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brendan mac congail kingdoms of the forgotten the celtic expansion in south-eastern europe and asia-minor 4th 3rd centuries b.c 3


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wÉ uÉÜ|tÇt Äx uâÉv{tá tzâá zÜöa a ÇxtÜà zÉ vâÜ Äx v{°|Äxa 4


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contents 1 introduction 2 western thrace a the scordisci 1 b the scordisci wars 3 eastern thrace a flight of the getae b celtic expansion in e thrace 3 c the zaravetz culture linguistic data 3 topographical traces 3 anthroponymy 4 numismatic data 4 archaeological data 5 d bastarnae 5 4 south-eastern thrace a tyle .6 b cavaros 6 c the fall of tyle 7 6


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5 mercenaries a b c d initial dispersion the phantom battle 8 the macedonian succession 8 dogs of war 9 6 asia-minor a b c d e f g the crossing 9 galatia the bythnian succession 10 magnesia 11 olympus 11 the roman period 12 deiotarus 12 conclusion 12 appendix 1thracian and celtic anthroponymy 13 references and notes linguistic 1 bibliography 16 7


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1 introduction the illyrian ardiaoi tribe lived in the area of kosovo-metohija the eastern part of todays montenegro and this territory received the name ardia after them.1 we learn little of this tribe during this period except for the fact that on the sixth day of the week they were prone to feast excessively.2 what we do learn is that the celtic tribes who lived to the north of them were familiar with this custom and made good use of the knowledge in 368-367 bc these celts managed to introduce into the illyrian camp poisoned food and drink which was consumed by the ardiaoi the subsequent attack and defeat of this tribe3 heralded the presence of a new geo-political and ethnic force on the balkan peninsula and set in action a sequence of events which was to change the fundamental cultural history of the region the first celtic mercenary activity in the hellenistic world is recorded around the same time as the above events in 367 bc dionysios i of syracuse took a band of them into his service and sent them to the aid of the macedonians against thebes.4 from this point on groups of celtic warriors become an intricate part of the military conflicts in greece and macedonia.5 the abundance of coins of philip ii of macedonia discovered among the celts of the danube make it certain 1 pajakovski 2000 259 2 ath x 443b 3 theompomp frag 41 athen x,60 domaradski 1984 p 172 4 justin xx 5 6 grata legatio dionysio fuit ita pacta societate et auxiliis gallorum auctus bellum velut ex integro restaurat according to diodorus these had been recruited in italy diod xv 70 1 from sicily celts and iberians to the number of two thousand sailed to corinth for they had been sent by the tyrant dionysius to fight in alliance with the lacedaemonians and had received pay for five months for the performance of these celts and iberians xen hell 7.1.20-22 5 see domaradski 1984 p 172 8


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that celtic mercenaries came into his political schemes indeed the first celtic coins are imitations of philips gold staters the precious metals for this coinage probably came from the mines in the pangaion mountains.6 while the dating of these so-called philippou staters poses problems,7 the staters have been commonly found among celtic tribes and indigenous celtic coinage based on them has been dated from finds associated with celtic burials.8 in 335 bc we are informed celts from the adriatic coast also attended the armistice and alliance negotiations between the triballi king syrmos and alexander the great in the wellknown incident where the macedonian emperor was informed by them that they feared only that the sky would fall on their heads.9 half a century after the attack on the ardiaoi tribe i.e in 310-309 bc a further large scale movement of celts into the balkan region caused widespread panic and forced another illyrian tribe the auteriatae to flee en masse the main research problem concerning the history and territory occupied by the autariatae tribe appears to be the reference in the periplus of scylax10 to the great lake it had earlier been accepted by academics that the mostarsko blato or hutovo 6 didor 16 8 5-7 herod 7,1129,75 strabo 7 33,34,36 plin natural history 7 197 also le rider g in the coinage of philip and the pangaton mines in m.b hatzopoulos l.d loukopoulos eds philip of macedon athens 1980,pp 4849 keller d gedanken zur datierung und verwendung der statere philipps ii und der keltischen imitationen schweizerische numismatische rundschau 1996 75 101-120 7 for detailed discussion on this problem see le rider g le monneyage dargent et dor de philippe ii frappé en macedoine de 359 á 295 paris 1977 price 1991 637 pp 8 for archaeological dating of celtic coins found in burials see polenz h münzen in latènzeitlichen grabern mitteleuropas aus der zeit zwischen 300 und 50 v chr bayerische vorgeschichtsblätter 1982 47 27 222 9 anab i 4 6-8 strabo vii 3,8 and ptolemaeus the son of lagus says that on this expedition the celti who lived about the adriatic joined alexander for the sake of establishing friendship and hospitality and that the king received them kindly and asked them when drinking what it was that they most feared thinking they would say himself but that they replied they feared no one unless it were that heaven might fall on them 10 c 24 9


