Romans (римляни; rymliany). During its eastward expansion in the 1st century BC, the Roman Empire seized the southern and eastern coasts of the Black Sea. It successfully waged war against the Pontic Kingdom and annexed its vassal states, the Bosporan Kingdom and the Hellenic ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast. Roman control there was entrenched after the defeat of a rebellion in 48 BC led by Pharnaces II, the son of the last Pontic king, Mithridates VI Eupator. Julius Caesar appointed a ruler for the Bosporan Kingdom, and Roman garrisons were stationed in every Hellenic colony. Roman control in the region was frequently interrupted by invasions of various steppe nomadic peoples, but it was consolidated after Trajan conquered Dacia in 106 AD, strengthened the Roman garrisons, and built a series of fortifications (see Trajan’s Walls). In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Chersonese Taurica was the center of the Roman army and navy in the Crimea. Rome’s control did not extend far beyond the coastal cities and colonies, however, and its domination of the northern Pontic littoral ended during the great migration of peoples and the arrival of the Goths in the late 3rd century. In 271 AD Roman legions were withdrawn south of the Danube River.

During their rule in what is today Ukraine, the Romans established economic and cultural contacts with the neighboring Scythians, Sarmatians, and tribes of the Zarubyntsi culture. The coastal cities were thriving centers where agricultural products from the Ukrainian territories were traded for Roman-imported weapons, jewelry, textiles, ceramics, and other goods. Many Roman merchants settled there and traveled into the Ukrainian hinterland. Roman coins have been found in over 1,000 locations in Ukraine, and 137 large hoards have been discovered there, evidence that the Roman silver denarius was a principal currency in Ukraine in the 2nd to 5th centuries. Archeologists’ discoveries of Roman artifacts of daily use, luxury items, and pagan idols indicate that the Romans influenced the material culture and religious worldview of Ukraine’s ancient inhabitants.

Pliny, Ovid, Tacitus, Ammianus Marcellinus, and Justin are among the Roman writers and historians who wrote about the peoples of Eastern Europe. Ukrainian scholars who have written about the Romans include Mykhailo Drahomanov (an 1869 study on the historical significance of the Roman Empire and Tacitus), Ivan Franko, Isydor Sharanevych, Omelian Partytsky (in his 1881 history of ancient Galicia), Mykhailo Sonevytsky, Markiian Smishko, Mykhailo Braichevsky, and Mykhailo Miller.

Smiszko, M. Kultury wczesnego okresu cesarstwa rzymskiego w Małopolsce Wschodniej (Lviv 1932)
Majewski, K. Importy rzymskie na ziemiach słowiańskich (Wrocław 1949)
Braichevs’kyi, M. ‘Arkheolohichni svidchennia uchasti skhidnykh slov'ian u politychnykh podiiakh ryms’koï istoriï II–IV st. n.e.,’ Arkheolohiia, 8 (1953)
Kallistov, D. Pivnichne Prychornomoria v antychnu epokhu (Kyiv 1953)
Braichevs’kyi, M. Ryms’ka moneta na terytoriï Ukraïny (Kyiv 1959)
Chaplygina, N. Naselenie Dnestrovsko-Karpatskikh zemel’ i Rim v i–nachale III v. n. e. (Kishinev 1990)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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