Classical period

 After the fall of Miletus it was Athens which, having come out victorious from the conflict with the Persians, took a leading role among the Greek colonies in the Black Sea unification and strengthening of the two barbarian states, Thrace and Scythia, and their increasingly expansive and aggressive policy with regard to the neighboring poleis.

The successful parrying of the Persian attack by the Scythians in 519-510 BC not only undercut Persian prestige, but also led to the unification and strengthening of the Scythians.[1] They became much more aggressive toward their neighbors, first the farmers from the steppe, then the Thracians and finally the Greek colonists who could have appeared to them due to their ties with Miletus as being hand in hand with the Persian aggressor. In consequence, Thrace was united under the Odrysian dynasty of kings, defending its independence which led in turn to the conclusion of a peace treaty between the kings Terese and Ariapeithes around 480 BC. Until then the Greeks had held their positions, although in Olbia[2] It could be an indication of the trends in the internal situation of the Bosporan poleis. After 480 BC, the situation changed dramatically. Single poleis were not capable any longer to withstand pressure from the barbarians and many became protectorates.[3]
Despite everything the colonies in the Cimmerian Bosporus cannot be treated on equal with Olbia and the colonies in the western part of the Crimea. At least in terms of their relations with the barbarians, the two regions parted ways. Olbia, Kerkinitis and other colonies in the western part of the region were much more isolated and far apart than their counterparts on the Kerch Strait. The latter were more numerous first of all and they were situated in a much smaller region overall. By the same, their potential and strategic situation was quite different. Being so close together, they were in danger of competing with one another, but the external threat posed by the Scythians stopped them from infighting and enforced cooperation and consolidation in the end. The first stage in the process was establishing a defense alliance, a symmachia as it was called.[4]
Diodorus [5] His one brief mention is the foundation stone of the reconstruction of events between 480/79 and 438/37 BC. The Bosporus was ruled at this time by the Archeanactid dynasty, replaced by Spartakos. There is no way to independently verify this information and any divagations on the subject are based chiefly on speculation and conjectures.[6] Even the character and scope of the power wielded by the Archeanactid kings is not entirely clear. The present view is that they were tyrants ruling over most if not all the Greek cities in the Kerch Strait from Pantikapaion[7] Surprisingly, the archaeological record in most of the Greek towns of the region seems not to have a layer corresponding to the times of their rule: the late archaic layers are overlain directly by Hellenistic remains from the 4th century BC.[8] In this situation the character of the symmachia or unification of Greek towns that undoubtedly took place in this period cannot be determined in full.
The unification process was triggered by the growing threat of raids by the Scythians in the late 6th and early 5th century BC.[9] Virtually all of the Greek towns in the northern Black Sea littoral succumbed to the Scythians and accepted their authority. The sole exception was Pantikapaion[10] In both cases military efficiency was a decisive factor of survival and it required consolidation. The conquest of neighboring barbarians soon brought interesting results. The Sindoi were Hellenized quite rapidly,[11] but not the Maiotians and Taurians who continued to present trouble.[12] It gave the Greeks the necessary mental and logistic experience to face successfully the challenge posed by the much greater Scythian threat at the turn of the 6th/5th century BC. The Archeanactid kings stood in the forefront of this undertaking,[13] while the regional religious and ethnic ties mentioned earlier facilitated reaching beyond the borders of a single polis. The absence of literary and epigraphical sources makes any reconstruction of these events merely a show of conjectures and speculation, for which this is not the place.[14] These changes laid the ground for an alliance of the Greek cities on the Kerch Strait, which successfully defended their independence against the Scythians.
An important event about the time that the Archeanactid dynasty lost power was the Black Sea expedition of Pericles around 437 BC. Literary sources are again scarce and the only certain information concerns the intervention in Sinope, the banishment of the local tyrant and settling 600 Athenians on confiscated land.[15] Whether in effect of this expedition or independently of it, in 425 BC there were at least 44 Black Sea cities in the Athenian Union.[16] Of the Bosporan cities Nymphaion belonged to the Union; it was lost to the Spartokid[17] The rest is in the sphere of conjectures. For the purpose of the present study the potential importance of closer contacts with Athens, a major civilizational and cultural in the second half of the 5th century should be noted. The impact of contacts with Athens can be observed in the archaeological record, but unfortunately not in the preserved fragments of Bosporan poetry.
Little is known of the circumstances in which the Spartokid dynasty took power, although in there exist several mentions regarding these events in the literary sources[18] and much more abundant epigraphic data. It seems that the first Spartokid kings took control of cities in the Cimmerian Bosporus as well as of Theodosia and subjugated the Sindoi and other barbarian tribes on the Asiatic side of the strait. According to Diodorus, the Spartokid[19] Determining the nature of their authority is also a difficult task, although it seems clear that it had been a kind of tyranny right from the start.[20] The example of Theodosia and Nymphaion shows that not all the Greek cities succumbed without a fight despite the constant threat from neighboring barbarians. The unquestionable facts are that the Archeanactid dynasty was replaced in power by the Spartokid[21] This presumably triggered the attack on Theodosia which was successful after several years of fighting. In the course of the conflict the Bosporan Greeks came into closer relations with the Sindoi and Maiotians inhabiting the Taman peninsula, subordinating them partly by force and partly through dynastic marriages. The titulature of Bosporan rulers attested epigraphically reflects these processes,[22] as does the content of many private inscriptions. It was an entirely new model of city-state that we are dealing with here, a territorial state instead of the typical polis and on a much larger scale than the state of the Sicilian tyrants. The state incorporated, although it is not clear whether on equal standing, the Greeks from the cities as well as the increasingly Hellenized barbarians from the steppes. Inscriptions, especially the metric ones, give insight into this phenomenon.

