Bithynia: Land Of The Bithyni


This article will offer a brief description of the Kingdom of Bithynia. It will cover Iron Age Bithynia, Hellenistic Bithynia, the capital Nicomedia, landscape, and timeline.

Iron Age Bithynia

Bithynia is an old part of the world with a history that stretches all the way back to the Iron Age. We know that the area is named after a Thracian tribe called the Bithyni. For a while, the citizens of Bithynia lived fairly independent lives under their own Royalty. Eventually, Bithynia would be included in Lydia’s Monarchy by King Croesus near the end of his 14-year reign.

Bithynia was annexed into the Persian Empire alongside Lydia after the Achaemenid Empire conquered King Croesus and Lydia. However, they would regain some independence from the Persians starting in the 4th century BCE.

While many of the cities in the area were influenced by Hellenistic culture, this would become more pronounced once Alexander The Great conquered the area.

Along with his army, Alexander the Great brought Hellenistic culture in full force. Although he would never actually conquer Bithynia itself, instead bringing Hellenistic culture to the surrounding kingdoms.

Iron age and hellenistic Bithynia
Bithynia Region, Black Sea, Historical Maps Ottoman Empire, Tarih Haritaları, Osmanlı Devleti, Bitinya Bölgesi

Hellenistic Bithynia

Bithynia had many cities that were founded by Greek citizens that eventually mixed with surrounding Thracian citizens. Once Bithynia was an independent kingdom again, starting in the 4th century BCE Hellenistic culture became more common. Hellenistic influence can be seen throughout Bithynia, with one example being the style of coinage that was minted and how they displayed their royalty. They used many influences and artistic styles from Greek coins found in other parts of the ancient Greek world.

Eventually, during a conflict with one of its neighbors, Bithynia’s last King, Nicomedes IV, lost his throne and restored it with Rome’s help. Upon his death in 74 BCE, he stated in his will that Bithynia should be gifted to the Roman Republic rather than be conquered by their again invading neighbors. Bithynia would go on to play an important role within the Roman Republic and then the Empire as an administrative hub.


Bithynia Capital Nicomedia

Nicomedia was the capital city during Bithynia’s initial independence. Even after being conquered, it remained an important hub for each of the conquering entities. Originally founded around 712 BCE as a Megara Colony known as Astacus. It was eventually destroyed and then rebuilt in 264 BCE by Nicomedes I.

After becoming part of the Roman Republic, Nicomedia played an important role within the Roman Administrative system. It eventually became the Capital of the Eastern Roman Empire under the orders of Diocletian. This is the same city where Diocletian started his persecution of Christians, known as “Diocletianic Persecution.”

In 358 CE, Nicomedia was devastated by an earthquake and suffered from a fire shortly after. The amount of damage done would require most of the city to be rebuilt. Even still, during its later time under Byzantine rule, Nicomedia competed with Nicaea for which of the cities held influence and the status of being the capital city.

Bithynia Capital Nicomedia
Old view of Nicomedia (nowadays Izmit) senior capital city of the Roman empire. Created by Gaiaud, published on Le Tour du Monde, Paris, 1864

Bithynia’s Landscape

Bithynia is covered in beautiful mountains and forests. The largest mountain range in the area, known as “Mysia Mount Olympus,” spans over 160 KM (100 miles) and reaches 8000 ft (2400m).

There are also coastal sections and valleys between the numerous mountains. Creating a beautiful varying landscape with a range of plants and various fruit-bearing trees.

The ancient Bithynia landscape also connects three seas: the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, and the Black Sea.

Bithynia Landscape Bithynia Capital Nicomedia
Known as Nicaea since ancient times, İznik is located on eastern shore of Lake İznik (Askania Limne) surrounded by ranges of hills within the Bithynia (Marmara) region of Anatolia. (Bithynia Landscape)

Bithyias Timeline

Here we will briefly summarize the timeline discussed above. Originally starting out as a mixture of Greek and Thracian Settlements, which the Persians would conquer, the settlements again inserted their independence starting in 4th BCE. While Alexander the Great waged war against the Persians, he didn’t conquer Bithynia (Since the Persians no longer had control of it, instead, he focused on areas they still controlled).

By this time, Bythynia was independently ruled by its own royalty, known as the Bithynia Kingdom. It then became part of the Roman Republic in 74bce and then part of the Roman Empire.

After the Roman Empire’s collapse, it was included within the Byzantine Empire. Then after the Fall of Constantinople in 1452, it would become part of the Ottoman Empire, leading it all the way into the modern age as a part of modern-day Turkey.


Ancient Greek Coins

Ancient Greek coins are always sought after by collectors. Bithynia has many amazing Greek Era coins. Below is a link to all of the Ancient Greek silver coins we currently have in stock.

Iron age Bithynia and hellenistic bithynia
Hemidrachma from Kalchedon Bithynia.

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

%d bloggers like this: