Istanbul: A brief History (The Early Years)

Istanbul has a rich history with multiple dynasties and kingdoms taking charge at some point.

The city, as such, has had human settlements for over three thousand years. The earliest known name of Istanbul is Lygos, founded by Thracian tribes. It was first colonised by the Greeks in the 7th Century BCE and then by the Romans around 200 ACE. We then had the Byzantine empire and the Ottoman empire take over over time.

The ‘city’ of Byzantium was then located at the same place as Lygos. On the European side there were two settlements: Lygos and Semistra .On the Asian side there was a Phoenician colony.

The name Byzantium (Latin version) is believed to be of Thracian and predate the greeks. It is said to be based on the legendary king Byzas, founder of the city. Ancient greek legends state that the name Bizas was the king of the first colonizers (from a place called Megara) who then formed the city. After the greeks, the city was taken over by the romans led by Septimus Severus.

The above photograph is of the Obelisk, located in the Hippodrome area in Istanbul. It is actually Egyptian, having been erected in 1600 B.C. by the Pharaoh Tutmosis at the temple of Karnak. When Rome conquered Egypt, Emperor Theodosius loaded the Obelisk, on ships to Istanbul, to its present location. Made from a single piece of pink granite, it rests on a marble base on four bronze pedestals. The four sides of the base are embossed. The raised designs depict Theodosius I, his sons, his wife, his assistants in Hippodrome scenes, including the erecting of the monument.


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