The English Club visited Amissos on a cool November afternoon. The the wintry sunlight was fading fast, and slid golden over the twin tumuli atop the hill above the old harbor, slowly fading to twilight blues as it sank behind the coastal mountains. The air was cool, a faint breeze blowing in from the sea. Situated to give panoramic views of the Westwards from Samsun, the city seemed, for once, tranquil in the Black Sea dusk.
Amissos is the name of the ancient settlement which preceded modern Samsun. It was a trading port in Hellenistic times, and famed as belonging to the homeland of the Amazons. Samsun’s modern citizens use the name mainly to mean the site of two tombs and a modern cafe somewhat East of the city, and also to denote the otherwise invisible historic forebear of the ramshackle modern town.
The tumuli are named Kalkanca and Baruthane, according to the Directorate of Culture and Tourism’s Samsun handbook, and may have been used as lighthouses; from a certain angle the two mounds align and only one is visible, apparently indicating an ancient harbor entrance. Claims have been made that the hills were used as temple spots for Roman dieties as well.