Scientists estimate that Prophet Solomon lived around 10.000 BC. In other words, according to the legend Istanbul is founded 12.000 years ago. There is another tale about the foundation of the city. This tale sounds more realistic. Since all these events look place before Christ legend and truth are somehow blended. In 5th century BC the Greek colonialists started to conquer lands and colonize in West Anatolia and Black Sea coasts. Megarans, a group of colonialists, were the first community to have settled in Istanbul. They founded a quarter in Khalkedon (today’s Kadıköy) in 675 BC.
Across the Land of the Blind
Exactly 17 years after this first settlement, another Megaran colonialist named Byzas, applied the clairvoyant of Delphi. Telling the clairvoyant that he did not know
where to settle, he asked him to point the most appropriate place.
The clairvoyant says “Found your city across the Land of the Blind!” Receiving the most unexpected answer from the clairvoyant, Byzas sailed with his immigrant subjects, having a lot of questions in his mind. Crossing the Bosporus Byzas and his company landed on a pier in Sarayburnu. Impressed by the beauty of the place, the second group of Megarans wondered why the first group founded a settlement in Kadıköy, instead of this unique spot. Remembering the words of the clairvoyant Byzas interpreted this choice of Khalkedonians as some sort of blindness.
Byzantion of Byzas
It was thought that the population this city founded in Sarayburnu would not be more that a couple of hundred.
The colony settled under the leadership of Byzas grew in time. Named after its founder the city was called Byzantion. Addition to the one in Sarayburnu, there were other settlement centers in Istanbul. According to Dyonissos of Byzantion, there were two more settlements: one on the banks of Kidaro River (Alibeyköy) and barbisos River (Kağıthane), where the renowned Semistra Altar lies.
Another famous settlement founded in Istanbul is Hrisopolis (The Golden City), about which we do not know much.
Hrisopolis was used as a shipyard after the boost of Byzantion. Named after “Skitos”, the leather shields of the Empire Guardians, who used to live in the region, the quarter was called Scutarion (Uskudar).
Hill or temples
Byzas and his colony who settled in Sarayburnu chose the northward hill as the holy arena (Acropolis) for building their temples, repeating the pattern in Athens. Centuries later, the same hilltop was pointed by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and the first Ottoman Palace was built on top of it.
A city of the Roman Republic
Byzantion grew in time. Khalkcdon was conquered around 357-355 BC. During this era, Byzantion had a friendly relation with the neighboring cities like Selimbria (Silivri). This friendly atmosphere disturbed the Macedonians. Finally, Filippos II, father of Alexander the Great, besieged the city (340 BC).
The city endured the siege thanks to fishery and its fertile lands. The most important reason of the survival was the lively commerce between Anatolia and Southeast Europe and maritime trade from Black Sea towards Egypt.
After a certain time, Byzantion could no more cope with the kingdoms growing around it. In 2ntl century BC the city asked Roma’s help for their struggle against Macedonians. When the Romans defeated the Macedonians in 146 BC, the land under their rule was expanded to the Balkans, Aegean regioan and Anatolia. Consequently, Byzantion turned into a city-state annexed to the Roman Republic.
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