Tmutarakan[1] (Russian: Тмутарака́нь, IPA: [tmʊtərɐˈkanʲ]) was a medieval Kievan Rus' principality and trading town that controlled the Cimmerian Bosporus, the passage from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, between the late 10th and 11th centuries. Its site was the ancient Greek colony of Hermonassa (Ancient Greek: Ἑρμώνασσα) founded in the mid 6th century BCE, by Mytilene (Lesbos), situated on the Taman peninsula, in the present-day Krasnodar Krai of Russia, roughly opposite Kerch. [2] The Khazar fortress of Tamantarkhan (from which the Byzantine name for the city, Tamatarcha, is derived) was built on the site in the 7th century, and became known as Tmutarakan when it came under Kievan Rus control.

Hermonassa 2
Excavation at the site, September 2008
Tmutarakan is located in Krasnodar Krai
Location of the site within Russia
Tmutarakan is located in European Russia
Tmutarakan (European Russia)
Alternative nameHermonassa
LocationKrasnodar Krai, Russia
RegionTaman Peninsula
Coordinates45°13′09″N 36°42′51″E / 45.21917°N 36.71417°ECoordinates: 45°13′09″N 36°42′51″E / 45.21917°N 36.71417°E
Founded6th century BCE
AbandonedAfter 14th century CE
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins

An international emporium

The Greek colony of Hermonassa was located a few miles west of Phanagoria and Panticapaeum, major trade centers for what was to become the Bosporan Kingdom. The city was founded in the mid-6th century BCE by Mytilene (Lesbos), although there is evidence of others taking part in the enterprise, including Cretans.[3] The city flourished for some centuries and many ancient buildings and streets have been excavated from this period, as well as a hoard of 4th century golden coins.[4] Hermonassa was a centre of the Bosporan cult of Aphrodite[5] and in the early centuries CE was trading with the Alans.[6] There is also archaeological evidence of extensive replanning and construction in the 2nd century CE.

After a long period as a Roman client state, the Bosporan kingdom succumbed to the Huns, who defeated the nearby Alans in 375/376. With the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the late 5th century, the area passed within the Roman sphere once again but was taken by the Bulgars in the 6th century. Following the fall of the city to the Khazars in the late 7th century, it was rebuilt as a fortress town and renamed Tamatarkha. Arabic sources refer to it as Samkarsh al-Yahud (i.e., "Samkarsh of the Jews") in reference to the fact that the bulk of the trading there was handled by Jews.[7] Other variants of the city's name are "Samkersh" and "Samkush".[8]

Fortified with a strong brick wall and boasting a fine harbor, Tamatarkha was a large city of merchants. It controlled much of the Northern European trade with the Byzantine Empire and Northern Caucasus. There were also trade routes leading south-east to Armenia and the Muslim domains, as well as others connecting with the Silk Road to the east. The inhabitants included Greeks, Armenians, Russians, Jews, Ossetians, Lezgins, Georgians, and Circassians. After the destruction of the Khazar empire by Sviatoslav I of Kiev in the mid-10th century, Khazars continued to inhabit the region. The Mandgelis Document, a Hebrew letter dated AM 4746 (985–986) refers to "our lord David, the Khazar prince" who lived in Taman and who was visited by envoys from Kievan Rus to ask about religious matters.

Medieval history

Khazar Empire
The city of Tmutarakan (Samkarsh) and its international relations during Khazar and Rus times.

Although the exact date and circumstances of Tmutarakan's takeover by Kievan Rus are uncertain, the Hypatian Codex mentions Tmutarakan as one of the towns that Vladimir the Great gave to his sons, which implies that Rus control over the city was established in the late 10th century and certainly before Vladimir's death in 1015.[9] Bronze and silver imitations of Byzantine coinage were struck by the new rulers during this period.[10][11]

Vladimir's son Mstislav of Chernigov was the prince of Tmutarakan at the start of the 11th century. During his reign, a first stone church was dedicated to the Mother of God (Theotokos). The excavated site suggests that it was built by Byzantine workmen and has similarities with the church Mstislav went on to commission in Chernigov.[12] After his death, he was followed by a succession of short-lived petty dynasts. Gleb Svyatoslavich was given command of the city by his father, Svyatoslav Yaroslavich, but in 1064 he was displaced by the rival Rus prince Rostislav Vladimirovich who in his turn was forced to flee the city when Gleb approached with an army led by his father. Once Svyatoslav left, however, Rostislav expelled Gleb once again. During his brief rule, he subdued the local Circassians (also known as Kasogi) and other indigenous tribes, but his success provoked the suspicion of neighboring Greek Chersonesos in the Crimea, whose Byzantine envoy poisoned him on 3 February 1066.[13]

