Samandar (city)

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For the modern urban-type settlement in Dagestan, see Semender.

Samandar (also Semender) was a city in Khazaria on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, south of the city of Atil, in the North Caucasus. The exact location of the city is unknown, but most likely, it was situated on the Terek river near the present-day city of Kizlyar, which, like Samandar, is noted for its vineyards. According to the Soviet archeologist Mikhail Artamonov, remains of a large town have been found deep in the woods along the lower Terek.

The name of the city may derive from the name of a Hunnish tribe "Zabender". The Greek writer Theophylact Simocatta refers to a migration of Zabender from Asia to Europe in about 598; in addition, an Armenian book on geography attributed to Moses of Chorene mentions a town "M-s-n-d-r" in the land of Huns located to the north of Derbent.

Samandar was inhabited by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and members of other religious faiths, each of which had its houses of worship. The city served as the capital of Khazaria from the 720s to about 750, when the capital was moved northwards to Atil, which was less vulnerable to Arab attacks. Both cities were destroyed by Kievan Rus' prince Sviatoslav in the 960s, leading to a decline and disappearance of Khazaria.

According to al-Istakhri, Samandar was famous for its fertile gardens and vineyards, and large quantities of wine were made there.