Kotys 3


One of the greatest contradictions in ancient numismatics is the case of “barbarous” tetradrachms of the Thasos type produced in Thrace in the late 1st c. BC – previously attributed variously to the Roman puppet kings Cotys IV, VI and, most recently, to  Cotys III (von Sallet 1876:242-24, Добруски 1897:629, Youroukova 1976:43-45; Юрукова 1992:177-178, de Callataÿ 2012:307–322; Paunov 2013, with relevant lit.).

 In fact, the numismatic/archaeological context and execution of these coins, which bear the legend – ΚΟΤΥΟC XAPAKTHP, meaning the ‘die, stamp’ of Cotys (see Paunov, op cit.), raises a number of fundamental questions about their attribution to the Roman puppet kings in Thrace…




























UD: November 2016



One would imagine that an invasion by hundreds of thousands of barbarians would have a catastrophic effect on the economy of a region. However, this presumption has been challenged in recent years by the archaeological and numismatic data emerging from the territory which fell under the control of the ‘barbarian’ Tyle state in eastern Thrace during the 3rd c. BC.


The traditional description of the Celtic tribes who arrived in this area has been one of ‘thirsty savages’ or ‘gangs of mercenaries’ (latest Emilov 2007, 2010), and we have been repeatedly informed that ‘their aim was not to settle, but money and booty which could be acquired in different ways … by attacking wealthy cities, and by ravaging the countryside’ (Nixon 1977, cited by Mitchell 1993; Emilov 2010). However, repeating a simplistic stereotype does not make it true, particularly when the depiction of a culture entirely contradicts all the available archaeological and historical evidence. In this case the facts tell a rather surprising tale – a barbarian invasion that brought political stability and economic prosperity in its wake…



S.E. Thrace map




















DYNASTY OF TRAITORS – The Thracian Puppet Kings

UD: Feb. 2018



a - Aquae Calidae is dated to 26-37 AD, a decade before the Odrysian Kingdom was fully conquered by the Roman Empire





One of the forgotten political dynasties of Roman history is the so-called Sapaioi dynasty, installed by Rome as ‘Kings of Thrace’ in an attempt to legitimize her rule in the region. Following the Roman conquest, which culminated in the campaigns of 29/28 BC  by  M. Crassus against the Bastarnae and the Scordisci tribes (Dio Cass. 51. 26-27), a Thracian puppet government, drawn from members of the Odrysae tribe, who had collaborated with Rome (loc cit), was installed to preside over the Romanization of Thrace. This Thraco-Macedonian tribe had ruled large parts of Thrace until the arrival of the Celts in the 4th/3rd c. BC, and after the Roman conquest of Thrace at the end of the 1st c. BC, members of this dynasty were chosen by Rome to rule Thrace (under Roman patronage) until direct imperial rule was finally established in 46 AD.


Bronze head discovered near the entrance of the Golyama Kosmatka Tumulus near Seuthopolis in the “Valley of the Thracian Kings”, part of a life-size statue thought to be of the Thraco-Macedonian King Seuthes III. (late 4th c. BC)




From the very beginning it was clear that these Odrysae ‘kings’ had no popular support, and were despised by the population of Thrace as traitors. The first of these, of whom we have extensive numismatic exidence, is Rhoemetalces (Ῥοιμητάλκης) I,  who came to the throne in 12 BC. Rhoemetalces was a loyal ally of the Roman emperor Augustus, and had initially been the guardian of King Rhescuporis I (his nephew).




 In 13 BC the local population, led by a priest-chieftain, Vologaeses of the Bessi tribe, had rebelled against this new Roman backed dynasty. The young Rhescuporis was executed by the rebels, and the new king Rhoemetalces I’s reign began rather shamefully when his Thracian army deserted to the rebels, forcing him to flee Thrace – ‘He (Vologaeses) conquered and killed Rhascyporis, the son of Cotys, and afterwards, thanks to his reputation for supernatural power, he stripped Rhoemetalces, the victim’s uncle, of his forces without a battle and compelled him to take flight. In pursuit of him he invaded the Chersonese, where he wrought great havoc’ (Tacitus 2, 64).  

