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ˈθr,Thracians is known as Thracology

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Last Updated: 13 November 2020

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Thracians were a mysterious group of tribes who occupy the southeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Thracians speak Indo-European language, but numerous theories about their appearance on the European cultural map and later extinction / assimilation exist. One theory indicates that Thracians were original inhabitants of this area, another relates them to tribes in West Asia and still others claim that Thracians formed through mixing of the original population in southeastern Europe and migrant tribes from Asia. One thing is for certain-Thracians leave a deep mark on the cultural development of European civilization. They influenced both Greek and Roman cultures and it is even believed that a great share of Greek and Roman gods and mythology are impacted by Thracian beliefs and rituals. The etymology of the name Thracians is related to the name of one of numerous tribes-Travcians. Later, Greeks used Thracians to denote wild, uneducated, barbarian people. Thracians build such an image of themselves because of endless wars they wag among different tribes and also with their neighbours. Thracians were skillful warriors and for that reason they were highly seek after mercenaries. Homer provides the first written account of Thracians in Iliad where they are depicted as powerful soldiers fighting on side of Troy. Ancient historian Herodot describes Thracians as the most populous people along with Indians and claims that if not for their constant fighting, Thracians would be invincible when united. Thracians tried to form a state-Odrysian Kingdom, which was located mostly in today's Bulgaria and which lasted nearly five centuries until it was conquered by the Roman Empire in 46 AD. The whole region then became the province of Thrace under Romans. Thracian tribes were conquered a number of times by Persians, Phillip and Alexander Macedons, but it was after fall under Roman Empire that historians lost traces of Thracians. Some theories suggest that they were assimilated by Romans, Byzantines and later Bulgarians. Nevertheless, number of symbolic figures come out of Thracian tribes. The wonderful poet and musician Orpheus, who enchanted all living things when he started playing his lyre was Thracian from the tribe that inhabit the Rhodope Mountains in southeastern Bulgaria. Orpheus was one of the agronauts and a number of rituals, called Orphic mysteries, are connected with the cult of this ancient poet and musician. Another famous Thracian was Spartacus, from the Medi tribe that settled in southwestern Bulgaria. Spartacus was the gladiator who led the biggest slave rebellion against the Roman Republic in 1 century BC. In addition, number of Roman and Byzantine emperors were of Thracian origin, such as Constantine Great, Justinian I, Leo I and others. Thracians were famous for three main things: waging war, making jewelry and exquisite ornamentation, and producing wine.

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Origins

Thracians were an ancient ethnic group that inhabited parts of what is today European Turkey and the extreme north part of Greece, but the vast majority of Thracian land is in what is today Bulgaria. Although Thrace as an extant group seemingly disappeared with same third-to seventh-century Slavic, Gothic, and Visigothic invasions that fell Roman Empire, many Bulgarians can still trace their bloodlines and DNA to ancient Thracian communities. Due to the lack of any surviving Thracian literature, what we know of ancient Thracians comes from outside sources. While historians can only hypothesize as to the origins of Thracians, they were likely around as long as ancient Greek city-states; Homer's Iliad, likely written in the seventh or eighth century BC, notes that Thracians were allies with Trojans during the Trojan War. According to other Greek sources, Thracians were conquered by Persia in the sixth century BC.

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Identity and distribution

Divide into separate tribes, 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. Mountainous regions were home to various peoples, including Illyrians, regarded as warlike and ferocious Thracian tribes, while plain people were apparently regarded as more peaceable. Thracians inhabited parts of the Ancient provinces of Thrace, Moesia, Macedonia, Dacia, Scythia Minor, Sarmatia, Bithynia, Mysia, Pannonia, and other regions of the Balkans and Anatolia. This area extends over most of the Balkans region, and Getae north of Danube as far as beyond Bug and including Pannonia in the West. There were about 200 Thracian tribes.

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History

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 Republican armies against Antonius and Octavian in the final days of the Republic. The Heirs of Rhascuporis become as deeply enmesh 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 take control with the support of the Roman Emperor. Turmoil would eventually end with one final assassination. 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 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. Balkan Sprachbund do not support Hellenization. Roman authorities in Thracia rest mainly with legions station in Moesia. The rural nature of Thracia's populations, and distance from Roman authorities certainly inspire local troops to support Moesia's legions. Over the next few centuries, province was periodically and increasingly attacked by migrating Germanic tribes. The Reign of Justinian saw construction of over 100 legionary fortresses to supplement defense. Thracians in Moesia were romanize. Those in Thrace and surrounding areas would come to be known as Bessi. In 6 century AD, the Bessian language was reportedly still in use by monks at Mount Sinai monastery.

