Mac Congail


(Revised May 2012)





The personal names of a population recorded in a region during a given historical period is perhaps the best indicator of the linguistic and historical culture of the society that inhabited that region. What does this linguistic evidence tell us about the ethnic origin of the population of today’s Bulgaria in the centuries after Christ?


In the year 202 AD an inscription (IGBulg. III, 2 # 1690) was carved at the newly founded Έμπόριον (emporion/market) at Pizos (Stara Zagora region) in the heart of Thrace (Tab. Peut. 18, col. 528-540 (Ranilum XXV – Pizo XII – Arzum XIX); ItAnt 136, 6 (Cillis m.p. XXXI –  Pizo m.p. XX – Arso m.p. XVIII); Procop. Aed. 4.11.15 /146.12/ (Πίνζος). The inscription represents, along with the Carasura inscription – found 15 km. to the north (see Mac Congail 2008), the most valuable record of Thracian personal names from this period. The inscription is composed of the following 17 double component ‘Thracian’ names:



1.    Αυλου-ζενις

2.    Αυλου-πορις

3.    Αυλου-τραλ(ε)ος (Gen.)

4.    Βειθυ-τραλεος (Gen.)

5.    Вραση-τραλις

6.    Вρει-ζενις

7.    Δαλη-πορεος (Gen.)

8.    Δαλη-τραλεος (Gen.)

9.      Διας-κενθου

10.    Διαςκου-πορις

11.    Δυτου-πορις

12.    Δυτου-τραλις

13.    Επτη-τραλις

14.    Επται-κενθου

15.    Επτη-πορις

16.    Μουκα-τραλις

17.    Μουκα-πορις


Comprised of the following elements:


1st  Elements:

1.    Αυλου-

2.    Βειθυ-

3.    Вραση-

4.    Вρει-

5.    Δαλη-

6.    Διας-

7.    Δυτου-

8.    Επτη-

9.    Μουκα-


2nd Elements:


1.                            –ζενις

2.                            –κενθος

3.                            –πορις

4.                            –τραλις (2)




Based on the Pizos inscription – ‘un monument épigraphique unique par la richesse des noms de personnes qu’il comporte’, the Bulgarian linguist Boïadjiev constructed a system of Thracian anthroponomy – ‘The Pizos System’, which proved that a ‘homogenous Thracian population inhabited this region during this period’. (Boïadjiev D. (2000) Les Relations Ethno-Linguistiques en Thrace et en Mesie Pendant L’Epoque Romaine. Sofia. P. 145-150). In fact, this and other ‘Thracian’ inscriptions which have been presented as evidence of a ‘pure Thracian race’, provide conclusive evidence of the exact opposite.




 It has long been established that the name elements Μουκα-, Βειθυ-, Διας-, Δαλη-, -πορις –κενθος and –ζενις from the Pizos inscription are Celtic anthroponymic elements which appear throughout Europe in both insular and continental Celtic names. Cf.:


Μουκα-  = (Celtic) Mocca, Mocia, Mucci etc.

The ‘Thracian’ Mouka- (variants muca-, muco-, mouki-, Moci-, etc. See Detschew 1957: 312-320) has long been linked to the Celtic pn’s  Mocca, Mocia, Mucci, etc. The element occurs over 400 times in all areas of Thrace from the 3rd c. BC onwards, i.e. exactly during the period of Celtic expansion into the region, in both single and double element personal names (see Holder AC 2, 602-605; Mac Congail op. cit. 146-149; Detschew 1957:312; Duridanov 1997).

This Celtic element is recorded in continental Celtic names in Gaul such as Moccasenia (Lyon, Gaul – CIL 13, 1874), Moccia (Beaucaire, Gaul – CIL12, 2824 and on two inscriptions from Cimez, Gaul – CIL 5, 7936 and 7947), Moccius (Suse, Gaul – CIL 05 07147 and 07835), in n. Italy – Moccilo (Mediolanum/Milan – CIL 5 6042) and in the second element in the Celtic name Catomocus from Apras, Hungary (CIL 3 6480).