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fig 1 10


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blato was referred to.11 however another theory was later put forward by m suic in which his analysis of the periplus put the territory of the autariatae somewhere between the upper neretva in the north and the scodra lake or to be more specific where the prilon river flows into it.12 more recently f papazoglu has come up with a different conception putting their territory on the tara lim and morava rivers neighboring the pannonians in the north the dardanii in the south-west and the ardaioi in the south13 a thesis based on the identification of them with the glasinac culture put forward by academics as a classical example of the illyrian material culture the most recent work on the territorial settlement of the autariatae has suggested that they were settled not just on the tara lim and morava but stretched also to possibly the middle and certainly the upper neretva.14 this celtic invasion led by a chieftain called molistomos caused such panic that it was described in classical sources as a natural disaster there was talk of plagues of lands ravaged by invasive mice etc.15 the macedonian general cassander rushed to the help of the pannonian king audoleon and subsequently settled 20,000 of the auteriatae in the region of orbelos as military settlers.16 the final destruction of the auteriatae was later completed by the celtic scordisci who for a period also ruled over the pannonians.17 in his description of the province of dalamtia pliny also speaks of the ancient land of the auteriatae autariaten antique regio i.e as something in the distant past.18 11 radimsky m der narenta-see des scylax wissentschaftliche mitteilungen aus bosnien und der herzegovina 4 1896 s 129 ff patsch c pseudo-skilakovo jezero prinos povijesti donijeg porije ja neretve glasnik zemaljskog museja 7 1906 p 367 ff 12 suic m gdje se nalazilo jezero iz pogl pseudo-skilkakova periplu glasnik zemaljskog muzeja u sarajevu 8 1953 p 111 ,123 124 128 13 papazoglu 1969 pp 79 85 14 see pajakovski 2000 76 15 appian illyrica 4 16 just xv 2 diod xx 19 see also papazoglu f 1969 107 17 papazoglu f plemena p 86-96 18 pliny n.h iii 141 11


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there appears to have been a period of celtic consolidation after this but the expansion was by no means over cassander came across a group of celts at an unnamed location on the slopes of haemus stara planina at the turn of the 4th 3rd centuries.19 the information given suggests that this was not just a group of envoys but quite a sizeable force raising the question of what they were doing this far inside thrace at this early stage this may suggest links with certain of the thracian tribes in the thracian interior at an early date shortly afterwards a second group under a leader called cambaules reached thrace of these we are informed advancing as far as thrace they lost heart and broke off the march realizing that they were too few in number to be a match for the greeks when they decided to invade foreign territory for a second time so great was the influence of cambaules veterans who had tasted the joy of plunder that a large force of infantry and no small number of mounted men answered the muster.20 in reality it is much more likely that this second celtic incursion into thrace was an advance party with the task of testing the waters from a military perspective in preparation for the full-scale onslaught that was to follow soon after this would logically fit into the rapidly developing situation after the death of lysimachus as a first stage of the great celtic invasion preceding more or less immediately the triple incursion into thrace pannonia and macedonia from 279 bc the subsequent massive military onslaught led by the second brenos the destruction of the macedonian army and the assault on the sacred temple at delphi is well documented what has been less clear up until now is the long term geo-political and cultural effect of this celtic expansion into the balkan peninsula and asia-minor 19 seneca nat quaest 3 11 3 nascuntur fonts decisis plerumque silvas quos arborum alimenta consumabant sicut in haemo obsidente gallis cassandro cum valli gratia silvas cecdissent pliny n.h xxxi 53 20 paus 10,19,5 -the exact date of this incursion is unsure but to appears to have occurred in 298 bc see hubert ii 38 domaradski 1984 172 12


