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MapThrace

Thrace had a heritage which matched that of its south-westerly neighbours, the Mycenaeans. Thracians were allied to Troy during the Trojan War, although Homeric Thrace was vaguely defined. In this period it encompassed a wide swathe of territory to the north of Greece 'proper', stretching from the River Axios in the west, to the Hellespont and the Black Sea in the east, and the Balkan Mountains in the north. Sometimes Thrace could be used to define literally all the territory to the north of Thessaly, incorporating Scythia and even Macedonia.

In addition to the tribe that Homer called Thracians (in reality several tribes, all very warlike), ancient Thrace was home to numerous other Indo-European tribes, all non-Greek speakers, such as the Bisaltes, Bistones, Cicones, Edones, and Triballi, and all of them managed to remain rural peoples, usually living in fortified hilltops. These Thracians may also have shared many Indo-European cultural similarities with related groups at the other end of the Black Sea, especially the Cimmerians. By around 900 BC these two groups appear to use the same style of horse bits and cheek pieces, if not more, with an umbrella 'Thraco-Cimmerian' label being applied to them by archaeologists. Like the Cimmerians and Scythians, the Thracians were renowned for their horses and their skill as mounted warriors.

Indications are that the Cimmerians became associated with the Thracians around a large swathe of the western coast of the Black Sea, and eventually merged with them (following their final defeat and break-up). Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt stated that the language of the Cimmerians could have been a 'missing link' between Thracian and Iranian. Both of these were of Indo-European ancestry, so there was likely some basic similarities between the languages. Tying archaeological evidence to the Thraco-Cimmerians and their perceived migratory offshoots that headed up the Danube towards the Alpine region can sometimes be dismissed by scholars (although not all of them). When studying the hypothesis that is based around this idea, Anne Kristiansen has focussed on a shift in production centres from Hungary to Italy and the Alpine region. The weight of evidence shows that there was a warrior culture of the horse/wagon complex in the eighth century BC (such horse and wagon peoples were typical of Pontic-Caspian steppe cultures, and they persisted in the region for a surprisingly long time). From a Central European perspective, this particular culture followed the Danube to the Hallstatt regions of the east - Austria, and perhaps Bavaria, these being the eastern limits of the core Celtic homeland. In successive waves from the ninth to the sixth centuries BC they pushed further west before veering off to the north.

Ultimately, one branch followed the course of the River Elbe and a second backtracked west from the headwaters of the Rhine, heading north-east to the Elbe and then north into Jutland (where it theoretically formed, or merged with the ancestors of, the Cimbri). The entire Hallstatt C complex was altered with new male prestige weapons and specialised horse tack and wagons that were new to the region, and these were associated with new ruling elites, especially in eastern Central Europe. Kristiansen considers the influences to be not only Thraco-Cimmerian but also Scythian (another nomadic horse-based group from the Pontic-Caspian steppe, some of whom ventured into the Transoxiana region of Central Asia to become better known as the Sakas). Further support and expansion of this theory is shown on the Cimmerian page.

There is little specific order for the kings mentioned here, except by reference to outside events, such as the Trojan War. Thracian unification was not achieved until the fifth century and records are very sparse until that time. Much of what was originally thought of as Thrace is now within Bulgaria, and Thracian influence was known to have extended into modern Romania too, but the south-western coastal districts still remain in modern Greek hands while the large south-eastern corner which includes Gallipoli and Constantinople (Istanbul) is part of Turkey.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Civilisation of the East, Fritz Hommel (Translated by J H Loewe, Elibron Classic Series, 2005), from Europe Before History, Kristian Kristiansen, from Who were the Cimmerians, and where did they come from? Anne Katrine Gade Kristensen (Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Hist-fil. Medd 57), and from Celts and the Classical World, David Rankin (1996).)

Thrax

Eponymous founder, and mythical son of the war-god Ares.

Tegyrios

Greek mythological king of Thrace.

In Greek myth, the undatable Tegyrios of Thrace welcomes the exiled Eumolpus to his kingdom. The king's daughter is married to Ismarus, the son of Eumolpus, but Eumolpus subsequently plans to usurp the throne and is banished. Following the death of Ismarus, Tegyrios forgives his friend and makes Eumolpus his successor.

