WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ? – On Ethnic Engineering in the Ancient World

UD: May 2019

 

 

The strategy of Ethnic Engineering – the mass deportation of certain ethnic groups as part of a wider political or military plan – was common in the Ancient World, reaching its peak in the Roman Imperial period.

The first major example in southeastern Europe is recorded at the end of the 4th c. BC, when it was implemented by the Macedonian leader Kassander in an attempt to halt the southwards advance of the Celtic tribes in the Balkans. As part of this strategy, 20,000 of the Illyrian Autariatae tribe, who had fled into Macedonia in the face of the Celtic advance, were resettled in the Orbelos area (on the modern Greek/Bulgarian border) as military settlers in order to establish a buffer zone protecting Macedonia’s northern border from Celtic expansion (Diodorus Siculus Bibliotheca historica XX. 19.1). A similar strategy was the establishment of the city of Seuthopolis/Sevtopolis on the southern slopes of the Haemus (Balkan) mountains (in today’s south-central Bulgaria), also at the end of the 4th c. BC, where the Thracian Odryssae tribe were installed by the Macedonians in an apparent attempt to defend the strategic Shipka pass.

Bronze head of the Thraco-Macedonian king, Sevt/Seuthes III, discovered at the Golyama Kosmatka Tumulus near Seuthopolis, Bulgaria

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/behind-the-golden-mask-seuthopolis-and-the-valley-of-the-thracian-kings/

 

A variation of the same policy was implemented by the Macedonian King Philip V in 179 BC. In order to neutralize the Dardanii tribes, traditional Macedonian enemies, Philip struck a deal with the Celtic Scordisci and the Bastarnae, whereby the latter would be resettled in Dardania, thus eliminating the Dardanii threat, and ensuring Bastarnae help for Macedonia’s planned war with Rome (Livy 40:57, 41:19).

 

 Philip V D.

Philip V Didrachm

 

The policy of Ethnic Engineering on the Balkans during this period produced mixed results, and rather than solving the problem, it often simply postponed or relocated it. The ethnic buffer zone created to protect Macedonia’s northern border by Kassander later proved counterproductive when the Illyrians actually joined the Celtic tribes in their attack on Macedonia.

Remains of the Macedonian city at Pistiros, near Vetren (Pazardjik reg.), Bulgaria. The city was completely destroyed during the “barbarian” invasion of 280/279 BC

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/the-celtic-conquest-of-thrace-280279-bc/

 

The Sevtopolis experiment failed miserably when, in the face of the Celtic advance, the Thracians simply abandoned the city and fled. Philip’s partially successful attempt to resettle the Bastarnae in Dardania produced no long term benefits for Macedonia, and following his death the Bastarnae refused to fight for Philip’s son, Perseus, in his war with Rome.

 

Probably the most tragic experiment in ‘Ethnic Engineering’ in the Hellenistic sphere was undertaken by Attalus I Soter, King of Pergamon, who lured the Celtic Aegosages tribe from Thrace into Asia-Minor in 218 BC with promises of rich land to settle (Poly. Hist. V 78.1). Having crossed into Asia, the Aegosages refused to become involved in the king’s conflict with Seleucus III, and Attalus rapidly abandoned them. Having become an inconvenience, the tribe were subsequently hunted down by the region’s leaders, and finally massacred at Abydas by the Bithynian King Prusias (Poly. Hist. 111 6-7):

‘Prusias, therefore, led an army against them, and after destroying all the men in a pitched battle, put to death all the women and children in their camp, and allowed his soldiers who had taken part in the battle to plunder the baggage’.

prasias c.

Prusias I Cholus, King of Bithynia (AR Tetradrachm)

 

 

“These are degenerates, a mongrel race …”.

The Roman commander Gnaeus Manlius Vulso to his troops during the Galatian campaign

(Livy 38:17)

 

Galatia illust

                        Human remains from the Celtic Settlement at Gordium (Galatia)

 

 

Another variant of this policy was implemented by Gnaeus Manlius Vulso in Galatia in 189 BC, when the Roman general unleashed a campaign of systematic genocide on the local Celtic tribes. This pogrom resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of men, women and children, culminating in the massacres at mount Olympus and Ancyra.

Most examples of ‘Ethnic Engineering’, in its various forms, date from the Roman Imperial period. In 26 AD a plan was formulated by Rome for the mass deportation of the troublesome Celtic Artacoi tribe in the Haemus (Balkan) mountains. However, fierce resistance to Rome’s deportation policy meant that, after a bitter struggle in 26 AD, the empire abandoned its attempt to relocate the tribe (Tacitus Ann. iv).

In the later Roman period the policy had the long term effect of further complicating the ethnic mix on the Balkans. Under the Emperor Probus (276-82) 100,000 of the (Celto-Scythian) Bastarnae were settled in Thrace (Historia Augusta Probus 18), and shortly afterwards Emperor Diocletian (284-305) carried out another ‘massive’ transfer of the Bastarnae population to the south of the Danube (Eutropius IX.25). Thus, the Bastarnae presence in Thrace, already well established since the 2nd c. BC, was reinforced by the ethnic engineering policies of both Probus and Diocletian. Despite the fact that historians in the region have completely ignored the Bastarnae, such statistics are estimated to represent the majority, if not all, of the Peucini Bastarnae, and leaves no doubt that by the Late Roman period a substantial proportion of the population of the central and eastern Balkans were of Bastarnae origin.

