Histria (ancient City)

Histria (ancient City)

Ancient Histria or Istros (Ἰστρίη, Thracian river god, Danube), was a Greek colony or polis (πόλις, city) on the Black Sea coast, established by Milesian settlers to trade with the native Getae. It became the first Greek town on the present day Romanian territory. Scymnus of Chios (c. 110 BC), the Greek geographer and poet, dated it to 630 BC. Eusebius of Caesarea, some centuries later, dated its founding to 657 – 656 BC, at the time of the 33rd Olympic Games. The earliest documented currency on Romanian territory was an 8-gram silver drachma, issued in Histria in the year 480 BC.

Archaeological evidence seems to confirm that all trade with the interior followed the foundation of Histria. Traders reached the interior via Histria and the Danube valley, demonstrated by finds of Attic black-figure pottery, coins, ornamental objects, an Ionian lebes and many fragments of amphoras. Amphoras have been found in great quantity at Histria, some imported but some local. Local pottery was produced following establishment of the colony and certainly before mid-6th century. During the archaic and classical periods, when Histria flourished, it was situated near fertile arable land. It served as a port of trade soon after its establishment, with fishing and agriculture as additional sources of income. By 100 AD, however, fishing was almost the sole remaining source of Istrian revenue.

Around 30 AD, Histria became a Roman town. During the Roman period from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD, temples were built for the Roman gods, besides a public bath and houses for the wealthy. Altogether, it was in continuous existence for some 12 centuries, starting with the Archaic Greek period up to the Roman-Byzantine period. The Halmyris bay where was the city founded was closed by sand deposits and access to the Black Sea gradually was cut. Trade continued until the 6th century. The invasion of the Avars and the Slavs in the 7th century almost entirely destroyed the fortress, and the Istrians dispersed; the name and the city disappeared.

Read more about Histria (ancient City):  Geographic Setting, Archaeology, Archaic Greek Layers, Classical Greek Layers, Hellenistic Layers, Gallery

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