The Thracians (/ˈθrʃənz/; Ancient Greek: Θρᾷκες, romanizedThrāikes; Latin: Thraci) were an Indo-European speaking people who inhabited large parts of Southeast Europe in ancient history.[1][2] Thracians resided mainly in Southeast Europe in modern-day Bulgaria, Romania and northern Greece, but also in north-western Anatolia (Asia Minor) in Turkey.

Bronze head of Seuthes III from his tomb

The exact origin of the Thracians is uncertain, but it is believed that Thracians descended from a purported mixture of Proto-Indo-Europeans and Early European Farmers, arriving from the rest of Asia and Africa through Asia Minor (Anatolia).[3]

Around the 5th millennium BC, the inhabitants of the eastern region of the Balkans became organized in different groups of indigenous people that, were later named by the ancient Greeks under the single ethnonym of “Thracians”.[4][5][6][7]

The Thracian culture emerged during the early Bronze Age, which began about 3500 BC.[4][8][9][10] From it also developed the Getae, the Dacians and other regional groups of tribes. Historical and archaeological records indicate that the Thracian culture flourished in the 3d and 2nd millennium BC.[4][11][12] Writing in the 6th century BC, Xenophanes described Thracians as "blue-eyed and red-haired".[13]

Greeks and Romans portrayed the Thracians and their culture as uncivilized and tribal. According to them they remained largely disunited, with their first permanent state being the Odrysian kingdom in the 5th century BC. They faced subjugation by the Achaemenid Empire around the same time. Thracians experienced a short period of peace after the Persians were defeated by the Greeks in the Persian Wars. The Odrysian kingdom lost independence to Macedon in the late 4th century BC, and regained independence following Alexander the Great's death.

The Thracians faced conquest by the Romans in the mid 2nd century BC under whom they faced internal strife. They composed major parts of rebellions against the Romans along with the Macedonians until the Third Macedonian War. The last reported use of a Thracian language was by monks in the 6th century AD.

Thracians were described as "warlike" and "barbarians" by the Greeks and Romans and were favored as mercenaries. Archaeology has been used since the mid-twentieth century in southern Bulgaria to identify more about them. Both Romans and Greeks called them barbarians since they were neither Romans nor Greeks, and due to the perceived primitiveness of their culture. Some Roman authors noted that even after the introduction of Latin they still kept their "barbarous" ways.[14] While the Thracians were perceived as unsophisticated by Romans and Greeks, their culture was reportedly noted for its poetry and music.[15]

Thracians spoke the extinct Thracian language and shared a common culture.[1] The Thracians culturally interacted with the peoples surrounding them – Greeks, Persians, Scythians and Celts – although such interactions mostly affected the circles of the aristocratic elite of Thracian society.[16] Among their customs was tattooing, common among both males and females.[17] They followed a polytheistic religion. The study of the Thracians is known as Thracology.

Etymology edit

The first historical record of the Thracians is found in the Iliad, where they are described as allies of the Trojans in the Trojan War against the Ancient Greeks.[18] The ethnonym Thracian comes from Ancient Greek Θρᾷξ (Thrāix; plural Θρᾷκες, Thrāikes) or Θρᾴκιος (Thrāikios; Ionic: Θρηίκιος, Thrēikios), and the toponym Thrace comes from Θρᾴκη (Thrāikē; Ionic: Θρῄκη, Thrēikē).[19] These forms are all exonyms as applied by the Greeks.[20]

Mythological foundation edit

In Greek mythology, Thrax (by his name simply the quintessential Thracian) was regarded as one of the reputed sons of the god Ares.[21] In the Alcestis, Euripides mentions that one of the names of Ares himself was "Thrax" since he was regarded as the patron of Thrace (his golden or gilded shield was kept in his temple at Bistonia in Thrace).[22]

Origins edit

Illustration of 5th–4th century BC Thracian peltast

The origins of the Thracians remain obscure, in the absence of written historical records before they made contact with the Greeks.[23] Evidence of proto-Thracians in the prehistoric period depends on artifacts of material culture. Leo Klejn identifies proto-Thracians with the multi-cordoned ware culture that was pushed away from Ukraine by the advancing timber grave culture or Srubnaya. It is generally proposed that a Thracian people developed from a mixture of indigenous peoples and Indo-Europeans from the time of Proto-Indo-European expansion in the Early Bronze Age[24] when the latter, around 1500 BC, mixed with indigenous peoples.[25] According to one theory, their ancestors migrated in three waves from the northeast: the first in the Late Neolithic, forcing out the Pelasgians and Achaeans, the second in the Early Bronze Age, and the third around 1200 BC. They reached the Aegean islands, ending the Mycenaean civilization. They did not speak the same language.[23] The lack of written archeological records left by thracians suggests that the diverse topography did not make it possible for a single language to form.[23]