Eumolpus

Successor king of Thrace.

fl c.1500 BC

Phineas / Phinehas

Son of Agenor of Tyre. King of Thrace.

c.1500 BC

According to Greek legend, Phineas is the son of Agenor, king of Tyre. He and his four brothers, Cadmus, Cilix, Phoenix, and Thasus have all departed their Phoenician home in search of their sister, Europa, who had been abducted by Zeus. Phineas gives up his search in eastern Thrace, where he settles on the western shores of the Black Sea and rules a city state of his own.

Phineas becomes the father to Bithynus, Mariandynus, Paphlagonus, and Thynus (Bithynus and Thynus are adopted from one Odrysus, the eponymous namesake of the later Thracian kingdom). The four each found kingdoms along the shores of the Black Sea; Bithynia, Mariandyne, Paphlagonia, and Thynia.

Phineas and the harpies
There are two kings of early Thrace named Phineas, the first of whom was a Phoenician while the second was rescued by Jason from harpies, and it is the latter who is shown here

12th century BC

There are various tribes in Thrace at this time, and many of them take part in the Trojan War, almost exclusively on the side of their near neighbour, Troy. While many of them are given specific tribal names or locations by Homer and later Classical authors, others are simply 'of Thrace' and may represent a more powerful and influential element in Thracian tribal society. For the purposes of this list, in order to aid clarity, general Thracian kings are shown primarily, while specifically named tribes or kingdoms are shown as sub-kings. The Cicones are in green while the Edones are in red.

fl c.1220 BC

Phineas

King of Thrace. Rescued from harpies by Jason of Iolkos.

Cisseus

Father-in-law to the Trojan elder Antenor.

fl c.1200 BC

Poltys

King of Aenus.

c.1200 BC

Poltys appears to be a creation of post-Homeric authors. A son of Poseidon, he rules the city of Poltyobria when Heracles pays him and his brother Sarpedon a visit. The king welcomes him but Sarpedon does not, and Heracles slays him on the beach. No relationship is given between Poltys and his apparent successor, Acamas, but within two decades it is the latter who is king of the city, which is renamed Aenus.

Troezenus of the Cicones

Father of Euphemus. King of Ismara.

fl c.1183 BC

Polymestor

A Thracian king. Executed by Agamemnon.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Polymestor is married to Ilione, eldest daughter of Priam of Troy. He betrays Priam's trust after the fall of Troy by murdering the king's young son when the boy has been placed in his care along with an amount of treasure. He is denounced by the boy's mother, Hecuba, and tried by Agamemnon. Found guilty, his sons are killed by Trojan women and Hecuba scratches out his eyes before he is led away by Agamemnon's men.

fl c.1183 BC

Acamas / Akamas

Son of Eussorus. From Aenus in Thrace. Killed by Ajax.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Acamas leads a contingent of Thracian warriors to the Trojan War on the side of Troy. He is the mythical founder of the city of Aenus on the south-eastern coastline near the mouth of the Hebrus. He is joined by his comrade Peiros, son of Imbrasus, and Asius, along with Euphemus, son of King Troezenus son of Ceas, and Rhesus, each with their own contingents which represent some of the various tribes in Thrace. Asius is from the city of Sestus, on the Thracian (northern) side of the Hellespont and is therefore a member of the Hyrtacidae, who may indeed be Thracians.

fl c.1183 BC

Pylaemenes of the Eneti

From the Eneti tribe of Thracians. Killed at Troy.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Pylaemenes of the shaggy breast leads the Paphlagonian force to the Trojan War on the side of Troy, which includes contingents from Aegialus, Cromna, Cytorus, Erythini, Sesamus, and from along the River Parthenius. A contingent of Halizones which also fights for Troy could be from Paphlagonia. Homer calls Odius the chief of the Paphlagonians, placing them in north-eastern Anatolia. It seems likely that the Halizones move into the region at the same time that Paphlagonia emerges, displacing or subsuming the Kaskans.

fl c.1183 BC

Peiros / Peirous

Son of Imbrasus. Comrade of Acamas.

fl c.1183 BC

Rhesus

Son of Eioneus. Joined the Trojan War later but did not fight.

fl c.1183 BC

Euphemus of the Cicones

From the city of Ismara, Ismarus, on southern Thracian coast.

fl c.1183 BC

Lycurgus of the Edones

From between rivers Nestus and Strymon in southern Thrace.

