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Thracians may also refer to modern inhabitants of Thrace regardless of ethnicity; see Thrace.
Image:Trak peltasta.jpg
Thracian peltast, fifth to fourth century BC

Thracians in an ethnic sense refers to various ancient peoples who spoke Dacian and Thracian, a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family.

The Thracian tribes to the south, neighbouring the Ancient Greeks, determined the latter to name a so called Thrace region (now divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey). Other names of ancient provinces inhabited by Thracians were: Moesia, Dacia, Scythia Minor, Bithynia (in northwest Asia Minor), Mysia, Macedonia, Pannonia, and others. This area extends over most of the Balkans region, and the Getae north of the Danube as far as beyond the Bug.<ref>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 [1]</ref>.

Archaeological and linguistic evidence supports the observation of Herodotus (5.3) in the fifth century BC, that the Thracians were a multitude of tribes, who, despite a fundamentally common language and heritage, did not ever achieve a unified national consciousness.


[edit] Origins

The prehistoric origins of the Thracians remain obscure, in absence of written historical records. Evidence of Proto-Thracians in the prehistoric period depends on remains of material culture. It is generally proposed that a Proto-Thracian people developed from a mixture of invading Indo-European and indigenous peoples in the Balkans over the centuries, starting from the Early Bronze Age <ref>Hoddinott(1981), p. 27.</ref>. However, doubt is cast on this scenario with the proposed Indo-European theory. Thracians figure in the Iliad as allies of the Trojans, hailing from Thrace.

[edit] Classical period

By the 5th century BC, the Thracian presence was pervasive enough to have made Herodotus (book 5) call 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 disunity. 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 Dacia of Burebista. A type of soldier of this period called the Peltast probably originated in Thrace.

[edit] Extinction of the ethnicity and language

See also Dacian language, Thracian language.

Most of the Thracians would eventually become Hellenized (in the province of Thrace) or Romanized (in Moesia, Dacia, etc.). Small groups of Thracian speakers, however, may still have existed when the Slavs arrived in the Balkans in the 6th century AD, and theoretically some Thracians may have become Slavicized. Scholars have proposed that the present-day Albanians may be Thracians who maintained their language, but this is controversial.

[edit] Archaeology

During the 2000s, Bulgarian archaeologists made discoveries in Central Bulgaria which were summarized as "The Valley of the Thracian Kings". On 19 August 2005, some archaeologists announced they had found the first Thracian capital, which was situated near Karlovo in Bulgaria. A lot of polished ceramic artifacts (pieces of roof-tiles and Greek-like vases) were discovered revealing the fortune of the city. The Bulgarian Ministry of Culture declared its support to the excavations.

In Dabene, Bulgaria, a cache of more than 15,000 gold Thracian artifacts were discovered, including thousands of rings. In August 2006 a sensational archeological find was made near the village of Dubovo. A Thracian dagger made of an alloy of gold and platinum, sharp, and in perfect condition, was found in a tomb near the village of Dubovo. [2]

[edit] Sources

The Iliad records that the Thracians from around the Hellespont and also the Thracian Cicones fought on the side of the Trojans (Iliad, book II). The Odyssey records that Odysseus and his men raided Thrace on their way back home from war. Many mythical figures, such as the god Dionysus, princess Europa and the hero Orpheus were borrowed by the Greeks from their Thracian neighbours.

In book 7 of his Histories, Herodotus describes the equipment of the Thracians fighting under the Persians,

The Thracians went to the war wearing the skins of foxes upon their heads, and about their bodies tunics, over which was thrown a long cloak of many colours. Their legs and feet were clad in buskins made from the skins of fawns; and they had for arms javelins, with light targes, and short dirks. This people, after crossing into Asia, took the name of Bithynians; before, they had been called Strymonians, while they dwelt upon the Strymon; whence, according to their own account, they had been driven out by the Mysians and Teucrians. The commander of these Asiatic Thracians was Bassaces the son of Artabanus.

In book 5, Herodotus describes the customs of various Thracian tribes.

The Thracians who live above the Crestonaeans observe the following customs. Each man among them has several wives; and no sooner does a man die than a sharp contest ensues among the wives upon the question which of them all the husband loved most tenderly; the friends of each eagerly plead on her behalf, and she to whom the honour is adjudged, after receiving the praises both of men and women, is slain over the grave by the hand of her next of kin, and then buried with her husband. The others are sorely grieved, for nothing is considered such a disgrace.
The Thracians who do not belong to these tribes have the customs which follow. They sell their children to traders. On their maidens they keep no watch, but leave them altogether free, while on the conduct of their wives they keep a most strict watch. Brides are purchased of their parents for large sums of money. Tattooing among them marks noble birth, and the want of it low birth. To be idle is accounted the most honourable thing, and to be a tiller of the ground the most dishonourable. To live by war and plunder is of all things the most glorious. These are the most remarkable of their customs.
The gods which they worship are but three, Mars, Bacchus, and Dian. Their kings, however, unlike the rest of the citizens, worship Mercury more than any other god, always swearing by his name, and declaring that they are themselves sprung from him.
Their wealthy ones are buried in the following fashion. The body is laid out for three days; and during this time they kill victims of all kinds, and feast upon them, after first bewailing the departed. Then they either burn the body or else bury it in the ground. Lastly, they raise a mound over the grave, and hold games of all sorts, wherein the single combat is awarded the highest prize. Such is the mode of burial among the Thracians.