Ancient Greek and Roman historians agreed that the ancient Thracians were superior fighters; only their constant political fragmentation prevented them from overrunning the lands around the northeastern Mediterranean.[citation needed] Although these historians characterized the Thracians as primitive partly because they lived in simple, open villages, the Thracians in fact had a fairly advanced culture that was especially noted for its poetry and music. Their soldiers were valued as mercenaries, particularly by the Macedonians and Romans.[citation needed]

Identity and distribution edit

The Odrysian kingdom in its maximum extent under Sitalces (431–424 BC)[26]
Dacia during the reign of Burebista (82/61 BC – 45/44 BC)

Divided into separate tribes, the Thracians did not manage to form a lasting political organization until the Odrysian state was founded in the fifth century BC. A strong Dacian state appeared in the first century BC, during the reign of King Burebista. The mountainous regions were home to various peoples, regarded as warlike and ferocious Thracian tribes, while the plains peoples were apparently regarded as more peaceable.[citation needed] The most prominent tribe, the Moesians only achieved importance under Roman rule.[27]

Thracians inhabited parts of the ancient provinces of Thrace, Moesia, Macedonia, Beotia, Attica, Dacia, Scythia Minor, Sarmatia, Bithynia, Mysia, Pannonia, and other regions of the Balkans and Anatolia. This area extended over most of the Balkans region, and the Getae north of the Danube as far as beyond the Bug and including Pannonia in the west.[28] There were about 200 Thracian tribes.[29]

Thucydides[30] mentions about a period in the past (from his point), when Thracians have inhabited the region of Phocis, known also as the location of Delphi; he defines it by the lifetime of Tereus – mythological Thracian king and son of god Ares.

According to Ethnica, a geographical dictionary by Stephanus of Byzantium, Thrace—the land of the Thracians—was formerly known as Persia and Aria,[31][32] presumably due to the affiliation of the Thracians with the god Ares[30] and the Indo-Iranic Aryan people[33].

Thracians were regarded by other peoples as warlike, ferocious, bloodthirsty, and barbarian.[34][35][14] They were seen as "barbarians" by ancient Greeks and Romans. Plato in his Republic groups them with the Scythians,[36] calling them extravagant and high spirited; and his Laws portrays them as a warlike nation, grouping them with Celts, Persians, Scythians, Iberians and Carthaginians.[37] Polybius wrote of Cotys's sober and gentle character being unlike that of most Thracians.[38] Tacitus in his Annals writes of them being wild, savage and impatient, disobedient even to their own kings.[39] The Thracians have been said to have "tattooed their bodies, obtained their wives by purchase, and often sold their children."[14] Victor Duruy further notes that they "considered husbandry unworthy of a warrior, and knew no source of gain but war and theft,"[14] and that they practiced human sacrifice,[14] which has been confirmed by archaeological evidence.[40]

Polyaenus and Strabo write how the Thracians broke their pacts of truce with trickery.[41][42] The Thracians struck their weapons against each other before battle, "in the Thracian manner," as Polyaneus testifies.[43] Diegylis was considered one of the most bloodthirsty chieftains by Diodorus Siculus. An Athenian club for lawless youths was named after the Triballi.[44]

According to ancient Roman sources, the Dii[45] were responsible for the worst[46] atrocities of the Peloponnesian War, killing every living thing, including children and dogs in Tanagra and Mycalessos.[45] Thracians would impale Roman heads on their spears and rhomphaias such as in the Kallinikos skirmish at 171 BC.[46]

Herodotus writes that "they sell their children and let their maidens commerce with whatever men they please".[47]

The accuracy and impartiality of these descriptions have been called into question in modern times, given the seeming embellishments in Herodotus's histories, for one.[48][failed verification] Strabo treated the Thracians as barbarians, and held that they spoke the same language as the Getae.[49] Archaeologists have attempted to piece together a fuller understanding of Thracian culture through study of their artifacts.[50]

History edit

Homeric period edit

The Thracians are mentioned in Homer's Iliad, meaning that they were already present in the eighth century BC.[51][52]

Archaic period edit

The first Greek colonies along the Thracian coasts (first the Aegean, then the Marmara and Black Seas) were founded in the eighth century BC.[26] Thracians and Greeks lived side-by-side. Ancient sources record a Thracian presence on the Aegean islands and in Hellas (the broader "land of the Hellenes").[53]