Based in the region of Mygdonia, Lycurgus dies violently, either by going insane, killing his son, and then being executed by his people, or by accidentally removing his own foot when attempting to cut down an ivy vine. Charops is selected as his successor. He is the father of Oeagrus, although sources are divided over this, with some claiming him as the son of King Pierus of Pieria to the west.

fl c.1170s BC

Charops of the Edones

Selected as the successor to the dead Lycurgus.

fl c.1170s BC

Oeagrus of the Edones

Son of Charops or King Pierus of Pieria.

Orpheus

Son. Musician, poet and prophet in Greek myth.

fl c.1170s BC

Tereus

A Thracian king. Son of the war-god Ares.

Zalmoxis

c.1170s BC

Mycenaean-era Thrace fades from history as the Mycenaeans themselves are eclipsed by the invading Dorians. A dark age grips Greece for about four centuries until the rise of the Classical city states. Thrace at this time is still viewed as a wild, mountainous terrain populated by barbarous tribes.

c.900 BC

From around this date, rich, well-organised 'kingdoms' or 'chiefdoms' develop in the Caucuses. They interact with civilisations to their south, in Anatolia and Mesopotamia, usually by raiding into their territory. Typical horse bits and cheek-pieces of an early Thraco-Cimmerian type are found by archaeologists in the same region of the Caucuses.

c.800 - 700 BC

The Thracians are driven out of the region of Mygdonia by the newly arriving Macedonians, although they are not the only ones suffering from population expansion. The kingdom of Kolkis is also overrun by Cimmerians and Scythians in this century, and it disintegrates.

Cimmerian warriors
This image shows Cimmerians battling early Greeks - prior to the advent of accepted 'Classical' Greece - with the mounted Cimmerians warriors apparently being accompanied by their dogs

It seems to be around this time that the window for the 'Thraco-Cimmerian Hypothesis' first opens. The Cimmerians and Scythians have suddenly positioned themselves as a more powerful collection of tribes which are not afraid of thundering around the Black Sea coast (on either side of the sea itself) and waging war against established kingdoms. It is known that Cimmerians later settle amongst the Thracian tribes, so to be that welcome they must share some common points of interest, such as language or culture. The common points would seem to be old Urnfield traditions in metalwork mixed with new Cimmerian influences from the Caucuses. Could they already be mixing with Thracians now, with some groups beginning to explore further along the River Danube to enter regions that are controlled by the Celts of the Hallstatt C culture? The weight of evidence shows that there is indeed a warrior culture of the horse/wagon complex in the eighth century BC and also a shift in production centres from Hungary to Italy and the Alpine region. This would match well with a Thraco-Cimmerian migration along the Danube (whether in person or by osmosis through neighbouring migratory groups).

In successive waves from the ninth to the sixth centuries BC these migrating warrior groups push west towards the headwaters of the Danube before veering off to the north. Ultimately, one branch follows the course of the River Elbe and a second backtracks west from the headwaters of the Rhine, heading north-east to the Elbe and then north into Jutland (where it theoretically forms, or merges with the ancestors of, the Cimbri).

7th century BC

During this century the Cimmerians and Scythians seem to be wandering over vast distances as warring groups and mercenaries. During the early seventh century they also attack Lydia and Greek coastal cities on the Aegean, and Herodotus states that they are later expelled from there. Place names in Scythia show that Cimmerians are also present in this region at some point. Further involvement, this time when they are allied to the Thracian tribes of the Edoni and Threres, supports a close social and cultural relationship with at least some Thracians, which is confirmed by archaeological discoveries. The Cimmerian presence in Anatolia is archaeologically much more tenuous, probably revealing the briefness of their presence here.

c.660 BC

Fritz Hommel has stated that one Tugdamme of the Cimmerians must be an ancestor of the later Cimmerian ruler, Sandakhshatra. He identifies this ruler as Cyaxares of the Medians, implying that Tugdamme is Phraortes, which seems far less likely than the Sandakhshatra connection. Instead, the name Tugdamme strikes Edward Dawson as being Celtic, with an automatically reconfiguration to the Celtic 'Togodumnos' being an easy leap. Given the possibility that it may be Thraco-Cimmerians who influence the Celtic progression from Hallstatt to La Tène culture during the proposed migration west from the Black Sea, Tugdamme could be a name type that is adopted by the Celts from the Cimmerian warrior elite and is afterwards rendered as Togodumnos (or variants).

