Pre-Christian TimesBy the end of the second millennium BC, the prominent Trypillian Culture had ceased to exist. Nomadic, Cimmerians, and Scythians occupied the region. The Scythians developed a class of wealthy aristocrats who constructed elaborate graves filled with richly worked articles of gold and others precious materials. Their power was sufficient enough to repel an invasion by Persian King Darius I in about 513 BC. In 700-600 BC, Greek colonies appeared on the Black Sea coast. One of the first cities constructed was Kafa (now Feodosia). Chersonesus, the second major Greek city, was established on the south-west coast of Crimea. Germanic tribes invaded the region in 270, followed by the Huns in 375.
Kyivan rusAccording to legend, Kyiv’s first settlement was founded in 482 by three brothers, Prince Kyi (the oldest), Scheck and Khoryv, and their sister, Lybid. They supposedly sailed down the Dnieper River and established a settlement at the top of four hills. In the 8th - 9th centuries, Kyiv became the centre of the first Eastern Slavic State, known as Kyivan Rus. Volodymyr the Great became prince of Kyivan Rus in 980. The state flourished under his leadership, turning it into a political, economic and cultural power in Europe. In 988, Volodymyr resolved to abandon paganism in favour of monotheism. He chose Christianity as the state religion and was christened in Chersonesus. Kyivan Rus princes ruled until almost the end of the 13 century, when Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan conquered Kyivan Rus in 1240 and burned down the city of Kyiv. In the 14th century Kyiv was taken over by Lithuania.
CossacksIn the 15th century Crimean Tatars dominated Ukraine’s vast southern expanses and carried out devastating raids on Ukrainian territory and annihilated Kyiv in 1482. Gradually a force was formed to protect the southern frontier. These daring troops were the Cossacks. The Cossack movement developed and spread throughout the whole of Ukraine.
The Lithuanian authorities granted Kyiv the old European code of municipal self-government. Formally, according to the “Magdeburg Right”, the citizens of Kyiv were not subject to the authority of hetmans, but the most prominent hetmans - such as Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi, Bohdan Khmelnytskyi and Ivan Mazepa - exercised enormous influence over city life.