Learn more about Bosporus
- This article is about the strait; Bosporus is also a university in Turkey, whereas Cimmerian Bosporus was the ancient Hellenic state.
The Bosporus or Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, (Turkish: Boğaziçi, İstanbul Boğazı or just Boğaz) (Greek: Βόσπορος) is a strait that forms the boundary between the European part (Rumelia) of Turkey and its Asian part (Anatolia). The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). It is approximately 30 km long, with a maximum width of 3,700 metres at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of 700 metres between Kandilli and Aşiyan; and 750 metres between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 36 to 124 metres in midstream.
The shores of the strait are heavily populated as the city of Istanbul (with a metropolitan area in excess of 11 million inhabitants) straddles it.
Two bridges cross the Bosporus. The first, the Bosphorus Bridge, is 1074 meters long and was completed in 1973. The second, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Bosphorus II) bridge, is 1090 meters long, and was completed in 1988 about five kilometers north of the first bridge. A third road bridge is also being planned for one of seven locations designated by the Turkish Government. The location is being kept secret to avoid an early explosion in land prices.
Another crossing, Marmaray, is a 13.7 kilometer-long rail tunnel currently under construction and expected to be completed in 2008. Approximately 1,400 metres of the tunnel will run under the strait, at a depth of about 55 meters.
The name comes from the Greek word Bosporos (Βόσπορος), which has been thought to be a Thracian form of Phôsphoros (Φωσφόρος), 'light-bearing', an epithet of the goddess Hecate. The Greeks wrongly analysed it as βοὸς πόρος ('cow-passage', 'ox-ford'), and associated it with the myth of Io's travels after Zeus turned her into an ox for her protection.<ref>H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, sub βόσπορος.</ref><ref>Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 733.</ref>
It is also said in myth that floating rocks once crushed any ship that attempted passage of the Bosporus until the hero Jason obtained passage by trickery, whereupon the rocks became fixed, and Greek access to the Black Sea was opened.
 Formation of the Bosporus
The exact cause for the formation of the Bosporus remains the subject of vigorous debate among geologists. Thousands of years ago, the Black Sea became disconnected from the Aegean Sea. One recent theory (published in 1997 by William Ryan and Walter Pitman from Columbia University) contends that the Bosporus was formed about 5600 BC when the rising waters of the Mediterranean/Sea of Marmara breached through to the Black Sea, which at the time (according to the theory) was a low-lying body of fresh water.
Some have argued that the resulting massive flooding of the inhabited and probably farmed northern shores of the Black Sea is thought to be the historic basis for the flood stories found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and in the Bible in Genesis, Chapters 6-9. On the other hand, there is also evidence for a flood of water going in the opposite direction, from the Black Sea into the Sea of Marmara around 7000 or 8000 BCE.
 Ancient Greece, Rome, the Byzantines and the Ottoman Empire
St. Jerome's Vulgate translates the Hebrew besepharad in Obadiah, 1-20 as "Bosforus"<ref>Obadiah, 1-20:</ref>, but other translations give it as "Sepharad" (probably Sardis, but later identified with Spain).
As the narrowest point of passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosporus has always been of great commercial and strategic importance. The Greek city-state of Athens in the 5th century BC, which was dependent on grain imports from Scythia, therefore maintained critical alliances with cities which controlled the straits, such as the Megarian colony Byzantium.
The strategic significance of the strait was one of the factors in the decision of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to found there in 330 AD his new capital, Constantinople, which came to be known as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This city was later renamed Istanbul when, on May 29 1453, it was conquered by Mehmed II of the Ottoman Turks and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, as the Ottoman Turks closed in on Constantinople, they constructed a fortification on each side of the strait, Anadoluhisarı (1393) and Rumelihisarı (1451).
 Strategic Importance Today
The strategic importance of the Bosporus remains high, and control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history, notably the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878, as well as of the attack of the Allied Powers on the Dardanelles in 1915 in the course of the First World War. Several international treaties have governed vessels using the waters, including the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits, signed in 1936.
- And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. (KJV)
- And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel, all the places of the Chanaanites even to Sarepta: and the captivity of Jerusalem that is in Bosphorus, shall possess the cities of the south. (Douay-Rheims)
- et transmigratio exercitus huius filiorum Israhel omnia Chananeorum usque ad Saraptham et transmigratio Hierusalem quae in Bosforo est possidebit civitates austri. (Vulgate)
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