 Rhoemetalces I was finally restored to his throne when a Roman army led by the governor of Pamphylia, Lucius Piso, arrived and brutally put down the rebellion (loc cit).




Rhoemetalces I ruled Thrace until his death in 12 AD. Augustus then divided his realm into two separate kingdoms, one half for his son Cotys to rule, and the other half for Rhoemetalces’ remaining brother Rhescuporis II. Tacitus states that Cotys received the cultivated parts, most of the towns and cities of Thrace, while Rhescuporis received the wild and savage portion:

‘That entire country had been in the possession of Rhoemetalces, after whose death Augustus assigned half to the king’s brother Rhescuporis, half to his son Cotys. In this division the cultivated lands, the towns, and what bordered on Greek territories, fell to Cotys; the wild and barbarous portion, with enemies on its frontier, to Rhescuporis ’ (Tacitus, Annals 2:64).

 Rhescuporis was apparently unsatisfied with his part of this deal, and set out to annex Cotys’ territory. Inviting his nephew to a banquet to falsely ratify a treaty between them, he arrested and imprisoned Cotys, seizing his part of the kingdom. Cotys died while incarcerated in 18 AD, allegedly by suicide. His wife, Tryphaena, and their children subsequently fled Thrace to Cyzicus to escape Rhescuporis.

Cotys had four children by Tryphaena – Rhoemetalces II who later ruled Thrace with his mother Tryphaena  (see below); another son, Cotys IX, who became Roman Client King of Lesser Armenia from 38 AD to circa 47 AD;  two daughters –Gepaepyris, who married the Roman Client King, Tiberius Julius Aspurgus of the Bosporan Kingdom, and Pythodoris II (or Pythodorida II).  In 38 AD, after the death of Rhoemetalces II, Tryphaena abdicated the throne at the request of Roman Emperor Caligula. Pythodoris II married her cousin Rhoemetalces III, and they ruled Thrace as Roman Client Rulers from 38 AD until 46 AD (see below).




Little is known on the life of Gepaepyris. She married the Roman Client King of the Bosporan Kingdom, Tiberius Julius Aspurgus, who was of Greek and Iranian ancestry. The Bosporan Kingdom was the longest known surviving Roman Client Kingdom. Aspurgus was the son of Bosporan Queen Dynamis from her first marriage to General and Bosporan King Asander. Gepaepyris bore Aspurgus two sons  – Tiberius Julius Mithridates –  named in honor of Mithridates VI of Pontus, and Tiberius Julius Cotys I – who was named in honor of his late maternal grandfather Cotys VIII. When Aspurgus died in 38 AD, Gepaepyris ruled with their first son Mithridates in the Bosporan Kingdom until 45 AD. Later, her other son (confusingly called Cotys I) succeeded her and Mithridates.





After the murder of Cotys by his uncle, the Roman Emperor Tiberius opened an investigation into Cotys’ death, putting Rhescuporis on trial in the Roman Senate. He invited Cotys’ widow Tryphaena to testify at the trial, during which she accused the defendant of murdering her husband. Rhescuporis was found guilty, and Tiberius sent him to Alexandria. However, en route, Rhescuporis ‘tried to escape’ and was killed by the Romans:

 “Rhescuporis was removed to Alexandria, and there attempting or falsely charged with attempting escape, was put to death” (Tac. Ann. Book 2:67).


His son, who would later rule Thrace as Rhoemetalces III (see below), was spared by Tiberius and allowed to return to Thrace. In the meantime Tiberius returned the whole Thracian Kingdom to Tryphaena and appointed Rhoemetalces II, her eldest child with Cotys, as co-ruler.

