Bosporus (Gr. , ox-ford). I. Called by the ancients the Thracian, and by the Turks Istambul Boghazi, the strait joining the Black sea and the sea of Marmora, between European and Asiatic Turkey; so named either from the legend of Io, who after being metamorphosed into a heifer passed over the channel, or because the strait is so narrow that an ox can swim across. It is about 16 m. long; its greatest width is about 2 m., and its narrowest part, near the middle, only a little over 1/2 m. There are in this channel surface currents and undercurrents, the former flowing southward except during the prevalence of S. winds, and the latter flowing northward to the Black sea. In the narrowest part the current is very strong. Here are the castles of Europe and Asia, Rum-Ili Hissar on the European side, built by Mohammed II. in 1451, and Anadoli Hissar on the Asiatic side, previously erected by Mohammed I. The sides of the channel are steep wooded cliffs, studded with ruins of all ages and gay buildings of the present day. According to tradition, confirmed by geological testimony, this strait was formed by the bursting of the barriers of the Black sea. It was anciently and is still famous for its extensive tunny fisheries.
Constantinople and Scutari lie on the opposite shores of i the southern entrance. From the former city the strait is frequently called the strait of Constantinople. II. Called by the ancients the Cimmerian, and now the strait of Kertch or Yenikale, formerly of Kaffa or Feodosia, the strait connecting the Black sea and the sea of Azov. It is wider and shallower than that of Constantinople. III. An ancient kingdom, comprising the country on both sides of the Cimmerian Bosporus, founded in 502 B. C. by the Archseanactidae, a native Cimmerian dynasty, who were succeeded about 440 by a Greek dynasty, beginning with Spartacus I. The capital was Panticapaeum (now Kertch) in the Tauric Chersonesus (Crimea). Under a later Spartacus (353-348) the limits of the kingdom on the Asiatic side were enlarged, Theo-dosia (Kaffa), on the European, having been annexed under his predecessor, Leucon I., in 360. About 280 Leucanor became tributary to the Scythians. These latter became so exacting that Parysades II., the last of the Leuconides, placed himself under the protection of Mith-ridates the Great of Pontus, who defeated the Scythians, and after the death of Parysades took possession of Bosporus and placed his own son Machares on its throne.
After his death and that of his father (63 B. C.) the Romans appointed his brother Pharnaces to succeed him, and after his overthrow by Caesar several other princes who professed to belong to the family of Mithridates. When the line became wholly extinct in A. D. 259, the Sar-matians took possession of the country. It later formed part of the Eastern empire till its conquest by the Khazars, and was afterward taken by the Tartars.
Castles of Europe and Asia.