513/12 - c.479 BC

Thrace south of the Danube is conquered by the Persians and held for about fifty years, possibly until they are forced out of Macedonia by Alexander I. Following their evacuation, and possibly unified to an extent under Persian occupation of the region, the Thracians form the Odrysian kingdom. Other tribes do still exist, and probably in independence, notably the Bessoi, but they are little-known hill tribes that play no real part in the main history of the region.

Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace

The Odrysian (Odrysae or Odrusai) kingdom was a union of over forty Thracian tribes that endured between the fifth and third centuries BC. It consisted largely of territory within the traditional boundaries of ancient Thrace, incorporating present-day Bulgaria, and at times spreading into parts of Romania, northern Greece and the European part of Turkey. Its former capital was Uscudama or Odrysia which is now the city of Edirne, in European Turkey. It was the first true Thracian state under a single ruler, adopting Greek language and customs, although not encompassing all Thracian tribes. However, the remaining tribes may have submitted as sub-kingdoms to Thrace's possible high king. It would certainly explain the proliferation of multiple rulers during the kingdom's existence.

The former fortified residence of the Odrysian high kings was uncovered by archaeologists in 2010. It is located on the Kozi Gramadi mount on the Sredna Gora mountain, in the village of Starosel, close to the resort town of Hissar in central Bulgaria. It is the only Odrysian royal residence to be discovered to date. It is generally assumed that the Thracians lived a relatively rough and ready lifestyle, although this discovery is causing something of a rethink.

450 - 431 BC

Teres / Tires I

Son of Odryses? Founded the kingdom. Died on campaign.

431 BC

Under Teres, responsible for first uniting many of Thrace's tribes to create the kingdom, and Sitalces, who reinforces the allegiance of some of the tribes to him as king (or high king), the kingdom reaches its height. It stretches from the coast of the Black Sea in the east to the Danube in the north (homeland of the Tribali tribe), and the River Strymon basin to the west. Relations between the tribes that make up the kingdom are regularly shifting, making controlling them an uncertain process that ebbs and flows over time, but this seems to be one rare point of almost total Thracian unification (with even the Bessoi being subjugated).

The Triballi, a tribe occupying a large swathe of territory in the north of Thrace, prove to be particularly troublesome, and it may be this tribe that Teres is campaigning against when he dies. The tribe is also responsible for the death of his son, Sitalces.

431 - 424 BC

Sitalces / Sitalkes

Son. Forced defecting tribes to acknowledge him.

c.450 - 430 BC

Sitalces gradually enlarges his subordinate territories on the Maritsa river valley and transforms the region of the Bessoi plains into a territory that is controlled by him.

c.431 - c.430 BC

Sporadokos

Brother. Sub-king.

429 BC

Against the backdrop of the Second Peloponnesian War, the Macedonian king, Perdiccas, is opposed by the future Amyntas II. Amyntas seeks the support of Sitalces in Thrace, but Perdiccas mediates with Seuthes, his son, to obtain peace between the Thracians and Macedonia. Amyntas is forced to wait for his accession in Macedonia.

425 - 424 BC

Sadokos

Son of Sitalces.

424 - 396 BC

Seuthes I

Nephew, son of Sporadakos. Died due to illness.

405 - 391 BC

Seuthes II

Grandson of Teres. Self-proclaimed king. Recognised in 396.

c.420 - 380 BC

The kingdom appears to fragment to an extent due to internal conflict, probably on a tribal basis. Central authority is weakened and at least one sub-kingdom is formed, although this is probably more a recognition of an existing division that may otherwise threaten to break up the kingdom completely. As a result, the ability of the Odrysians to present a unified fighting force is diminished, and the succeeding king, Amadocus, can do little to prevent the loss of several territories and severe trouble being caused by the Triballi tribe in the north.

396 - 390 BC

Amadocus I / Amatokos I / Medokos?

Son of Teres. Lost many territories.

396 BC

Amadocus recognises Seuthes II as his sub-king, allowing him to rule the southern coastal districts along the shore of the Aegean. How much this recognition is due to a situation that has already been established is unclear, and the two are recorded as being frequently at odds with one another until they are reconciled by Athenian General Thrasybulus.

390 - 384 BC

Hebryzelmis / Euryzelmes?

Brother. Killed by Cotys.

390 - 384 BC

Maesades

Father of Seuthes II. Sub-king? Successor to Seuthes II?

384 BC

It is possible that the accession of Cotys I ends the divisions within the Odrysian kingdom. Maesades disappears and there seems to be no successor to him as sub-king, suggesting a once-more unified state.

