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History of The Bosporan Kingdom (438 BC – 370 AD)

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The Bosporan kingdom is an ancient state in the Northern Black Sea coast on the Kerch Strait. The Kindom was formed about 480 BC as a result of the unification of Greek cities on the Kerch and Taman peninsulas, later extended along the eastern shore of Azov Sea to the river Don. It became part of Byzantium in the VI century.

After the middle of the VII century BC Greek migrants appear on the northern shore of the Black Sea, and by the beginning of the second quarter of the VI century BC, they master a significant part of the coast, with the exception of the southern coast of the Crimea. The first colony in this region was founded in the second half of the 7th century BC.

Most likely, the ancient Greek colonies were founded as the independent polis. So, in particular, they arose in the area of the Kerch Strait, where there was no permanent local population. Local tribes of the Taurus lived in the Crimean mountains, in the steppes the Scythians roamed periodically, semi-nomadic farmers lived in the Kuban River basin. The first time the colonies were not pressured by the barbarians, because their population was very low. Around the middle of the VI BC, first clashes with the barbarians begin.

Convenient location, with a good trading harbor, helped the city of Panticapaeum reach a significant level of development, and became the center around which the Greek cities of both banks of the Kerch Strait united.


In 430 BC power was held by Spartok, the founder of the Spartaids dynasty, who ruled the Cimmerian Bosporus until 108 BC. Judging by the name, the founder of the dynasty did not come from the Greeks. Most likely, his origins should be sought in the territory of Thrace. A close relationship with the barbarian tribes can be seen during the entire rule of the Spartaids dynasty. After the brief rule of Spartok, King Satyr I 433-389 BC came to power, and energetically begin to increase territory of the state. That was continued by Levkon I and Perissad I 348-311 BC, they are the rulers of the IV century BC which is associated with the period of the highest heyday of the Bosporus.

After the death of Perissad I, a struggle broke out between his sons. Sources show the political connections of the Spartacides with Athens, Delphi, Delos, Miletus, Egypt. The last of the Spartacides, Perissad V, was compelled to abdicate. In the year 108 BC, he transferred power to the ruler of the Pontian kingdom, Mithridates VI, who then owned vast territories and became a dangerous enemy of Rome itself.

In the 80’s BC the Bosporans rebelled against Mithridates but were pacified by him, and he handed over the control of the Bosporus to his son Mahar. Mithridates personally arrived at the Cimmerian Bosporus and turned it into a springboard for a new war with Rome. Huge fees for the maintenance of the army, the construction of the fleet and fortifications, the recruitment of slaves into the army, and then the naval blockade by the Roman fleet aroused dissatisfaction of the Bosporus and exhausted it. In 63 BC in the Bosporus, devastating earthquake happened. In the same year, Mithridates died, hiding in a palace on top of a mountain from mutinous soldiers who proclaimed his son as the ruler.

Rome sought to place its followers on his throne, holding troops there. And yet the degree of dependence on Rome was not great. Since the end of the first century, Rome increasingly sees Bospor as an important outpost in the northeast, capable of restraining the onslaught of barbarians. At the beginning of the third century, the tribes of the Germans came from the shores of the Baltic Sea. In the 230’s, the tribes of the Gothic union destroyed the city of Gorgippia, in the 240’s, the city of Tanais and surrounding settlements were completely destroyed. At the same time, Alans started to move from the east. From the middle of the third century, the Bosporus state was subjected to the onslaught of barbarians. In the IV century, Bosporus appeals to the Romans, but Rome barely fights off the barbarians and cannot help the weakened Bosporus. The invasion of the Huns passed the Bosporus state.

The Bosporan state existed until the beginning of the sixth century. There is a gradual Christianization of the state. In the 520-530 Byzantium establishes direct power over the Bosporus. In 576, the territory from modern Georgia to the Crimea was conquered by the Turkic Khaganate.


The leading role in the trade of Bosporus belonged to the production of wheat, barley, millet. The basis of the Bosporan trade was the export of grain. Bosporus exported salted and dried fish, cattle, skins, furs, slaves to Greece. In exchange for all these goods, the states of Greece sent wine, olive oil, metal products, expensive fabrics, precious metals, art objects-statues, terracotta, art vases to Bosporus. Part of this imports settled in Bosporan cities, the other part was transported by Bosporan traders to the steppe for the nobility of surrounding tribes.

After the accession of the Bosporus to Pontus, trade relations began to develop actively with the cities of this state, primarily with Sinopa. After the Bosporus fall under the influence of Rome, a new economic upsurge began, continuing throughout the 1st and 2nd century of our era. With the Bosporan goods, the Roman authorities did not collect the usual mandatory duty in the amount of 1/2 part of the total goods. Bosporan merchants traded with distant Alexandria of Egypt and even Italian cities.


  • Archeology of the USSR. Ancient States of the Northern Black Sea Region. M., 1984
  • Gaidukevich VF The Bosporus Kingdom, M. – L., 1949
  • Cimmerian Bosporus // Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron
  • Molev EA Political history of the Bosporus VI-IV centuries. BC
  • Frolova NA The coins of the Bosporus
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