Archaic period

 The Archaic period marks the colonization of the entire Black Sea by the Greeks. It is assumed that colonization started around the middle of the 7th century BC to end at the turn of the 6th century BC. In this respect the chronology of the history of the northern Black Sea littoral does not differ substantially from that in force for Greek history as such, although it is possible to speak of a certain specificity of the territory of the future Bosporan Kingdom. Unlike other regions, where the Greek colonies were quite dispersed, in the Cimmerian Bosporus towns were located much nearer to one another. The geostrategic importance of the sound determined this settlement pattern density and impacted the development of the microregion in the future. An overwhelming majority of the colonies was established by the Ionians from Asia Minor with Miletus playing a leading role.[1] Teos also was important, establishing Phanagoria, and Mytilene which founded Hermonassa[2]

The geographical conditions are similar throughout the region: fertile steppe and coastal waters replete with fish. In the times of the first colonies the area was poorly populated facilitating the early phases of settlement and generally establishing friendly bilateral trade and political relations. Mountainous Tauris settled by the Sindoi tribe was the only area to be different in this region, having always been somewhat on the margin of mainstream events. The conditions quickly turned the cities of the region into substantial suppliers of goods in short supply in Ionia, like grain, wood, metals, beef, fish and slaves. Export of these goods enabled the rapid development of so many towns in a relatively small area.
The earliest history of the Bosporan Kingdom is modestly known, even more so in the Archaic period, that is, before the formation of the state. The situation is hardly exceptional and concerns all of the Greek colonies on the Black Sea, especially in the northern littoral. The reason for this state of affairs is the small amount of written sources and a virtual absence of meaningful inscriptions from the 6th century BC. If written sources (mainly Herodotus) or surviving inscriptions supply any information at all about the region, they tend to concentrate on Olbia[3]
Hypotheses can be put forward despite the scarcity of the evidence, based mainly on parallel processes known to have taken place elsewhere in territories colonized by the Greeks. First of all, it may be assumed that not all the colonies were established by cities from Asia Minor. Especially in the second phase of the colonization the initiative in founding new towns could have been taken by cities recently established in the region. The nearest parallel is supplied by Sinope[4] In the case of towns which were later incorporated into the Bosporan Kingdom, it is possible with considerable likelihood to identify the original colonists. The Miletians were responsible for the biggest number of colonies. According to the surviving (modest) literary sources, Pantikapaion[5] and with the Miletian colonies in general makes this assumption very likely. In some cases the apoikia maintained its own officials in the newly established towns.[6] For the earliest history of the Bosporan Kingdom this has interesting bearing as sources have confirmed the existence in the southern Black Sea littoral pf all kinds of ties between poleis, even a symmachia in some cases (e.g. Trebizond and Kerasos).[7] It may be assumed on this basis that a similar situation could have existed in the Cimmerian Bosporus, that is to say, these kinds of ties could have existed between towns and settlements established by Miletus and Pantikapaion[8] and Colchis.[9] The latter case is of particular significance, because the archaeological record demonstrates intensive contacts between Colchis and the Cimmerian Bosporus.[10] According to what Strabo reports,[11] traded goods included primarily agricultural products and resources (ship-building timber, flax, hemp, wax and resin), but more importantly, the Miletian colonies in the Cimmerian Bosporus acted as intermediaries in this trade. It was part of a larger trade system connecting the colonies all around the Black Sea with the rest of the Greek world. The golden kyzikoi, which were the predominant gold coins also in this area in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, were an important part of this system.[12] The Bosporan poleis appear to have been an interesting exception in this respect as the coin issued by Pantikapaion[13]
This order of affairs was interrupted undoubtedly by the fall of Miletus in 494 BC. It was the end of the age of Miletus with its range of multifaceted relations with the colonies it had established.[14] The cultural impact, especially in the field of pottery, is of greatest interest in this study, but it is extremely difficult to trace (I will return to this issue further on).
The influence of Miletus had started to dwindle even as the Persians started to dominate Asia Minor. The rise of the colonies and their strengthening of existing ties and initiating new relations was an important factor in this process. It was well exemplified by the coins of Kyzikos[15] Common religious institutions were another manifestation. Their case is best exemplified by Vinogradov’s somewhat controversial theory about this kind of role of the oracle of Apollo Ietros,[16] or Ehrhardt’s thesis on the role of the oracle at Didyma.[17] There can be no doubt as to the special role of the cult of Apollo Ietros in the Pontic colonies of Miletus. Neither is there any doubt concerning the existence of strong commercial and religious ties with the West Pontic colonies of Miletus. The parallel constitutes more circumstantial evidence for similar development taking place in the Cimmerian Bosporus. In the case of the arrow coins, the parallel is all the more interesting as certain scholars are apt to see the origins of the unusual form of this extraordinary coinage in Scythian or Thracian influence.[18] All these processes prepared the ground for the development of institutions uniting a larger number of poleis.

