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Encyclopedia Britannica
11th edition, vol. 26, p. 769
Ellis Hovell Minns

Theodosia formerly, Kaffa, a seaport and watering-place of South Russia, on the east coast of the Crimea, 66 miles E.N.E. of Simferopol and 72 miles by a branch line from the Sebastopol- Ekaterinoslav railway. It has an excellent modern harbour, and its roadstead, which is never frozen, is well protected from east and west winds, and partly also from the south, but its depth is only 11 to 14 feet, reaching 35 feet in the middle. The population was 10,800 in 1881, and 27,236 in 1897. Among the motley population of Russians, Tatars, Armenians, Germans, and Greeks are several hundred Qaraite Jews. Few remains of its former importance exist, the chief being the Citadel built by the Genoese and still showing Latin inscriptions on some of its towers, the one or two detached towers left when the town walls were pulled down, and two or three mosques, formerly Genoese churches. The town also possesses a museum of antiquities and a picture gallery containing the works of the marine painter Ayvazovsky. Theodosia is an episcopal see of the Orthodox Greek Church. Gardening is one of the leading industries; fishing, a few manufactures, and agriculture are carried on. Theodosia has gained much of the trade of Sevastopol since that town was made a military port in 1894, and the value of its exports (1.5 - 2.5 millions sterling annually), principally grain and oil-seeds, is increasing year by year. A bronze statue of Alexander III was put up on the sea-front in 1896.
The ancient Theodosia, the native name of which was Ardabda, was a colony founded from Miletus. Archaic terracottas show it to have been inhabited in the 6th century B.C., but it is first heard of in history as resisting the attacks of Satyrus, ruler of the Cimmerian Bosporus, c. 390 B. C. His successor Leucon took it and made it a great port for shipping wheat to Greece, especially to Athens. This export of wheat continued until the days of Mithradates VI. of Pontus, against whom the city revolted. Later it became a special part of the Bosporan kingdom with its own governor. In the 3rd century A. D. it was still inhabited, but seems to have been deserted not long afterwards. Besides the terra-cottas and pottery very beautiful Greek jewelry has been found near Theodosia. It coined silver and copper during the 5th and 4th centuries B. C. The name Kaffa (Genoese Capha, Turkish Kefe) first occurs in a writer of the 9th century. The Genoese established themselves on the site shortly after 1266, and the settlement flourished exceedingly, being the depot of a trade route reaching to China. It became the head of the Genoese establishments in Gazaria, the see of a bishop, and the chief port on the northern shore of the Black Sea, far surpassing the Venetian Tana. Its population is said to have reached 80,000 souls of many creeds and nationalities. There was a citadel (still remaining) and magnificent walls. These were rendered necessary by the occasional hostility of the Tatar khans. When the Turks took Constantinople the colony was almost cut off from the mother city, which handed it over to the enterprising bank of St. George; but it could not be saved and fell in 1475 to the Turks, who sometimes called it Kuchuk-Stambul (Little Stambul or Constantinople) or Krym-Stambul (Stambul of Crimea). Its new masters kept it under their own direct rule and its prosperity was not entirely destroyed. In 1771 it was taken by the Russians, and in 1783 annexed by them, whereupon the greater part of its population deserted it. Its prosperity did not return until about 1894, when new harbour works made it a convenient port for grain ships coming light out of the Sea of Azov and wishing to complete their cargoes.

See E. Von Stern, Theodosia (German and Russian, Odessa, 1906); E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks (Cambridge, 1909); for the history of Kaffa see Heyd, Histoire du commerce du Levant au moyen age (Paris, 1886), vol ii.

(E. H. M.)

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