From the end of the 5th century inscriptions start to play a role of growing importance in understanding the history of the Bosporan Kingdom. Poetry, both votive and funerary, has its share in this picture. Close ties with barbarian tribes are confirmed by the oldest surviving epitaph.[23] The deceased, Tychon (a typically Greek name) admits with pride to being from the Taurian tribe. Considered in context with another metric inscription[24] it demonstrates clearly enough that at the turn of the 5th century BC the Bosporan Kingdom extended from the territory of the Taurians in the west to the Caucasus in the east (second half of the 4th century BC). The picture reconstructed mainly on the basis of epigraphic data reveals that the 4th century BC is a time of great prosperity for the state, increasingly strong rule by the Spartokid

[1] Vinogradov 1980, p. 107-114, Vinogradov 1981 b, pp. 629-632.
[2] Vinogradov 1989
[3] The towns in West Pont thus found themselves in the power of the Thracian Odrysian tribe, Thucydides 2, 97,3 tw=n (Ellhni/dwn po/lewn o(/swnper e)=rcan. It may be assumed that Olbia and Nikonion were controlled by Scythian kings, Herodotus 4, 78-80 (story of Skyles). See Vinogradov 1981 a, pp. 200-209 and an inscription confirming this for Kerkinitis (end of 5th century BC), Solomonik 1987, pp. 114-125 with Vinogradov’s commentary, BE 1990, no. 566.
[4] Vinogradov 1980, pp. 100-132
[5] 12, 31, 1, 6: kata\ de th\n )Asi/an oi( tou= Kimmeri/ou Bospo/rou basileu=antej, o)nomasqe/ntej de\  )Arxaianakti/dai, h)=rcan e)/th du/o pro\j toi=j tettara/konta: diede/cato de\ th\n a)rxh\n Spa/rtakoj, kai\ h)=rcen e)th e(pta/.
[6] It concerns chiefly the origins of the Archeanactid dynasty which are placed in Mythilene or in Miletus. It is beside the point to discuss here the extensive references to the subject and analyze all the nuances of the argument. Zhebelev 1953 contains the older references and views; the newer literature is in Vinogradov 1980.
[7] Opinions are divided and the discussion has been ongoing for more than a hundred years, the debate raging even regarding the capital of the Archeanactid kings. For a summary of the discussion, see Vinogradov 1980.
[8] See archaeological reports from Hermonassa [9] Cf. Herodotus 4, 28, but also archaeological evidence from Tyritake, for example; cf. Gaidukevich 1952 a, 89.
[10] Cf. Kolobova 1953, p. 52; Gaidukevich 1971, p. 54.
[11] See Kruszkol 1974 with older bibliography.
[12] So the literary sources: Maiotians – Strabo[13] On the Archeanactid dynasty, see Belova 1967, p. 67.
[14] Speculations of this kind presented by Vinogradov 1980, p. 115
[15] Plutarch[16] ATL I, s. 157; IV, 127-170; cf. Meiggs 1972, pp. 197-199, 328 f.
[17] Aischines[18] The most important reports on the rule of the Spartokid[19] Diodorus[20] See Vinogradov’s brilliant analysis of the issue, 1980, pp. 220-223 based primarily on a comparison with the much better known tyranny in Syracuse, Sicily. Suffice it to mention the facts as the scope of this study does not cover an in-depth analysis of this site.
[21] Isokrates, Trapezitikos 5; Periplus Anonymi, 77.
[22] a)/rxwn Bospo/ro kai\ Qeodosi/hj kai\ basileu/wn Si/ndwn, Torete/wn, Dandari/wn, Yessw=n: rules of the Bosporus and Theodosia and the kings of the Sindoi, Toretes, Dandarioi, Psessoi.
[23] CIRB 114.
[24] CIRB, 113, votive inscription of Phanomachos from the rule of Pairisades I (342/341-310/309 BC).