 

Dioc. bust

Bust of Diocletian

(Arkeoloji Müzesi, İstanbul)

On the Bastarnae see:  https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/celto-scythians-and-celticization-in-ukraine-and-the-north-pontic-region/

 

Once set in motion the ultimate consequences of ethnic engineering were highly unpredictable, and often catastrophic. The disastrous potential of such a policy is best illustrated by the case of the Roman emperor Valens, who facilitated the movement of the Goths and associated tribes into Thrace at the end of the 4th c. Initially Roman allies, this relationship soon changed radically, largely due to the corruption of the imperial officials  (Jord. xxvi:134), and there followed a sequence of events which would culminate in the ‘barbarians’ turning on the empire (Ammianus xxxi:13), the destruction of the Roman army at Adrianople in 378, and the emperor himself being burned alive...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PEUCINI BASTARNAE

UD – Nov. 2015

 

 

 

 

 

‘…the Gauls on the Danube who are called Bastarnae, an equestrian host and warlike’.

(Plut. Aem. 9.6)

 

Opc

 

 

The Peucini were the southern branch of the Bastarnae tribal confederation, initially settled in the Lower Danube region, specifically around the island of Peuce, from which they took their name – while those who took possession of Peuce, the island in the Ister, are called Peucini’ (Strabo Vii, 3,17).

 From the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 2nd c. BC (coinciding chronologically with the collapse of the Celtic Tyle state in eastern Thrace) the Peucini began to expand southwards into sub-Danubian Thrace, where they are referred to variously as ‘Galatians’, ‘Bastarnae’ or ‘Gauls’. In 179 BC they first appear in historical sources as allies of the Scordisci and the Macedonian king Philip V, who intended to send them against Rome. The geo-political significance of the Peucini at this stage is noted by ancient authors. Livy informs us that:

The envoys whom he had sent to the Bastarnae to summon assistance had returned and brought back with them some young nobles, amongst them some of royal blood. One of these promised to give his sister in marriage to Philip’s son, and the king was quite elated at the prospect of an alliance with that nation (Livy. History of Rome. Book 40:5).

 Although Philip’s sudden death meant that this Macedonian/Celtic coalition against Rome never materialized, the same source makes it clear that by this time the Bastarnae were firmly established in eastern Thrace (Livy 40:58).

( on the Bastarnae tribes see also: https://www.academia.edu/4835555/Gallo-Scythians )

 

Celto-Scythian (Peucini Bastarnae) burial from Durankulak Island (Dobrudja), Bulgaria good

Celto-Scythian (Peucini Bastarnae) burial from Durankulak Island (Dobrudja), north-eastern Bulgaria

(2nd c. BC)

 

 

 

 

 THE “LAND OF ESUS”

 

 

The main centre of Peucini political and economic power in southern Dobruja (n-e Bulgaria) was concentrated in the territory around the Kavarna/Balchik/Kaliakra area on the Black Sea coast, where we encounter the settlement of Peuce in the Balchik area (IGBulg V, 5011 (terr. Dionysopolis), probably the center/capital of the Peucini kingdom. This is confirmed by the fact that many of the Peucini Bastarnae coins were minted in Dionysopolis/Balchik. Close to Peuce was the settlement of Tirizis/ Τιρίζης, located on cape Kaliakra (Men. Perg., Per. 156; Strabo 7. 6.1) which appears to bear the name of the Celtic deity Esus (Proto-Celtic = *tīrro – land, *tīros- ‘land, earth’ [Noun] – GOlD: OIr. tir [0 n]; W: OW tir, MW tir [m], BRET: MBret tir [m], Co: OCo. tir gl. tellus, Co. tyr; the second element from the Celtic deity Esus (Lucanus, Bellum civile I.445, Marcellus of Bordeaux, De medicamentis 15.106, p. 121), – the name meaning literally ‘the Land of Esus’.

 

Archaeological and numismatic evidence from this area of north-eastern Bulgaria, particularly around the aforementioned Kavarna area, indicates that by the 2nd/1st c. BC the material culture of the Peucini was a mixture of La Têne and Hellenistic cultures (Mac Congail 2008:52), which explains why archaeologists have hitherto been unable to identify a distinct Bastarnae culture.

 Numismatic material from this period is particularly indicative of the geo-political and economic status quo in this region in the period directly before the Roman conquest. Coinage circulating in this area in the 3rd – 1st c. BC, besides issues of the Greek Black Sea colonies, consisted of coinage of the Celtic Tyle state (3rd c. BC) found at the villages of Bozhurets, Septemvrijtsi and Sveti Nikola, again in the Kavarna area, Celtic silver Philip II and III type drachms and tetradrachms, and Zaravetz bronze and lead issues.

