Don River (Russia)
|River mouth||Sea of Azov|
|Length||1,950 km (1,212 mi)|
The Don (Дон) is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 km southeast from Tula, southeast of Moscow, and flows for a distance of about 1,950 km (1,220 miles) to the Sea of Azov.
History[change | change source]
In antiquity, the river was seen as the border between Europe and Asia. In the Hebrew Book of Jubilees, it is mentioned as being part of the border, beginning with its westernmost point up to its mouth, between the allotment of Japheth to the north and that of Shem to the south, sons of Noah. During the times of the old Scythians it was known in Greek as the Tanaïs, and has been a major trading route ever since.
Tanais appears in ancient Greek sources as the name of the river and of a city on it, situated in the Maeotian marshes. The name derives however from Scythian (Iranian) Dānu "river", akin to modern Ossetic don "river".
At its easternmost point, the Don comes near the Volga, and the Volga-Don Canal (length ca. 105 km (65 miles)), connecting both rivers, has been a major waterway. The Khazar fortress of Sarkel used to dominate this point in the Middle Ages. This part of the river saw Operation Uranus, one of the turning points of the Second World War.
The Don has given its name to the Don Cossacks who settled the fertile valley of the river in the 16th and 17th centuries. In modern literature, the Don figures centrally in the works of Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, a Cossack from the stanitsa of Veshenskaya.