  In Thrace the element is most commonly found as the first element of double compound names, most frequently in the structures – Μουκα-ζενις – from Kustendil, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Dupnica, Ivailovgrad, Pazardjik (x2), Glava Panega, Plovdiv, Kazanluk and Bela-Zlatina (Detschew 1957: 313); Μουκα-κενθος – Pazardjik (x3), Elchovo, Sliven, Osman Pazar, (Detschew 1957: 314); or, as in the Pizos case – Μουκα-πορις. This name appears 15 times on other inscriptions at the Pizos site and on inscriptions from Kazanluk, Chirpan (x3), Tarnovo, Stara Zagora, Harmanli, Provadia, Pazardjik (loc cit) and twice on the Carasura inscription (line 12/13). In each case the second elements of the compound (–ζενις, -κενθος, and –πορις) are well attested Celtic name elements. Particularly interesting are compound ‘Thracian’ names such as Μουκακενθος Βειθυος (from Pazardjik – Detschew 1957: 314) which is formed exclusively of Celtic name elements (see below).




The Carasura inscription

(see Mac Congail 2008)





Βειθυ-  = (Celtic ) Bitu-, Bitu(s), Bitheus etc.

One of the most common ‘Thracian’ anthroponymical name elements, of which over 300 examples have been recorded in Thrace (Detschew 1957:66; Georgiev 1977:68; 370 according to Felecan 2010:61). The Thracian element has long been linked to the element bitu(s)- which occurs as a first and second element in Celtic personal names such as Bitu-rix (fig. c), Bitu-daga, Dago-bitus etc. (Kretschmer 1896: 239; Duridanov 1997: 130-131). It is not recorded in Thrace prior to the Celtic migration into the area in the 3rd c. BC. (Georgiev 1977:68; Duridanov 1997: 131; Mac Congail op. cit. p. 135-137. The element reflects the Celtic – Bitu- ‘World’ – OIr bith ‘world’, OB ‘bit’ , MB bet OC bit, MW byt – DGVB:84; GPC: 360-361; LEIA: B 53-54; PECA:14 – Falileyev 2007).


The element appears in a large number of Celtic names such as Bituitus, a King of the Averni tribe who fought against C. Fabius Maximus in Gaul (Bituitus – Livy (per. LXI. Eutrop. 4, 22 [from which Hieronym. chron. a. Abr. 1891 Vituitus); Βιτύιτος als Genetiv bei Poseidonios, Athen. IV 162 d = FHG III 260, Strabon IV 194 –  Βιτυίτου, Appian. Celt. 12 – Βιτοῖτος), in the Balkan context in 78-76 BC where a Scordisci officer from Thrace also carried the name Bituitus (App. Mith. 16, 3)Bitoitos – a Galatian chieftain in 63 BC (Livy. Per CII, App. Mith. CXI), and in the Celtic names Bitugentus (Dunaujaros, – RIU 05 1220) and Bitumarus (Alsoszentivan, – CIL 6 112) from Hungary. In Dacia the name element is present on a Celtic inscription from Potaissa (Cluj, Romania – CIL, III, 917):


D. M. Aia Nandonis vixit annis LXXX, Andrada Bi[t]uvantis vix. anis LXXX, Bricena vixit anis XL… 


(Felecan O. A Diachronic Excursion into the Anthroponymy of Eastern Romania. Philologica Jassyensia”, An VI, Nr. 1 (11), 2010, p. 57–80  P. 69)



  In the territory of the Leuci tribe in Gaul, a 2nd-century inscription (fig. C) (CIL XIII, 4661; RG 4828) reads: Apollini et Sironae Biturix Iulli f(ilius) d(onavit), ‘To Apollo and Sirona, Biturix, son of Jullus offered (this altar)’. Biturix, composed of bitu-, ‘world’ and –rix, ‘king’, is a common Celtic name meaning ‘King of the World’. (Delamarre 2003: pp. 76-77, 259-260).




The Biturix inscription from Tranqueville-Graux. Musée d’Epinal (Vosges).


