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Ancient city of Samsat, which is now submerged under the waters of the Atatürk Dam, was inhabited from the Chalcolithic period to the Middle Ages due to its strategic location at one of the most convenient crossing points of the Euphrates river. Located on the west bank of the Euphrates, the mound rose 50 meters above the surrounding plains. The top of the mound covered about 3 hectares and the late period lower city was spread over 80 hectares. Short-term excavations were carried out by Theresa Goell in 1964 and 1967, and salvage excavations were carried out by Nimet Özgüç between 1978 and 1989 for 10 seasons before the mound was completely flooded. Both before and during the excavations, a small number of monumental Luwian inscriptions from the Late Hittite period were found. Excavations also revealed some heavily damaged basalt relief fragments probably belonging to the same period. It has been suggested that the name of the mound during the Hittite Emripe period was Hahha/Hahhum and during the Neo-Hittite period Kumaha/Kummuh.

One of the largest inscribed fragments is a heavily eroded basalt stele with a broken top. It was first noted in 1883 lying somewhere between the Samsat village and the mound and had been moved to the city of Adıyaman sometime in the 1960s. It is about 2 meters high (including the tenon), 61 cm wide and 40 cm thick. On the front is the relief of a ruler on which a groove has been chiseled in later ages. There are traces of an inscription (SAMSAT 1) on the two sides, best preserved on the left (B) with 9 lines, although still largely illegible. It is unclear whether the damaged back side of the stele was ever inscribed. Not much could be deduced about the content from the poorly preserved text. The stele is in Adıyaman Museum.

The whereabouts of two other fragments found around Samsat in 1958 and 1960 is not clear today. One is a 17 by 21 cm stone fragment, on which fragments of two lines of a Luwian inscription (SAMSAT 2) are visible, and the other is a round stone block, possibly a column base, approximately 30 cm high and 32 cm wide with an engraved single-line Luwian inscription (SAMSAT 3).

A couple of Luwian inscribed small basalt fragments were found during Goell's research, and 11 pieces of Luwian inscribed limestone and basalt fragments, two of which were large blocks (Fragments 1 and 2), were excavated in the 1980s. The fragments 1 and 2 are rectangular blocks carved into limestone with Luwian inscriptions on one side. Only a few characters can be read in the heavily damaged inscriptions. All of the pieces found in the excavations are in Adıyaman Museum. All of the Samsat inscription fragments, together with the ones from Adıyaman, Ancoz, Boybeypınarı and Malpınarı, date back to the Neo-Hittite kingdom of Kummuh, ca. 9th and 8th centuries BCE.

Click on the pictures for larger images.

Aerial view of Samsat, 1969- Corona Satellite Image Samsat mound in 1970s - M. Özdoğan, 1977
C. Süer, 2011 J. D. Hawkins, 2000    J. D. Hawkins, 2000    J. D. Hawkins, 2000
SAMSAT Frag. 1
B. Bilgin, 2011 B. Bilgin, 2011 J. D. Hawkins, 2000 J. D. Hawkins, 2000
SAMSAT Frag. 2
C. Süer, 2011 C. Süer, 2011 J. D. Hawkins, 2000 J. D. Hawkins, 2000
Small fragments
Samsat fragment 3 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Samsat fragment 4 - T. Bilgin, 2021 Samsat fragments 5, 7, 9 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Samsat fragment 6 - T. Bilgin, 2021 Samsat fragment 8 - T. Bilgin, 2021 Samsat fragment 10 - T. Bilgin, 2021 Samsat fragment 11 - T. Bilgin, 2021 Samsat fragment 12 - T. Bilgin, 2021

Bilgin, T. and M. Özçiriş. "Unpublished Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions from Adıyaman Museum," JAOS 141.4, 2021: 767–77. (SAMSAT frag. 11)
Bilgin, T. and M. Özçiriş. "Hieroglyphic Luwian Fragments from Commagene," NABU 2021: 261–62. (SAMSAT frag. 12)
Gonnet, H. "Les hieroglyphes de Samsat," Hethitica 10, 1990: 129–33.
Hawkins, J. D. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol 1, Berlin, 2000: 352–55 ve levha 179–84.
Orthmann, W. Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst, Bonn, 1971. (Samsat 1)
Özgüç, N. Samsat, Sümeysat, Samosata, Kumaha, Hahha, Hahhum. Ankara, 2009.
(List of Abbreviations)

Image sources:
Mehmet Özdoğan, 1977.
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
Cüneyt Süer, 2011.
Bora Bilgin, 2011.
Tayfun Bilgin, 2021.