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{{short description|ancient Indo-European people that lived in eastern parts of Europe}}{{Other uses|Thracian (disambiguation)}}File:Peltaste.JPG|thumb|250px|Illustration of 5th–4th century BC Thracian peltastpeltast{{Indo-European topics}}The Thracians ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|θ|r|eɪ|ʃ|ən|z}}; Thrāikes; ) were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Eastern and South-eastern Europe.BOOK, The Thracians, 700 BC–AD 46, Christopher Webber, Angus McBride, 2001, Osprey Publishing, 1-84176-329-2, They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family. The study of Thracians and Thracian culture is known as Thracology.


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.BOOK, Boardman, John, The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 1, Cambridge University Press, 1970, 836, 0-521-85073-8, The ethnonym Thracian comes from Ancient Greek Θρᾷξ (plural Θρᾷκες; , ) or Θρᾴκιος (; Ionic: Θρηίκιος, ), and the toponym Thrace comes from Θρᾴκη (; Ionic: Θρῄκη, ).Navicula Bacchi – Θρηικίη (Accessed: October 13, 2008). These forms are all exonyms as applied by the Greeks.John Boardman, I.E.S. Edwards, E. Sollberger, and N.G.L. Hammond. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 2: The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and Other States of the Near East, from the Eighth to the Sixth Centuries BC. Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 597. "We have no way of knowing what the Thracians called themselves and if indeed they had a common name... Thus the name of Thracians and that of their country were given by the Greeks to a group of Hellenic tribes occupying the territory..."

Mythological foundation

In Greek mythology, Thrax (by his name simply the quintessential Thracian) was regarded as one of the reputed sons of the god Ares.Lemprière and Wright, 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." 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).Euripides, p. 95. "[Line] 58. 'Thrace's golden shield' – One of the names of Ares was Thrax, he being the Patron of Thrace. His golden or gilded shield was kept in his temple at Bistonia there.. Like the other Thracian bucklers, it was of the shape of a half-moon ('Pelta'). His 'festival of Mars Gradivus' was kept annually by the Latins in the month of March, when this sort of shield was displayed."


{{See also|Prehistoric Balkans#Iron Age}}The origins of the Thracians remain obscure, in the absence of written historical records. 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 proto-Thracian people developed from a mixture of indigenous peoples and Indo-Europeans from the time of Proto-Indo-European expansion in the Early Bronze AgeHoddinott, p. 27. when the latter, around 1500 BC, mixed with indigenous peoples.Casson, p. 3. During the Iron Age (about 1000 BC) Dacians and Thracians began developing from proto-Thracians.John Boardman, I.E.S. Edwards, E. Sollberger, and N.G.L. Hammond. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 1: The Prehistory of the Balkans, the Middle East and the Aegean World, Tenth to Eighth Centuries BC. Cambridge University Press, 1982, p. 53. "Yet we cannot identify the Thracians at that remote period, because we do not know for certain whether the Thracian and Illyrian tribes had separated by then. It is safer to speak of Proto-Thracians from whom there developed in the Iron Age..."

Identity and distribution

File:Dacia 82 BC.png|thumb|200px|right|Dacia during the reign of BurebistaBurebistaDivided 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, including the Illyrians, regarded as warlike and ferocious Thracian tribes, while the plains peoples were apparently regarded as more peaceable.{{Citation needed|date=September 2010}}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 extended over most of the Balkans region, and the Getae north of the Danube as far as beyond the Bug and including Panonia in the west.The catalogue of Kimbell Art Museum's 1998 exhibition Ancient Gold: The Wealth of the Thracians indicates a historical extent of Thracian settlement including most of the Ukraine, all of Hungary and parts of Slovakia. (Kimbell Art – Exhibitions)There were about 200 Thracian tribes.Mircea Eliade, Ioan Petru Culianu, Humanitas, Bucuresti, 1993, p.267. {{ISBN|978-973-681-962-9}}


Archaic period

The first Greek colonies in Thrace were founded in the eighth century BC.Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 1515. "From the 8th century BC the coast Thrace was colonised by Greeks."Thrace south of the Danube (except for the land of the Bessi) was ruled for nearly half a century by the Persians under Darius the Great, who conducted an expedition into the region from 513 to 512 BC. The Persians called Thrace "Skudra".Susan Wise Bauer. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome. W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, p. 517. "Megabazus turned Thrace into a new Persian satrapy, Skudra."