At some point in the 7th century BC, a portion of the Thracian Treres tribe migrated across the Thracian Bosporus and invaded Anatolia.[54] In 637 BC, the Treres under their king Kobos (Ancient Greek: Κώβος Kṓbos; Latin: Cobus), in alliance with the Cimmerians and the Lycians, attacked the kingdom of Lydia during the seventh year of the reign of the Lydian king Ardys.[55] They defeated the Lydians and captured the capital city of Lydia, Sardis, except for its citadel, and Ardys might have been killed in this attack.[56] Ardys's son and successor, Sadyattes, might possibly also have been killed in another Cimmerian attack on Lydia.[56] Soon after 635 BC, with Assyrian approval[57] the Scythians under Madyes entered Anatolia. In alliance with Sadyattes's son, the Lydian king Alyattes,[58][59] Madyes expelled the Treres from Asia Minor and defeated the Cimmerians so that they no longer constituted a threat again, following which the Scythians extended their domination to Central Anatolia[60] until they were themselves expelled by the Medes from Western Asia in the 600s BC.[55]

Achaemenid Thrace edit

Skudrian (Thracian) soldier of the Achaemenid army, c. 480 BC. Xerxes I tomb relief.

In the 6th century BC the Persian Achaemenid Empire conquered Thrace, starting in 513 BC, when the Achaemenid king Darius I amassed an army and marched from Achaemenid-ruled Anatolia into Thrace, and from there he crossed the Arteskos river and then proceeded through the valley-route of the Hebros river. This was an act of conquest by Darius I, who sought to create a new satrapy in the Balkans, and had during his march sent emissaries to the Thracians found on the path of his army as well as to the many other Thracian tribes over a wide area. All these peoples of Thrace, including the Odrysae, submitted to the Achaemenid king until his army reached the territory of Thracian tribe of the Getae who lived just south of the Danube river and who in vain attempted to resist the Achaemenid conquest. After the resistance of the Getae was defeated and they were forced to provide the Achaemenid army with soldiers, all the Thracian tribes between the Aegean Sea and the Danube river had been subjected by the Achaemenid Empire. Once Darius had reached the Danube, he crossed the river and campaigned against the Scythians, after which he returned to Anatolia through Thrace and left a large army in Europe under the command of his general Megabazus.[61]

Following Darius I's orders to create a new satrapy for the Achaemenid Empire in the Balkans, Megabazus forced the Greek cities who had refused to submit to the Achaemenid Empire, starting with Perinthus, after which led military campaigns throughout Thrace to impose Achaemenid rule over every city and tribe in the area. With the help of Thracian guides, Megabazus was able to conquer Paeonia up to but not including the area of Lake Prasias, and he gave the lands of the Paeonians inhabiting these regions up to the Lake Prasias to Thracians loyal to the Achaemenid Empire. The last endeavours of Megabazus included his the conquest of the area between the Strymon and Axius rivers, and at the end of his campaign, the king of Macedonia, Amyntas I, accepted to become a vassal of the Achaemenid Empire. Within the satrapy itself, the Achaemenid king Darius granted to the tyrant Histiaeus of Miletus the district of Myrcinus on the Strymon's east bank until Megabazus persuaded him to recall Histiaeus after he returned to Asia Minor, after which the Thracian tribe of the Edoni retook control of Myrcinus.[61] The new satrapy, once created, was named Skudra (𐎿𐎤𐎢𐎭𐎼), derived from Scythian the name Skuδa, which was the self-designation of the Scythians who inhabited the northern parts of the satrapy.[62] Once Megabazus had returned to Asia Minor, he was succeeded in Skudra by a governor whose name is unknown, and Darius appointed the general Otanes to oversee the administrative division of the Hellespont, which extended on both sides of the sea and included the Bosporus, the Propontis, and the Hellespont proper and its approaches. Otanes then proceeded to capture Byzantium, Chalcedon, Antandrus, Lamponeia, Imbros, and Lemnos for the Achaemenid Empire.[61]

The area included within the satrapy of Skudra included both the Aegean coast of Thrace, as well as its Pontic coast till the Danube. In the interior, the Western border of the satrapy consisted of the Axius river and the Belasica-Pirin-Rila mountain ranges till the site of modern-day Kostenets. The importance of this satrapy rested in that it contained the Hebros river, where a route in the river valley connected the permanent Persian settlement of Doriscus with the Aegean coast, as well as with the port-cities of Apollonia, Mesembria and Odessos on the Black Sea, and with the central Thracian plain, which gave this region an important strategic value. Persian sources describe the province as being populated by three groups: the Saka Paradraya ("Saka beyond the sea", the Persian term for all Scythian peoples to the north of the Caspian and Black Seas [63][64]); the Skudra themselves (most likely the Thracian tribes), and Yauna Takabara. The latter term, which translates as "Ionians with shield-like hats", is believed to refer to Macedonians. The three ethnicities (Saka, Macedonian, Thracian) enrolled in the Achaemenid army, as shown in the Imperial tomb reliefs of Naqsh-e Rostam, and participated in the Second Persian invasion of Greece on the Achaemenid side.[65]

