Tag Archive: Thracians


 

 

The Gauls, who had been left behind by their general Brennus, when he marched into Greece, to defend the borders of their country, armed fifteen thousand foot and three thousand horse (that they alone might not seem idle), and routed the forces of the Getae and Triballi…”.

(Justinus, Prol. XXV,1)

 

 

In the Sboryanovo Archaeological Reserve in northeastern Bulgaria are situated the remains of an ancient city which became the political and religious center of the powerful Thracian Getae tribe during the 4th century BC. The most spectacular of a number of ancient tombs at the site, which has been identified by Bulgarian archaeologists as “Dausdava” – The City of Wolves….

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/32172303/FALL_OF_THE_CITY_OF_WOLVES_A_Celtic_Chariot_Burial_from_Sboryanovo_in_n.e._Bulgaria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UD: September 2017

 

“On their heads they put bronze helmets which have large embossed figures standing out from them and give an appearance of great size to those who wear them; for in some cases horns are attached to the helmet so as to form a single piece, in other cases images of the fore-parts of birds or four footed animals”.

Diodorus Siculus (on Celtic helmets) (History V.30.2)

 

 

 

While horned helmets among the Celtic tribes are well documented in artwork and coins from the period, actual archaeological confirmation of the existence of this particular type of helmet has been rare. Indeed, until now it was thought that the only known example from Iron Age Europe was the Waterloo Helmet found in the River Thames in London, which is ceremonial in nature and differs greatly from Celtic horned helmets depicted elsewhere.

 

Bronze ceremonial horned helmet with repoussé decoration in the La Tène style, discovered in the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge, London

(ca. 100 BC)

 

 

Warrior with horned helmet depicted on a stele from Bormio (Lombardy), Italy

(early 4th c. BC)

 

Bronze statue of a naked Celtic warrior with horned helmet and torc. Originally from northern Italy, and presently in the Antikensammlung (SMPK), Berlin

(3rd c. BC)

 

 

 

However, despite the belief that the Waterloo Helmet was the only example of such from Iron Age Europe, a further example is to be found in the bronze horned helmet discovered near the modern village of Bryastovets (Burgas region) in eastern Bulgaria.

 

The Bryastovetz Horned Helmet from Eastern Bulgaria (3rd c. BC)

 (After Fol A., Fol V. (2008) The Thracians. Sofia; Fol, a former Communist minister, member of the Secret Police, and founder of the Institute of Thracology, incorrectly places the village of Bryastovets in the Targovischte region of northern Bulgaria (!) ) *

 

Location of  Bryastovetz

 

 

 

 

In the Balkan context Celtic warriors wearing such horned helmets also appear on two panels of the Gundestrup cauldron, which is believed to have been produced in northwestern Thrace in the late 2nd c. BC by the Scordisci tribes:

 

Scenes from the Gundestrup cauldron (plates C and E) depicting Celtic warriors wearing horned helmets

See also: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/the-gundestrup-ghosts-hidden-images-in-the-gundestrup-cauldron/

 

 

 The area of today’s eastern Bulgaria where the Bryastovetz helmet originates was located within the territory of the Celtic ‘Tyle’ state in the 3rd c. BC, and is rich in Celtic numismatic and archaeological material from this period. Celtic tribes are also recorded in this area of s-e Thrace in the 2nd century BC (Appianus, Syriaca 6.22), and it appears likely that the helmet originated from a Celtic warrior burial in the area, most probably an aristocratic burial associated with the Celtic ‘Tyle’ state of the 3rd c. BC.

 

 

Sadly, as with many Celtic artifacts from Bulgaria, although illustrations of this helmet have been published in a number of popular books on ‘Thracian Treasures’, it is not on display to the public, nor has it been made available for wider academic study. Officially, this unique Celtic treasure is now in the National Museum in Sofia under inv. # 3454. One can only hope that this is indeed the case…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*On Alexander Fol and ‘Thracology’ see:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/legacy-of-lies-communism-nationalism-and-pseudoarchaeology-in-romania-and-bulgaria/

 

On the Celtic Tyle State see:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/the-tyle-experiment/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DECE GREEN

 

While communist regimes on the Balkans may have fallen almost three decades ago, the legacy of political manipulation during that dark period in European history continues to undermine and distort archaeological research in the region

 

Full Article:

 

https://www.academia.edu/27923462/On_Communism_Nationalism_and_Pseudoarchaeology_in_Romania_and_Bulgaria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

Tyle

 

 

One of the great archaeological mysteries which has occupied academics on the Balkans since the 19th century has been the search for the elusive capital of the Celtic kingdom in eastern Thrace – Tyle/Τύλις, which is mentioned by Polybius (iv 45-46):
“after they (the Celts) crushed the Thracians and turned the town of Tyle into the capital of their kingdom”.

 

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FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/9437514/THE_LOST_CITY_OF_HILL_-_On_the_localization_of_the_Celtic_capital_in_Eastern_Thrace

 

 

 

 

 

tyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: November 2016

 

 

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/goldh-s.jpg?w=640

 

 

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…

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/5420363/THE_TYLE_EXPERIMENT

 

S.E. Thrace map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UD: June 2017

 

 

 

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 (see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/the-galatian-genocide/).

 

 

 

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. The catastrophic 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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