Rhoemetalces II proved to be as unpopular as his predecessors had been. Shortly after he took power, he was besieged in his capital at Philipopolis (Plovdiv) by the local population, intent on executing him as a traitor, and had to be rescued by a Roman legion who arrived at the last minute and massacred the ‘rebels’. As mentioned, the Thracian king is referred to by the Romans as ‘a loyal friend and ally’, and took part in the Roman campaign of 26 AD led by Sabinus against the Celtic Artacoi tribe in the Haemus (Balkan) mountains. Rhoemetalces proved himself an inept military leader, and after leading a campaign of murder and destruction against the local population, his Thracian forces were massacred during a surprise attack by the barbarians.







Upon Rhoemetalces II’s death in 38 AD, Rhoemetalces III (the son of Rhescuporis II, who had been murdered by the Romans), ruled in association with his cousin-wife Pythodoris II. However, the last ‘Thracian king’ shared the fate of many of his predecessors, and was himself murdered in 46 AD. It is unclear whether he died at the hands of insurgents, or on the orders of his wife. After his death, another major uprising by the local population was brutally put down by the Romans, and Thrace subsequently became a province of the empire.





a - Aquae Calidae is dated to 26-37 AD, a decade before the Odrysian Kingdom was fully conquered by the Roman Empire

Inscription mentioning the last 3 Roman client/puppet kings of Thrace – discovered on June 9, 2015 at  Aquae Calidae (Thermopolis Archaeological Reserve/Burgas), Bulgaria. The inscription dates to between 26 AD and 37 AD, and the (provisional) translation reads:

“Apollonius, (son) of E(p)taikenthos, military governor of Anchialos, (dedicates) this altar to Demeter, for the well-being/salvation of his masters: King Rhoemetalces; and Pythodoris, the daughter of Cotys, the son of King Rhoemetalces; and their children”.








On the Odrysae see also:











Mac Congail
































THE LAST FORTRESS – Battle for the Balkan Mountains (26 AD)

UD: April 2017




‘if they were sentenced to slavery as a vanquished race, they had steel and young men, and souls for freedom or for death’.

(Tacitus Ann. iv, 46:1)





The struggle between the Roman legions and the (Thraco-) Celtic Artacoi tribe in the Haemus (Balkan) mountains of Thrace in the summer of 26 AD is undoubtedly one of the most heroic and desperate examples of ‘barbarian’ resistance in ancient history.






 The Artacoi (/ Artacii)* are first mentioned in historical sources together with the Celtic Serdi tribe (Cassius Dio, Roman History. 51:25), i.e. in connection with M. Crassus’ campaign in Thrace in 28 BC, when the Romans carrried out ‘punitive’ attacks on the Celtic Scordisci tribes who had aided the Bastarnae the previous year:

while he himself made a campaign against the Artacii and a few other tribes who had never been captured and would not acknowledge his authority, priding themselves greatly upon this point and at the same time inspiring in the others both anger and a disposition to rebel. He brought them to terms, partly by force, after they had made no little trouble, and partly by fear for their countrymen who were being captured’ (Cassius Dio, 51:27).


It is only when the Romans enter Thrace in force during the latter half of the I c. BC that tribes such as the Serdi and Artacoi are mentioned individually in classical sources. Prior to this they had been grouped under the generic term ‘Scordisci’ used by the Romans to indicate all Thracian Celts. Archaeological evidence from the Balkan mountains indicates that during the Roman conquest of western Thrace, culminating with the Crassus campaigns of 29/28 BC, much of the Celtic population migrated into the Thracian mountains (loc cit).


The Taja river where it flows out of its canyon in the Balkan Mountain range. In the vicinity of the village excavations during the communist period (1973-1983) identified the remains of a Celtic settlement and tumular necropolis in the Atanastsa area, 2 km. west of the modern village. This site, dated to between the 1st c. BC and the early Christian period (Домарадски М., (1993), represents one of the most significant late Celtic sites in eastern Europe.




