Sames of Commagene
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|Samos or Sames I|
|Satrap of Commagene|
|Reign||circa 260 BC|
War between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom seems to have allowed Sames an opportunity for independence for his kingdom. What side he took in the Syrian Wars is unknown as most of the records of that era have been lost, though it is considered likely that he would have supported the Ptolemaic Kingdom against his large and powerful neighbour, the Seleucid Empire.
Most sources give Orontes III as his father. After Orontes III died in 260 BC, there is no record for when Sames began his rule, only that his year of death is also 260 BC. This could be chronological error or it may be that Sames was meant to succeed Orontes III, but died in the same year. However it seems that Arsames I took control of Commagene, Sophene and Armenia after 260 BC.
Commagene was outside the boundary of historic Armenia, yet the Armenian satraps remained in occupation of many regions of Anatolia, such as Cappadocia and Pontus. It may have been that the son and heir to the Armenian kingdom would rule another region, just as the son or heir to the Achaemenid Empire had always ruled an outlying region, such as Bactria or Hyrkania. Viewing it from this perspective it would make sense, as his father Orontes III was of the Orontid family.
Shamash was a Babylonian god, equivalent to Mithra; it was a dramatic break from a seemingly continuous tradition of satraps with Armenian and Persian names. The neighbouring region of Osroene maintained a strong Aramaic culture that the Armenian and Persian occupiers never replaced. Although Sames had a very Babylonian (Aramaic) name, his name might have been "Mihrdat" which many of his successors had, but he replaced it with the Babylonian equivalent for cultural reasons on taking control of Commagene.
He was succeeded by his son, Arsames I.
- Wayne G. Sayles, "Ancient Coin Collecting VI: Non-Classical Cultures", Krause Publications, 1999, ISBN 0-87341-753-4, p. 29
- Michael Blömer / Religious Life of Commagene in the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Period pp.95-129/The Letter of Mara bar Sarapion in Context. Proceedings of the Symposium Held at Utrecht University, 10–12 December 2009 /BRILL 2012
In doing so, Samosata, the Commagenian capital and hometown of Mara bar Sarapion, would suit best as the prime object of investigation. The place was one of the most important sites along the Upper Euphrates. It offered an easy crossing of the river and was occupied since Chalcolithic times. It is named Kummuḫ in Iron Age sources and was the centre of an eponymous independent Syro-Hittite kingdom from the 12th to the 8th century BCE. The Assyrian king Sargon II conquered Kummuḫ in 708 BCE, but it remained an important provincial town during late Iron Age. In Hellenistic times it was capital of the kingdom of Commagene. The city was renamed Samosata by a predecessor of the Commagenian royal family, the Armenian king Samos I, in the 3rd century BCE. After the Roman occupation in CE 72, Samosata prospered as a major commercial, cultural and military centre of the Roman province of Syria.
- Nemrud Dağı Text, Theresa Goell, Donald Hugo Sanders, ed. Eisenbrauns, 1996, p. 367 "Puchstein's epigraphic interpretation was not unambiguous; the name of the father could be read or restored to Samos (Sames) or Arsames. Puchstein had decided to read Samos; Honigmann (1963: 981) decided likewise to read Samos; Reinach and" ... "Samos was the "founder" of Samosata in the same way that his son Arsames was "founder" of Arsameia ", p.368 "Chronologically, this king Samos belongs to the first half of the first century B.C.E." 
- The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, 2 vols. Richard G. Hovannisian, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997
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