Afterwards command of Tmutarakan returned to the prince of Chernigov[14] and then to the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vsevolod Yaroslavich. In 1079, Svyatoslav Yaroslavich appointed a governor (posadnik), but he was captured two years later by David Igorevich and Volodar Rostislavich, who seized the city.[15] Exiled from the city to Byzantium by Khazar agents during this turbulent time, Oleg Svyatoslavich returned to Tmutarakan in 1083 and ousted the usurpers, adopting the title of "archon of Khazaria" (Arakhan of Tmutar), and placed the city under nominal Byzantine control. But he also issued rough silver coins in his own name which included a short inscription in Cyrillic letters. Then in 1094, like Mstislav before him, he returned to Rus to claim the throne of Chernigov.[16]

Byzantine interest in the city was maintained through this succession of client rulers, and thereafter by more direct rule for a while, for an important reason. There were naphtha deposits in the area and this was a vital ingredient of their main tactical weapon, Greek Fire.[17] Up until the end of the 12th century the imperial authorities were forbidding their Genoese trading partners access to the city known to them as Matracha.[18]


Taman map
A Russian map of the Taman peninsula, c. 1870.

In the 13th century the city passed to the Empire of Trebizond (a Byzantine successor state). Its last recorded mention was in a scroll of 1378. The region fell under Genoese control in the 14th century and formed part of the protectorate of Gazaria, based at Kaffa. It was within the territory administered by the Ghisolfi family and was conquered by the Crimean Khanate in 1482 and by Russia in 1791. A possible remaining Khazar connection is suggested by mention of “Jewish princes” in Tamatarkha under both Genoese and Tatar rule.[19]

The city subsequently fell into ruin and the site was rediscovered in 1792, when a local peasant found a stone with an inscription stating that Prince Gleb had measured the sea from here to Kerch in 1068. Archaeological excavations of the site were begun in the 19th and have continued since. The habitation level in places exceeds twelve meters.

During much of the 17th and 18th centuries the area was dominated by Cossacks centered on the town of Taman, which was located near the remains of Tmutarakan. The modern town of Temryuk is nearby. In modern colloquial Russian, "tmutarakan" has the idiomatic meaning of "the middle of nowhere" (in the sense of being far away from civilization).[20]


  1. ^ Occasionally, Tmutorakan.
  2. ^ Andrew Burn, The Lyric Age of Greece, New York, St Martin's Press, 1960 p. 119 & n. 60.
  3. ^ Andrew Burn, The Lyric Age of Greece, New York, St Martin's Press, 1960 p. 119 & n. 60. M.J. Traister and T.V. Shelov-Kovedyayev, “An inscribed conical clay object from Hermonassa”
  4. ^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
  5. ^ Yulia Ustinova, The Supreme Gods of the Bosporan Kingdom, Brill 1999, ch.3, p.129ff
  6. ^ The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1979
  7. ^ J.B.Bury, History of the Eastern Empire from the Fall of Irene to the Accession of Basil 1912, p.408; Kevin Alan Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, ML 20706, 2004, p.29-30
  8. ^ "Krimchaks". Encyclopaedia Judaica
  9. ^ Tikhomirov (1959), p. 33
  10. ^ Marlia Mundell Mango (ed.), Byzantine Trade, 4th-12th Centuries, Routledge 2016
  11. ^ illustration at Munzeo
  12. ^ Shepard (2006), pp.34-5
  13. ^ Dimnik (2003), p.82
  14. ^ Dimnik (2003), p. 285
  15. ^ Tikhomirov (1959), p. 171
  16. ^ Shepard (2006), pp.42-6
  17. ^ Shepard (2006), pp.24-5
  18. ^ Shepard (2009), pp.439-40
  19. ^ Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe”, London 1977, p.129
  20. ^ Khrushkova, Liudmila, "Tamatracha" in Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Black Sea, 2008, note 5