Also in insular Celtic names. Cf.:


From Britain:


Bitu[cus] (Catterick, N. Yorkshire – RIB II 2501.107); Bitilus (Bath, 175-275 AD – TS 78.1, 2) ; Bitupr[…] (Chesters, Northumberland – RIB II 2501.105); Bitucus (Cirencester, Gloucestershire – RIB I 108 = Duo Nomina – Fl[au]ius Biticus); Bitudacus (Leicester, dated AD 45-65 – RIB II 2501.108); Bitu[…] (York – RIB II 2494.111).





Διας-  = (Celtic) Dias/Dia, etc.

A common Celtic element in personal names such as Diastus from Gaul (Aguilée – CIL 05 1169), Diastumarus from Slovania (Trojane – CIL 3 11683) Diassumarus from Hungary (Dunaujvaros – AE 1906 117), Diablintes, Diarilos, Diasulos etc (see mac Congail 2008:156).


Δαλη- = (Celtic) Dali, Dala, Dalus, etc.

The ‘Thracian’ element Δαλη-/Δαλα- etc. has long been linked to the continental Celtic personal names Dali, Dala, etc. (Holder AC I: 1217; Detschew op cit 114; Mac Congail 2008:144-146).


-πορις  = (Continental Celtic) Porios, Porius etc. (Holder ACII: 1037; Mac Congail 2008)

                     (Insular Celtic) Porius (loc cit)





–κενθος  =  (Celtic) Cintus, Cintu- etc.


One of the most common ‘Thracian’ name elements (Georgiev 1977: 84). Compare the Celtic names Κιντος, Cintetra, in Thrace (Detschew, 1957:240; Holder ACI 989), Cinturetus in Galatia (Pliny, Natural History, VIII, 64), Cintugenus  – from Bordeaux (CIL 13672), Budapest (CIL 03 12014) and Bad Deutsch Altenburg (CIL 3 12014), Cintusmia  (Dijon – CIL 13 5484), Cintulus (Austria – Maria Sall CIL 3 4934), etc.


–ζενις = (Celtic) –genus/-gnos etc.


The ‘Thracian’ element which appears as the second element in the compound PN Вρειζενις from the Pizos inscription is one of the most common Celtic name elements, found in Celtic pn’s from Gallo-Greek, Gallo-Etruscan, Latin and Ogham inscriptions across Europe from Thrace to Ireland (Lambert 1995: 74, 82, 84, 96, Mac Congail 2008: 153-156).


The same is true for the other name elements from the Pizos inscription.




Αυλου- = (Celtic)  Aulo-, Allo-


The Celtic element is also found in the personal names Aulia, Auliacus etc. (Holder AC1 291-293), from the Celtic allo- ‘other, second’ (OIr, W all-, prefix; GPC: 76; LEIA-31 and 61. D. Greene, Celtic. In J. Gvozdanović, (ed.) Indo-European Numerals (Berlin/New York 1992) 514). Also the first element in Celtic compound names such as Allobroxus, Alloboesius (Falileyev DCCPN, 2007), Allocnos (Bergame, Italy CIL 5 5171), etc.


In the vast majority of cases the ‘Thracian’ element  Aulou- (var. Aulo-, Allos- etc. – See Detschew 12, 135) is found as the first component in compound names where the second element is formed by the aforementioned (Celtic) elements –ζενις (=Αυλουζενις) – from Messambria, Pazardjik, Borisovgrad, on other inscriptions from Pizos, and inscriptions from Burgas, Jambol, Harmanli, Provadia, Glava Panega, Plovdiv, Nova Zagora, Stara Zagora and Kazanluk, оr –πορις (=Αυλουπορις) – from Chirpan, Aptaat (Dobritsch), on other inscriptions from Pizos, and inscriptions from Provadia, Harmanli, Madara and Plovdiv (Detschew 1957: 35-36).




Δυτου-   =   (Celtic) Dudio (m.), Duta (f.) (Also in the Celtic Pn’s – Dudenis, Dutaius – Holder AC I 1364, 1388)

Вραση-   =  (Celtic) Brasi- (Also in Brasidia, Brasus, Brasenus etc. – Holder AC I, 1534)

Вρει-  = (Celtic) Вρει- (RIB 2419 87-88), Bri- (RIB II 2415.15)


The ‘Thracian’ element appears  most frequently as part of the double-element compound name Вρειζενις/Вριζενις – from Chirpan (x2), Harmanlii (x2), Plovdiv and Pazardjik and on two other inscriptions from the Pizos site (Detschew 1957: 88) which corresponds exactly to the Celtic double element name from Britain – Brigenus (RIB 2419, 87-88).

