Sames of Commagene

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For other uses, see Sames (disambiguation).
Sames I
Satrap of Commagene
Reign circa 260 BC
Successor Arsames I
Burial Commagene
Issue Arsames I
Full name
Dynasty Orontid Dynasty
Father Orontes III

Sames (Armenian: Շամուշ, Greek: Σαμωσ) was Satrap of Commagene.

War between the Seleucid Empire and the Ptolemaic Kingdom seems to have allowed Sames an opportunity of independence. What side he took in the Syrian Wars is unknown as most of the records of that era have been lost, though it would make sense 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 his year of death, in 260 BC as well. This seems to be blundered, chronologically. It may be that Sames was meant to succeed Orontes IV, but died the same year. That they both died in the same year looks suspicious, and may have been a Seleucid plot to take control, however it seems Arsames I took control of Commagene, Sophene and Armenia after 260 AD, and even that makes him look suspect.

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.

Sames founded the city of Samosata, which has been submerged by the Ataturk Dam since 1989.

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 replaced it with the Babylonian equivalent for cultural reasons on taking control of Commagene.

He was succeeded by his son, Arsames I.

See also[edit]


Richard G. Hovannisian[1]

  • Wayne G. Sayles, "Ancient Coin Collecting VI: Non-Classical Cultures", Krause Publications, 1999, ISBN 0-87341-753-4, p. 29
  1. ^ The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, 2 vols. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997