  • Brook, Kevin Alan. The Jews of Khazaria. 2nd ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2006.
  • Christian, David. A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia. Vol. 1. Blackwell, 1999. pp. 298–397.
  • Dimnik, Martin. The Dynasty of Chernigov, 1146–1246. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-82442-7
  • Room, Adrian. Placenames Of The World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features and Historic Sites. 2nd ed. McFarland & Company, 2005. ISBN 0-7864-2248-3
  • Shepard, Jonathan. "Close encounters with the Byzantine world: the Rus at the Straits of Kerch" in Pre-modern Russia and its world. Wiesbaden, 2006, ISBN 3-447-05425-5
  • Shepard, Jonathan: "Mists and Portals: the Black Sea's north coast", pp. 421–42 in Byzantine trade, 4th-12th centuries, Farnham UK 2009, ISBN 978-0-7546-6310-2
  • Tikhomirov, M. The Towns of Ancient Rus. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing, 1959.
  • Ivanov, V. V., and Toporov, V. N., 1992. Pchela. In: S. A. Tokarev (ed.) Mify narodov mira. Vol. 2. Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, pp. 354–356.
  • Zand, Michael, and Kharuv, Dan (1997). "Krimchaks". Encyclopaedia Judaica (CD-ROM Edition Version 1.0). Ed. Cecil Roth. Keter Publishing House. ISBN 965-07-0665-8
Boris Vyacheslavich

Boris Vyacheslavich (Russian: Борис Вячеславич) was Prince of Chernigov for eight days in 1077. He was the son of Vyacheslav Yaroslavich, Prince of Smolensk. Following his father's death in 1057, the child Boris was debarred from his inheritance. He died fighting against his uncles—Vsevolod Yaroslavich, Prince of Chernigov and Izyaslav Yaroslavich, Grand Prince of Kiev—on 3 October 1078.

Boyan (bard)

Boyan is the name of a bard who was mentioned in the Rus' epic The Lay of Igor's Campaign as being active at the court of Yaroslav the Wise. He is apostrophized as Volos's grandson in the opening lines of The Lay (probably a reference to Veles as the patron of musicians). Historians have been unable to determine whether Boyan was his proper name (as Nikolai Karamzin and Fyodor Buslayev postulated) or all skalds of Rus were called boyans (Alexander Vostokov).

Although The Lay is the only authentic source mentioning Boyan, his name became exceedingly popular with later generations. He is mentioned in the Zadonshchina and Pushkin's Ruslan and Ludmila. The folklorist Alexander Afanasyev considered Boyan a precursor of Ukrainian kobzars. Soviet scholars tended to associate him with the House of Chernihiv, assuming that he started his career at the court of Mstislav of Tmutarakan. Boris Rybakov supported this theory and linked his name to a graffito on the wall of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev which mentions a purchase of "Boyan's land" by "Vsevolod's wife".

The Russian version of the button accordion is known as the bayan and was named after legendary Boyan upon its invention in 1907.


In the Dove Book and other medieval Russian books, Buyan (Russian: Буя́н, sometimes transliterated as Bujan) is described as a mysterious island in the ocean with the ability to appear and disappear using tides. Three brothers—Northern, Western, and Eastern Winds—live there, and also the Zoryas, solar goddesses who are servants or daughters of the solar god Dazhbog.It figures prominently in many famous myths; Koschei the Deathless keeps his soul or immortality hidden there, secreted inside a needle placed inside an egg in the mystical oak-tree; other legends call the island the source of all weather, created there and sent forth into the world by the god Perun. It is also mentioned in The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of His Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan (an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, set partially in Tmutarakan and Buyan's magical city of Ledenets (Russian: Леденец, "sugary")) and many other Slavic folktales. Furthermore, it has the mythical stone with healing and magic powers, known as the alatyr' (Russian: Алатырь), which is guarded by the bird Gagana and Garafena the serpent.

Some scholars interpret Buyan as a sort of Proto-Indo-European Otherworld (see Fortunate Islands). Others assert that Buyan is actually a Slavic name for some real island, most likely Rügen.