It is also worth noting that in ‘Thracian’ compound names such as Αυλουζενις В[ρ]ειζενε(ος) and Вρειζενις Βειθυος from the Pizos site or Μουκαπορις Вρι(ζενεος) from Chirpan (Detschew 1957:88) all of the name components in the quadruple compound names are Celtic elements recorded in inscriptions from Thrace, Dacia, Galatia, Pannonia, Noricum, Italy, Gaul, Britain and Ireland (See also Αυλου-, Βειθυ-, Μουκα-).


  Of the personal names from the Pizos inscription, which contain ‘the most common Thracian name elements’ and which ‘proves that a pure Thracian population inhabited this region’  (Boïadjiev op cit), 92% are well documented Celtic name elements, recorded in both insular and continental Celtic and in classical historical sources (Of the other two elements Epta- contains the name of a local goddess (Georgiev 1977:60,79), and  the final element –τραλις is probably reflected in the Celtic (Irish) tráill – a thrall, time-server – Dineen: 1240).








The fact that Bulgarian Thracologists continue to insist that there was never a Celtic presence on the territory of today’s Bulgaria, despite extensive archaeological, historical and numismatic evidence to the contrary, has led to a ‘domino effect’ in other disciplines, including linguistics. The continuing insistence that Thrace was inhabited by a homogenous Thracian population in the pre-Roman period has meant that linguists in the region have automatically presumed all ‘native’ personal names to be Thracian.

 However, it is abundantly clear that studies into the Thracian (/Dacian) language in Bulgaria and Romania since the 1950’s have systematically included not only Thracian personal names, but also those of Thracian Celts. The fact that the pool of data used by linguists to draw conclusions on the language of the Thracians has included a large amount of Celtic anthroponymic (and topographic) elements has logically contaminated all such research, thus rendering all conclusions based on this data, including the Indo-European nature of the Thracian language, invalid.









(Modern) Literature Cited


Boïadjiev D. (2000) Les Relations Ethno-Linguistiques En Thrace Et En Mesie Pendant L’Epoque Romaine. Sofia

Delamarre X. (2003) Dictionnaire de la langue Gauloise. Paris

Detschew D. (1957) Die thrakischen Sprachreste. ÖAW, Phil.- hist. Kl. Schriften der Balkankomission, Linguist. Abteilung XV. Wien

Dineen P. (1924) Foclóir Gaedilge agus Béarla, Irish Texts Society. Dublin

Duridanov I. (1997) Keltische Sprachspuren in Thrakien und Mösien. Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie. Band 49-50

Falileyev A. (2010) Dictionary of Continental Celtic Placenames. Aberystwyth

Felecan O. A Diachronic Excursion into the Anthroponymy of Eastern Romania. Philologica Jassyensia, An VI, Nr. 1 (11), 2010, p. 57–80

Georgiev V. (1977) Trakite i techniat ezik. Sofia. = Георгиев, Вл. 1977. Траките и техният език. София

Greene D. (1992) Celtic. In: J. Gvozdanović, ed. Indo-European Numerals (Berlin/New York 1992)

Gresham C.A. (1985) ‘Bedd Porius’ Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, 32: 386-392

Holder A. (1896-1907). Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, Bd. I-III – Nachdruck Graz 1961-1962

Kretschmer P. (1896) Einleitung in die Geschichte der griechischen Sprach. Göttingen

Mac Congail B. (2008) Thracian and Celtic Anthroponymy – A comparative study. In: Mac Congail B. Kingdoms of the Forgotten. Celtic expansion in south-eastern Europe and Asia-Minor  – 4th – 3rd c. BC. Plovdiv. P. 131-163

Nash-Williams V.E (1950) The Early Christian Monuments of Wales. Cardiff.