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Byzantium was the original name of the modern city of Istanbul. Byzantium was originally settled by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzantas. The name "Byzantium" is a Latinization of the original Greek name Byzantion (Βυζάντιον).

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Septimius Severus the city was besieged and suffered extensive damage in AD 186. Byzantium was rebuilt by the now Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and quickly regained its previous prosperity. The location of Byzantium attracted Constantine the Great who, in AD 330, refounded it as Nova Roma or Constantinoupolis (Constantinople, Greek Κωνσταντινούπολις) after a prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the city. The East Roman Empire which had its capital in Constantinople from then until 1453, has often been called the Byzantine Empire or Byzantium by modern scholars.

Of course it did not take a prophet to see that this combination of imperialism and location would play an important role as the crossing point between two continents (Europe and Asia), and later a magnet for Africa and others as well, in terms of commerce, culture, diplomacy and strategy. At a strategic position, Constantinoupolis was able to control the route between Asia and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euxinos Pontus (Black Sea).

On May 29, 1453 the city fell to the Ottoman Turks and was part of the Ottoman Empire until its official dissolution on November 1, 1922. Since then it has remained a part of the Republic of Turkey (first declared on January 20, 1921, generally recognized on October 29, 1923).

In the 20th century the city was renamed Istanbul. The renaming became official in 1930.

See also: Roman Empire, Roman Emperors, Constantinople, List of Byzantine Empire-related topics, Byzantine architecture, Byzantine Empire, and Byzantine Emperors.

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