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Byzantium  

Alexander John Graham and Stephen Mitchell

Byzantium, a famous city on the European side of the south end of the *Bosporus (1), between the Golden Horn and the *Propontis. The Greek city occupied only the eastern tip of the promontory, in the area now covered by the Byzantine and Ottoman palaces of Constantinople/Istanbul. The evidence of cults and institutions confirms the claim of the Megarians (see megara) to be the main founders, but groups from the Peloponnese and central Greece probably also participated in the original colony, which is to be dated 668 (Hdt. 4. 144) or 659 bce (Euseb. Chron.). Little material earlier than the late 7th cent. has yet emerged from excavations. Except during the *Ionian Revolt the city was under Persian control from *Darius I's Scythian expedition until 478. In the Athenian empire (see delian league) it paid fifteen talents' tribute or more, deriving its wealth from tuna fishing and from tolls levied on passing ships. The city also had an extensive territory not only in European *Thrace but also in *Bithynia and Mysia in Asia.