Council of Liubech

The Council of Liubech was one of the best documented princely meetings of Ruthenia that took place in Liubech (today in Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine) in 1097. The council ended the war between the ruling Grand Prince Sviatopolk and the Prince of Chernihiv Oleh who fought for heritage of his father the Grand Prince Sviatoslav II.

Another session followed in Vytechev (near Kiev) on August 10, 1100, known as the Council of Uvetichi.

The council, initiated by Vladimir II Monomakh, brought together Sviatopolk II Iziaslavich, Vasilko Rostislavich, David Svyatoslavich, Oleg Svyatoslavich, and other Rus' princes. It aimed to stop the fraternal war , to pacify the people, and to present a unified front against the Polovtsy (Cumans). It resulted in the division of Kievan Rus' among the princes, letting their immediate families inherit them. This broke a rota system (lestvichnoe pravo) that had been followed in Kievan Rus' for two centuries.

The Council assigned/confirmed the principalities as follows:

Sviatopolk II received Kiev, Turov, Pinsk, and the title of the Grand Prince.

Vladimir II Monomakh received Pereyaslavl, the Rostov-Suzdal lands, Smolensk, and Beloozero. His son Mstislav received Great Novgorod.

Oleg, Davyd, and Yaroslav, both sons of Sviatoslav II of Kiev (Grand Prince of Kiev, 1073-1076), received Chernigiv, Tmutarakan, Ryazan, and Murom.Of the remaining izgoi princes:

David Igorevich received Volodymyr-Volynskyi.

Volodar Rostislavich - Peremyshl.

Vasilko Rostislavich - Terebovl.This change effectively established a feudal system in Kievan Rus'. It stopped the struggle for Chernigov, but was not observed perfectly. After the death of Sviatopolk in 1113, the citizens of Kiev revolted and summoned Monomakh to the throne. Nevertheless, the new dispensation allowed other principalities to consolidate their power and to develop as powerful regional centers: most notably Galicia-Volhynia and Vladimir-Suzdal.

Georgius Tzul

Georgius Tzul (also Georgios) was a Khazar warlord against whom the Byzantine Empire and Mstislav of Tmutarakan launched a joint expedition in 1016.

He appears only in the account of the Byzantine court historians Kedrenos and John Skylitzes, who place him at Kerch and calls him "khagan" (the title of the Khazar emperors). Kedrenos states that he was captured by the expeditionary force but does not relate his ultimate fate. Inscriptions and other references exist referring to a Tzul or Tsal clan in Crimea during this period; presumably he was a member although the relationship of that family to the original ruling dynasty of Khazaria is unknown. Almost nothing else about him, including the extent of his holdings, is known.

Despite the fact that earlier writers maintained that the Khazar khagan was required to adhere to Judaism, Georgius is a Christian name. Whether Georgius Tzul was himself a Christian, a Jew or Shamanist with an unusual Greek name, or whether the name is merely a Byzantine attempt to transliterate a Turkic or Hebrew name, is unknown.Byzantine campaigns occurred roughly during this period against the Georgians and the Bulgarian Empire, suggesting a concerted effort to re-establish Byzantine dominance in the Black Sea region.

Gleb Svyatoslavich

Gleb Svyatoslavich (c. 1052 – 30 May 1078) was Prince of Tmutarakan and Novgorod. He ruled Tmutarakan under the overall authority of his father Sviatoslav Iaroslavich, Prince of Chernigov. He was twice expelled from his principality by one of his cousins Rostislav Vladimirovich.

His father appointed him prince of Novgorod in 1067 or 1068. He suppressed a rebellion incited by a sorcerer against the bishop of the town. Later he was expelled from Novgorod, and was killed by the Chudes. The Russian Primary Chronicle writes that he "was kindly toward the poor and hospitable to strangers, zealous toward the church, warm in faith, peaceful, and fair in appearance".

Igor Yaroslavich

Igor Yaroslavich was one of the younger sons of Yaroslav the Wise from the Rurikid dynasty of Kievan Rus’. He was baptized as George.

The date of his birth is unsure. Some historians consider him to be born in 1034–35, while others think that he was born after Yaroslav moved to Kiev in 1036. Upon the death of his father Iziaslav I of Kiev who was the eldest at that time appointed him as the Prince of Volyn. When another of his brother Vyacheslav has died under unknown circumstances, Igor was transferred to Smolensk. Around that time Rostislav of Tmutarakan was given his former realm to govern.

