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Engaging Turkish Black Sea Communities

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Today we begin to expand our reach along Turkey's historic and beautiful Black Sea coast. Branching out from cities like Trabzon and Samsun, Bartin and Sinop we are working with the regional economic development agencies to build a five-year strategic plan to expand the BSST Program in the towns and villages of the mountains and forests.

Like Sinop, Trabzon reaches back in history to its foundation by Milesians from Greece in 756 BC. But far earlier, during the 12th century BC the region was part of the Kingdom of Diauehi that included Colchis in modern Georgia - the land of the Golden Fleece. Its roots lie with the first tribal formation of proto-Georgians.

Samsun was once a Greek colony called Amisos and officially founded around the same time as Trabzon by Miletus in Greece. It was mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and may have been connected with Troy. In the region surgical instruments were manufactured - as they are today - 4000 years ago.

The birthplace of the great Greek philosopher Diogenes, Sinop was a major port of the Hittites and then re-established by the city of Miletus as one of its string of trading ports along the Black Sea. The region saw goods brought by caravan from the upper Euphrates valley and had its own coinage.

We were surprised to discover that Sinop was used by the Byzantine emperor Justinian II as a base from which to reconnoiter Kherson where our BSST Program is active in the town of Hola Prystan.

Last on our situational assessment is Bartin which has a history dating back to at least 1200 BC. It was home to the Gasgas tribe - a fearsome group of farmers who burned both Hittite capitals to the ground and were sought out as mercenaries by the Egyptians. The region around Bartin was held over the centuries by the Hittites, Phrygians, Cimmerians, Lydians, Greeks, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans. It is an access point to the Küre Mountains National Park, and the villages nearby have a unique culture and cuisine which the BSST Program will promote.

We expect to complete our study by the end of April and release the live version of our BSST web site in May. A long wait but we think the hard work will pay off.

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