Tmutarakan was a principality of the Kievan Rus, a preeminent trading center lying on the Crimean passage between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Although the Khazar had built a “great” fortress there in the 7th Century AD, by the late 10th it was controlled by the Rus – although the exact date and circumstances of Tmutarakan’s acquisition are unknown. An international emporium of trade in every commodity from spices to slaves, it was one of the towns given to his sons by Vladimir the Great before his death in 1015. After Vlad’s son Mstislav passed on, Tmutarakan was ruled by a succession of short-lived petty tyrants. It was even claimed by Byzantium for a time. But finally, in 1083, Oleg Svyatoslavich returned the town to the Rus, and it in turn returned to its primary pursuit … making a profit.