Classical period

{{See also|Odrysian kingdom|List of ancient cities in Thrace and Dacia}}

Achaemenid Thrace

{{multiple image| align = right| image1 = Xerxes_I_tomb_Skudrian_soldier_circa_470_BCE_cleaned_up.jpg| width1 = 120| caption1 = Skudrian (Thracian) soldier of the Achaemenid army, circa 480 BCE. Xerxes I tomb relief.| image2 = Odrysian.svg| width2 = 308
0-19-860641-9}}, page 1514,"The kingdom of the Odrysae, the leading tribe of Thrace extended in present-day Bulgaria, Turkish Thrace (east of the Hebrus) and Greece between the Hebrus and Strymon except for the coastal strip with its Greek cities."}}In the first decade of the sixth century BC, the Persians conquered Thrace and made it part of their satrapy Skudra. Thracians were forced to join the invasions of European Scythia and Greece.WEB,weblink The Thracians, 700 BC - AD 46, 24 December 2014, According to Herodotus, the Bithynian Thracians also had to contribute a large contingent to Xerxes' invasion of Greece in 480 BC.Subjugation of Macedonia was part of Persian military operations initiated by Darius the Great (521–486) in 513: after immense preparations, a huge Achaemenid army invaded the Balkans and tried to defeat the European Scythians roaming north of the Danube River.WEB,weblink A Companion to Ancient Macedonia, 17 December 2014, Darius' army subjugated several Thracian peoples at the same time, and virtually all other regions that touch the European part of the Black Sea, including parts of present-day Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, before returning to Asia Minor.The Oxford Classical Dictionary by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, {{ISBN|0-19-860641-9}}, page 1515, "The Thracians were subdued by the Persians by 516" Darius left in Europe one of his commanders, Megabazus, whose task was to accomplish conquests in the Balkans. The Persian troops subjugated gold-rich Thrace, the coastal Greek cities, and the powerful Paeonians.WEB,weblink Persian influence on Greece (2), 17 December 2014, {{sfn|Howe|Reames|2008|p=239}} Finally, Megabazus sent envoys to Amyntas, King of Macedon demanding acceptance of Persian domination, which the Macedonian agreed to. By this time, many if not most Thracians were under Persian rule.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.Herodotus. Histories, Book V. 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, such as the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace and the Dacian kingdom of Burebista. The peltast, a type of soldier of this period, probably originated in Thrace.During this period, a subculture of celibate ascetics called the "ctistae" lived in Thrace, where they served as philosophers, priests and prophets.

Odrysian Kingdom

The Odrysian Kingdom was a state union of over 40 Thracian tribesBOOK, Thrace, The History Files,weblink and 22 kingdomsWEB,weblink Interview: Capital of largest Thracian kingdom discovered in Bulgaria,, 2016-05-26,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-02-04, dead, 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.

Macedonian Thrace

During this period, contacts between the Thracians and Classical Greece intensified.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.The Thracians were typically not city-buildersJohn Boardman, I.E.S. Edwards, E. Sollberger, and N.G.L. Hammond. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 2: The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and Other States of the Near East, from the Eighth to the Sixth Centuries BC. Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 612. "Thrace possessed only fortified areas, and cities such as Cabassus would have been no more than large villages. In general the population lived in villages and hamlets."John Boardman, I.E.S. Edwards, E. Sollberger, and N.G.L. Hammond. The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 3, Part 2: The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and Other States of the Near East, from the Eighth to the Sixth Centuries BC. Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 612. "According to Strabo ( the Thracian suffix -bria meant polis but it is an inaccurate translation." and their only polis was Seuthopolis.Mogens Herman Hansen. An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation. Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 888. "It was meant to be a polis but there was no reason to think that it was anything other than a native settlement."Christopher Webber and Angus McBride. The Thracians 700 BC-AD 46 (Men-at-Arms). Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 1. "They lived almost entirely in villages; the city of Seuthopolis seems to be the only significant town in Thrace not built by the Greeks (although the Thracians did build fortified refuges)."(File:AtlBalk.e-150.jpg|thumb|300px|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.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.In parts of Moesia (northeast Serbia), 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.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2010-09-21, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2011-07-18,

