The Turkish name of the city is Trabzon. It is historically known in English as Trebizond. In Latin, Trabzon was called Trapezus, which is the latinization of the Ancient Greek (Trapezous), the first name of the city. ( meant "table" in Ancient Greek; note the table on the coin in the figure.) Both in Pontic Greek and Modern Greek, it is called (Trapezounta). In Ottoman Turkish and Persian, it is written as . During Ottoman times, Tara Bozan was also used. Some western geographers used this name instead of the Latin Trebizond. In Laz it is known as (T'amt'ra) or T'rap'uzani, in Georgian it is (T'rap'izoni) and in Armenian it is Trapizon. The 19th-century Armenian travelling priest Byjiskian called the city by other, native names, including Huridabat and Ozinis. Other versions of the name, which have incidentally been used in English literature as well, include: Trebizonde (Fr.), Trapezunt (Ge.), Trebisonda (Sp.), Trapesunta (It.),Trapisonda, Tribisonde, Terabesoun, Trabesun, Trabuzan, Trabizond and Tarabossan.
The oldest area associated with the Kartvelians was northeastern Anatolia, including the Iron Age monarchy of the Diauehi (early-Georgians), later known as the culturally important region of Tao-Klarjeti, where they pre-dated the Hittites.
In classical antiquity the city was founded as (Trapezous) by Milesian traders (756 BC). It was one of a number (about ten) of Milesian emporia or trading colonies along the shores of the Black Sea. Others include Sinope, Abydos and Cyzicus (in the Dardanelles). Like most Greek colonies, the city was a small enclave of Greek life, and not an empire unto its own, in the later European sense of the word. Early banking (money-changing) activity is suggested occurring in the city according to a silver drachma coin from Trapezus in the British Museum, London.
Trebizond's trade partners included the Mossynoeci. When Xenophon and the Ten Thousand mercenaries were fighting their way out of Persia, the first Greek city they reached was Trebizond (Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.5.10). The city and the local Mossynoeci had become estranged from the Mossynoecian capital, to the point of civil war. Xenophon's force resolved this in the rebels' favor, and so in Trebizond's interest.
The city was added to the kingdom of Pontus by Mithridates VI Eupator and it became home port for the Pontic fleet.
When the kingdom was annexed to the Roman province of Galatia in 6465, the fleet passed to new commanders, becoming the Classis Pontica. Trebizond gained importance under Roman rule in the 1st century for its access to roads leading over the Zigana Pass to the Armenian frontier or the upper Euphrates valley. New roads were constructed from Persia and Mesopotamia under the rule of Vespasian. In the next century, the emperor Hadrian commissioned improvements to give the city a more structured harbor. A mithraeum now serves as a crypt for the church and monastery of Panagia Theoskepastos (Kzlar Manastr) in nearby Kizlara, east of the citadel and south of the modern harbor.
Trebizond was greatly affected by two events over the following centuries: in the civil war between Septimius Severus and Pescennius Niger, the city suffered for its support of the latter, and in 258 the city was pillaged by the Goths, despite reportedly being defended by "10,000 above its usual garrison', and being defended by two bands of walls.