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Peoples of Thrace


The region's name comes from the Thracian people who were of Indo-European stock. According to ancient sources, the Thracian peoples  who settled and lived in the area of Haimos and Rhodope mountains were of warrior and primitive character whereas, another portion of the Thracian peoples that settled along the Aegean and Marmara coasts, in comparison to the former, were more peaceful and civilized. The most important of the Thracian tribes who settled along the both sides of the Danube river were ;

Getai who were considered as the bravest and the most honest, Moseis who were considered as the ancestors of the Mysians and  occupied the area on the left bank of the Danube to the west of Getais. Triballis dwelled in the southern areas. Maedis centered in the Strymon valley, whose former name was Maedobithyni and some of them moved to Anatolia earlier. Maedi tribe rebelled against Macedonia and was defeated by an army commanded by Alexander the Great himself. Drois, Dersais, Saeis, Edons and Bistons lived close to the Aegean coast. Kikons that were described by Homer  as "Spear Bearers" occupied the area in the east as far as the Hebros river. Sapais who later took Kikons under their hegemony settled in the same area. Korpils were in the neighborhood of the town Ainos. To the east of Kikons and on the right bank of the Maritsa river lived the Paitis. On  the left bank of the Maritsa river was Apsinthians. On the Gallipoli peninsula was the Dolonks who were relatives of the Bithynians. Further east from Gallipoli peninsula and along the northern Propontis coast was Kaenis. In the area to the north of and surrounding Selymbria and Perinthus was the warrior Thynians who were close relatives of the Bithynians and the Astians later moved in to the same area. Odrysians settled along the Ardeskos river, to the west of Odrysians were Satrais, Diis and Diobessis (Bessis). In the middle Hebros valley lived the Ben(n)s.

Homer in his Iliad, describes the Thracians as the breeders of beautiful and fast running horses. 

Thucydides in his account says, that the people of the area between the Ionian Sea and Pontus Euxinus are the richest in income and all kinds of goods. 
Strabo describes the Thracians 22 in number of tribes living in the villages and in a close distance to each other. That must be true, because we do not know any big town or city in Thrace before Alexander the Great and his successors. 

Herodotus in his History, about the Thracians ; "The most populated area after India, is Thrace. If they were under one rule and of one mind, they would have been the mightiest people on earth. But the unity of these peoples have never been achieved, that's the weakest point of the Thracians. They take different names by the area they live around, but they all have common customs and traditions". 

Pausanias makes a similar description of the Thracians. "If compared to other nations of the earth, Thracians altogether are the most crowded people after the Celts. For this reason, no other nation before the Romans has been able to cover the Thracians under their hegemony. Only Romans was the first to rule Thracians. 

Although all Thracian tribes had common culture and language, from political point, they have never gone far beyond a primitive tribal order. Thracians, described as being the strongest peoples of Europe by Plinius, tried to organize a local kingdom under Odrysis in the 6th C BCE, but this was largely due to the military superiority of the mentioned tribe, and as soon as this military power declined, their political unity collapsed. It was fashion among the Thracians to have tattoos on their body. They sold their kids as slaves or hired them out as mercenaries to the armies of the other nations. It was, in their philosophy, nobility sign not to do any work or job other than robbery and war. It was the lowest form of life to work in the fields and to be employed in the farms.     Home Page


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Revised February 2015
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