When Achaemenid control over its European possessions collapsed once the Ionian Revolt started, the Thracians did not help the Greek rebels, and they instead saw Achaemenid rule as more favourable because the latter had treated the Thracians with favour and even given them more land, and also because they realised that Achaemenid rule was a bulwark against Greek expansion and Scythian attacks. During the revolt, Aristagoras of Miletus captured Myrcinus from the Edones and died trying to attack another Thracian city.[61]

Once the Ionian Revolt had been fully quelled, the Achaemenid general Mardonius crossed the Hellespont with a large fleet and army, re-subjugated Thrace without any effort and made Macedonia full part of the satrapy of Skudra. Mardonius was however attacked at night by the Bryges in the area of Lake Doiran and modern-day Valandovo, but he was able to defeat and submit them as well. Herodotus's list of tribes who provided the Achaemenid army with soldiers included Thracians from both the coast and from the central Thracian plain, attesting that Mardonius's campaign had reconquered all the Thracian areas which were under Achaemenid rule before the Ionian Revolt.[61]

When the Greeks defeated a second invasion attempt by the Persian Empire in 479 BC, they started attacking the satrapy of Skudra, which was resisted by both the Thracians and the Persian forces. The Thracians kept on sending supplies to the governor of Eion when the Greeks besieged it. When the city fell to the Greeks in 475 BC, Cimon gave its land to Athens for colonisation. Although Athens was now in control of the Aegean Sea and the Hellespont following the defeat of the Persian invasion, the Persians were still able to control the southern coast of Thrace from a base in central Thrace and with the support of the Thracians. Thanks to the Thracians co-operating with the Persians by sending supplies and military reinforcements down the Hebrus river route, Achaemenid authority in central Thrace lasted until around 465 BC, and the governor Mascames managed to resist many Greek attacks in Doriscus until then.[61]

Around this time, Teres I, the king of the Odrysae tribe, in whose territory the Hebrus flowed, was starting to organise the rise of his kingdom into a powerful state. With the end of Achaemenid power in the Balkans, the Thracian Odrysian kingdom, the Kingdom of Macedonia, and the Athenian thalassocracy filled the ensuing power vacuum and formed their own spheres of influence in the area.[61]

Odrysian Kingdom edit

The Odrysian Kingdom was a state union of over 40 Thracian tribes[66] and 22 kingdoms[67] that existed between the 5th century BC and the 1st century AD. It consisted mainly of present-day Bulgaria, spreading to parts of Southeastern Romania (Northern Dobruja), parts of Northern Greece and parts of modern-day European Turkey.[citation needed]

By the fifth century BC, the Thracian population was large enough that Herodotus called them the second-most numerous people in the part of the world known by him (after the Indians), and potentially the most powerful, if not for their lack of unity.[68] The Thracians in classical times were broken up into a large number of groups and tribes, though a number of powerful Thracian states were organized, the most important being the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace, and also the short lived Dacian kingdom of Burebista. The peltast, a type of soldier of this period, probably originated in Thrace.[citation needed]

During this period, a subculture of celibate ascetics called the "ctistae" lived in Thrace, where they served as philosophers, priests and prophets.[citation needed]

Macedonian Thrace edit

During this period, contacts between the Thracians and Classical Greece intensified.[citation needed]

After the Persians withdrew from Europe and before the expansion of the Kingdom of Macedon, Thrace was divided into three regions (east, central, and west). A notable ruler of the East Thracians was Cersobleptes, who attempted to expand his authority over many of the Thracian tribes. He was eventually defeated by the Macedonians.[citation needed]

The Thracians were typically not city-builders[69][70] and their only polis was Seuthopolis.[71][72]

Southeastern Europe in the second century BC

The conquest of the southern part of Thrace by Philip II of Macedon in the fourth century BC made the Odrysian kingdom extinct for several years. After the kingdom was reestablished, it was a vassal state of Macedon for several decades under generals such as Lysimachus of the Diadochi.[citation needed]

In 279 BC, Celtic Gauls advanced into Macedonia, southern Greece and Thrace. They were soon forced out of Macedonia and southern Greece, but they remained in Thrace until the end of the third century BC. From Thrace, three Celtic tribes advanced into Anatolia and established the kingdom of Galatia.[citation needed]

In western parts of Moesia, Celts (Scordisci) and Thracians lived alongside each other, as evident from the archaeological findings of pits and treasures, spanning from the third century BC to the first century BC.[73]

Roman Thrace edit

During the Macedonian Wars, conflict between Rome and Thrace was unavoidable. The rulers of Macedonia were weak, and Thracian tribal authority resurged. But after the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC, Roman authority over Macedonia seemed inevitable, and the governance of Thrace passed to Rome.[citation needed]

