Istanbul: Crossroads of Civilization

Because of its unique position where Asia and Europe meet, the area around Istanbul has long played an important role in world history. Perhaps no other city has been so central to the march of civilization. As capital of the Byzantine empire for more than a thousand years (from 330 to 1453) it was a leading city of the world. Now in the 21st century, Istanbul is once again growing rapidly and contributing much to East - West dialogue.

Milestones in Istanbul's crossroads role:

50,000 BC Humans living in central Asia become the ancestors of both Europeans and Siberians/ North American Indians

9000 World's earliest towns/ agricultural societies form nearby on hills by the Euphrates river

6000 Noah's flood in the Bible is likely caused by water pouring into the Black Sea, as the waters of the Mediterranean carve out the Bosporus straits, separating Europe from Asia

2000 Those living near Istanbul could be part of the Sea Peoples who trade with early civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean and attack ancient Egypt

1500 Warriors from north of the Black Sea (Indo-Europeans) conquer both north India and the northern Mediterranean, including areas like Greece and Italy.

1200 Trojan war is fought, largely over control of trade from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea

667 Colonists from Athens and other Greek cities establish a town at the Golden Horn. The expedition is led by Byzas, whose name is later given to the Byzantine empire

67 BC Byzas' town becomes part of the Roman Empire

330 AD Constantine makes Byzas's town the capital of the Roman Empire, renamed Constantinople

537 Emperor Justinian dedicates Hagia Sophia church, most spectacular building in the world. Silk route trade with China and Mediterranean conquests bring huge wealth to Constantinople, making it the leading city of the world.

1071 Seljuk Turks defeat the Byzantine army at Manzikert, ending Constantinople's second period as the leading city of the world.

1203 Soldiers of the Fourth Crusade sack Constantinople

1453 Constantinople falls to the Turks and is renamed Istanbul

1880 Istanbul is the terminus of the Orient Express train and much East-West trade

2000 Istanbul becomes the largest city in Europe and is a model for other developing Muslim cities

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