384 - 359 BC

Cotys I / Kotys I

Son of Seuthes II. Murdered by students of Plato.

c.384 - 380 BC

Amyntas III of Macedonia establishes good relations with Cotys, something which presages even closer relations with Philip II of Macedonia during the later years of Cotys' own reign.

375 BC

The ever-troublesome Triballi rebel again, despite Cotys having helped their king, Hales, against Abdera. One of the causes is the lack of luxury goods from the more prosperous south. The rebellion is ended by Cotys rebuilding the city of Pistiros.

c.370s BC

Construction of a royal fortified residence is believed to begin during the reign of Cotys I, located on the Kozi Gramadi mount in the Sredna Gora mountain, in the village of Starosel (later to form part of Bulgaria).

Kozi Gramadi
The remains of the tower that guarded the royal residence at Kozi Gramadi, uncovered by Bulgaria's National History Museum in 2011

359 BC

Cotys makes an alliance with Philip II of Macedonia shortly before he is murdered. His successor, Cersobleptes (Kersouleptes, or even Kersebleptes), rules a Thrace that still appears to be very tribal, with multiple kings now again ruling alongside him, perhaps as sub-kings, with him performing the role of high king. Cersobleptes is frequently found to be in opposition to his sub-kings and relatives, and attempts more then once to reunify the kingdom.

Chersonese is today known as the Gallipoli Peninsula, while Maroneia is a village and a region in lower eastern Thrace on the Aegean coast. This corner of the Thracian kingdom appears to become semi-independent under Amadocus II.

359 - 341 BC

Cersobleptes / Kersouleptes

Son. Young king who was advised by Charidemus.

359 - ? BC

Charidemus

Euboean adventurer who was the brains behind the throne.

359 - 352 BC

Berisades / Thirisades?

Probable brother of Cersobleptes. In Strimos. Died.

359 - 351 BC

Amadocus II / Amatokos II

Probable brother of Cersobleptes. In Chersonese & Maroneia.

358 - 347? BC

Cetriporis / Ketriporis

Son of Berisades. In Strimos.

352 - 346 BC

Philip II of Macedonia makes a successful expedition into Thrace, gaining ascendancy until about 346 BC. Over the course of the following three years the long-reigning Cersobleptes throws off Macedonian control. It seems that he still either shares power with multiple minor kings (such as the Bessoi, who refuse to submit), or is over-king of the entire region, which is still highly tribal.

351 - 342 BC

Teres / Tires II

Son of Amadocus. In Chersonese & Maroneia.

351 - ? BC

Skostodokos

Son of Berisades. In Strimos?

340s BC

During the reign of Teres II, work on the royal fortified residence on the Kozi Gramadi mount is completed.

343 - 341 BC

Having lost control of Thrace to Cersobleptes between 346-343 BC, Philip II of Macedonia marches again on the kingdom and reduces Cersobleptes to the status of a vassal. He also ends the reign of Teres II in the south-eastern corner of Thrace. Demosthenes says that Philip spends eleven nightmarish months in the winter of 342 BC fighting the Thracians who inhabit the mountains. Southern Thrace is completely conquered by 341 BC.

c.341 - 300 BC

Seuthes III

Direct descendant of Teres I. Odrysian client king.

336 BC

Alexander the Great puts down the Thracian rebellion, gaining submission from all the tribes, and they become part of the Greek empire. The traditional Thracian border with Macedonia is shifted from the River Struma to the River Mesta. Thracian troops accompany Alexander when he crosses the Hellespont which links Thrace to Asia Minor. Seuthes III appears to retain his throne but probably only as a client king under Macedonian domination.

331 BC

A Greek satrap is appointed, and it can be assumed that, although the information to confirm it may have been lost, the Greeks remain solidly in command of Thrace. Seuthes retains his position on a power-sharing basis with Lysimachus until 300 BC.

325 - 313 BC

Within this period, Seuthes founds an Hellenistic city called Seuthopolis on the site of an existing settlement which serves as his new capital. It is located near Kazanlak, in the Stara Zagora Province of what is now central Bulgaria. It is the only city built in Thrace by the natives, aside from the royal palace on the Sredna Gora mountain. Unfortunately, the ruins of Seuthopolis are now at the bottom of the Koprinka reservoir.