Josephus claims the founder of the Thracians was the biblical character Tiras, son of Japheth:

Thiras also called those whom he ruled over Thirasians; but the Greeks changed the name into Thracians. AotJ I:6.

In a well-known fragment, Xenophanes comments:

Men make gods in their own image; those of the Ethiopians are black and snub-nosed, those of the Thracians have blue eyes and red hair.

[edit] Thracians and Mycenaeans

On September 21 - 26, 1984, the Fourth International Congress of Thracology was held in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The Congress was organized by the Henri Frankfort Foundation, which is a private institution whose main purpose is to augment the study of Mediterranean pre-history and proto-history. The opening of the symposium began on September 24 and was addressed by the Minister of Education and Science Dr. W. J. Deetman.<ref>Best and De Vries (1989)</ref>

"Thracians and Mycenaeans" was the theme name for the symposium, which held discussions pertaining to the potential ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic interrelations between proto-Thracians and proto-Greeks (i.e. Myceneans). It was believed that such interrelations had to exist since both groups have lived in the same geographic area in the past. According to Alexander Fol, the concept of "Mycenean Thrace" was first developed in 1973 in order to explain the relative cultural unity between the Thracians and the Myceneans.

This is a list of the scholars that contributed to the symposium:

[edit] Archaeologists

  • Alexander Fol – Thracians and Mycenaeans: Methodology of the Parallelism
  • D. F. Easton – Schliemann's Excavations at Troy
  • Elizabeth French – Possible Northern Intrusions at Mycenae
  • R. F. Hoddinott – Thracians, Myceneans, and the 'Trojan Question'
  • R. Katintcharov – Relations actuelles entre la Thrace, la Grèce et l’Anatolie du nordouest à l’âge du bronze moyen et recent
  • Hartmut Matthäus – Mykenai, der mittlere Donauraum wahrend des Hajdúsámson-Horizontes und der Schatz von Valčitran
  • Andrew Sherrat and Timothy Taylor – Metal Vessels in Bronze Age Europe and the Context of Vulchetrun

[edit] Linguists and historians

  • Jan Best – Thrakische Namen in mykenischer Schrift
  • Iris von Bredow – Ethnonyme und geographische Bezeichnungen der Thraker bei Homer
  • Frank de Graaf – Midas Wanax Lawagetas
  • Dimiter Popov – Le roi et l’autorité royale. Parallèles politico-religieux thraco-mycéniens
  • Dimitrios C. Samsaris – Les influences mycéniennes sur les Thraces
  • D. W. Smit – Mycenaean Penetration into Northern Greece
  • Jeanette Stakenborg-Hoogeveen – Mycenaean Thrace from the Fifth till the Third Century B.C. A Summary
  • F. C. Woudhuizen – Thracians, Luwians and Greeks in Bronze Age Central Greece

[edit] Varia Thracologica

This section specifically lists scholars whose ideas and discussions did not entail any Thracian-Mycenean parallelism or interrelations.

  • Maria Čičikova – Tombeau royal de Sveštari et certains aspects du culte sépulcral thrace
  • Chr. M. Danov – Zu den Anfängen der griechischen Kolonisation an der ägäischen Küste Thrakiens und den Lageverschiebungen der Thrakerstämme gegen Ende des 2. und Anfang des 1. Jahrtausends v.u.Z.
  • D. Gergova – Thracian Burial Rites of Late Bronze and Early Iron Age
  • John G. Griffith – Postilla to the Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Thracology
  • N. C. Moutsopoulos – Tournée en Rhodope du Sud et à Samothrace
  • Basilike Papoulia – Das Problem der kulturellen Einflüsse in der Vorgeschichte und in der Geschichte
  • Adrian Parvulescu – ‘Black Water’ in the Thracian Hydronymy
  • Cicerone Poghirc – Considérations chrono-géographiques sur l’oscillation a/o en Thrace et en Daco-Mésien

[edit] Famous Thracians

  • Decebalus, a great king of Dacia, ultimately defeated by the forces of Trajan.
  • Dionysus, the Thracian god of wine, represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficent influences.
  • Orpheus, in Greek legend, was the chief representative of the art of song and playing the lyre, and of great importance in the religious history of Bulgaria and Greece.
  • Spartacus was a Thracian enslaved by the Romans, who led a large slave uprising in what is now Italy in (73 BC - 71 BC). His army of escaped gladiators and slaves defeated several Roman legions in what is known as the Third Servile War.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

<references />

[edit] References

bg:Траки de:Thraker et:Traaklased es:Tracios eo:Trakoj fr:Thraces it:Traci nl:Thraciërs pl:Trakowie pt:Trácios ro:Traci ru:Фракийцы sv:Thraker tr:Traklar


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