26 AD

 The Celts of the Balkan mountains posed no direct military threat to Rome in the 1st century AD. The barren areas which they now inhabited were the most inhospitable and least desirable parts of Thrace. The real danger which they posed to Rome was symbolic – their steadfast refusal to acknowledge Rome’s rule, adhere to her laws, and send their young men to serve in the Roman army (Tacitus. Ann. iv, 46:1), presented a serious threat to the empire’s authority in Thrace. The Roman solution to this problem was to ethnically cleanse the area. Mass deportations and demographic engineering were common imperial practices in Thrace. For example, twice during the 1st c. AD the Roman authorities undertook mass deportations of the Transdanubian population to the south of the river (Strabo vii, 3:10; Probus, History Agusta, Vol. III, 18; see also Pippidi 1955, Mac Congail 2008:31).


However, deporting a sizeable population from an area such as the Balkan Mountains would have required some level of cooperation from the local leaders, which was not forthcoming in this case. On the contrary, the Celtic leader, Dinas (Cf. Celtic P.N. – Dinuus (Holder AC 1, 1287), sent a delegation to the Roman military Governor of Thrace, G. Poppaeus Sabinus, promising loyalty and friendship – if the Romans left them alone. But, the message continued, ‘if they were sentenced to slavery as a vanquished race, they had steel and young men, and souls for freedom or for death’ (Tacitus Ann. iv, 46:1).


1 - SCORD Jakimovo

Depiction of a Celtic (Scordisci) chieftain on a sliver/gilt plate from the Jakimovo treasure

(Northern Bulgaria; II/I c. BC)




The Roman commander reassured the barbarian delegation that the empire had no malicious intentions towards them, but as negotiations continued Sabinus was secretly gathering his forces. When another Roman legion, led by Pomponius Labeo, arrived from Moesia, Sabinus summoned the Thracian king Rhoemetalces who, with a body of auxiliaries from the Odrysae tribe, joined the Roman force. As Tacitus (iv, 48) later talks of ‘legions’ i.e. plural, it would appear that Sabinus’ army now consisted of 2 Roman legions, including Sugumbrian cohorts (Germani), as well as the Thracian auxiliaries – a massive force to deal with a few ‘uncivilized barbarians’. It seems that the Roman commander had decided that if the Celts would not be deported, they would have to be annihilated…




Central Balkan mountains



In the spring of 26 AD Sabinus’ army entered the Haemus (Balkan) mountains. As they advanced, the local population melted into the surrounding forests and ‘little barbarian blood was spilled’ (Tac. iv, 47:3). Shortly afterwards the first tribal fortress was sighted, and Sabinus established a fortified camp on a narrow mountain ridge overlooking the Celtic position.

Some of the barbarian warriors emerged from the fortifications and taunted the Romans ‘with songs and dances in front of the rampart’. The response was predictable – Sabinus ordered his archers to fire, and they ‘inflicted many wounds with impunity’. When the deadly hail of arrows had ceased, the Roman general dispatched his infantry to finish the job. However, as they approached the fortress, the Romans were in for a shock – a ferocious counter-attack by the barbarians broke the Roman ranks, and they fled in disarray back to the defensive lines which had been established by Sabinus’ Germanic cohorts (loc cit).


The Battle for the Balkan Mountains had begun.






After the failure of the assault on the fortress, the Romans advanced more cautiously, building an earthwork to defend themselves from counter-attacks. As the two Roman legions advanced in this manner, the rear was placed under the control of the Thracian king Rhoemetalces  – ‘a loyal ally of Rome’ (Tac. iv, 48:1).