323 BC

Following Alexander the Great's death and the seizure of Thrace by Lysimachus, Seuthes continues to rule in parallel with him. Sole Thracian rule is re-established in 214 BC following the destruction of the Celtic kingdom and the restoration of an Odrysian kingdom.

Argead Dynasty of Thrace

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire.

332 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

332? - 331 BC

Zopyrion / Zopirion

Greek satrap of Thrace or Pontus.

331 BC

Wanting to make his mark with a conquest of some kind, Zopyrion assembles 30,000 men and marches into Scythia. He besieges Olbia, which is a colony of Miletus (itself already in Alexander's hands since 334 BC). The siege fails after the Olbians free their slaves to add with the defence, and Zopyrion's navy forces may also be battered by a great storm. He retreats in disorder and his forces are picked off by Scythian raids and then destroyed by the Danubian Getae and Thracian Triballi. Zopyrion himself is killed.

323 - 320 BC

Neoptolemus

Greek satrap of Thrace.

323 - 305 BC

Lysimachus

Greek satrap of Thrace.

Lysimachian Empire
305 - 279 BC

Lysimachus was appointed to help control Thrace upon Alexander's death, probably governing in parallel with the last Ordrysian king. Lysimachus' focus was elsewhere, however, as he fought in the various Wars of the Diadochi (the successors, Alexander's former generals). In 314 BC he joined Ptolemy (Egypt), Cassander (Macedonia), and Seleucus (Babylonia) in the Third War of the Diadochi against Antigonus of Greater Phrygia. When terms were concluded in 311 BC, Lysimachus had managed to survive with his domains intact. When Antigonus proclaimed himself king in 306 BC, all the other surviving generals followed suit, confirming the dismantling of the Greek empire into various regional domains.

305 - 281 BC

Lysimachus

Greek general and former satrap of Thrace (323-305 BC).

305 - 301 BC

During the Fourth War of the Diadochi, the diadochi generals proclaim themselves king of their respective domains following a similar proclamation by Antigonus the year before. In 302 BC, Lysimachus enters western Asia Minor, governed as part of Greater Phrygia, and gains control of much of it. Following the death of Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC, his territories are carved up by the other diadochi. Lysimachus gains Ionia, Lydia, Phrygia, and the southern Black Sea coast of Asia Minor. Lydia appears to fall under the control of the Seleucids at some point afterwards.

Lysimachian coin
This silver tetradrachm was issued by Lysimachus, and shows the deified head of Alexander the Great on the obverse, with the goddess Athena on the reverse

300 BC

The Odrysian co-rule of Thrace possibly comes to an end, probably upon the death of Seuthes III. The Odrysian throne may remain vacant for another two decades or so while Lysimachus controls the region directly. An alternate possibility is that Odrysian sub-rule continues, dividing in two under Macedonian domination.

288 BC

The combined forces of Pyrrhus (of Epirus), Ptolemy (of Egypt) and Lysimachus oblige Demetrius I of Macedonia to leave his kingdom. He passes into Asia and attacks Lysimachus' provinces but famine and plague destroys much of his forces and he is abandoned by his troops on the field of battle, surrendering to the founder of the Seleucids, Seleucus. Lysimachus and Pyrrhus share Macedonia between them.

282 - 281BC

Lysimachus' general, Philetaerus, takes control of the city of Pergamum, with his successors forming a kingdom centred around it. Lysimachus dies in battle at Corupedium against the Seleucid empire the following year. His death appears to pave the way for a restoration of the Odrysian kingdom in Thrace within a year or so.

281 - 279 BC

Ptolemy II Ceraunus / Keraunos

Son of Ptolemy Soter of Egypt. Gained Macedonia.

281 BC

Arsinoë / Arsinoe (II)

Widow of Lysimachus. Remarried to Ptolemy II Ceraunus.

281 BC

Ptolemy assassinates Seleucus in 281 BC and rushes back to Lysimacheia in Thrace to have himself proclaimed king by the Macedonian army. Safe in his rule of both the Lysimachian empire and Macedonia, and having his main rival, the Antigonid King Antigonus II Gonatas bottled up in his own capital, Ptolemy kills Arsinoë's two sons for conspiracy against him and Arsinoë flees to Egypt to seek protection from her brother-in-law.

279 BC

Ptolemy is killed during an invasion of proto-Galatian Celts which begins just the year after his accession. Greece is plunged into anarchy as the Celts invade further into Greece, and only the Aetolians seem to be able to take the lead in defending Greek territory.