 

 

In addition to this highly complex mix of Greek and ‘barbarian’ coinage, during the 2nd / 1st c. BC the Celto-Scythian leaders of the Peucini Bastarnae also issued a limited number of their own coins.

 

 

 

BASTARNAE ROYAL COINAGE

 

So far coinage of six Bastarnae kings in the Dobruja region of southeastern Romania/northeastern Bulgaria have been identified – Kanites, Tanousas, Charaspes, Aelis, Akrosas and Sariakes, and their coins have been found almost exclusively around the West Pontic Greek cities of Istrus, Tomi, Callatis, Dionysopolis and Odessos. They are roughly dated to the 2nd / 1st c. BC and, as with the coinage of the Celtic Tyle state in this region of the previous century, are Hellenistic in nature, in terms of artistic style and iconography. Some of the iconography, notably the obverse Head of beardless Heracles in lion skin, are also similar to the Celtic Tyle coins and, as with the Celtic kings of Tyle before them, the Peucini leaders used the royal title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ on their coinage.

( On the Coinage of the Celtic Tyle state in this area see: https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT )

 

 

 

AELIS

 

Aeli. 1
a. Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r. from above) ΑΙΛΙΟΣ (l. from above). Two horse foreparts jugate, r. (AE; 23 mm; 8.80 g; Kavarna museum (Bulgaria)
b. Obv.: Head of Helios radiate facing. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (l. from below) ΑΙΛΙΟΣ (r. from below). Rayed sun. (AE; 17 mm; 4.52 g)

 

 

KANITES

 

Kani. 1

 

a.       Head of Demeter veiled and wearing corn wreath, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΚΑΝΙΤΟΥ (l., from above). Torch and corn ear. (AE 24 mm; 11.08 g)

b.      Obv.: Head of Zeus diademed, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΚΑΝΙ (l., from above). Bird on thunderbolt, r. (AE; 22 mm; 9.25)

 

 

TANOUSAS

 

Tano

a.       Obv.: Heads of Demeter and Kore jugate, veiled and wearing corn wreaths, r. Countermark, head of Hermes, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΤΑΝΟΥΣΑ (l., from above), ΒΑΚ (below). Two corn ears. (AE; 24 mm; 8.40 g)

b.      Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΤΑΝΟΥ (l., from above), ΒΑΚ (below). Two horse foreparts  jugate, r. (AE; 15 mm; 3.34 g)

 

 

CHARASPES

 

Char.

a.       Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΧΑΡΑΣΠΟΥ (l., from above). Bird on thunderbolt, r. (AE; 23 mm; 9.50 g)

b.      Obv.: Head of beardless Heracles in lion skin, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΧΑΡΑΣΠΟΥ (l., from above). Corn ear, quiver, bow. (AE; 22 mm; 8.54 g)

 

 

AKROSAS

 

Akr.

a.       Obv.: Heads of Dioscuri jugate wearing laureate pilei, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΑΚΡΟΣΑ (l., from above). Two horse fore-parts jugate, r. (AE; 24 mm; 9.50 g)

b.      Obv.: Heads of Demeter and Kore jugate, veiled and wearing corn wreaths, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΑΚΡΟΣΑ (l., from above). Two corn ears. (AE; 24 mm; 6.22 g)

 

( https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/akrosas-the-king-who-scared-a-monster/ )

 

 

 

 

 

SARIAKES

 

Sari

a.  Obv.: Head of beardless Heracles in lion skin, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (r., from above) ΣΑΡΙΑΚΟΥ (l., from above). Bow, quiver, thunderbolt (above), corn ear. (AE; 24 mm; 9.25 g)

b.  Obv.: Head of Zeus diademed, r. Rev.: ΒΑΣΙΛΕ (r., from above) ΣΑΡΙΑΚ (l., from above). Bird on thunderbolt, r. (AE; 24 mm; 10.80 g)

( see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/sariakes-the-wheat-king/ )

 

 

 

The fact that these Celto-Scythian kings issued only bronze coinage is significant from a geo-political perspective. The theory of a unitary (Scythian) state in this region during the late Iron Age, based only on a number of lower value (bronze) coins, minted by the Greek Black Sea colonies for these leaders, is logically flawed. The Bastarnae coinage had a mainly symbolic function, and comprised only a small fraction of the overall coin pool in the area during this period, which consisted primarily of Greek and Celtic coinage.

 

 The Bastarnae royal coinage adds an important piece to the puzzle, and increases our understanding of the socio-political and ethnic status quo in this part of south-eastern Europe. The available archaeological, linguistic and numismatic evidence from this region clearly indicates that a unique culture developed between the 3rd and 1st c. BC, based on a symbiotic and prosperous relationship between the barbarian (Celtic, Bastarnae, Getae) tribes, and the Greek Black Sea colonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

( see also: https://www.academia.edu/4118437/Mediolana_and_the_Zaravetz_Culture )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail