Ancient history of Ukrainian lands

Cimmearians in the Ukrainian lands

This article will be dedicated to detailed history of Ukrainian lands from Paleolithic period to falling of Ancient Kievan Rus under the Mongol-Tatar invasion 1237-1240. 

The first human settlements appeared on the territory of Ukraine in the early Paleolithic, during the so-called Acheulian culture, more than 900-800 thousand years ago. The settlement occurred from west to east, with repeated waves, and lasted up to 100 thousand years ago. Instruments of labor of these people (archaeologists suggest that they were Pithecanthropus) were found in the Carpathians, Transnistria, Zhytomyr region, in the Donbas. However, fossils of Pithecanthropus were not found. In the Middle Paleolithic, during the so-called Mousterian culture (100-35 thousand years ago) Neanderthals occupied the territory of Ukraine. Researchers have found more than 300 sites and graves of people, mainly in the mountainous regions of Transcarpathia, Prikarpattya, Nadporozhya. Human evolution took place under conditions of periodic glaciations: Oka, Dnieper, Moscow, Valdai. During the period of maximum activity of the glacier ice border ran along the lines of Dnepropetrovsk – Lviv, Ukraine formed natural zones: tundra, forest-steppe and steppe.

Cucuteni-Trypilla culture memorial park in Ukraine

Around 1500 BC. e. there were nomadic tribes in Ukraine. One of them were the Cimmerians (IX-VII century BC), which are mentioned in the written sources. Scythians, Iranian peoples of Central Asia, in VII. BC. e. drove the Cimmerians of the Ukrainian steppes away. Approximately the same period, the Greeks began to establish the first colony in the northern Black Sea coast. Scythians created the first centralized state on the territory of Ukraine. Scythians were displaced Sarmatians around 200 BC.

Cimmearians in the Ukrainian lands

In the III century BC. e. Goths were settled on the territory of Ukraine, who were creating their kingdom – the second public formation on the territory of Ukraine. Goths are ancient German tribes who played a significant role in history of Europe. In 375 the Goths were defeated by the Huns and migrate to the West. Power of the Huns, having suffered several defeats by the Romans and allies, quickly loses strength and fall apart.

Goth tribes in the battle

At least, after the Huns invasion hegemony over the territory of Ukraine goes to the Slavic tribes of Antes and Sklaviny represented respectively Penskovskaya (partially kolochinskaya) and Prague archaeological cultures. Soon most of the territory of Ukraine becomes dependent on the Khazar Khanate (Saltovo-mayakskaya archaeological culture). To the Slavic tribes on the territory of Ukraine is in the second half of the first millennium clearing drevlyans northerners buzhane, Tivertsy, Ulichi, Volynyane and others.

Tibes of Huns invade lands of modern Ukraine in IV century

Beginning of Ancient Rus

In the IX-X centuries, after the liberation of the Dnieper land Prince Oleg of Novgorod from the tribute Khazar Khanate capital of the ancient Russian state under the rule of the Rurik dynasty was moved to Kiev. Kiev Prince Vladimir in 988 Svyatoslavich adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire and proclaimed it the state religion.

Vladimir the Great, Kievan prince

Concentrating all the Russian lands under his rule only 21 years after the death of his father, Yaroslav the Wise, dying in 1054, divided them among the five of his sons. After the death of the two youngest of them all land concentrated in the hands of three older: Izjaslav of Kiev, Svyatoslav of Chernigov and Vsevolod Perejaslavsky ("triumvirate Yaroslavichy"). After the death of Svyatoslav in 1076 Kievan princes attempted to deprive his sons of the inheritance of Chernigov, and they turned to the Polovtsian raids which began back in 1061 (just after the defeat of the Russian princes Torquay in the steppes), although Cumans were used for the first time in feuds Vladimir Monomakh (against Polotsk Useslaw). In this struggle, died Izjaslav Kiev (1078) and son of Vladimir Monomakh, Izjaslav (1096). On Lyubech Congress (1097), called for an end feuds and unite the princes protection Polovtzy was proclaimed the principle of "let every man holds his paternal." Thus, while maintaining Agnatic seniority, in the event of the death of one of the princes, transfer was limited to the heirs of their ancestral lands. This let stop the strife and join forces to fight the Cumans, who was moved deep into the steppes. However, it also opened the way to political fragmentation, as in every land to approve individual dynasty and Grand Prince of Kiev became the first among equals, losing the role of overlord.

In the second quarter of the XII century, the Old Russian state split into independent principalities. Chronological beginning of the period of fragmentation modern historiographical tradition holds 1132, when after the death of Mstislav the Great, son of Vladimir Monomakh, the government ceased to recognize the Kievan prince of Polotsk (1132) and Novgorod (1136), and the title became an object of contention between the various dynastic and territorial associations of Rurik. Chronicler under the 1134 year due to a split among Monomakh wrote "the whole earth was rent in Russian." Began feuding did not concern the great reign, but after the death of Yaropolk Vladimirovich (1139) next Viacheslav son of Monomakh was expelled from Kiev by Vsevolod II of Chernigov. Rus split into separate principalities, including (in present day Ukraine) Kiev principality, Chernigov principality principality of Galich, Vladimir-Volyn principality, partly Turov-Pinsk principality and Pereyaslavskoe principality.

Vladimir Monomakh, Prince of Kiev Chernigov

In 1169 the grandson of Vladimir Monomakh, Vladimir-Suzdal Prince Andrew Bogolyubskii sent troops led by his son Mstislav, who seized Kiev. The city was severely looted, were burned Kiev churches, residents were taken away into captivity. At the Kiev principality was planted younger brother Andrew. Although soon after the unsuccessful campaign against Novgorod (1170) and Vyshgorod (1173) the influence of the prince of Vladimir in other lands temporarily dropped, Kiev began to gradually lose and Vladimir – to acquire the attributes of all-Russian political center. In the XII century, except the prince of Kiev, the title of Grand began to wear as Vladimir and Ryazan princes, in the XIII century – also Galician and Chernigov.

Restavration of Ancient Vyshgorod

In 1199 Roman the Great united Galich and Volyn principality, his descendants finally established in the Galicia-Volyn principality in 1239. After the invasion of Batu 1237-1241 and ruin in 1299 Kiev came to desolation.


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