Roman Thrace

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

Roman rule

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 Antonius and Octavian in the final days of the Republic.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.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.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 inspiredp 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.Thracians in Moesia were Romanized. Those in Thrace and surrounding areas would come to be known as the Bessi. In the 6th century AD the Bessian (i.e. Thracian) language was reportedly still in use by monks at a Mount Sinai monastery.Simeon Metaphrastes. Vita Sancti Theodosii CoenobiarchaeAntoninus of Piacenza


Thracians were regarded by other people's as warlike, ferocious, and bloodthirsty.Christopher Webber and Angus McBride. The Thracians 700 BC-AD 46 (Men-at-Arms). Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 1. "Perhaps the prospect of getting to the spoils explains Thucydides VII, 29: `For the Thracian race, like all the most bloodthirsty barbarians, are always particularly bloodthirsty when everything is going their own way.'Duncan Head and Ian Heath. Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars 359 BC to 146 BC: Organisation, Tactics, Dress and Weapons. Wargames Research Group, 1982, p. 51. They were seen as "barbarians" by ancient Greeks and Romans. Plato in his Republic groups them with the Scythians,Plato. The Republic: "Take the quality of passion or spirit;--it would be ridiculous to imagine that this quality, when found in States, is not derived from the individuals who are supposed to possess it, e.g. the Thracians, Scythians, and in general the northern nations;" calling them extravagant and high spirited; and his Laws portrays them as a warlike nation, grouping them with Celts, Persians, Scythians, Iberians and Carthaginians.Plato. Laws: "Are we to follow the custom of the Scythians, and Persians, and Carthaginians, and Celts, and Iberians, and Thracians, who are all warlike nations, or that of your countrymen, for they, as you say, altogether abstain?" Polybius wrote of Cotys's sober and gentle character being unlike that of most Thracians.Polybius. Histories, 27.12. Tacitus in his Annals writes of them being wild, savage and impatient, disobedient even to their own kings.Tacitus. The Annals: "In the Consulship of Lentulus Getulicus and Caius Calvisius, the triumphal ensigns were decreed to Poppeus Sabinus for having routed some clans of Thracians, who living wildly on the high mountains, acted thence with the more outrage and contumacy. The ground of their late commotion, not to mention the savage genius of the people, was their scorn and impatience, to have recruits raised amongst them, and all their stoutest men enlisted in our armies; accustomed as they were not even to obey their native kings further than their own humour, nor to aid them with forces but under captains of their own choosing, nor to fight against any enemy but their own borderers."Polyaenus and Strabo write how the Thracians broke their pacts of truce with trickery.Polyaenus. Strategems. Book 7, The Thracians.Strabo. History, 9.401 (9.2.4). The Thracians struck their weapons against each other before battle, "in the Thracian manner," as Polyaneus testifies.Polyaenus. Strategems. Book 7, Clearchus. Diegylis was considered one of the most bloodthirsty chieftains by Diodorus Siculus. An Athenian club for lawless youths was named after the Triballi.Christopher Webber and Angus McBride. The Thracians 700 BC-AD 46 (Men-at-Arms). Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 6.According to ancient Roman sources, the DiiZofia Archibald. The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace: Orpheus Unmasked (Oxford Monographs on Classical Archaeology). Clarendon Press, 1998, p. 100. were responsible for the worstChristopher Webber and Angus McBride. The Thracians 700 BC-AD 46 (Men-at-Arms). Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 7. atrocities of the Peloponnesian War, killing every living thing, including children and dogs in Tanagra and Mycalessos. Thracians would impale Roman heads on their spears and rhomphaias such as in the Kallinikos skirmish at 171 BC.Christopher Webber and Angus McBride. The Thracians 700 BC-AD 46 (Men-at-Arms). Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 34. Herodotus writes that "they sell their children and let their maidens commerce with whatever men they please".Herodotus (trans. G.C. Macaulay). The History of Herodotus (Volume II). "Of the other Thracians the custom is to sell their children to be carried away out of the country; and over their maidens they do not keep watch, but allow them to have commerce with whatever men they please, but over their wives they keep very great watch."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.NEWS, Hu, Rollin,weblink Herodotus’ Histories and its reliability, The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, February 11, 2016, March 13, 2019, Archaeologists have attempted to piece together a fuller understanding of Thracian culture through study of their artifacts.NEWS, Klass, Rosanne,weblink Thracian Clues To Our `Barbarian’ Heritage, The New York Times, June 26, 1977, March 13, 2019,

Aftermath and legacy

The ancient languages of these people and their cultural influence were highly reduced due to the repeated invasions of the Balkans by Ancient Macedonians, Romans, Celts, Huns, Goths, Scythians, Sarmatians and Slavs, accompanied by, hellenization, romanization and later slavicisation. However, the Thracians as a group did not entirely disappear, with the Bessi surviving at least until the late 4th century. Towards the end of the 4th century, Nicetas the Bishop of Remesiana brought the gospel to "those mountain wolves", the Bessi.Gottfried Schramm: A New Approach to Albanian History 1994{{page needed|date=April 2017}} 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 mediaeval 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.Linguistics Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 8 September 2012. The further fate of the Thracians is a matter of dispute. Some authors like Schramm derived the Albanians from the Christian Bessi, or Bessians, an early Thracian people who were pushed westwards into Albania,1994 Gottfried Schramm: A New Approach to Albanian History{{page needed|date=April 2017}} while more mainstream historians support Illyrian-Albanian continuity or a possible Thraco-Illyrian creole.Indo-European language and culture: an introduction By Benjamin W. Fortson Edition: 5, illustrated Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2004 {{ISBN|978-1-4051-0316-9}}{{page needed|date=April 2017}}Stipčević, Alexander. Iliri (2nd edition). Zagreb, 1989 (also published in Italian as "Gli Illiri"){{page needed|date=April 2017}}NGL Hammond The Relations of Illyrian Albania with the Greeks and the Romans. In Perspectives on Albania, edited by Tom Winnifrith, St. Martin's Press, New York 1992{{page needed|date=April 2017}}"Johann Thunmann: On the History and Language of the Albanians and Vlachs"{{page needed|date=April 2017}} Most probably the remnants of 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.




One notable cult that existed in Thrace, Moesia and Scythia Minor was that of the "Thracian horseman", also known as the "Thracian Heros", at Odessos (near Varna) 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.BOOK, Lurker, Manfred, Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons, 151, 1987, BOOK, Nicoloff, Assen, Bulgarian Folklore, 1983, 50, BOOK, Isaac, Benjamin H., The Greek Settlements in Thrace Until the Macedonian Conquest, 1986, 257, Dacians had a monotheistic religion based on the god Zalmoxis.BOOK, Eliade, Mircea, De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan, 35, 1985, The supreme Balkan thunder god Perkon was part of the Thracian pantheon, although cults of Orpheus and Zalmoxis likely overshadowed his.Zinkevičius, Zigmas.Where we come from: the origin of the Lithuanian people, Science & Encyclopedia Publishing Institute, {{ISBN|9785420015728}} pp. 58Some think that the Greek god Dionysus evolved from the Thracian god Sabazios.Patricia Turner and Charles Russell Coulter. Dictionary of Ancient Deities. Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 152.


The Thracians were polygamous as 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."BOOK, Ангел Гоев, Еротичното в историята Том 2, 978-954-400-514-6, 8, 13, 14,weblink According to Herodotus virginity among women was not valued, and unmarried Thracian women could have sex with any man they wished to. There were men perceived as holy Thracians, who lived without women and were called "ktisti". In myth Orpheus became attracted to men after the death of Eurydice and is thought of as the establisher of homosexuality among Thracian men. Because he advocated love between men and turning away from loving women he was killed by the Bistones women.