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section 2 western thrace a.the scordisci one of the main celtic groups which broke away after the assault on delphi were to become subsequently known under the umbrella term of scordisci.21 these under the leadership of a chieftain whose name has come down to us under the distorted form of bathanattos settled permanently between the shar-dagh mons scordus and the danube being made up of mixed tribal origin this group took the name scordisci from the surrounding country.22 it is believed that the starting point for the celts before their advance south had been lower pannonia and it was probably to there that the rump force of brenos main army retired in the aftermath of delphi and from this area that they again departed the following year from here they began their slow expansion in all directions.23 after settling in the sub-danubian region the scordisci proceeded to establish a thriving cultural and political entity which was destined to have a profound effect on the cultures with which they came into contact of all the thracian tribes those most affected by the celtic expansion at the end of the 4th/beginning of the 3rd century bc were the triballi this tribe had once been a powerful political force in the region the first reference to the political and military organization of the triballi is given by thucydides in connection with their battle against sitalkas in 424 bc in what is now the sofia plain.24 they appear initially to have controlled the western part of the southern danube plain where along the lower and middle course of the morava river herodotus localized 21 athen vi 234b justin xxxii,3 namque galli bello aduersus delphos infeliciter gesto in quo maiorem uim numinis quam hostium senserant amisso brenno duce pars in asiam pars in thraciam extorres fugerant inde per eadem uestigia qua uenerant antiquam patriam repetiuere ex his manus quaedam in confluente danuuii et saui consedit scordiscosque se appellari uoluit 22 see also hubert ii 42 23 domaradski 1984 107 24 thuc 4 101,5 13


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what he referred to as the triballian plain.25 during the first half of the the 4th century bc the triballi had extended eastwards to the oskios river a group of about 30,000 of them were repulsed in 376/375 bc as they moved along the nestos river valley to the south towards abdera.26 in 339 bc philip ii clashed with them on returning from his scythian march across thrace carrying enormous booty with him which he lost in the battle.27 as has been pointed out these events illustrate the statesmanship and the military skills of the triballian royal court on the territory of whose possessions some of the richest thracian finds have occurred dating back to the first half of the 4th century bc and a little later.28 ironically relations between the triballi and their celtic neighbours seemed to have been everything but antagonistic at the outset the triballi had until the middle of the 4th century bc had a stable political and economic relationship with the celts as illustrated for example by the golden torc from gorni tsibar a village situated in what had been triballi territory close to the southern bank of the danube in n.w bulgaria.29 the torc dates to the end of the 4th/beginning of the 3rd century bc and has many parallels among la téne b1/b2 neckrings.30 it is believed that it was exchanged through diplomatic channels by the triballi with their celtic neighbours.31 25 for more on the triballi see fol a thrace and the balkans in the early hellenistic epoch nauka i izkustvo sofia 1975 p 9-24 26 see jordanov ancient thrace 114 27 just 9,3,1-3 28 jordanov op cit 29 see theodossiev n 2000 north-western thrace from the 5th to 1st centuries bc oxford british archaeological reports international series 859 116 cat no 84 30 jacobsthal p 1969 early celtic art oxford 170 no 46 megaw r and megaw v 2001 celtic art from its beginnings to the book of kells london 119 ill 168 moscati et al 1991 moscati s frey o.h kruta v raftery b szabó m eds i celti milano,712 no 129 31 jordanov thracica 7 127 xlviii 1-2 1992 73-74 14


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fig .2 balkan peninsula prior to the celtic expansion32 prior to the scordisci expansion the triballi had already been weakened and pushed northwards by the auteriatae tribe themselves under pressure from the celts in illyria.33 one reason for the scordisci offensive against the triballi was that the latter occupied territory rich in metal ores and had a well developed metal-working culture the scordisci also renowned metalworkers were forced to seek sources for that ore therefore making conflict with the triballi inevitable.34 32 after fol et al 2000 74 33 strabo 7,5,11 34 domaradski 1984 154 15


