Berezan Island

Berezan (Cyrillic: Береза́нь; Ancient Greek: Borysthenes; former Turkish: Pirezin) is an island in the Black Sea at the entrance of the Dnieper-Bug Estuary, Ochakiv Raion, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine. It is often being confused with the artificial island of Pervomaisky that is located within Dnieper-Bug Estuary. The Berezan island measures approximately 900 metres in length by 320 metres in width. It is separated from the mainland (to which it may have been connected long ago) by about a mile and a half of shallow water.

Native name:
Berezan Island as seen from a distance.
Berezan is located in Mykolaiv Oblast
LocationBlack Sea
Coordinates46°36′N 31°24.6′E / 46.600°N 31.4100°ECoordinates: 46°36′N 31°24.6′E / 46.600°N 31.4100°E
Total islands1
Area0.24 km2 (0.093 sq mi)
Length0.9 km (0.56 mi)
Width0.4 km (0.25 mi)
RegionMykolaiv Oblast
DistrictOchakiv Raion
Administered byOlvia Preserve
Populationuninhabited (2001)
Additional information
Official websiteOlvia Preserve official website


Berezan was home to one of the earliest Greek colonies (possibly known as Borysthenes, after the Greek name of the Dnieper) in the northern Black Sea region. The island was first settled in the mid-7th century B.C.[1] and was largely abandoned by the end of the 5th century B.C., when Olbia became the dominant colony in the region.[2] In the 5th century BC, Herodotus visited it to gather information about the northern course of the eponymous river. The colony thrived on wheat trade with the Scythian hinterland.

In the Middle Ages, the island was of high military importance because it commanded the mouth of the Dnieper. During the period of Kievan Rus’ there was an important station on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. It was there that Varangians first came into contact with the Greeks.

Greek colonies of the Northern Euxine Sea (Black Sea)
Greek colonies in the north coast of the Black Sea(Euxine Sea), 8th to 3rd century BCE. Borysthenes is shown to be located on the Berezan island (near Olbia)

The only Runic inscription in Southern Ukraine, the Berezan' Runestone, was found on the island in 1905, now on exhibit in the Odessa Historical Museum. The inscription seems to have been part of a gravestone over the grave of a Varangian merchant from Gotland. The text reads: "Grani made this vault in memory of Karl, his partner."[3]

The control of the estuary (known in East Slavic sources as Beloberezhye, or White Shores) was disputed between Kievan Rus and Byzantium during the multiple Rus'–Byzantine Wars. At last the Rus'–Byzantine Treaty of 944 stipulated that the Rus' could use the island in the summertime, without establishing winter camps in the estuary or oppressing the citizens of Chersonesos fishing off shore. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of Svyatoslav I's war against Byzantium, this overking of Rus was allowed to evacuate his forces from Dorostolon to Beloberezhye, where his troops spent the hungry winter of 971/972.

Zaporozhian Cossacks revived Berezan' as a fort during their campaigns against the Crimean Tatars and the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. After the fall of neighbouring Ochakov to the Russians, the island was incorporated with the remainder of New Russia into the Russian Empire.

The site of the Greek colony and its necropolis have been periodically excavated since the 19th century; even though the site has suffered from erosion (and the tombs also from looting), the digs produced rich findings (archaic ceramics, inscriptions, etc.).

In March 1906, Pyotr Schmidt was executed on Berezan.

During World War II, the island became part of the Romanian Transnistria Governorate, along with all of the raion and city of Ochakiv.


Археологічні розкопки 922190

Archaeological excavations of Borysthenida on the island


Abandoned lighthouses

Berezan Island a monument to Lieutenant Schmidt

Obelisk to commemorate Lieutenant Schmidt

Flying over Berezan Island in a Cessna 150L.jpeg

Flying over Berezan Island in a Cessna 150L


  1. ^ Eusebius states in his Chronikoi kanones that the colony was founded in 647–646 BC, by settlers from Miletus.
  2. ^ Treister, Michail J.; Vinogradov, Yuri G. "Archaeology on the Northern Coast of the Black Sea", American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 97, No. 3. (1993), p. 538.
  3. ^ Entry X UaFv1914;47 in Rundata 2.0

