Wednesday, August 11, 2021

One City, Four Names: Byzantium, Constantinople, Konstantiniyye, Istanbul

Cities have a longer lifespan than civilizations. New conquerors might ravage the city, conduct massacres of large sections of its population, they might radically transform the city’s culture, drastically change its ethnicity and religion by bringing new settlers, they might rename the city, rewrite its history, but the city will survive.

The city of Byzantium was founded in 667 BC by Greeks from Megara. It was sacked by the Persians in 626 BC. In 478 BC, the Greeks from Sparta rebuilt Byzantium. The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great conducted a large-scale reconstruction in Byzantium between 324 AD and 330 AD. He renamed the city Constantinople. In 1453, the Ottomans captured the city and radically transformed its culture from Orthodox Greek to Islamic. They renamed it Konstantiniyye. In 1930, the rulers of the Turkish Republic renamed the city Istanbul.

In its history of over 2600 years, the city of Byzantium was ruled by the Pagan Greeks, Zoroastrian Persians, Pagan Romans, Orthodox Christians, and Islamic Turks, and it was renamed thrice.

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