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Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:45

A HISTORY OF UKRAINE. EPISODE 9. ANCIENT GREEK CITIES IN UKRAINE

Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 28.12.2017 

 

EPISODE EIGHT HERE 

 

Since the 7th century BC, people originating from the Greek cities of Asia Minor (mainly from the city of Miletus, now in Turkey) started to widely settle in what is now Ukraine. They were driven from Greece by poverty and overpopulation. 

 

The population of all Greek cities and villages in Ukraine at their peak exceeded 200,000 people. The largest Greek city in Ukraine was Olbia with a population of 20,000-25,000. The other major cities were Chersonesos Taurica, Tyras and Panticapaeum.

 

the greek dolphin coins

Bronze coins of Olbia in the form of dolphins


In the 5th century BC, Greek cities in the eastern Crimea founded the Bosporan Kingdom, which existed for eight centuries. Greek cities at different times depended on the Scythians, minted their coins and were their allies, but sometimes they were enemies to them. 

 

In particular, Chersonesos Taurica, not willing to pay tribute to the Scythians, resorted to support from the Roman Empire for protection in the 2nd century BC and the Romans were driven out of the Crimea only in the 3rd century AD. 

 

The Bosporan Kingdom was ruled by royal dynasties of Sarmatian origin for several hundred years. 

 

Interestingly, the trident, which was common in the Bosporan Kingdom, became the family sign of the great Kyivan princes from the Scandinavian Rurik dynasty and is now Ukraine’s national emblem. Tridents were used in the Bosporan Kingdom to mark the king’s property, including tiles from the royal workshops. 

 

the greek kotus coins
Coin of the Bosporan King Cotys II, 2nd century AD. 

 

The majority of Greek cities in the territory of Ukraine were conquered by the Hun Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and fell into decline. In contrast, Chersonesos Taurica (Korsun in Ukrainian) was seized by Prince Volodymyr the Great of Kyiv only in 988 AD and finally collapsed under Tatar attacks in the 14th century.

 

TO EPISODE TEN

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