T H E O D O S I A.
The brief historical information*.
*Texts and illustrations are given by the
director of Theodosia Regional Museum
Dr. Katushin.
Copyright 1999; All Rights Reserved.

Theodosia is an administrative, industrial and cultural center of southeast Crimea. The city was based about middle of VI century BC during the Great Greek colonization. In the beginning of the history Theodosia existed as the independent city-state. In first half of IV century BC it came into the structure of Bospor State. With connection to Bospor Theodosia experiences the period of prosperity. Strabon characterizes it as a city, which "occupies fertile plain and has harbor, capable to contain 100 ships". As he said, from here "was taken out bread to Hellenes, just as salty fish from Meotida". Basic trade partner of Theodosia was the Athens. The ancient writer has noted, that 2100000 medimns /about 88200 ton / of grain were sent to Athens once.

The subsequent history of Theodosia is connected with the history of Bospor Empire that has appeared in the first centuries of our era under Rome protectorate. This epoch was characterized by accruing "sarmatization", that has found reflection in the new name of the city: Ardabda - i.e. "seven gods" from Alanian as an adverb. The discontinuance of sea trade caused by the sequence of political and economic crises in Bospor, invasion of Goths and then Huns led Theodosia to decline.

Probably, in IV century the tract located at Theodosia gulf has received the name Kaffa. With this name the second epoch of
City history is connected. From the middle of XIII century Black Sea shore becomes a crossroad of trade ways from Europe to Asia, and Kaffa, founded by Genoa merchants in the end of the same century becomes the main terminal station in the northern shore of Black Sea.
Since 1316 Kaffa consul submitted already administration of all
Black Sea colonies of Genoa, excepted Pera.

During Genoa empire Kaffa supports close trade communications with Russia, Gold Horde, cities of Central Asia, Caucasus, Egypt, Iran, India, China. Its trade reaches best prosperity in XIV century. The main subjects of export to Europe were expensive east fabrics, grain, alum, dried fish, caviar, honey, wax, leather, horsehair. One of the most significant export clauses consisted of slaves. The city had the advanced craft manufacture and owned merchant marine fleet.

With middle XV century interests of Genoa in Black Sea shore collided with the interests of the growing power of Osman Empire. After the fall of Constantinople and the establishment of the Turkish control above navigation in Bosporus and Dardanelles the situation in the Black Sea colonies of Genoa
sharply worsened. In the beginning 70 years the sultan Mehmed II decided to turn the edge of his external policy to the Southeast
Europe. One of first steps in this direction became an establishment of Osman control above Crimea. May 31, 1475 the Turkish army began the siege of Kaffa. Turkish army was supported by Tatars under the leadership of Shirin murza Eminek. The city resisted during only four days. After Kaffa other Genoa possessions in the Crimea and Black Sea shore were seized.

In the times of Osman dominion Kaffa carried the names: Kefe, Kuchuck-Istanbul, Yarym-Istanbul. Turkishs have made Kefe the center of a province headed by the deputy of sultan. This post sometimes was hold by the sons of the sultans, later ascending the throne. In XYII century the development of Kefe economy surpasses the level of the Genoa times. Osmans have kept for the role of main trade center in Northern Black Sea shore. Trade ways from the countries of Central and East Europe to Asia were formed here. So, under the certificate of French traveler Sharden, for forty days of his visit in Kefe more than 400 trade courts changed in the harbor.

The population of Kefe - under some items of information in XYII century it was about 80000 inhabitants - was polyethnic. Its structure included Turkishs, Armenians, Greeks, Tatars, Jews, Karaites, and representatives of other nationalities. It was up to seventy mosques in the city. Alongside with them there were temples of other confessions. Here settled down a residence of orthodox Greek, Goft and Kefe metropolitan, faculty of Armenian bishop.

In 1783 the Crimea was attached to Russia. Soon city receives his ancient name - Theodosia. Its economic revival begins in the end of XIX century, together with construction of new seaport and railway. The industrial boom was accompanied by cardinal changes in Theodosia shape. At the same time, some of its new areas organically included traditional old buildings. Today Theodosia remains a city, on which material monuments one can look after the culture and history of the peoples and nations, which lived here in different times: The ancient Greeks, Tavrs, Scythians, Sarmats, Khazars, Pechenegs, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Karaites, Tatars, Italians, Turkishs, Ukrainians, Russians. Among them the special place is occupied by the complexes of defend structures of Quarantine and Kaffa fortress, unique monuments of a middle ages - Armenian temples of St. Sergy, John the Baptist, John the Theologian, St. Stephan, George, archangel Michael and Gabriel, mosque Mufti-Jamie, quarters historical buildings. Theodosia acts in them as the keeper of a heritage of great cultures: Antique civilization, European middle ages, Islam culture, Russian Culture.

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Copyright 1999; Marina A.Ryabtsun. All Rights Reserved. Last checked: 25.10.99