The Thracians were a warrior people, known as both horsemen and lightly armed skirmishers with javelins.BOOK, Conflict in Ancient Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia,weblink 27 June 2016, ABC-CLIO, 978-1-61069-020-1, 552, Thracian peltasts had a notable influence in Ancient Greece.BOOK, Jan G. P. Best, Thracian Peltasts: And Their Influence on Greek Warfare,weblink 1969, Wolters-Noordhoff, 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.

Physical appearance

File:Thrace-ostrusha.jpg|thumb|250px|A fresco of a woman in the Ostrusha Mound in central BulgariaBulgariaSeveral Thracian graves or tombstones have the name Rufus inscribed on them, meaning "redhead" – a common name given to people with red hairThe Thracians 700 BC – AD 46, Christopher Webber, Angus McBride, Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 17 which led to associating the name with slaves when the Romans enslaved this particular group.Racism: A Global Reader, Thomas Reilly, Stephen Kaufman, Angela Bodino, 2002, p. 121-122 Ancient Greek artwork often depicts Thracians as redheads.Not the classical ideal: Athens and the construction of the other in Greek art, Beth Cohen, 2000, p. 371. 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.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:Bacchylides described Theseus as wearing a hat with red hair, which classicists believe was Thracian in origin.Ode 18, Dithyramb 4, verse 51, quoted in Bacchylides: a selection By Bacchylides, Herwig Maehler, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 191. Other ancient writers who described the hair of the Thracians as red include Hecataeus of Miletus,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. Galen,De Temp. II. 5 Clement of Alexandria,Clem. Alex. Strom. Vii.4 and Julius Firmicus Maternus.Matheseos Libri Octo, II. 1, quoted in Ancient Astrology Theory and Practice, Jean Rhys Bram 2005, pp. 14, 29.Nevertheless, academic studies 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 Iranic Scythians as red haired. According to Dr. Beth Cohen, Thracians had "the same dark hair and the same facial features as the Ancient Greeks."Beth Cohen (ed.) Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art. Leiden, 2000. On the other hand, Dr. Aris N. Poulianos states that Thracians, like modern Bulgarians, belonged mainly to the Aegean anthropological type.Poulianos, Aris N., 1961, The Origin of the Greeks, Ph.D. thesis, University of Moscow, supervised by F.G.Debets

Notable people

This is a list of historically important personalities being entirely or partly of Thracian ancestry:
  • Orpheus, mythological figure considered chief among poets and musicians; king of the Thracian tribe of Cicones
  • Spartacus, Thracian gladiator who led a large slave uprising in Southern Italy in 73–71 BC and defeated several Roman legions in what is known as the Third Servile War
  • Amadocus, Thracian King, the Amadok Point was named after him
  • Teres I, Thracian King who united many tribes of Thrace under the banner of the Odrysian state
  • Sitalces, King of the Odrysian state; an ally of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War
  • Burebista, King of Dacia
  • Decebalus, King of Dacia
  • Maximinus Thrax, Roman Emperor from 235 to 238.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)
  • Aureolus, Roman military commander
  • Galerius, Roman Emperor from 305 to 311; born to a Thracian father and Dacian mother
  • Licinius, Roman Emperor from 308 to 324
  • Maximinus Daia or Maximinus Daza, Roman Emperor from 308 to 313
  • Justin I, Eastern Roman Emperor and founder of the Justinian dynasty
  • Justinian the Great, Eastern Roman Emperor; either Illyrian or Thracian, born in Dardania
  • Belisarius, Eastern Roman general of reputed Illyrian or Thracian origin
  • Marcian, Eastern Roman Emperor from 450 to 457; either Illyrian or Thracian
  • Leo I the Thracian, Eastern Roman Emperor from 457 to 474
  • Bouzes or Buzes, Eastern Roman general active during the reign of Justinian the Great (r. 527–565)
  • Coutzes or Cutzes, general of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Emperor Justinian I



