The ancient city of Byzantium was founded by Greek colonists from Megara around 657 BCE. According to the historian Tacitus, it was built on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus on the order of the “god of Delphi” who said to build “opposite the land of the blind”. This was in reference to the inhabitants of Chalcedon who had built their city on the eastern shore of the Strait; the west side was considered far more fertile and better suited for agriculture. Although the city accepted the alphabet, calendar, and cults of Megara, much of the city's founding still remains unknown. The region would remain important to the Greeks as well as the Romans. While it lay in a highly fertile area, the city was far more important due to its strategic location. Not only did it stand guard over the only entrance into the Black Sea but it also lay by a deep inlet - The Golden Horn - meaning the city could only be attacked from the west.

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