The hinterland of the port-city
Author: ERLER ΜΕΗΜΕΤ YAVUZ
*Professor Dr., 19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey
The Canik district did not have a sufficient connection between the coast and the inner land areas, because of the lack of a land transportation network until at least the end of the 19th century. Transport was carried out predominantly with mules and camels. This situation greatly hindered the land transportation of cargoes to the piers located in the Unye and Samsun sub-districts of the Canik region. The use of rivers, as a transportation means for cargoes, continued to be prevalent from the early periods until the mid-19th century. This helped the transportation of the agricultural products from the Niksar and Amasya regions to the district of Canik. The products were of a large variety. Some were some kind of plant species used in paint production transferred to the port-cities either in dried form or already manufactured. Also, fruit, grass or clovers in dried form were transported to the ports with the help of the river transportation system. Matches produced in workshops of Amasya and, for a while, tea, despite its low quality, were among the products taken to the port cities during the 19th century. Bafra was an important crossroad to the commercial activity running along the Kızıl river water route, and through it agricultural products were transferred, such as fine quality wheat, from Merzifon and Vezirköprü, located in the hinterland of Samsun. Lead, silver and copper extracted and manufactured in the inland cities of the province of Sivas (called Rum province), were also transferred to the Samsun piers by camel caravans or horse cartridges.
Agricultural products and products of commercial value from the hinterland of Samsun and mine products too contributed to the development of the port-city.The hinterland of Samsun had always attractecd products from Kayseri and Syria to Samsun since the early times. As tin and steel from Syria reached Samsun, the Silk Road that passed through Erbaa, tied to Tokat, distributed products from Iran regions (mainly Tabriz) to the port-cities of the Black Sea. Wool produced in Ankara was transferred to Samsun by camels and mule caravans after being processed in the dye houses of Tokat. During the drought periods, those who raised mohair goats migrated to the Samsun vicinity and harvested the mohair from the goats that they had brought with them between 1870 and 1875. The amount of products requested from the hinterland increased thanks to the growing importance of Samsun as a port-city.
The absence of sufficient carriage roads hindered the transport of the agricultural products that grew in the hinterland of Samsun. As time went by, the construction of roads facilitated the connection with the hinterland, compared to the bleak situation in the first half of the 19th century; as a result, Amasya, Tokat, Merzifon, Sivas, Yozgat, Kayseri and even Harput started sending their corn, wheat, opium, dried plants and other kinds of agricultural products. The importance of Samsun arose from its coastal position at the gateway of the great valley that led from the sea up to Sivas; it was there that he important routes of Erzincan, Kayseri, Yozgat and Ankara, but, more importantly, the main route leading to Harput, Diyarbekir, Mosul, Baghdad and down to the Basrah were bisected. For that reason, Samsun was to central Anatolia what the Persian Gulf was to Mesopotamia; though in Persia, through the routes from Baghdad to Tehran and from Abu-Shahrain to Shiraz, Samsun also,had a stake. Samsun was the starting point of several roads going through the hinterland. The first road set off from Samsun to Amasya, Zile, Tokat and Sivas. From Sivas, the road bisected into two main directions, one going through the northeast up to Erzurum and the other leading through the south, reaching Konya and Kayseri, and from there, through the narrow pass once known as the Cilician Gates, to Tarsus. This road was also turning eastwards, crossing the Euprathes river and onwards to Diyarbekir in the Tigris valley. Samsun also had connection with Istanbul via Amasya, Osmancık, Tosya, Bolu, İzmit and the Marmora sea coast.
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