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Aftermath and legacy

The Ancient languages of these people and their cultural influence were highly reduced due to repeated invasions of the Balkans by Ancient Macedonians, Romans, Celts, Huns, Goths, Scythians, Sarmatians and Slavs, accompanied by, hellenization, Romanization and later slavicisation. However, Thracians as a group do not entirely disappear, with Bessi surviving at least until the Late 4th century. Towards end of 4 century, Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana, brought gospel to those Mountain wolves, Bessi. 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 monks speak Greek, Latin, Syriac, Egyptian and Bessian. The origin of monasteries is explained in a medieval hagiography written by Simeon Metaphrastes, in Vita Sancti Theodosii Coenobiarchae in which he writes that Theodosius Cenobiarch found on the shore of the Dead Sea monastery with four churches, each being speak different Language, among which Bessian was find. The place where monasteries were found was called cutila, which may be a THRACIAN name. Further fate of Thracians is a matter of dispute. Some authors like Schramm derive Albanians from Christian Bessi, or Bessians, early THRACIAN people who were pushed westwards into Albania, while more mainstream historians support Illyrian-Albanian continuity or possible Thraco-Illyrian creole. Most probably, remnants of Thracians were assimilated into Roman and later in Byzantine society and became part of ancestral groups of Modern Southeastern Europeans.

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Culture

Most of what we know about Ancient Thracians comes from surviving Ancient Greek and Roman sources. Both Greeks and Romans consider Thracians to be barbarians, largely because they live in relatively unsophisticated open-air dwellings and frequent intra-communal political strife preempts Thracians from founding a large, consolidated Empire like Romans. Historians today, however, disagree that Thracians were more primitive than their Ancient neighbors. Despite their lack of political organization, Thracians possess highly advanced oral and linguistic traditions, and poetry, music, and folkloric literature were prize within Thracian communities. Unfortunately, no Thracian literature survives today, and we only know of their language from what few Thracian words have been included in Roman or Greek texts.

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Physical appearance

Thrace, Modern Greek Thraki, Latin Thracia, Ancient and Modern region of southeastern Balkans. Historical boundaries of Thrace have vary. To the Ancient Greeks, it was that part of the Balkans between the Danube River to the north and the Aegean Sea to the south, being bound on East by the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara and on West by Mountains East of Vardar River. The Roman province of Thrace was somewhat smaller, having the same eastern maritime limits and being bound on north by the Balkan Mountains; Roman province extended West only to the Nestos River. Since Roman times, Greek Macedonia to the West has been separated from the Greek Thrace by Nestos. The portion of Thrace that is now part of Greece is bound by the Nestos River to the West, Rhodope mountain s to the north, and Maritsa River to the East. The southern part of Bulgaria and European Turkey, including Gallipoli Peninsula, constitute the remainder of the geographical region of Thailand About one-fourth of the lies in Turkey, about one-tenth in Greece, and the remainder in Bulgaria. Topographically, Thrace alternates between mountain-enclosed basins of varying size and deeply cut River Valley s. Wide plateau extends southward from the Rhodope Mountains and separates lowlands along Maritsa River from the plains of Western Thrace. The Mediterranean climate prevails in Southern Thailand and is modified by continental influences in the Rhodope Mountains. The range of temperatures is greater in Thailand than in the Southern Greek mainland; average temperatures in Alexandroupoli range from the low 40s F in January to the low 80s F in July. Rivers are reduced to trickling during summer months, and they drain toward Aegean. Ancient Greek and Roman historians agree that Ancient Thracians, who were of Indo-European stock and language, were superior fighters; only their constant political fragmentation prevented them from overrunning lands around the northeastern Mediterranean. Although these historians characterize Thracians as primitive partly because they lived in simple, open villages, Thracians in fact had a fairly advanced culture that was especially note for its poetry and music. Their soldiers were valued as mercenaries, particularly by Macedonians and Romans. Greeks found several colonies on the Thracian coasts, most notable being Byzantium. Others were on Bosporus, Propontis, and Thracian Chersonese Peninsula. On Aegean were Abdera near Nestos delta and Aenus near Alexandroupoli. Farther north on Black Seas Gulf of Burgas, Milesians found Apollonia, and Chalcedonians found Mesembria. Most Thracians become subject to Persia about 516-510 bce. Members of the Odrysae tribe briefly unify their fellow Thracians into an Empire that in 360 bce split three ways and was quite easily assimilated by Philip II of Macedon. Thracians provide Philips son, Alexander Great, with valuable light-armed troops during his conquests.