Like his other brother Vyacheslav, Igor died young when he was only 24, leaving behind two children Davyd and Vsevolod. Igor was married to a countess of Orlamünde; the wedding with whom was conducting while Yaroslav the Wise was still alive.

Mstislav of Chernigov

Mstislav Vladimirovich (Belarusian: Мсціслаў Уладзіміравіч; Russian: Мстислав Владимирович; Ukrainian: Мстислав Володимирович) was the earliest attested prince of Tmutarakan and Chernigov in Kievan Rus'. He was a younger son of Vladimir the Great, Grand Prince of Kiev. His father appointed him to rule Tmutarakan, an important fortress by the Strait of Kerch, in or after 988.

He invaded the core territories of Kievan Rus', which were ruled by his brother, Yaroslav the Wise, in 1024. Although Mstislav could not take Kiev, he forced the East Slavic tribes dwelling to the east of the Dniester River to accept his suzerainty. Yaroslav the Wise also accepted the division of Kievan Rus' along the river after Mstislav had defeated him in a battle fought at Listven by Chernigov (presents-day Chernihiv, Ukraine). Mstislav transferred his seat to the latter town, and became the first ruler of the principality emerging around it.

Oleg I of Chernigov

Oleg Svyatoslavich (Russian: Олег Святославич; c. 1052 – August 1115) was a Rurikid prince whose equivocal adventures ignited political unrest in Kievan Rus' at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries.

Oleg was a younger son of Sviatoslav Iaroslavich, Prince of Chernigov and his first wife, Killikiya. He might have been either the second or the fourth among the four sons of Sviatoslav Iaroslavich by Killikiya, because their order of seniority is uncertain. According to historian Martin Dimnik, Oleg was born around 1050. Oleg was named after his grand uncle. His baptismal name was Michael.Dimnik writes that "it is highly probable" that Oleg succeeded his brother, Gleb in Tmutarakan after their father appointed the latter Prince of Novgorod in about 1068. Oleg's father and uncle, Vsevolod Iaroslavich made an alliance against their elder brother, Iziaslav Iaroslavich, Grand Prince of Kiev and dethroned him on 22 March 1073. According to Dimnik, Oleg received the Principality of Vladimir from his father who succeeded Iziaslav Iaroslavich in Kiev. In short, Oleg and his cousin, Vladimir Monomach—son of Vsevolod Iaroslavich—became close friends. Monomach writes in his Instruction that Oleg was the godfather of his eldest son, Mstislav. The two cousins together commanded the troops Oleg's father sent to assist Boleslav II of Poland in Bohemia in 1076, according to the Russian Primary Chronicle.Sviatoslav Iaroslavich died in Kiev on 27 December 1077. He was succeeded by his brother, Vsevolod Iaroslavich. The new grand prince seems to have confirmed Oleg's rule in Vladimir, because no source makes mention of a conflict between them. However, the dethroned Iziaslav Iaroslavich—Vsevolod's brother and Oleg's uncle—returned with Polish reinforcements. Iziaslav and Vsevolod had a meeting where they reached an agreement: Vsevolod renounced of Kiev, but received Chernigov, the one-time domain of Oleg's father. Iziaslav marched in Kiev on 15 July 1077, while Oleg "was with Vsevolod at Chernigov", according to the Russian Primary Chronicle. The chronicler's remark suggests that Oleg had by that time been forced to leave Vladimir.Failing to get along with his uncle, on 10 April 1077 Oleg fled to his brother Roman who reigned in Tmutarakan. Together with his cousin, Boris Vyacheslavich, who had also settled in Tmutarakan, Oleg made an alliance with the Cumans and invaded Rus' in the summer of 1078. They routed their uncle, Vsevolod on the Sozh River and entered Chernigov on 25 August. The Russian Primary Chronicle accuses Oleg and Boris of being the first to lead "the pagans to attack the land of Rus'". However, Vladimir Monomach, in his Instruction, reveals that he and his father, Vsevolod had hired Cumans when attacking Polotsk in the previous year.Expelled from Chernigov, Vsevolod fled to Kiev and sought assistance from his brother, Iziaslav. They united their forces and marched against Chernigov. Although Oleg and Boris were not in the town when their uncles arrived, the citizens decided to resist. Oleg was willing to start negotiations with his uncles, but Boris refused his proposal. The decisive battle was fought "at a place near a village on the meadow of Nezhata" on 3 October.He was defeated and escaped to Tmutarakan, where the Khazars had him imprisoned and sent in chains to Constantinople. The emperor, who was a relative and ally of Vsevolod, exiled him to Rhodes. There he married a noble lady, Theophano Mouzalonissa, who bore him several children.

