Ancient Thracians


The name of the population that inhabited the territory between the Carpathian Mountains and Aegean region, the islands, and also regions of Anatolia, the northern coast of the Black Sea, etc.

The Thracians were mentioned as allies of the Trojans in the Homer’s epic poem. Their name is also met in Cretan-Mycenaean written records. 

Regarding their origin they belong to the Indo-European ethnic group. There are several hypotheses concerning the Thracian origin: 

  • the first, that they came from northeast about 1500 BC and mixed themselves with the local population and later on formed separate groups.
  • other part Bulgarian archaeologists assume that the Thracians came from northeast about 3500 BC – i.e. at the end of the Stone-Copper Age. 
  • Another hypothesis is that the Thracians are a local population and in result of the internal migrations and consolidation of this local population formed the Thracian ethnocultural group.

In the 1st millennium BC the Thracians were among the most multitudinous peoples in Europe. On the Balkan Peninsula the Thracians were divided in numerous tribes, as the more significant were: 

  • Moesi – inhabited the lands from the Timok River to the Yantra River along the Danube (the Danubian Plain – Bulgaria) 
  • Dacians – inhabited the present south Romania 
  • Odrysians – inhabited the lands along the lower course of the Maritsa, Tundzha and Arda rivers (present Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece) 
  • Asti – the region of the Strandzha Mountain (Bulgaria) 
  • Bessi – the Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria) 
  • Maedi – along the middle course of the Struma River 
  • Serdi – in the present Sofia region, Bulgaria
  • Denteleti – the present Kyustendil region 
  • Odomanti and Edoni – the lands along the lower course of the Struma River, and others 

The Thracians were mainly engaged in farming, gardening, cattle-breeding (esp. horse-breeding), pottery-making, weaving, metal mining, goldsmithing, etc. The various tribes were at a different socioeconomic, political and cultural level. That’s why the break-up of the tribal relations was a process of different duration for the different Thracian tribes. Preconditions for the class division of the group and the establishment of a state-like union appeared first by the Thracians who lived near the Greek colonies along the Aegean and Black Sea coast. The first Thracian state was the Odrysian Kingdom, established at the end of the 6th century BC. In 4th century BC the Thracian lands were conquered by Philip II of Macedon. The Thracians revolted many times against the forced domination and against the Celts, who invaded in the beginning of the 3rd century BC. At the beginning of the 1st century AD they were conquered by the Romans and rose in rebellions against them in 21 and 26 AD. The Thracians gradually became one part with the Slavs, who settled on the Balkan Peninsula in 6th century AD, and thus when the Bulgarian Empire was established by Chan Asparuh in 681 AD they laid the foundations of the Bulgarian nation.

view map from Wikimedia

Leave a Reply