Initially, Thracians and Macedonians revolted against Roman rule. For example, the revolt of Andriscus, in 149 BC, drew the bulk of its support from Thrace. Incursions by local tribes into Macedonia continued for many years, though a few tribes, such as the Deneletae and the Bessi, willingly allied with Rome.[citation needed]

After the Third Macedonian War, Thrace acknowledged Roman authority. The client state of Thracia comprised several tribes.[citation needed]

The province of Thracia within the Roman Empire, c. 116 AD

The next century and a half saw the slow development of Thracia into a permanent Roman client state. The Sapaei tribe came to the forefront initially under the rule of Rhascuporis. He was known to have granted assistance to both Pompey and Caesar, and later supported the Republican armies against Mark Antony and Octavian in the final days of the Republic.[citation needed]

The heirs of Rhascuporis became as deeply enmeshed in political scandal and murder as were their Roman masters. A series of royal assassinations altered the ruling landscape for several years in the early Roman imperial period. Various factions took control with the support of the Roman Emperor. The turmoil would eventually end with one final assassination.[citation needed]

After Rhoemetalces III of the Thracian Kingdom of Sapes was murdered in AD 46 by his wife, Thracia was incorporated as an official Roman province to be governed by Procurators, and later Praetorian prefects. The central governing authority of Rome was in Perinthus, but regions within the province were under the command of military subordinates to the governor. The lack of large urban centers made Thracia a difficult place to manage, but eventually the province flourished under Roman rule. However, Romanization was not attempted in the province of Thracia. The Balkan Sprachbund does not support Hellenization.[citation needed]

Roman authority in Thracia rested mainly with the legions stationed in Moesia. The rural nature of Thracia's populations, and distance from Roman authority, certainly inspired local troops to support Moesia's legions. Over the next few centuries, the province was periodically and increasingly attacked by migrating Germanic tribes. The reign of Justinian saw the construction of over 100 legionary fortresses to supplement the defense.[citation needed]

Aftermath and legacy edit

The ancient languages of these people and their cultural influence were highly reduced due to the repeated invasions of the Balkans by Romans, Celts, Huns, Goths, Scythians, Sarmatians and Slavs, accompanied by, hellenization, romanization and later slavicisation. However, the Thracians as a group only disappeared in the Early Middle Ages.[74] Towards the end of the 4th century, Nicetas the Bishop of Remesiana brought the gospel to "those mountain wolves", the Bessi.[75] Reportedly his mission was successful, and the worship of Dionysus and other Thracian gods was eventually replaced by Christianity. In 570, Antoninus Placentius said that in the valleys of Mount Sinai there was a monastery in which the monks spoke Greek, Latin, Syriac, Egyptian and Bessian. The origin of the monasteries is explained in a medieval hagiography written by Simeon Metaphrastes, in Vita Sancti Theodosii Coenobiarchae in which he wrote that Theodosius the Cenobiarch founded on the shore of the Dead Sea a monastery with four churches, in each being spoken a different language, among which Bessian was found. The place where the monasteries were founded was called "Cutila", which may be a Thracian name.[76] The further fate of the Thracians is a matter of dispute. German historian Gottfried Schramm speculated that the Albanians derived from the Christianized Bessi, after their remnants were allegedly pushed by Slavs and Bulgars during the 9th century westwards into today Albania.[75] However, archaeologically, there is absolutely no evidence of a 9th-century migration of any population, such as the Bessi, from western Bulgaria to Albania.[77] Also from a linguistic point of view it emerges that the Thracian-Bessian hypothesis of the origin of Albanian should be rejected, since only very little comparative linguistic material is available (the Thracian is attested only marginally, while the Bessian is completely unknown), but at the same time the individual phonetic history of Albanian and Thracian clearly indicates a very different sound development that cannot be considered as the result of one language. Furthermore, the Christian vocabulary of Albanian is mainly Latin, which speaks against the construct of a "Thracian-Bessian church language".[78] Most probably the Thracians were assimilated into the Roman and later in the Byzantine society and became part of the ancestral groups of the modern Southeastern Europeans.[79] A recent Bulgarian study on the heritage of Thracian mounds in Bulgaria claims historical, cultural and ethnic links between Thracians and Bulgarians.[80]

Culture edit

Language edit

Tribes in Thrace

Religion edit

One notable cult that existed in Thrace, Moesia, Phrygia and the lands of the Dacians and the Getae (Scythia Minor, now Dobrudja) was that of the "Thracian horseman", also known as Sabazios or "Thracian Heros" known by a Thracian name as Heros Karabazmos, a god of the underworld, who was usually depicted on funeral statues as a horseman slaying a beast with a spear.[81][82][83] Getae and Dacians potentially had a monotheistic religion based on the god Zalmoxis, though this is heavily debated in the anthropological community. [84] The supreme Balkan thunder god Perkon was part of the Thracian pantheon, although cults of Orpheus and Zalmoxis likely overshadowed his.[citation needed]