Four years later, we again find him active in Tmutarakan, where he adopted the title "archon of Khazaria". In 1094, he returned with the Kipchaks to Rus' and captured Chernihiv. There ensued a prolonged internecine struggle with his cousins Sviatopolk and Vladimir Monomakh. One of the most prominent princes of Kievan period who never attained the Kievan throne, he died on August 1, 1115 and was buried in Chernihiv.

The Tale of Igor's Campaign styles him Gorislavich, poetically deriving his patronymic from the Russian word for sorrow. His descendants, known as Olgovichi, were archrivals of Vladimir's descendants (known as Monomakhovichi) in their struggle for supremacy in Rus'.

His son was Igor II of Kiev.

Prince of Tmutarakan

The Prince of Tmutarakan was the kniaz, the ruler or sub-ruler, of the Rus' Tmutarakan.

Principality of Halych

Principality of Halych (Ukrainian: Галицьке князівство, Old East Slavic: Галицкоє кънѧжьство, Romanian: Cnezatul Halici), or Principality of Halychian Rus', was a medieval East Slavic principality, and one of main regional states within the political scope of Kievan Rus', established by members of the oldest line of Yaroslav the Wise descendants. A characteristic feature of Halych principality was an important role of the nobility and citizens in political life, consideration a will of which was the main condition for the princely rule. Halych as the capital mentioned in around 1124 as a seat of Ivan Vasylkovych the grandson of Rostislav of Tmutarakan. According to Mykhailo Hrushevsky the realm of Halych was passed to Rostyslav upon the death of his father Vladimir Yaroslavich, but he was banished out of it later by his uncle to Tmutarakan. The realm was then passed to Yaropolk Izyaslavich who was a son of the ruling Grand Prince of Kiev Izyaslav I of Kiev.

Religion in Crimea

The majority of Crimean population adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church, with the Crimean Tatars forming a Sunni Muslim minority, besides smaller Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Armenian Apostolic and Jewish minorities.

The Crimean peninsula was Christianised at an early time, via Gothic Christianity, in the 4th century.

According to a 9th-century tradition, Pope Clement I (ruled 88–98) was exiled to Chersonesos (near what is now Sevastopol) in 102, as was Pope Martin I in 655. A representative from the Black Sea area, the "head of the Scythian bishopric", was present at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, as well as the First Council of Constantinople in 381; it has been surmised that this representative would have to have been Bishop Cadmus of the Bosporan Kingdom. Ostrogoths, who remained on present-day Ukrainian lands after the invasion of the Huns, established a metropolinate under the Bishop of Constantinople at Dorus in northern Crimea around the year 400.

The Goths initially adhered to Arianism, but by the 9th century, with the establishment of the Byzantine Cherson theme, the Goths in Crimea turned to the Greek Orthodox Church, under the Metropolitanate of Gothia.

A bishop's seat had also existed since 868 across the Strait of Kerch, in the city of Tmutarakan. In the mid-10th century, the eastern area of Crimea was conquered by Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev and became part of the Kievan Rus' principality of Tmutarakan. In 988, Prince Vladimir I of Kiev also captured Chersonesos where he later converted to Christianity.

Meanwhile, the Khazars, who occupied the northern parts of the peninsula, converted to Judaism. Both the date of the conversion, and the extent of its influence beyond the elite, are disputed; the conversion must have taken place at some point between AD 740 and 920.

Islam in Crimea begins with the presence of Islamized Turco-Mongol populations following the Mongol invasion of Rus' in the 1230s. Islam becomes the state religion of the Golden Horde in 1313 with the conversion of Öz Beg Khan (Crimea's first mosque was built in Qırım in 1314).With the annexation by Russia in 1779, Crimea was again Christianised, this time under the Russian Orthodox Church, but most Crimean Tatars remain Muslim to the current day.

