Bithynia was an ancient country in the north-western Anatolia (present-day Turkey). It was bordered by the Bosporus in the west, Black Sea in the north and Uludag mountains in the south.
The origin of the Bithynians is obscure but many sources point to Thracians. Some say that they were Thracian immigrants from the opposite shore and share the same traits as their cousins in Thrace - savagery, frenzy of religion and war. Ammianus Marcellinus independently wrote about Tauran tribes that lived along the black sea coast of Bithynia. He wrote that they were known for their ruthlessness and cruelty. They practiced human sacrifices to goddess Diana (Orsiloche) and decorated the walls of her temple with the skulls of the sacrificial victims. Such terror kept the Greeks from establishing any settlement along coast of Bithynia for a long time. However, there were many greek settlements in the interior of Bithynia and those cities minted their own coins. It was perhaps this fierceness kept the Bithynians independent until 75 BCE. There were many other legends about Bithynian origins. Herodotus and Strabo wrote that an ancient tribe called the Strymonians who lived by the river Strymon were driven across the Bosporus and settled in Bithynia. Another legend says that during Trojan war Thracians were fighting along side Rhesus. After his death, they fled to Bosporus with the idea to escape into Tharace. They were forced to remain there for lack of ships to cross Bosporus straits. Same legend says that the first ruler was Bithys, the son of Zeus and Thrace.
Bithynia might have started as an independent settlement
of the Thracians around 550 BCE. Lydians gained control over it for
a short time. After Lydia fell to Cyrus the Great, it came under control
of Persian Empire. Thracians were given some autonomy. And they became
independent of Persia from 435 BCE. Alexander III never conquered Bithynia.
He left it to his commanders and they failed to conquered it. Thus, it
remained outside the dominion of Alexander and his successors. During this
time, Doedalsus unified all Bithynians under his leadership and became
the founder of the Bithynian dynasty. Doedalsus' grandson Bas defeated
a well equipped force led by Calas, a satrap of Phrygia for Alexander.
Zipoetes (Ziboetes) son of Bas took advantage of the wars of the Diadochi
to remain free from the Seleucids. He consolidated dynasty under his leadership.
Nicomedes I, (son of Zipoetes) became the king in 280 BCE after
killing all except one brother. Bithynia had become a kingdom in its own
right with Nikomedeia (Izmit) as capital. Nicomedes I began to mint
List of Kings of Bithynia
(Click on the hyper links below to see the coin images)
Ziboetes. c. 294 BCE
Nicomedes I. c. 279-255 BCE
Ziaelas. c. 255- 228 BCE
Prusias I. c. 228- 185 BCE
Prusias II. c. 185-149 BCE
Nicomedes II Epiphanes. c. 149-128 BCE
Nicomedes III Euergetes. c. 128- 94 BCE
c. 94- 74 BCE
Nicomedes IV willed Bithynia to Rome before he died. It was made a Roman province. Bithynia became an important province of Rome because of its fertile land produced a variety of foods. Pompey combined Bithynia with western Pontus as a single province. Emperor Trajan appointed Pliny the Younger as the governor of the province c. 110 CE. Reign of Hadrian have marked the end of Bithynian prosperity. It was invaded by the Goths c. 298 CE.
Appian. The Mithridatic Wars.
Davis, N., Kraay, C. M., The Hellenistic Kingdoms, Thames & Hudson, UK, 1973.
Duncan Head, The Achaemenid Persian Army, Montvert Publications, Stockport, 1992.
Mitchell, Stephen., Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor. Vol. I & II, Clarendon Press, UK, 1995.
Warry, J., Warfare in The Classical World, Salamander, 1980.
Ancient Country List