The foundation of Istanbul is usually dated to 667 BC when, according to legend, a Greek colonist, Byzas, led an expedition from the overcrowded cities of Athens and Megara to establish a colony on the European side of the Bosphorus.
This colony, known as Byzantion, grew to be a successful independent city-state, or polis, one of the 40 most important such states throughout the Ancient Greek world.
During the next few centuries, Byzantion worked in partnership with Chalcedon, using the same coinage and sharing the tools exacted from passing sea trade.
But Byzantion had to struggle to maintain its independence in the mercurial politics of the ancient world. It endured Lydian (560-546 BC), Persian (546 - 478 BC), Athenian (478 - 411 BC) and Macedonian (334 - 281 BC) rule before briefly regaining its autonomy.
In 64 BC it was subsumed into the Roman Empire as Byzantium.
The city was almost destroyed in AD 195 by Septimius Severus because of its support for his rival for the imperial throne, Pescennius Niger.
It survived the Goths' devastation of Chalcedon in AD 258 but trade in the region dramatically declined in the following years.
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