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This article is about the city. See also Byzantine Empire.

Byzantium, present day Istanbul, was an ancient Greek city-state, which according to legend was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas or Byzantas (Βύζας or Βύζαντας in Greek). The name "Byzantium" is a Latinization of the original Thracian-Greek name Byzantion (Βυζάντιον; see also List of traditional Greek place names).


[edit] Origins

The origins of Byzantium are shrouded in legend. The traditional legend has it that Byzantium was founded by Byzas from Megara when he sailed northeast across the Aegean Sea. Byzas had consulted the Oracle at Delphi to know where to make his new city. The Oracle told him "opposite the blind." At the time, he did not know what this meant. But when he came upon the Bosphorus he realized what it meant: on the Asiatic shore was a Greek city, Chalcedon. It was they who must have been blind because they had not seen that obviously superior land was just a half mile away on the other side of the Bosphorus. Byzas founded his city here in this "superior" land and named it Byzantion after himself.

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Septimius Severus the city was besieged by Rome and suffered extensive damage in AD 196. Byzantium was rebuilt by the now Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and quickly regained its previous prosperity. The location of Byzantium attracted Constantine the Great who, in AD 330, refounded it as Nova Roma. After his death the city was called Constantinoupolis (Constantinople, Greek Κωνσταντινούπολις) after a prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the city. The Eastern Roman Empire, which had its capital in Constantinople from then until 1453, is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by modern scholars; by extension, the name Byzantium is often used to refer to the Empire, its territory, and its customs.

This combination of imperialism and location would affect Constantinople's role as the crossing point between two continents: (Europe and Asia), and later as a magnet for Africa, and others as well, in terms of commerce, culture, diplomacy and strategy. At a strategic position, Constantinople could control the route between Asia and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euxinos Pontus (Black Sea).

On May 29, 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Turks and was part of the Ottoman Empire until its official dissolution on November 1, 1922. Since then it has remained a part of the Republic of Turkey (first declared on January 20 1921, generally recognized on October 29 1923).

In the 20th century the city was renamed Istanbul. The renaming became official in 1930.

[edit] The Flag of Byzantium

In 670 BC, the citizens of Byzantium claimed the crescent moon as their state symbol, after a battle whose victory they attributed to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. Her symbol was the crescent moon. <ref>An undated picture of a random coin with no information about it</ref>. However, the origin of the crescent moon and star as a symbol dates back much earlier - to ancient Babylon and ancient Egypt <ref>Charles Morris (1889), Aryan Sun Myths: The Origin of Religions. Page 67</ref> <ref>Rupert Gleadow (2001), The Origin of the Zodiac, Page 165</ref>. Nevertheless, Byzantium was the first governing state to use the crescent moon as its national symbol. In 330 AD Constantine I added the Virgin Mary's star to the flag.

It has been claimed that, when the city fell to the Ottomans in 1453, they saw this flag with the Crescent all over Constantinople, and adopted it as their own. The Turkish Flag, and many others Muslim have adopted it since [citation needed].

The crescent moon and star were not completely abandoned by the Christian world after the fall of Constantinople. To date the official flag of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is a lavarum of white, with a church building with two towers, and on either side of the arms, at the top, are the outline in black of a crescent moon facing center, and a star/stars with rays.[1]

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[edit] External links

cs:Byzantion da:Byzans de:Byzantion et:Bütsants el:Βυζάντιο es:Bizancio eo:Bizanco he:ביזנטיון fr:Byzance ko:비잔티온 id:Bizantium ja:ビュザンティオン nds:Byzanz nl:Byzantium sk:Byzantion fi:Byzantion sv:Byzantion


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