{{see also|Thracian treasure}}
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 Tomb of Sveshtari, the Tomb of Kazanlak, Tatul, Seuthopolis, Perperikon, the Tomb of Aleksandrovo, Sarmizegetusa in Romania and others.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.NEWS,weblink Bulgarian Archaeologists Make Breakthrough in Ancient Thrace Tomb, March 11, 2010, Novinite, April 3, 2010, NEWS,weblink Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Story of Ancient Thracians' War with Philip II of Macedon, June 21, 2011, June 24, 2011, (Sofia News Agency), Novinite, A 1922 Bulgarian study claimed that there were at least 6,269 necropolises{{clarify|date=April 2017}} in Bulgaria.BOOK, Izvestii︠a︡: Bulletin, 1922, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 104, {{page needed|date=April 2017}}


File:ThracianTribes.jpg|Thracian tribes and heroes.File:Map Macedonia 336 BC-en.svg|Map of the territory of Philip II of Macedon.File:Diadochen1.png|Kingdom of Lysimachus and the Diadochi.File:Helmet of Cotofenesti - Front Large by Radu Oltean.jpg|Golden Dacian helmet of Cotofenesti, in Romania.File:Koson 79000126.jpg|Gold coins that have been minted by the Dacians, with the legend ΚΟΣΩΝ.File:Dioecesis Thraciae 400 AD.png|Map of the Diocese of Thrace (Dioecesis Thraciae) c. 400 AD.File:Thracian Horseman Histria Museum.jpg|Thracian Roman era "heros" (Sabazius) stele.File:Bergaios thracian king.jpg|Coin of Bergaios, a local Thracian king in the Pangaian District, Greece.File:Thracian treasure NHM Bulgaria.JPG|A gold Thracian treasure from Panagyurishte, Bulgaria.File:Shushmanets3.jpg|Thracian tomb Shushmanets build in 4th century BCFile:Thomb-Sveshtari.jpg|The Thracian Tomb of SveshtariFile:Thomb-Sveshtari-2.jpg|The interior of the Sveshtari tombFile:Kazanluk 1.jpg|Thracian Tomb of KazanlakFile:Sofia Archeological Museum bronze head.jpg|Bronze head of Seuthes III from his tombFile:The Thracian tomb Goliama Kosmatka, Bulgaria 01.jpg|Tomb of Seuthes IIIFile:SeuthIIIHeroon SM.jpg|Interior of Tomb of Seuthes III

See also




  • BOOK, Best, Jan G. P., Thracian Peltasts: And Their Influence on Greek Warfare,weblink 1969, Wolters-Noordhoff,
  • BOOK, Howe, Timothy, Reames, Jeanne, Macedonian Legacies: Studies in Ancient Macedonian History and Culture in Honor of Eugene N. Borza, Regina Books, 2008, 978-1-930-05356-4,weblink harv,
  • BOOK, Marazov, Ivan Marazov, Ancient gold: the wealth of the Thracians : treasures from the Republic of Bulgaria,weblink 1998, Harry N. Abrams, in association with the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria,
  • 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. "Paleo-mtDNA analysis and population genetic aspects of old Thracian populations from South-East of Romania". Romanian Journal of Legal Medicine 12(4), pp. 239–246, 2004. (Article)
  • JOURNAL, Casson, Lionel, Lionel Casson, The Thracians, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 35, 1, Summer 1977, 2, 3258667,
  • Hoddinott, Ralph F. The Thracians. Thames & Hudson, 1981. {{ISBN|0-500-02099-X}}.
  • BOOK, Samsaris, D., The Hellenization of Thrace during the Hellenic and Roman Antiquity,weblink 1980, Thessaloniki (Doctoral thesis in Greek),
  • Webber, Christopher. The Thracians, 700 BC–AD 46. Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2001. {{ISBN|9781841763293}}
  • Webber, Christopher, The Gods of Battle, The Thracians at War 1500 BC- 150 AD Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley, 2011. {{ISBN|9781844158355}}

External links

{{Commons|Ancient Thrace and Ancient Thracians}}

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