Further reading

  • Krÿzhitskii, Sergei D. "On the Types of Houses on the Island of Berezan", Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia, Vol. 11, Issue 3/4. (2005), pp. 181–197.
  • Noonan, Thomas S. "The Grain Trade of the Northern Black Sea in Antiquity", American Journal of Philology, Vol. 94, No. 3. (1973), pp. 231–242.
  • Solovyov, Sergei L. Ancient Berezan: The Architecture, History and Culture of the First Greek Colony in the Northern Black Sea (Colloquia Pontica; 4). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 1999 (hardcover, ISBN 90-04-11569-2).
  • Solovyov, Sergey L. "Berezan Island: The Main Features for Archaeology", Bilkent University. The Department of Archaeology & History of Art Newsletter, No. 3. (2004), pp. 17–19.
  • Solovyov, Sergei L. "Monetary Circulation and the Political History of Archaic Borysthenes", Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia, Vol. 12, Issue 1/2. (2006), pp. 63–75.

See also


Year 971 (CMLXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


In Greek mythology, Achilles or Achilleus ( ə-KIL-eez; Greek: Ἀχιλλεύς, Achilleus [a.kʰil.'leu̯s]) was a hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and is the central character of Homer's Iliad. He was the son of the Nereid Thetis and Peleus, king of Phthia.

Achilles' most notable feat during the Trojan War was the slaying of the Trojan prince Hector outside the gates of Troy. Although the death of Achilles is not presented in the Iliad, other sources concur that he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, who shot him in the heel with an arrow. Later legends (beginning with Statius' unfinished epic Achilleid, written in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel because, when his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx as an infant, she held him by one of his heels. Alluding to these legends, the term "Achilles' heel" has come to mean a point of weakness, especially in someone or something with an otherwise strong constitution. The Achilles tendon is also named after him due to these legends.


Berezan may refer to:

Berezan, Kiev Oblast, a city in Ukraine

Berezan Island, an island in the Black Sea

Berezan' Runestone, discovered in 1905

Berezan Estuary, open estuary on the northern coast of the Black Sea

Berezan' Runestone

The Berezan' Runestone (X UaFv1914;47) was discovered in 1905 by Ernst von Stern, professor at Odessa, on Berezan' Island (also known as the Island of St Aitherios) where the Dnieper River meets the Black Sea. The runestone is 48 cm (19 in) wide, 47 cm (19 in) high and 12 cm (4.7 in) thick, and kept in the museum of Odessa. It was made by a Varangian (Viking) trader named Grani in memory of his business partner Karl. They were probably from Gotland, Sweden.


Borysthenes (Ancient Greek: Βορυσθένης) is a geographical name from classical antiquity. The term usually refers to the Dnieper River and its eponymous river god, but also seems to have been an alternative name for Pontic Olbia, a town situated near the mouth of the same river on the Black Sea coast, or the earlier settlement on Berezan Island.

The Greek historian Herodotus describes both the river and the town in some detail in the fourth book of his Histories:

The Borysthenes, the second largest of the Scythian rivers, is, in my opinion, the most valuable and productive not only of the rivers in this part of the world, but anywhere else, with the sole exception of the River Nile...It provides the finest and most abundant pasture, by far the richest supply of the best sorts of fish and the most excellent water for drinking - clear and bright... no better crops grow anywhere than along its banks, and where grain is not sown the grass is the most luxuriant in the world. (IV.53)

This is the name that Herodotus in his Histories chooses to talk about Olbia. Supposedly, it was originally the name of another settlement located on Berezan island which is located at the mouth of the Dnieper and in the vicinity of Olbia.

In Greek mythology, the daughter of Borysthenes is the nymph Borysthenis.The Borysthenes is mentioned numerous times in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. It was used as a route to the Black Sea by, among others, the Goths.

Dnieper–Bug estuary

The Dnieper–Bug estuary (Ukrainian: Дніпровсько-Бузький лиман) is an open estuary, or liman, of two rivers: the Dnieper and the Southern Bug (also called the Boh River). It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea and is separated from it by Kinburn Spit and the Cape of Ochakiv.

