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History of Ukraine
 
 
 

Early History

Human settlement on the territory of Ukraine has been documented into distant prehistory. The late Neolithic Trypillian culture flourished from about 4500 BC to 3000 BC. The Copper Age people of the Trypillian culture were resided in the western part, and the Sredny Stog further east, succeeded by the early Bronze Age Yamna ( "Kurgan") culture of the steppes, and by the Catacomb culture in the 3rd millennium BC.

During the Iron Age, these were followed by the Dacians, Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, among other nomadic peoples. The Scythian Kingdom existed here from 750 BC to 250 BC. Along with ancient Greek colonies founded from the 6th century BC on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea, the colonies of Tyras, Olbia, Hermonassa, perpetuated by Roman and Byzantine cities until the 6th century AD.

In the 3rd century AD, the Goths arrived in the lands of Ukraine around 250 AD to 375 AD, which they called Oium, corresponding to the archaeological Chernyakhov culture. The Ostrogoths stayed in the area but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s. North of the Ostrogothic kingdom was the Kiev culture, flourishing from the 2nd to 5th centuries, when it was overrun by the Huns. After they helped defeat the Huns at the battle of Nedao in 454, the Ostrogoths were allowed to settle in Pannonia.

With the power vacuum created with the end of Hunnic and Gothic rule, Slavic tribes, possibly emerging from the remnants of the Kiev culture, began to expand over much of what is now Ukraine during the 5th century, and beyond to the Balkans from the 6th century.

In the 7th century, the territory of modern Ukraine was the core of the state of the Bulgars (often referred to as Old Great Bulgaria) with its capital city of Phanagoria. At the end of the 7th century, most Bulgar tribes migrated in several directions and the remains of their state were absorbed by the Khazars, a semi-nomadic people from Central Asia.

The Khazars founded the Khazar kingdom in the southeastern part of today's Europe, near the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus. The kingdom included western Kazakhstan, and parts of eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, southern Russia and Crimea.

Kievan Rus’

In the 9th century, Kiev was conquered from the Khazars by the Varangian noble Oleg who started the long period of rule of the Rurikid princes. During this time, several Slavic tribes were native to Ukraine, including the Polans, the Drevlyans, the Severians, the Ulichs, the Tiverians and the Dulebes. Situated on lucrative trade routes, Kiev among the Polanians quickly prospered as the center of the powerful Slavic state of Kievan Rus.

In the 11th century, Kievan Rus' was, geographically, the largest state in Europe, becoming known in the rest of Europe as Ruthenia (the Latin name for Rus', especially for western principalities of Rus' after the Mongol invasion. The name "Ukraine", meaning "border-land", first appears in recorded history on maps of the period. The meaning of this term seems to have been synonymous with the land of Rus' propria – the principalities of Kiev, Chernihiv and Pereyaslav. The term, "Greater Rus'" was used to apply to all the lands ruled by Kiev, including those that were not just Slavic, but also Finno-Ugric in the north-east portions of the state. Local regional subdivisions of Rus' appeared in the Slavic heartland, including, "Belarus'" (White Ruthenia), "Chorna Rus'" (Black Ruthenia) and "Cherven' Rus'" (Red Ruthenia) in north-western and western Ukraine.

Although Christianity had made inroads into territory of Ukraine before the first ecumenical council (the Council of Nicaea), particularly along the Black Sea coast and, in Western Ukraine during the time of empire of Great Moravia, the formal governmental acceptance of Christianity in Rus' occurred at in 988. The major cause of the Christianisation of Kievan Rus' was the Grand-Duke, Vladimir the Great (Volodymyr). His Christian interest was midwifed by his grandmother, Princess Olga. Later, an enduring part of the East-Slavic legal tradition was set down by the Kievan ruler, Yaroslav I, who promulgated the Russkaya Pravda (Truth of Rus') which endured through the Lithuanian period of Rus'.


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