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the scordisci onslaught in the 70s of the 3rd century bc led to the thracians losing large amounts of their territory and their military power appears to have been permanently broken the eastern part of the new domain of the scordisci was on territory previously held by the triballi.35 while we are informed that the initial battle between these two groups was so brutal that those of the thracians who survived were forced to flee to the other side of the danube,36 this is almost certainly an exaggeration indeed later we find the triballi fighting alongside the scordisci against the romans.37 the scordisci expansion in w thrace affected not only the triballi but also lesser tribes between these the autariatae and the dardanians and the ardiaei are the dassaretii the hybrianes and other insignificant tribes which the scordisci kept on ravaging until they had depopulated the country and made it full of trackless forests for a distance of several days journey.38 the same source informs us that the scordisci were broken up into two separate groups the greater and lesser scordisci and that the lesser scordisci lived on the other bank of the river danube as neighbours of the triballi and moesians he also informs us that the scordisci held some of the danubian islands and they increased to such an extent that they advanced as far as the illyrian paeonian and thracian mountains.39 it would be mistaken however to assume that the relationship between the newly arrived celts and the indigenous population was a purely hostile one besides the initial confrontation between the triballi and the scordisci we have no further testimony for direct conflict between the celts and the surrounding cultures one should also bear in mind the testimony of strabo who informs us that to the ister near the country of the scordisci who are called galatae for these too lived intermingled with the illyrian and the thracian tribes.40 in fact the presence of celtic topographical traces testimony to a mixed celto 35 app illyr 3 36 appian ill op cit 37 in 109/108 for example eutr iv 27 a m iunio silano collega q metelli cimbri in gallia victi sunt et a minucio rufo in macedonia scordisci et triballi et a servilio caepione in hispania lusitani subacti 38 strabo vii 5,12 39 strabo op cit 40 strabo vii,5,2 16


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celtic golden torc from gorni tsibar bulgaria 17


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thracian people and an integrated scordisci/triballi archaeological culture indicates that a celtic ethnic presence must have existed on triballi territory and the long term co-existence of these two groups led to a strong cultural and even ethnic mix celto-thracian people 41 the testimony to a symbiotic relationship between the newly arrived celtic tribes and the indigenous cultures on the peninsula is also supported by archaeological data celtic settlement in the morava river valley is well testified to by archaeological material thus for example the investigation of the flat cemetery in the region of pecine near kostalac a town situated on the lower morava valley and close to the danube in n.e serbia42 provides a good illustration of the ethnic changes that took place in the wake of the celtic arrival in the region on this site a number of celtic cremation and inhumation graves the earliest dating to the end of the 4th/beginning of the 3rd century bc are situated around nine earlier graves belonging to the illyrian autariatae tribe the continuity observable on this burial site clearly indicates that the new celtic settlers did not destroy the autariataec community but assimilated with the indigenous population and mixed ethnically with it.43 it is therefore possible to assume that from the end of the 4th century bc onwards the morava river valley and the regions to the east became a celto-illyro-thracian interaction zone.44 a similar situation appears to have existed in the region of todays s.w romania.45 the quantity of 41 domaradski 1984 154 42 jovanovi 1985 1992 jovanovi b necropola na pechinama i starije gvozdeno doba podunavlya starinar n.s 36 13-18 1992 celtic settlements of the balkans in n tasi ed scordisci and the native population in the middle danube region belgrade 19-32 43 jovanovi op cit 44 theodossiev 2000 98-100 45 in this case a celto-dacian interaction zone see nicol escu-plop or 1945-1947 antiquités celtiques dolténie dacia xi-xii 1948 p 17-33 see also popescu 1963 popescu d dou descoperiri celtice din oltenia sciv 14 2 p 403412 zirra vl 1971 beitrage zur kentnnis der keltischen latene in rumanien dacia n s xv p 171-238;also 1976 p 181 le problème des celtes dans lespace du bas-danube thraco-dacica i p.175-182 sîrbu v 1993 p 25 credin e i practici funerare religioase i magice în lumea geto dacilor br ilagala i see also sîrbu v arsenescu m dacian settlements and necropolises in southwestern romania 2nd c b.c 1st c a.d 18



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