The Thracians are considered the first to worship the god of wine called Dionysus in Greek or Zagreus in Thracian.[85] Later this cult reached Ancient Greece.[86][87] Some consider Thrace as the motherland of wine culture.[88] The works of Homer, Herodotus and other historians of Ancient Greece also refer to the ancient Thracians' love for winemaking and consumption, also related to religion[89] as early as 6000 years ago.[90]

Marriage edit

The male Thracians were polygamous. Menander puts it: "All Thracians, especially us and the Getae, are not much abstaining, because no one takes less than ten, eleven, twelve wives, some even more. If one dies and has only four or five wives he is called ill-fated, unhappy and unmarried."[91] According to Herodotus virginity among women was not valued, and unmarried Thracian women could have sex with any man they wished to.[91] There were men perceived as holy Thracians, who lived without women and were called "ktisti".[91] In myth, Orpheus rebuked the sexual advances of the Bistones women after the death of Eurydice, and was killed for not engaging in the activities promoted by the followers of Dionysus.

Warfare edit

Hunting scene, Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo, c. 4th century BC

The Thracians were a warrior people, known as both horsemen and lightly armed skirmishers with javelins.[92] Thracian peltasts had a notable influence in Ancient Greece.[93]

The history of Thracian warfare spans from c. 10th century BC up to the 1st century AD in the region defined by Ancient Greek and Latin historians as Thrace. It concerns the armed conflicts of the Thracian tribes and their kingdoms in the Balkans and in the Dacian territories. Emperor Traianus, also known as Trajan, conquered Dacia after two wars in the 2nd century AD. The wars ended with the occupation of the fortress of Sarmisegetusa and the death of the king Decebalus. Besides conflicts between Thracians and neighboring nations and tribes, numerous wars were recorded among Thracian tribes too.[citation needed]

Physical appearance edit

Thracian king and queen. Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, 4th century BC.
A fresco of a woman in the Ostrusha Mound, in central Bulgaria

Several Thracian graves or tombstones have the name Rufus inscribed on them, meaning "redhead" – a common name given to people with red hair[94] which led to associating the name with slaves when the Romans enslaved this particular group.[95] Ancient Greek artwork often depicts Thracians as redheads.[96] Rhesus of Thrace, a mythological Thracian king, was so named because of his red hair and is depicted on Greek pottery as having red hair and a red beard.[96] Ancient Greek writers also described the Thracians as red-haired. A fragment by the Greek poet Xenophanes describes the Thracians as blue-eyed and red haired:

...Men make gods in their own image; those of the Ethiopians are black and snub-nosed, those of the Thracians have blue eyes and red hair.[97]

Bacchylides described Theseus as wearing a hat with red hair, which classicists believe was Thracian in origin.[98] Other ancient writers who described the hair of the Thracians as red include Hecataeus of Miletus,[99] Galen,[100] Clement of Alexandria,[101] and Julius Firmicus Maternus.[102]

Hunting scene, Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo, c. 4th century BC

Nevertheless, academic studies[citation needed] have concluded that people often had different physical features from those described by primary sources. Ancient authors described as red-haired several groups of people. They claimed that all Slavs had red hair, and likewise described the Scythians as red haired. According to Beth Cohen, Thracians had "the same dark hair and the same facial features as the Ancient Greeks."[103] However, Aris N. Poulianos states that Thracians, like modern Bulgarians, belonged mainly to the Aegean anthropological type.[104]

Notable people edit

This is a list of historically important personalities being entirely or partly of Thracian and Dacian ancestry:

Thracology edit

Archaeology edit

The branch of science that studies the ancient Thracians and Thrace is called Thracology. Archaeological research on the Thracian culture started in the 20th century, especially after World War II, mainly in southern Bulgaria. As a result of intensive excavations in the 1960s and 1970s a number of Thracian tombs and sanctuaries were discovered. Most significant among them are: the Getic burial complex and the Tomb of Sveshtari, the Valley of the Thracian Rulers and the Tomb of Kazanlak, Tatul, Seuthopolis, Perperikon, Tomb of Aleksandrovo in Bulgaria, Sarmizegetusa in Romania and others.[citation needed]

Also a large number of elaborately crafted gold and silver treasure sets from the 5th and 4th century BC were unearthed. In the following decades, those were exhibited in museums around the world, thus calling attention to ancient Thracian culture. Since the year 2000, Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov has made discoveries in Central Bulgaria, in an area now known as "The Valley of the Thracian Kings". The residence of the Odrysian kings was found in Starosel in the Sredna Gora mountains.[108][109] A 1922 Bulgarian study claimed that there were at least 6,269 necropolises[clarification needed] in Bulgaria.[110]