History of the Cossacks

The history of the Cossacks spans several centuries.


Kalokyros (Greek: Καλοκυρός, died 971) was a pretender to the Byzantine throne during the Rus'–Byzantine War (970–971) in the reigns of Nikephoros II and John I Tzimiskes.

According to the historians John Skylitzes and Leo the Deacon, Kalokyros was the son of a strategos of Chersonesos. In 967 or 968, Nikephoros II bestowed upon him the title of patrikios and dispatched him to the court of Sviatoslav I of Kiev in order to persuade him to launch an invasion of the First Bulgarian Empire, with which Byzantium was at war. Kalokyros was to pay Sviatoslav 15,000 pounds of gold to defray the expense of the voyage.

The Greek historians also allege that Sviatoslav agreed to support Kalokyros in his ambition of gaining the imperial throne, while Kalokyros promised to reward Sviatoslav with "great, incalculable treasures from the imperial coffers" and to acknowledge his conquest of Bulgaria. During the following Rus'–Byzantine conflict, Kalokyros (whom Sviatoslav reportedly loved and respected as his own brother) was captured by the Byzantines at Preslav and put to death.

The Rus' mission of Kalokyros may be the subject of an obscure record inscribed on the blank pages of a 10th-century Byzantine codex. In this document, a Greek toparch recounts his passage through the hostile country north of the Black Sea sometime between 964 and 967. A. N. Sakharov believes that the document describes Kalokyros's return from Kiev through Berezan Island to Crimea, although the accuracy of this interpretation is open to question.

List of ancient Greek cities

This is a small list of ancient Greek cities, including colonies outside Greece proper. Note that there were a great many Greek cities in the ancient world. In this list, a city is defined as a single population center. These were often referred to as poleis in the ancient world, although the list is not limited to "proper" poleis. Also excluded from the list are larger units, such as kingdoms or empires.

A city is defined as ancient Greek if at any time its population or the dominant stratum within it spoke Greek. Many were soon assimilated to some other language. By analogy some cities are included that never spoke Greek and were not Hellenic per se but contributed to Hellenic culture later found in the region.

List of islands in the Black Sea

This is a list of islands in the Black Sea.

List of islands of Ukraine

This is a list of islands of Ukraine. It includes all islands in Ukraine with an area greater than 3,000 square kilometres (1,158 sq mi) and some of the more important minor islands. Note that During the 2014 Crimean crisis and Russian military intervention, Ukraine lost control over the Crimea, which was unilaterally annexed by Russia in March 2014 (most countries consider Crimea to be a part of Ukraine).

Black SeaBerezan Island

Zmiinyi Island, western Black Sea

Dzharylgach, Karkinit Bay

Dovhy and Kruhly islands serve as a natural boundary between Yahorlyk Bay and Black Sea

Ship rock, rocks south of Opuk Cape, Kerch peninsula

Adalary, pair of rocks near Gurzuf, Crimea

Swan islandsEstuaries and straitsTuzla Island, Strait of Kerch

Pervomaisky islandRiversVenetsiansky Island and Dolobetsky Island, part of Hydropark, Dnieper

Trukhaniv Island, Kiev, Dnieper


List of runestones

There are about 3,000 runestones in Scandinavia (out of a total of about 6,000 runic inscriptions).The runestones are unevenly distributed in Scandinavia:

The majority is found in Sweden, estimated at between 1,700 and 2,500 (depending on definition). Denmark has 250 runestones, and Norway has 50.There are also runestones in other areas reached by the Viking expansion, especially in the British Isles (Manx runestones, England runestones, Scotland and Ireland) and other islands of the North Atlantic (Faroer, Greenland, but not in Iceland), and scattered examples elsewhere (the Berezan' Runestone in Eastern Europe, and runic graffiti on the Piraeus Lion from Greece but today in Venice, Italy).The vast majority of runestones date to the Viking Age and the period immediately following the Christianisation of Scandinavia (9th to 12th centuries). A small number predates the 9th century; one of the last runestones was raised in memory of the archbishop Absalon (d. 1201).

A small number of runestones may date to the late medieval to early modern period, such as the Fámjin stone (Faroer Islands), dated to the Reformation period. Modern runestones (as imitations or forgeries of Viking Age runestones) began to be produced in the 19th century Viking Revival.

