SAMANDAR, *Khazar town N. of the Caucasus, four days from Bāb al-Abwāb and seven or eight days from *Atil on the Volga. As in the case of *Balanjar, Samandar originally seems to have been the group name of the inhabitants. The Zabender (apparently = Samandar) are mentioned by the Greek writer Theophylact Simocatta as emigrating from Asia to Europe in about 598 C.E., while a town M-s-n-d-r (vowels uncertain) in the land of the Huns, north of Darband (Bāb al-Abwāb), occurs in the Armenian geography attributed to Moses of Chorene. According to Masʿūdī (Murūj, 2 (1877), 7), in the earliest Arab period Samandar was the Khazar capital; subsequently *Atil on the Volga was made the capital, evidently to be out of reach of Arab attacks. Samandar figures regularly in accounts of the fighting in the second Arab-Khazar war. Al-Iṣṭakhrī, the tenth-century geographer, describes the town as possessing many gardens and thousands of vineyards. There was a considerable Muslim population, but the king was a Jew and related to the king of the Khazars. According to the geographer Ibn Ḥawqal (tenth century, later than Al-Iṣṭakhrī), Samandar was destroyed by the Russians in 968 C.E. (358 A.H.). The exact site of ancient Samandar is unknown, but it is generally agreed to have been somewhere in the region of present-day Qizlar on the Terek, which, like Samandar, is noted for its vineyards. Remains of a large town which may be Samandar have been found deep in the woods along the lower Terek (communication of M.I. Artamonov to D.M. Dunlop, November 1964).
Dunlop, Khazars, index; A.N. Poliak, Kazariyyah (1951), index; M.I. Artamonov, Istoriya Khazar (1962), 392ff., 399.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.