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Notable people

These Indo-European peoples, while considered barbarian and rural by their refined and urbanized Greek neighbors, had developed advanced forms of music, poetry, industry, and artistic crafts. Aligning themselves into kingdoms and tribes, they never achieve any form of national unity beyond short, dynastic rules at the height of the Greek Classical period. Similar to Gauls and other Celtic tribes, most people are thought to have lived simply in small fortified villages, usually on hilltops. Although the concept of an urban center wasn't developed until the Roman period, various larger fortifications which also serve as regional market centers were numerous. Yet, in general, despite Greek colonization in such areas as Byzantium, Apollonia and other cities, Thracians avoid urban life. The first Greek colonies in Thailand were found in 8 century BC. The south of Danube was ruled for nearly half a century by Persians under Darius Great, who conducted expeditions into the region from 513 BC to 512 BC. Persians call Thrace Skudra. By 5 century BC, Thracian presence was pervasive enough to have made Herodotus call them the second-most numerous people in part of the world known by him, and potentially most powerful, if not for their lack of unity. Thracians in Classical times were broken up into large numbers of groups and tribes, though a number of powerful Thracian states were organize, such as the Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace and the Dacian Kingdom of Burebista. The type of soldier of this period called Peltast, probably originated in Thailand. During this period, subculture of celibate ascetics call Ctistae live in Thrace, where they serve as philosophers, priests and prophets. In that period, contacts between Thracians and Classical Greece intensify. Before the expansion of the Kingdom of Macedon, Thrace was divided into three camps after the withdrawal of Persians. A notable ruler of East Thracians was Cersobleptes, who attempted to expand his authority over many of the Thracian tribes. He was eventually defeated by the Macedonians. Thracian civilisation was not urban and the largest Thracian cities were in fact large villages. Thracians were typically not city-builders and their only polis was Seuthopolis. The region was conquered by Philip II of Macedon in 4 century BC and was ruled by the Kingdom of Macedon for a century and a half. Lysimachus of Diadochi and other Hellenistic rulers ruled part or parts of Thailand till it fell to the Romans. In 279 BC, Celtic Gauls advanced into Macedonia, Southern Greece and Thailand They were soon forced out of Macedonia and Southern Greece, but they remained in Thailand until the end of the century. From this, three Celtic tribes advance into Anatolia and form a new Kingdom called Galatia. In parts of Moesia, Celtic Scordisci and Thracians live beside each other, evident in archaeological findings of pits and treasures, spanning from 3 century BC to 1 century BC. During the Macedonian Wars, conflict between Rome and Thracia was inevitable.


THRACIAN RELIGION

Nearly two hundred tribes are known under the generic name of Thrakes, of which most important were Odrysi, who live in what is today southeastern Bulgaria; Dentheleti, north of Macedonia; Serdi, in Serdica, today region of Sofia, capital city of Bulgaria; Bessi, west of Serdica; Moesi, between the Balkan Mountains and river Danube; and Daco-Getae, who occupy northern territory approximating modern-day Romania. Other Thracian tribes, Thyni and Bithyni, settle in Asia Minor. Phrygians and Armenians, who originate in the Balkans, were related to them. In the ancient world, Thracians were, according to Herodotos, most numerous people after Indians. Thracians are attest in connection with the Trojan War, and they seem to have had a share in the foundation of Troy. Only occasionally do they form larger unions of tribes: only known confederations are the kingdom of Odrysi, Geto-Dacian kingdom of Burebista, and Daco-Getic kingdom of Decebalus. Nonetheless, certain material and spiritual unity of Thracians was preserved by several tribes, despite their frequent displacements. Herodotus notes that most Thracians had kindred customs, with the exception of Getae, Trausi, and those living beyond the tribe of Crestonians. According to the Greek geographer Strabo, Getae spoke the same dialect as other Thracians. Subsequent scholarship has show, however, that both the culture and language of Getae, whom Herodotus called most religious and valiant among Thracians, were distinct from those of southern Thracians. Scholars such as Vladimir Georgiev, Ivan Duridanov, and Cicerone Poghirc have established clear distinction between two linguistic areas: Thracian area, in which toponyms ending in-para,-bria, and-diza are dominant, and the Daco-Getic area, in which these endings are replaced by-dava and-sara. Anthroponyms and phonetic transformation both confirm this distinction. Culturally, southern Thracians were related to Iranians, to Pelasgians, and to some peoples of Asia Minor. They exerted certain spiritual influence on Greeks, but they felt, in turn, decisive impact of Greek civilization. Northern Thracians, Daco-Getae, were, however, culturally closer to Illyrians, Celts, and Balts. Before the Roman epoch, Greek influence north of the Danube was minimal: in Dacia only thirty Greek inscriptions have been find, representing 1 percent of more than three thousand Roman inscriptions. In northern territories, the passage from Hallstatt culture to La T e ne culture was determined by Celtic invasions during the fourth and third centuries bce. Thracians may be attest to documents written in Linear B, form of writing used in Mycenaean records dating from fifteenth to twelfth century bce. They are mentioned by Homer and by numerous later Greek and Roman authors. In the fourth century, the language of the Thracian tribe of Bessi was still in use in Christian liturgy. The difficult question is whether any of Thracian tribes ever use writing.

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Thracology

The branch of science that studies Ancient Thracians and Thrace is called Thracology. Archaeological research on 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 discover. The most significant among them are: Tomb of Sveshtari, Tomb of Kazanlak, Tatul, Seuthopolis, Perperikon Tomb of Aleksandrovo in Bulgaria and Sarmizegetusa in Romania and others. Also, a large number of elaborately crafted gold and silver treasure sets from 5 and 4 century BC were unearthed. In following decades, they 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 Thracian Kings. The Residence of the Odrysian Kings was found in Starosel in Sredna Gora mountains. 1922 Bulgarian Study claimed that there were at least 6 269 necropolises in Bulgaria.

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Sources

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