In 2013 Orthodox Christians made up 73% of the crimean population, followed by Muslims (15%) and Believers in God without religion (5%).

Roman Svyatoslavich

Roman Svyatoslavich or Roman the Handsome (c. 1052 – 2 August 1079) was prince of Tmutarakan in Kievan Rus'. The starting year of his reign is uncertain, but he reigned his principality from around 1073 or 1077. His former allies, the Cumans killed him after their unsuccessful joint campaign against his uncle, Vsevolod I of Kiev.

Rostislav of Tmutarakan

Rostyslav Volodymyrovych, Rostislav Vladimirovich (Ukrainian: Ростислав Володимирович, Russian: Ростислав Владимирович) (died 1066) was a landless prince (izgoi) from the Rurikid dynasty of Kievan Rus’. He was baptized as Mikhail. According to the Russian genealogist Nikolai Baumgarten, the mother of Rostislav was Oda of Stade, a daughter of the Stade Count Leopold. That claim is also supported by other historians.At his younger age, Rostyslav ruled Rostov in the land of the Merya. His father Vladimir of Novgorod was the eldest son of Yaroslav I of Kiev. If Vladimir had not predeceased his father, he would have succeeded to the Kievan throne. Under the East Slavic house law, the early death of Rostislav's father made his descendants forfeit all claims to Kiev.

For five years after his father's death, Rostislav who was about 14 years old had no appanage. Finally, his uncles gave him Volhynia and Halych, where he stayed from 1057 and 1064, guarding the western frontier of the Rus' lands. According to Vasily Tatischev, it was there that he married Anna Lanke, the daughter of King Béla I of Hungary. Rostislav did not like the distant and meager land and, in 1064, assisted by his father's close friend Vyshata, seized the rich Tmutarakan on the Black Sea littoral, previously controlled by the House of Chernigov.

His predecessor, Gleb Svyatoslavich, escaped to his father, Svyatoslav II of Chernigov who was part of the Yaroslaviches triumvirate. The latter approached Tmutarakan with his army and Rostislav was forced to leave the city. Once Svyatoslav returned to Chernigov, Rostislav expelled Gleb once again from Tmutarakan and entered the city in triumph. During his brief rule, he subdued the local Circassians (also known as Kasogi) and other indigenous tribes. His success provoked the rivalry of neighboring Greek Chersonesos in Crimean peninsula, whose envoy poisoned him on 3 February 1066.


According to John Skylitzes, Sfengus or Sphengos was a brother of Knyaz Vladimir I of Kiev. Sfengus was a leader in the joint Byzantine-Kievan campaign to depose Georgius Tzul, the last recorded khagan of the Khazars.

Though identified as a brother of Vladimir I of Kiev, some historians such as Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard hypothesize that he is identical with Mstislav of Tmutarakan, Vladimir's son.

Stone of Tmutarakan

The Stone of Tmutarakan (Russian: Тмутараканский камень) is a marble slab engraved with the words "In the year 6576 [ A.M., 1068 A.D] the sixth of the Indiction, Prince Gleb measured across the sea on the ice from Tmutarakan to Kerch 14,000 sazhen" («В лето 6576 индикта 6 Глеб князь мерил море по леду от Тмутороканя до Корчева 14000 сажен»).

A sazhen, an old Rus unit of length, was equal to seven feet (or corresponded roughly to a fathom); thus the Kerch Straits, according to the stone, were 88,000 feet or 18.5 miles across (that is, from Kerch to Tmutarakan — the straits themselves are only 4.5 miles wide at their narrowest point, but the distance from the site of Tmutarakan to modern-day Kerch is about 15 miles.) The tenth-century Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus wrote that the straits were the equivalent of 18 miles across, and this might explain why that measurement appears on the stone, although it is unclear if an eleventh-century prince in Rus would have had access to that information; this uncertainty calls the stone's authenticity into question.

