2 monographs and one guide book.

Cultural heritage monuments preserved in the central part of historical Chaneti, 2020 (Monograph)

Gonio-Apsarus, 2021 (Guide-book)

Roman Cults in Gonio-Apsarus according to archaeological materials, 2019 (Article) 

Roman Coins from Apsarus, 2018 (Article) 

Before there were the ”Thermae”, A few Words on the remains of the earliest buildings in Apsarus Fort, 2017 (Article) 


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How to Cite

/Sakartvelo, S. M. (2022). Pontos Limes: Romans in Eastern Black Sea Region. TSU-TI — THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL OF HUMANITIES, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.55804/TSU-ti-1/Mamuladze