Byzantium and the Bosporus: A Historical Study, from the Seventh Century BC until the Foundation of…

Hardcover | December 31, 2016

byThomas Russell

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In ad 330 the Emperor Constantine consecrated the new capital of the eastern Roman Empire on the site of the ancient city of Byzantium. Its later history is well known, yet comparatively little is known about the city before it became Constantinople and then Istanbul. Although it was just aminor Greek polis located on the northern fringes of Hellenic culture, surrounded by hostile Thracian tribes and denigrated by one ancient wit as the 'armpit of Greece', Byzantium did nevertheless possess one unique advantage - control of the Bosporus strait. This highly strategic waterway links theAegean to the Black Sea, thereby conferring on the city the ability to tax maritime traffic passing between the two. Byzantium and the Bosporus is a historical study of the city of Byzantium and its society, epigraphy, culture, and economy, which seeks to establish the significance of its geographical circumstances and in particular its relationship with the Bosporus strait. Examining the history of the regionthrough this lens reveals how over almost a millennium it came to shape many aspects of the lives of its inhabitants, illuminating not only the nature of economic exploitation and the attitudes of ancient imperialism, but also local industries and resources and the genesis of communities' localidentities. Drawing extensively on Dionysius of Byzantium's Anaplous Bosporou, an ancient account of the journey up the Bosporus, and on local inscriptions, what emerges is a meditation on regional particularism which reveals the pervasive influence which the waterway had on the city of Byzantiumand its local communities, and which illustrates how the history of this region cannot be understood in isolation from its geographical context. This volume will be of interest to all those interested in classical history more broadly and to Byzantinists seeking to explore the history of the citybefore it became Constantinople.

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In ad 330 the Emperor Constantine consecrated the new capital of the eastern Roman Empire on the site of the ancient city of Byzantium. Its later history is well known, yet comparatively little is known about the city before it became Constantinople and then Istanbul. Although it was just aminor Greek polis located on the northern frin...

Thomas Russell earned his doctorate at St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 2013, before taking up a position as Lecturer of Classics and Ancient History at Balliol College. He is currently a teacher of Classics at King Edward VI Sixth Form College in Stourbridge.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.31 × 0.1 inPublished:December 31, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019879052X

ISBN - 13:9780198790525

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Table of Contents

FrontmatterList of FiguresList of AbbreviationsIntroduction: The Armpit of Greece1. The Land of Inachus1.1. The Bosporus and its Currents1.2. Bosporan Identities2. Taxation and Extortion: The Bosporus and the Delian League2.1. Pirates, Tyrants, Kings2.2. The Athenian Tribute Lists2.3. The Athenian Empire: Financial Benefactor or Racketeera3. Common Benefactors of All3.1. Historical Background: The Rhodian-Byzantine War3.2. Financial Stratagems and the Bosporus3.3. Greater Byzantium3.4. The Bosporus 'Controlled-Currency' System4. The Bounty of the Bosporus4.1. Local Variability and Seasonal Fishing4.2. Fishing Techniques and Fish Processing4.3. State Involvement in the Fishing and Salting Industries5. 'The first Greek city to which we have come'5.1. Citizenship and Participation5.2. Cults and Calendar5.3. Inhabitant Thracians6. Explaining Byzantium6.1. Ancient Foundation Narratives6.2. Institutions6.3. Solving the 'Riddle of the Blind'7. ConclusionEndmatterBibliographyIndex