278 - 277 BC

Greece is still suffering from the invasion by Celts. Following a victory at Thermopylae, they are defeated by a force led by the Aetolians at Delphi in 278 BC, and then suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the Antigonid King Antigonus II in 277 BC. The Celts retreat from Greece and pass through Thrace to enter into Asia Minor to found the Galatian kingdom. Antigonus II is able to claim the throne of Macedonia, combining Thrace with the kingdom, which he is able to pass onto his son when he dies at the grand old age of eighty.

In the east of Thrace, the Galatian kingdom of Tilis is formed by Celts, while large areas of Thrace are drawn into the reformed Odrysian kingdom. Although probably still subject to Macedonia to an extent, the region recovers a certain level of its former independence in terms of internal affairs.

Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace (Restored)

The Odrysian kingdom originally started out as a union of Thracian tribes that endured between the fifth and third centuries BC. It consisted largely of present-day Bulgaria, and parts of Romania, northern Greece and Turkey. Its capital was Uscudama or Odrysia (modern Edirne, in European Turkey). The kingdom was subdued by the Macedonians in 341 BC, and remained a subject of the subsequent Lysimachian empire.

Some sources give a break of around twenty years between the death of the last of the Odrysian kings and the kingdom's restoration under Odroes around 280 BC. By that time the Lysimachian empire had merged with the kingdom of Macedonia, and Greek rule was far less immediate. This allowed the Thracians to regain an element of independence, although they may still have had to pay nominal allegiance to the Macedonian kings, and they had lost sections of eastern Thrace to the Celtic kingdom of Tilis.

Other versions maintain continuity from Seuthes III (c.341-300 BC) and supply a completely different series of names. As this sequence is obviously a continuation of the kingdom, the names are shown here in black, while the alternative sequence begun by Odroes is shown in red. The latter may be due to the existence of a rival Thracian kingdom, but it is hard to tell. Details about the whole of Thrace are very sparse for this period.

Reignal numbering continues from the previous Odrysian kingdom. To make the list more easy to understand, the two competing lines have been split into two columns here.

300 - 280 BC

Cotys II / Kotys II

Son of Seuthes III. Ruled a continuous Odrysian kingdom.

280 BC

Although no details appear to be available for the death of Cotys II, his death may spark a crisis for Thrace. A separate line of rulers now appears (shown here in red), suggesting either legal a division of the kingdom or a rebellion that founds a new Thracian state.

280 - ? BC

Raizdos

Son?

c.280 - 273 BC

Odroes

First king of a rival, splinter, or vassal Thracian kingdom?

c.280 - 273 BC

Adaeus

Co-ruler or sub-king?

278 - 277 BC

Greece is still suffering from the invasion by Celts. They are defeated by a force led by the Aetolians at Thermopylae and Delphi in 278 BC, and then suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the Antigonid King Antigonus II in 277 BC. The Celts retreat from Greece and pass through Thrace to enter into Asia Minor to found the Galatian kingdom. Antigonus II is able to claim the throne of Macedonia, combining Thrace with the kingdom, which he is able to pass onto his son when he dies at the grand old age of eighty.

Seltse Maglij, Bulgaria
The kingdom of Tilis was formed in eastern Thrace, now Tulovo in Bulgaria, in a river valley surrounded by mountains

In the east of Thrace, the Galatian kingdom of Tilis is formed by Celts, while large areas of Thrace are drawn into the (reformed) Odrysian kingdom. Although probably still subject to Macedonia to an extent, the region recovers a certain level of its former independence in terms of internal affairs.

fl c.275 BC

Skostodos

Co-ruler or sub-king?

273 BC

The Celts invade Thrace again, savaging the Thracian kingdom and forcing the aristocracy to escape to the Greek colonies bordering the Black Sea,  which include Pontus. The kingdom of Galatia is created in Anatolia by the victorious Celts.

fl c.265 BC

Orsoaltios

fl c.260 BC

Kersivaulos

fl c.260 BC

Cotys III / Kotys III

Son of Raizdos.

fl c.250 BC

Tires III

240 - 215 BC

Rascouporis I / Rhescuporis I

Son of Cotys III.

fl c.235 BC

Adeos / Adaeus

230 BC

The Thracians lose any remaining control of Pergamum that they might possess (although true authority probably still rests with Macedonia), when the Lysimachian governor there proclaims himself king.

