The forgotten people Roksolani and why Roxelana was called Roxelana

Dnistrovsky estuary, Roksolani village Odeska region

Recently I visited a small village in the Ovidiopol community of the Odessa region. The village is located 40 kilometers from the regional center and it will not be difficult to get here both by bus and by private transport.

The village is now unremarkable, but the history of these places is very impressive.

Why Roxelana was called Roxelana

It all started with the fact that at the beginning of the 2nd century BC nomadic tribes of Roxolans settled on the territory of the Northern Black Sea region. They were very warlike, numbering from 50,000 to 100,000 people, and often raided nearby Greek settlements, ruining their wealth.

During the time of the Roman Empire, the region inhabited by Roxolans affected the province of Moesia, and this tribe, in alliance with other tribes, rioted here. With varied success. There are understandings when the revksinals (as the Romans called this people) smashed the Roman cohorts because of the reduction in their subsidies, and vice versa. In general, for a couple of centuries, the Roksolani were strong rivals and it came to the point that their leader incited the self-styled emperor Regalian to murder.

Since then, the name Roksolania has been attached to this area, which will be mentioned in European – Sicilian, Genoese, and then Turkish sources. It is likely that people who inhabited Ukraine and arrived from places north of the Danube were called “Roksolani”. There is even the so-called Roksolan theory, and the Russian historian Russian historian D. I. Ilovaisky directly said that “Ros or Rus and Roksolany are the same name, the same people”.

As a result, a girl from Ukraine who ended up in the harem of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who became his concubine, and then his wife under the name Hurrem Sultan, will be called Roxelana. This will happen at the suggestion of the Ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, who wrote about her in his work “Turkish Letters”, mentioning Alexandra Anastasia Lisowska as a resident of the country of Roksolania.

So this legendary name was assigned to the legendary personality.

Ancient Nikonion

There is also a large field near Roxolan village, overgrown with grass and boulders. It turns out that this is the territory of the ancient city of Nikonion. It was located on the shore of the Dniester estuary and was founded in the 6th century BC.

The city flourished and existed until the 3rd and 4th century AD. It disappeared from the horizons of history during the Great Migration of Nations.

It is noteworthy that excavations in this area began only in the 1960s and until then nothing was known about the city. Archaeologists have unearthed many interesting things and learned about the life of the Niconian citizens.

Excavations stopped in the early 1990s and since then there are only sand boulders overgrown with tall grass. This area is protected by the Law of Ukraine and there is a corresponding sign.

Personally, I did not find a trace that something was here and something was excavated. Amazing! At first glance, it looks like an ordinary field. Except for the memorial sign and the stylized stone statue.

Why Ovid was kicked out to Ovidiopol

In fact, in the time of the Roman writer Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō ( known in English as Ovid) there was no city Ovidiopol. The master of the pen lived at the turn of two eras. He wrote his compositions and did not complain much about the power of the first Roman emperor in them or witnessed things that should be kept quiet. In fact, history does not know exactly why he was banished.

So he was exiled far away from the capital – to the outskirts. To the city of Thomas on the Black Sea. Here Ovid spent a year and had been to the north, just where the Greeks and the warlike Roxolans lived.

During the Russian Empire and its wars with Turkey here was a border fortress, and January 27, 1795 decree of Catherine the Second fortress and settlement Hadjider were renamed Ovidiopol in honor of visiting these places poet.

There is still a monument in town to the man whose name it bears.

So much history and so many eras intertwined on a small plot!

Jenya Travels

My name is Jenya. I travel around Ukraine and the world and tell stories.
In simple language, without nerdiness and dry facts - interesting about uninteresting places.
I have been to more than 100 places on the map!

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