Multidisciplinary Studies edit

The dominant stance of history and archaeology as the two main disciplines dealing with the Thracians as a subject of research has been succeeded by a clear shift towards new multidisciplinary and more inclusive scientific perspectives. An example of this new trend was the large-scale multidisciplinary project “Thracians – Genesis and Development of the Ethnos, Cultural Identities, Civilization Relations and Heritage of the Antiquity”, launched in 2016 in Bulgaria. The project was the first comprehensive study of the Thracian heritage including 72 scholars from 18 institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Science, as well as researchers from Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan and Switzerland. The project studied 13 scientific themes among which: formation of the Thracian ethnos, outlining of its ethno-cultural territory, continuity of the gene pool and related DNA studies, architectural, botanical, microbiological, astronomical, acoustic and linguistic aspects, mining and ceramics technologies, food and drink customs, that resulted in an extensively illustrated book including 33 scientific articles.[111]

Genetics edit

A genetic study published in Scientific Reports in 2019 examined the mtDNA of 25 Thracian remains in Bulgaria from the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. They were found to harbor a mixture of ancestry from Western Steppe Herders (WSHs) and Early European Farmers (EEFs), supporting the idea that Southeast Europe was the link between Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.[3]

Bulgarian study from 2013 claims genetic similarity between Thracians (8-6 century BC), medieval Bulgarians (8–10 century AD), and modern Bulgarians, highlighting highest resemblance between them and the ethnic groups in Northern and Middle Italy, Northern Greece and Romania.[112]

Examinations of Iron Age and ancient Thracian remains in Bulgaria were found to mainly carry the Y-DNA haplogroup E-V13.[113] The tested samples were further specifically listed as: E-BY3880 x 3, E-L618 x 2, E-M78 x 2, R-Z93, E-CTS1273, E-BY14160.[114] Six of the samples were predicted for having brown eyes while two for having blue eyes, while majority of the samples were predicted for an intermediate skin color and hair color prediction ranged from majority brown on detailed, to light and dark.[115]

Examinations of remains from the Roman era in Timacum Minus, in Eastern Serbia, and around the Naissus area of Eastern Dardania revealed the samples belonged to Y-DNA haplogroup E-V13.[116]

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

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  2. ^ Modi et al. 2019. "One of the best documented Indo-European civilizations that inhabited Romania, Bulgaria is the Thracians..."
  3. ^ a b Modi et al. 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Nature (2019) Ancient human mitochondrial genomes from Bronze Age Bulgaria: new insights into the genetic history of Thracians
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  10. ^ Raicheva, L. Thracians and Orpheism. IK Ogledalo, 5–59 (2014).
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  12. ^ Mihailov, G. The Thracians. New Bulgarian University 2, 1–491 (2015).
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  21. ^ Lemprière and Wright,[full citation needed] p. 358. "Mars was father of Cupid, Anteros, and Harmonia, by the goddess Venus. He had Ascalaphus and Ialmenus by Astyoche; Alcippe by Agraulos; Molus, Pylus, Euenus, and oThestius, by Demonice the daughter of Agenor. Besides these, he was the reputed father of Romulus, Oenomaus, Bythis, Thrax, Diomedes of Thrace, &c."
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  98. ^ Ode 18, Dithyramb 4, verse 51, quoted in Bacchylides: a selection By Bacchylides, Herwig Maehler, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 191.
  99. ^ Hecataeus mentions a Thracian tribe called the Xanthoi (Nenci 1954: fragment 191 ) apparently named for their fair (red) hair (Helm 1988: 145), quoted in Indo-European origins: the anthropological evidence Institute for the Study of Man, John v. day, 2001 p. 39.
  100. ^ De Temp. II. 5
  101. ^ Clem. Alex. Strom. Vii.4
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  107. ^ Most likely he was of Thraco-Roman origin, believed so by Herodian in his writings,(Herodian, 7:1:1-2) and the references to his "Gothic" ancestry might refer to a Getae origin (the two populations were often confused by later writers, most notably by Jordanes in his Getica), as suggested by the paragraphs describing how "he was singularly beloved by the Getae, moreover, as if he were one of themselves" and how he spoke "almost pure Thracian".(Historia Augusta, Life of Maximinus, 2:5)
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Sources edit