 The role of the Thracians in this conflict is a sordid and shameful one. Their ‘king’, Rhoemetalces (Ρωμητάλκης) II, came from the Thraco-Macedonian Sapaioi dynasty of the Odrysae tribe, who had ruled large parts of Thrace until the arrival of the Celts. After the Roman conquest of Thrace, members of this dynasty were again installed by Rome as ‘Kings of Thrace’ in an attempt to legitimize her rule in the region. However, they were despised by the local population, and a number of them were killed during uprisings by their ‘subjects’ between 16 BC and 44 AD, when the last Thracian king, Rhoemetalces III, was murdered by his countrymen (or possibly by his wife/cousin Pythodoris II), and Thrace finally became a Roman province. Sabinus’ ally in the Balkans in 26 AD, Rhoemetalces II, had himself been besieged in his capital at Philipopolis (Plovdiv) a few years earlier by the local population, intent on executing him as a traitor, but had been rescued by a Roman legion who arrived at the last minute and massacred the ‘rebels’. As mentioned, the Thracian king is referred to by the Romans as ‘a loyal friend and ally’.  



Rhoemetalces II, with Tiberius.

Jugate heads of Rhoemetalkes II, diademed, and his mother Antonia Tryphaena right / Bare head of Tiberius right. (Circa AD 19-36. Æ 23mm. RPC I 1721)




The Thracian troops had been given permission by the Romans to murder, rape, and plunder the local population, and to burn their settlements – ‘so long as their depredations were limited to the daylight, and the night spent wakefully behind the entrenchments’ (Tac. iv, 48:1). At first, the Thracians obeyed the Roman orders, but Rhoemetalces’ soldiers soon lost all sense of discipline and – ‘turning to luxury and enriched by their booty, they began to leave their posts for some wild orgy, or lay tumbled in drunken slumber’ (loc cit). It appears that the Thracians believed that they could carry out these atrocities with impunity, protected as they were by the Roman legions positioned between them and the barbarians. This was not the case…


Tacitus informs us that the Celts had received information on what was occurring behind the Roman lines, and the murder and destruction being wrought on their fellow tribesmen. Under the cover of darkness, an attack was launched on the Roman encampment, which was easily repelled by Sabinus’ troops. However, under cover of this attack a second band of Celtic warriors slipped past the Roman flanks and, emerging from the forests, took the Thracians completely by surprise. ‘The Thracian auxiliaries, a few of whom were lying along their lines, while the majority were straggling outside, lost their nerve at the sudden onset’. In their drunken condition, and without Roman help, they were easy prey. As they slaughtered them, the Celts branded the Thracians ‘traitors carrying arms for the enslavement of themselves and their fatherland’ (loc cit).






After the defeat of the Thracians there is no further mentioned of King Rhoemetalces, who himself had escaped. The conflict now entered a new phase. If Sabinus had hoped for a quick victory, he was disappointed, and as the Balkan summer approached, a prolonged and bloody siege began.

 On the day following the massacre of the Thracians, Sabinus paraded his army in the plain, in the hope that the barbarians, elated by the previous night’s success, would engage in open battle. When this produced no reaction from the Celts except jeers and abuse, the Roman general began the construction of siege positions. Fortified posts were constructed, and a 4 mile long fosse was dug around the area to prevent the barbarians from breaking out. Step by step, Sabinus contracted and tightened the Roman lines, closing the noose around the Celtic fortress, and cutting off the supplies of food and water. An earthen embankment was built close to the fortress from which the Romans began a continuous shower of stones, spears and firebrands on the men women and children inside (Tac. iv, 49:1).

 In the hot Balkan summer, the animals died first of lack of fodder, the corpses of cattle, horses and other domestic animals rotting in the heat. Soon the people began to perish of thirst and before long the situation inside the Celtic fortress resembled a scene from hell – ‘side by side with them (the animals) lay the bodies of men, victims of wounds or thirst, and the whole place was an abomination of rotting blood, stench and infection’ (loc cit).