The Scandinavian Runic-text Data Base (Samnordisk runtextdatabas) is a project involving the creation and maintenance of a database of runestones in the Rundata database.

Mykolaiv Oblast

Mykolaiv Oblast (Ukrainian: Миколаївська область, Mykolajivśka oblasť; also referred to as Mykolaivshchyna, Ukrainian: Миколаївщина), also known as Nikolaev or Nikolayev Oblast (Russian: Николаевская область, Nikoláyevskaya óblasť), is an oblast (province) of Ukraine. The administrative center of the oblast is the city of Mykolaiv. Population: 1,164,342 (2015 est.)


Ochakiv also known as Ochakov (Ukrainian: Очаків, Russian: Очаков, Crimean Tatar: Özü, Romanian: Oceacov and Vozia, and Alektor (Ἀλέκτορος in Greek) is a small city in Mykolaiv Oblast (region) of southern Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of Ochakiv Raion (district), the city itself does not belong to the raion and is designated as a city of regional significance.

For many years the city-fortress served as a capital of the Ottoman province (eyalet).

Odessa Oblast

Odessa Oblast (also known as Odesa Oblast; Ukrainian: Одеська область, Odes’ka oblast’, Russian: Одесская область, Odesskaya oblast’) is an oblast (province) of southwestern Ukraine, located along the northern coast of the Black Sea. Its administrative center is the city of Odessa (Ukrainian: Одеса, romanized: Odesa).

The region, the largest in Ukraine by area, is approximately the size of Belgium. The length of coastline (sea-coast and estuaries) reaches 300 km (190 mi), while the state border stretches for 1,200 km (750 mi). The region has eight sea-ports, over 80,000 ha (200,000 acres) of vineyards, and five of the biggest lakes in Ukraine. One of the largest, Yalpuh Lake, is as large as the city of Odessa itself.Odessa, the administrative center of the oblast, is the third-largest city in Ukraine. The town has become known in Ukraine as the "Black Sea Pearl" or as the "Southern Palmyra". Odessa became the first city in Ukraine to see a car, with the internal combustion engine brought to the city in 1891 by Vasiliy Navrotskiy, the chief editor of Odesskiy Listok. After Catherine the Great founded Odessa, one of her foreign military commanders, José de Ribas (1749-1800), brought the lava for making the cobblestones on vulytsia Deribasivska from the Vesuvius volcano near his native Naples. Under that street are the Odessa catacombs, which purportedly exceed the expanse of the catacombs in Paris or Rome.

Olbia (archaeological site)

Pontic Olbia (Ancient Greek: Ὀλβία Ποντική, Ukrainian: Ольвія) or simply Olbia is an archaeological site of an ancient Greek city on the shore of the Southern Bug estuary (Hypanis or Ὕπανις,) in Ukraine, near village of Parutyne. The archaeological site is protected as the National Historic and Archaeological Preserve. The preserve is a research and science institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In 1938–1993 it was part of the NASU Institute of Archaeology as a department.

The Hellenic city was founded in the 7th century BC by colonists from Miletus. Its harbour was one of the main emporia on the Black Sea for the export of cereals, fish, and slaves to Greece, and for the import of Attic goods to Scythia.

Pyotr Schmidt

Pyotr Petrovich Schmidt (Russian: Пётр Петрович Шмидт; February 17 [O.S. February 5] 1867 – March 19 [O.S. March 6] 1906) was one of the leaders of the Sevastopol Uprising during the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Racer goby

The racer goby (Babka gymnotrachelus) is a species of goby native to fresh, sometimes brackish, waters, of the Black Sea basin. It is a Ponto-Caspian relict species. The species is placed a monotypic genus, Babka, which was once considered a subgenus of genus Neogobius, but was then elevated to genus-status based on the molecular analysis.

Siege of Dorostolon

The Battle of Dorostopol was fought in 971 between the Byzantine Empire and forces of Kievan Rus'. The Byzantines, led by John I Tzimisces, were victorious.

Volkhov-Volga trade route
Dvina-Dnieper trade route
Other locations

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