  • Best, Jan G. P. (1969). Thracian Peltasts: And Their Influence on Greek Warfare. Wolters-Noordhoff.
  • Cormack, James Maxwell Ross; Wilkes, John (2015). "Thrace". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.6417. ISBN 978-0-19-938113-5.
  • Diakonoff, I. M. (1985). "Media". In Gershevitch, Ilya (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-521-20091-2.
  • Dumitrescu, VL. (1982). "The Prehistory of Romania from the earliest times to 1000 B.C.". In Boardman, John; Edwards, I. E. S.; Hammond, N. G. L.; Sollberger, E. (eds.). The Cambridge Ancient History. pp. 1–74. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521224963.002. ISBN 978-1-139-05428-7.
  • Erdem, Zeynep Koçel; Şahin, Reyhan (2023). Thrace through the ages: pottery as evidence for commerce and culture from prehistoric times to the Islamic period. Oxford: Archaeopress.
  • Garašanin, M. (1982). "The Early Iron Age in the Central Balkan Area, c. 1000–750 B.C.". In Boardman, John; Edwards, I. E. S.; Hammond, N. G. L.; Sollberger, E. (eds.). The Cambridge Ancient History. pp. 582–618. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521224963.015. ISBN 978-1-139-05428-7.
  • Howe, Timothy; Reames, Jeanne (2008). Macedonian Legacies: Studies in Ancient Macedonian History and Culture in Honor of Eugene N. Borza. Regina Books. ISBN 978-1-930053-56-4.
  • Loulanski, Tolina; Loulanski, Vesselin (2017). "Thracian Mounds in Bulgaria: Heritage at Risk". The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice. 8 (3): 246–277. doi:10.1080/17567505.2017.1359918. S2CID 134064117.
  • Marazov, Ivan, ed. (1998). Ancient gold: the wealth of the Thracians : treasures from the Republic of Bulgaria. Harry N. Abrams, in association with the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria. ISBN 978-1-882507-06-1.
  • Marinov, Tchavdar (2015). "Ancient Thrace in the Modern Imagination: Ideological Aspects of the Construction of Thracian Studies in Southeast Europe (Romania, Greece, Bulgaria)". In Daskalov, Roumen; Vezenkov, Alexander (eds.). Entangled Histories of the Balkans. pp. 10–117. doi:10.1163/9789004290365_003. ISBN 978-90-04-29036-5.
  • Best, Jan and De Vries, Nanny. Thracians and Mycenaeans. Boston, MA: E.J. Brill Academic Publishers, 1989. ISBN 90-04-08864-4.
  • Cardos, G.; Stoian, V.; Miritoiu, N.; Comsa, A.; Kroll, A.; Voss, S.; Rodewald, A. (2004). "Paleo-mtDNA analysis and population genetic aspects of old Thracian populations from South-East of Romania". Romanian Journal of Legal Medicine. 12 (4): 239–246.
  • Casson, Lionel (Summer 1977). "The Thracians". The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. 35 (1): 3–6. doi:10.2307/3258667. JSTOR 3258667.
  • Hoddinott, Ralph F. (1981). The Thracians. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-02099-X.
  • Modi, Alessandra; Nesheva, Desislava; Sarno, Stefania; Vai, Stefania; Karachanak-Yankova, Sena; Luiselli, Donata; Pilli, Elena; Lari, Martina; Vergata, Chiara; Yordanov, Yordan; Dimitrova, Diana; Kalcev, Petar; Staneva, Rada; Antonova, Olga; Hadjidekova, Savina; Galabov, Angel; Toncheva, Draga; Caramelli, David (December 2019). "Ancient human mitochondrial genomes from Bronze Age Bulgaria: new insights into the genetic history of Thracians". Scientific Reports. 9 (1): 5412. Bibcode:2019NatSR...9.5412M. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-41945-0. PMC 6443937. PMID 30931994.
  • Samsaris, D. (1980). The Hellenization of Thrace during the Hellenic and Roman Antiquity. Thessaloniki (Doctoral thesis in Greek). doi:10.26268/heal.uoi.3216.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  • Webber, Christopher (2001). The Thracians, 700 BC - AD 46. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-329-3.
  • Webber, Christopher (2011). The Gods of Battle, The Thracians at War 1500 BC- 150 AD. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 978-1-84415-835-5.

Further reading edit

  • The Yurta-Stroyno Archaeological Project. Studies on the Roman Rural Settlement in Thrace. P. Tušlová – B. Weissová – S. Bakardzhiev (eds.). Prague: Charles University, Faculty of Arts, 2022. ISBN 978-80-7671-068-9 (print), ISBN 978-80-7671-069-6 (online: pdf)
  • Kaul, Flemming (2011). "The Gundestrup Cauldron: Thracian Art, Celtic Motifs". Études Celtiques. 37 (1): 81–110. doi:10.3406/ecelt.2011.2326.

External links edit

  • Thrace and the Thracians (700 BC to 46 AD)
  • Ancient Thracians. Art, Culture, History, Treasures
  • Information on Ancient Thrace
  • video about the Thracians and Thracian warfare[permanent dead link]