[1] On the colonization of the Black Sea, see Danoff 1962, Pippidi 1971, Lapin 1966; Burstein 1976, Graham 1982, Ehrhardt 1988, Boardman 1980, pp. 238-266.
[2] On the colonization of the northern Black Sea littoral, see Bilabel 1920, Gaidukevich 1971, Blavatskii 1954 a, Roebuck 1959.
[3] A primary source here is the passus in Diodoros 12, 31,1, which is sourced in this part most probably on a local chronicle from the 3rd century BC, as noted already by Rostovtsev 1931, p. 113. See also Kallistov 1949, p. 169f.
[4] See the excellent reference in Vinogradov 1987 a, p. 7; for more details, see Ehrhardt 1988, pp. 52-58 with notes.
[5] See Xenophontos, Anabasis 5,5,10 where here is mention of the dependence of the Kotyorites on Sinope[6] See Seibert 1963, [. 173 f, although Maximova 1956, p. 76 presents a different approach.
[7] Except for Maximova 1956, see also Asheri 1972, p. 16.
[8] Olbia 1 dated to the second quarter of the 5th century BC, Yailenko 1985, p. 217, or end of the 5th century BC, Vinogradov 1987, p. 14, note 41). It is one of the oldest known decrees from Olbia[9] Sinope coin dating from about 500 BC, found in the Pichvnari necropolis near Batumi, see. Kakhidze 1974, p. 90, no. 3, dating by Karyshkovskii 1982, p. 84 f., Pl. VII, 1; Vartanov 1982, p. 72; Hind 1976, pp. 1-6 in favor of the later date.
[10] Many fragments of Colchian pithoi and coins called ‘kolchidykoi’ found at Nymphaion, Skudnova 1952, pp. 238-242; Colchian didrachm found at Hermonassa, Vartanov 1982, p. 73. Similarly silver coins of Pantikapaion[11] 11. 2, 17.
[12] Kaiser-Raiss 1984, pp. 2-5. Kyzikoi coins replaced Miletian coinage in this role in the middle of the 6th century.
[13] Shelov 1978, pp. 55, 59, 189; Gaidukevich 1971, p. 53. Vinogradov 1987, p. 16 note 60, rejected  Blavatskaya’s theory, 1956, p. 9-16, that the Bosporan poleis had united into a single more cohesive political entity even before the Archeanactid dynasty
[14] Cf. Ehrhardt 1988.
[15] Publication of the coins: Ruban 1982, pp. 15-20; Zaginailo 1982, pp. 20-28; Dimitrov 1975, pp. 43-47; Preda and Nubar 1973, pp. 17-19; Wells 1978, IX, L; Wells 1980, XII, 3; Anokhin 1986, pp. 69-89.
[16] Vinogradov 1979, p. 80.
[17] Ehrhardt 1988, p. 145 f., who rejected Apollo Ietros in favor of the Didyma sanctuary as the oracle for all the Miletian colonies. Vinogradov 1987, p. 17 note 63 defended his idea citing Shelov-Kovedyaev 1985, p. 185. The inscription from Olbia[18] See Marchenko 1974, p. 155 f., Grakov 1968, pp. 101-115 and Vinogradov 1969, p. 147.