Istanbul was founded in the 7th century BC on a naturally defensive site frmo which trade along the Bosphorus could be controlled.
For 16 centuries it was a great imperial capital, first of the Byzantine Empire and then of the Ottoman sultans.
Some knowledge of the histories of these two civilizations helps the visitor to appreciate the magnificent monuments found throughout the city.
The topography of Istanbul was formed at the end of the last Ice Age, when meltwaters created the Bosphorus.
The Stone Age cultures in the area were replaced by Copper Age villages and walled Bronze Age towns (notably Troy).
The Bosphorus was an important trade route in the ancient world along which ships carried wine and olive oil north from the Mediterranean, and grain, skins, wool, timber, wax, honey, salted meat and salted fish south from regions around the Black Sea.
The area around the Bosphorus was subjugated by a series of peoples, starting with the Mycenaeans (1400 - 1200 BC).
Between 800 and 680 BC the region was controlled by the kingdom of Phrygia.
Later, in 676 BC, Greek expeditionaries founded the city of Chalcedon (on the site where modern Kadikoy now stands).
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