Ancient Illyrians


Indo-European tribes, who had already been settled in the west part of the Balkan Peninsula at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. The border areas with the Thracians were not exactly defined, but as a whole it is clear that the word includes the mixed ethnocultural community along the Axios (Vardar) river valley. Illyrians’ neighbours to the northwest were the Celts.

The Illyrians established more significant kingdoms in the 3rd century BC. The most famous kingdom was the one with Shkodra (Shkoder – in present Albania) as its centre. In the last three decades of the 3rd century BC the Illyrians waged two long wars against the Roman legions. They were also allies of the last ruler of Macedon – Perseus 168 BC, as their battles with Rome continued to the end of the 2nd century BC. Especially famous is the war (35-33 BC) of the Illyrians against Augustus (Octavian), who managed to establish the province of Illyricum in 27 BC.

One part of the Illyrians withstood the ethnic and demographic cataclysms in the 5th-7th century AD and preserved their language. Later on they became part of the contemporary Albanian nationality.

view map from Wikimedia

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