 The situation of the barbarians had become intolerable, and surrender appeared only a matter of time. As autumn set in, the doors of the fortress finally opened and the old chieftain, Dinas, accompanied by his wife, led the sick and elderly into the plain where they surrendered to Sabinus’ troops. However, behind them the doors of the fortress closed once more. The remaining defenders were now led by two young warriors – Tarsa and Turesis, who had chosen two very different fates. 

 Rather than surrender and slavery, Tarsa and his followers chose an escape well documented among Celtic warriors. Tacitus informs us that Tarsa gave the example, plunging his sword into his breast, and many others chose his fate – ‘a quietus to hope and fear alike’ (Tac. iv, 50:1). However, the remaining chieftain, Turesis, had decided that in his journey to the afterlife he was going to have company.


 1 - Gaul and his wife. Marble, Roman copy after an Hellenistic original from a monument built by Attalus I of Pergamon after his victory over Gauls, ca. 220 BC

Ritual suicide of a Celtic (Galatian) warrior after killing his wife

(Marble, Roman copy after an Hellenistic original from a monument built by Attalus I of Pergamon after his victory over the Celts ca. 220 BC). Such mass ritual suicide among the Celts is also recorded, for example, in 276 BC among Celtic warriors besieged on an island on the Nile by the forces of the Egyptian king Ptolemy II,  where rather than surrender the majority of the Celts took their own lives (Paus. I, 7:2).




  It was clear to the Romans that the remaining Celtic leader Turesis (cf. Celtic p.n.’s – Turesis – Holder AC 2, 1996; Turaesius – Lambert P., Pinault G., Gaulois et Celtique continental. Paris 2007. P. 261) and his people intended to break through their lines, and escape into the dense surrounding forests (Tac. iv, 50:1). However, as the days passed no such attack was forthcoming. From inside the fortress wild shouting could be heard, alternating with deathly silence, which began to perplex the Romans. It was obvious that the barbarians were waiting for something, but what ?



And then it came…

As night was falling, a massive thunderstorm hit the Balkans, and out of the darkness came the Celts. Although the Romans had been expecting an attack, the ferocity of the assault shocked them – ‘the barbarians, speeding down in their bands battered the palisade with hand-flung stones, stakes pointed in the fire, and oak boughs hewn from the tree’ (Tac. iv, 51:1).

Wood and dead bodies were thrown into the Roman ditch, allowing the barbarians to reach the Roman lines and the siege towers, which they attacked ‘with bridges and ladders, fabricated beforehand, advanced against the turrets, clutching them, tearing them down’ (loc cit).  In the darkness and torrential rain the fight was now man to man – or not quite, for Tacitus tells us that along with the warriors were their ‘wives and mothers close at hand’, screaming and killing alongside their men.  In the ensuing chaos – ‘blows dealt at random, wounds unforeseen, the impossibility of distinguishing friend from foe’, the Roman lines collapsed, and in the confusion that followed the barbarians escaped into the surrounding forests (loc cit).                      


The Celtic fortress had finally fallen and was subsequently burnt by Sabinus’ men, only ashes and bones remaining. For months its defenders, who the Romans had described as ‘a wild, uncivilized rabble’, had held back two imperial legions. In the end their resistance had been enough for, although Sabinus was later given triumphal honors in Rome for his victory, in reality his campaign had failed. It had taken the Roman general so long to capture this one fortress that his time had run out and now, as Sabinus regrouped his legions to advance on the other Celtic settlements, it began to snow.


