Michael Meeker

The Question of Ethnicity in the Eastern Pontos

Who are the peoples of the eastern Pontos? The question does not always have an easy answer for certain districts during certain periods of history. The problem is not simply a matter of the lack of evidence. Rather the characteristics of history and geography in the eastern Pontos pose a unique problem. The peoples of the eastern Pontos, more than their neighbors in the interior, lived in an environment that offered them a measure of isolation and protection; nonetheless, they were never entirely safely and securely at home. Their identities, languages, religions, and activities were consistently disrupted and displaced by their oftentimes willing, and sometimes unwilling, involvement with the world beyond their mountain hamlets. Archaic ethnic remainders are especially prominent among the peoples of this region even as their involvement in the world beyond the coastal mountains drastically altered local identities and practices. Lacking town centers and living in isolated hamlets, the peoples of the eastern Pontos oftentimes have the qualities of an urban rather than a rural population.