The Prince Gleb referred to in the inscription was Gleb Svyatoslavich, then prince of Tmutarakan. Gleb was later Prince of Novgorod the Great, where he saved Bishop Fedor's life by chopping a sorcerer in half who led a pagan uprising against the bishop. Gleb was eventually killed fighting pagan Finnic tribes in the northern Novgorodian Lands ("the Zavoloch'e" or "Za Volokom", "the Land beyond the Portages") on May 30, 1079.The stone was discovered on the Taman Peninsula just east of Crimea in 1792 and the inscription was first published in 1794 by Aleksei Musin-Pushkin. The study of the inscription is said to be the first epigraphic study in Russian history. In spite of its importance in the history of Russian epigraphy, a number of scholars have called the stone's provenance into question and consider the stone an eighteenth-century forgery, perhaps done by Romanticists enamored of ancient culture or even as an effort to find precedent for Russian involvement in the Caucasus. The stone is currently housed in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Tale of the Troika

Tale of the Troika (Сказка о Тройке) is a 1968 satirical science fiction novel by Russian writers Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, with illustrations by Yevgeniy Migunov. It criticises both Soviet bureaucracy and somewhat the Soviet scientific environment. Although the novel itself is not directed against state per se and a number of points underlined are true of modern-day bureaucracy and science, it met with a cold reaction during Soviet times and was quite difficult to obtain, therefore achieving a "forbidden fruit" status.

The novel exists in two slightly different variants - Smena and Angara, by the names of the magazines in which they were published. They differ by characters and some plot lines and was caused by Angara editorial request to fit the novel for the magazine volume.

One version can be considered a more direct sequel to Monday Begins on Saturday, at the end of which the main character is told he will be sent to Kitezhgrad for a business trip, and that is where this version of Tale of the Troika takes place. The other version takes place in Tmuskorpion' (literally: "darkness-scorpion", a pun with "Tmutarakan", which is a cliché for a remote, obscure place; tarakan means cockroach, hence the pun), on a previously unexplored and unreachable floor of the Scientific Research Institute of Sorcery and Wizardry.

The Tale of Tsar Saltan (opera)

The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Russian: Сказка о царе Салтане, Skazka o Tsare Saltane) is an opera in four acts with a prologue (a total of seven scenes) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by Vladimir Belsky, and is based on the poem of the same name by Aleksandr Pushkin. The opera was composed in 1899–1900 to coincide with Pushkin's centenary, and was first performed in 1900 in Moscow, Russia.

The lengthy full title of both the opera and the poem is The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of his Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan (Russian: Сказка о царе Салтане, о сыне его славном и могучем богатыре князе Гвидоне Салтановиче и о прекрасной царевне Лебеди Skazka o tsare Saltane, o syne yego slavnom i moguchem bogatyre knyaze Gvidone Saltanoviche i o prekrasnoy tsarevne Lebedi).


The Zygii (Greek: Ζυγοί, Zygoí) or Zygians were described by Strabo as a nation to the north of Colchis. He wrote:

And on the sea lies the Asiatic side of the Bosporus, or the Syndic territory. After this latter, one comes to the Achaei and the Zygii and the Heniochi, and also the Cercetae and the Macropogones. And above these are situated the narrow passes of the Phtheirophagi (Phthirophagi); and after the Heniochi the Colchian country, which lies at the foot of the Caucasian, or Moschian, Mountains. (Strabo, Geographica 11.2)

William Smith observes that "they were partly nomad shepherds, partly brigands and pirates, for which latter vocation they had ships specially adapted". They inhabited the region known as Zyx, which is on the northern slopes of the Western Caucasus. To the east were the Avars. To the north was Sarmatian territory, and to the south lay the part of Colchis inhabited by the Svans (Soanes of Strabo and Pliny the Elder).

Initially, Zyx (Italian: Sychia, Georgian: Jiqeti) in Greek literature referred to a people inhabiting the area between Gagra and Tuapse, who later expanded up to the estuary of the Kuban and the neighbouring region of historical Tmutarakan. This tribe also features in several ancient and medieval works, notably in Pliny (Zichoi), Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, medieval Georgian chroniclers (Jikebi), Marco Polo, and Johannes de Galonifontibus, who, in his Libellus de notitia orbis, speaks of "Zikia or Circassia" and their language, perhaps the earliest reference to the Northwest Caucasian languages.Researchers assume that the Zygii spoke a Northwest Caucasian language. Northwest Caucasian hydro- and toponyms, traditional names of rulers and also the seamless transition from the Zygii and the Cercetae, whose designations were subsequently replaced with the names of several Circassian tribes, confirm this.

Khazar rulers
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