Ethnic Identities and Diplomatic Affiliations along the Ancient Black Sea Littoral (7th Century BCE–7th Century CE)
Iranians from the steppes settled along the Northern coast of the Black Sea since the 2nd millennium BC. Greek colonists joined them as of the 7th century BC. Roman political interest in the region is attested sporadically in the 2nd century BC, before Roman indirect control manifested around 70 BC, continuing throughout the High Empire and much of the Byzantine Period. Of particular interest is the Bosporan Kingdom, which surrounded the Strait of Kerch. Since the 5th century BC, it was ruled by Greek rulers or Hellenized kings of Iranian or Thracian descent. Mithradates VI Eupator (123/ca.109–63 BC) was its first ruler who also held the title ‘friend of the Roman people’, although he turned into one of the archenemies of Rome later in his life. His successors resumed friendship diplomacy nevertheless, and even became ‘high priests of the Emperor’ in the first century AD.
The Project Ethnic Identities and Diplomatic Affiliations along the Ancient Black Sea Littoral (7th Century BC–7th Century CE) seeks to study
· the history of the ancient Bosporan Kingdom
· the heterogeneous ethnicities of its rulers and population
· its complex relations with the Roman Empire
· ideological distortions in modern historiography
Besides a team of international experts from more than twelve countries, the research project is supported by the University of Waterloo and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).