The Greek, Roman and Persian Battles for Istanbul

Jan 18, 2014 by

Posted By Phineas Upham

What exactly made the site of Istanbul so attractive to ancient civilizations? The region was undoubtedly prime real estate for trading, but the infrastructure to operate a trading post would take years to complete, and the city would see great conflict all throughout that period.

According to legend, the Megarian king Byzas consulted the Oracle at Delphi. He wanted an answer that would help him discover where and how to expand his holdings. The response given was to found a city “Opposite the blind.”

He was standing on the hill where the Topkapi Palace now stands when he spotted a small settlement on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Because the settlement missed the obvious advantage of being built on a hill, the king interpreted this action as “they must be blind” and so founded his city.

Byza’s rule would not last long as the Persians stormed into the area and occupied the fledgling city. The massive Persian army of 700,000 men, led by Otonis, was attempting to conquer Eastern Europe. Otonis would never be successful, and would lose the city of Byzantium in the process.

The Romans would be the next to hold the territory, declaring the city under Roman rule. When its citizens rebelled, Emperor Septimus Severus raised the city walls, and had his armies slaughter the majority of the city’s inhabitants.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.

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