 The Balkans were quickly covered by a deep layer of snow which made further advance impossible, and for the Roman commander, on the verge of final victory, it was a tactical nightmare. As a fresh blanket of snow slowly covered the death and destruction that they had wrought, the legions began their retreat to the civilization of the Thracian valleys below. Before the conflict had begun, the Balkan Celts had threatened Rome with ‘a war, intricate, arduous and bloody’ (Tac. iv 46.1). They had kept their promise…














* The name Artacoi (Άρτάχοι) comes from the Celtic elements ardu- ‘high’ (from Proto-Celtic *ardwo- ‘high’ [Adj] Matasovic R. Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Leiden-Boston 2009. Well attested in G. LNN; cf. OIr ard, OB ard, art LEIA A-87, DGVB: 72; – in Thrace present, for example, in the name of the Celtic settlement Ardicenus (Plovdiv region) – Detschew, 1957:23; Neroznak 1974, 43; Mac Congail 2008:40), and –āko, a very well attested Celtic suffix with the meaning ‘pertaining to’ (see Russell P. The suffix –āko in Continental Celtic, in Études celtiques 25 (1988) 131-173; OW –aug, W –og, OB –oc). The name of the tribe – ‘The High Ones’ – is particularly apt when one considers that they were settled in the heights of the Stara Planina (Balkan) mountains of today’s Bulgaria.

The tribal name is later mentioned in a Latin inscription from Nova Zagora – Fl(avius) Moco domesticus de patria Artasia de vico Calso. A district in the Haemus mountains between Nicopol and Cabyle – Artacia (Georgiev (1978) V.I Tendinţe convergente în limbile vechi din Peninsula Balcanică şi din Asia Mică de nord-vest In: 1978 – Noi Tracii, Supplement 2/1978; Pippidi D. M., Tiberius Plautius Aelianus şi frontier Dunârii de Jos în secolul I al erie noastre, SCIV VI 3-4 (1955) p. 355 – 380), is also derived from the name of the Artacoi tribe.

The Celtic settlements of Goloi, Orkelis (Oρχελίς) (Ptol., III, 11,7; Tomaschek I: 91-92; Holder II, 868; Kazarov 1919:67; Detschew 1957, 344; Duridanov 1997, 139), and Δίνγιον in the Haemus mountains (see Celtic Settlements in Bulgaria (1) article) as well as the Rimesica area in Haemus, again of Celtic origin, (Tomaschek I,91; Holder II, 1190; Kazarov 1919:67; Duridanov 1997: 139; Mac Congail 2008: 38) may also be related to the Artacoi, and one may therefore also associate the Celtic material from the central Haemus region and particularly the concentrations around the Tadzha, Panagurischte Kolonii, Nova Zagora and Kazanlak areas with this tribe. It remains unclear whether recorded Celtic settlements to the east of Sofia – Burgaraca (Duridanov 1997:138), and Magaris (Detschew 1957: 279), as well as the settlement of Brentopara (Hisar, Karlovo district)(Detschew 1957:138; see also Celtic Settlements in n. Bulgaria article with relevant lit.) should also be associated with the Artacoi, or with the Celtic Serdi  tribe. The possibility that Artacoi was not initially a tribal name per se, but a collective term for the Thracian Celts (Scordisci) who migrated from western Thrace eastwards into the central Thracian mountains during this period, should also be considered.


See also:








Mac Congail













BEHIND THE GOLDEN MASKS – Seuthopolis and the ‘Valley of the Thracian Kings’

UD: November 2016




The Valley of the Thracian Kings is an area of south-central Bulgaria situated to the west of the ancient Hellenistic polis of Seuthopolis / Σευθόπολις (near modern day Kazanlak), on the southern slopes of the Haemus (Balkan) mountains. Over the past decades this area has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria, with thousands of visitors from all over the world coming to see such cultural treasures as the UNESCO listed Kazanlak tomb and other sites in the area. According to Bulgarian archaeologists, this remarkable archaeological complex was established by the Thracian priest-king Seuthes III at the end of the 4th c. BC, and was the capital of the ‘Great Odrysae state’ and its ruling elite – the immortal bearers of the esoteric faith-doctrine of orphism, until the Roman period (Fol et al, Ancient Thrace 2000:120-121).


However, behind the fairy tales and golden masks lies another reality, a reality which, for reasons best known to Bulgarian archaeologists, is conspicuously absent from their glossy tourist brochures and history books…