214 BC

The Thracians eject the Celtic kingdom from Greece and fully restore Thracian rule. Thrace appears to be all but independent in every sense at this time, although there seems to be a short break in the rule of the main Thracian kingdom. This may give Pleuratus the opportunity to proclaim himself, or be proclaimed, king, perhaps in opposition to Seuthes IV.

213 - 175 BC

Seuthes IV

Son of Rascouporis I or Tires III. Or 215-190 BC.

213 - 208 BC

Pleuratus

Thracian king who attacked Tilis.

212 BC

Pleuratus attacks the city of Tilis, destroying it and ejecting the last of the Celts of Galatia from Greece (today the Bulgarian village of Tulovo, in Stara Zagora Province, stands on the site).

202 BC

Philip V of Macedonia conquers the kingdom and permanently appends it to his own kingdom. It remains subject to Macedonia until the final fall of that kingdom.

c.200 - 172 BC

Abrupolis

Perhaps regarded as a king of the Sapaei.

? - 184 BC

Amadokos III

c.183 - 172 BC

Tires IV

183 - 180 BC

Further expansion of the Pergamum kingdom takes place when the Thracians are occupied. However, this tough mountainous terrain is too difficult to hold, and within three years, Macedonian supremacy has been restored.

Two successor kingdoms appear to form at this time, the Canites and Odrissae. Both seem to be more tribal than the Odysian kingdom has become, suggesting that Pergamum's short period of occupation destroys or damages Thracian organisation to the extent that the kingdom fragments. However, the first king of the Odrissae is Cotys IV, probable son of Seuthes IV, suggesting that the kingdom is divided amongst offspring, or that the Odrysian throne is usurped and Cotys IV refuses to acknowledge it, forming his own splinter state in the process.

179 BC

Philip V of Macedonia invites in a massive contingent of warriors from the tribe of the Bastarnae which resides to the north of the Danube. Apparently they are long-time allies of his and are needed to help him defeat the aggressive Dardanii. Unfortunately, things go very wrong and, for a time, the Bastarnae pillage Thracian lands, although they are checked by Thracians who are on the defensive.

172 BC

What happens to the possible two kingdoms at this point is unknown. The sequence of dates would suggest that the otherwise unknown, red, line of kings shown above emerges supreme, but it may be that Tires V ascends the throne as the successor both to Tires IV (his possible father) and Abrupolis to form a united, single formal Thracian kingdom (although just how united it can be with the Canites and Odrissae existing alongside it in Thrace is unknown).

172 - 148 BC

Tires V

Sole, and last, king of the formal Odrysian kingdom.

168 BC

The Third Macedonian War sees the Macedonian king, Perseus, enjoying some initial success but then being forced to surrender following defeat at the First Battle of Pydna on 22 June 168 BC. Roman rule of Macedonia and Thrace follows the defeat, although several Thracian revolts occur over subsequent years.

149 - 148 BC

Andriscus invades Macedonia from Thrace in 149 BC and defeats an army under the Roman praetor, Publius Juventius. Then he proclaims himself King Philip VI of Macedonia. In the following year, his popular uprising is put down by the legions at the Second Battle of Pydna, and they establish a permanent residence in Greece. The Achaean League of Greek states rises up against this presence and is swiftly destroyed. Rome also destroys Corinth as an object lesson and annexes Greece, including Macedonia and Thrace.

148 BC

Roman occupation of Thrace begins with a large production run of silver tetradrachms. The fate of Tires V is unknown but it seems possible that he is either killed during the uprising of Andriscus or is subsequently removed from office. Rome assumes direct control, ending the formal kingdom, but not the tribal states of the Canites and Odrissae.

Tribal Kingdom of the Canites

The formal Odrysian kingdom appears to have broken up in the early second century BC, although it survived in some form until Roman annexation in 148 BC. The possibility is that the occupation of Thrace by Pergamum for three years had destroyed or damaged Thracian organisation to such an extent that the kingdom was terminally weakened. Two tribal kingdoms appeared alongside it, probably located more to the north, in the mountain uplands. Of the Canites and Odrissae, the former is almost completely obscure after its first two rulers. The names of both kings appear to be suspiciously close to two of the Odrissae, raising the possibility that the Canites and Odrissae were one and the same.

c.180 BC

Diagil

Confused with Diygyles of the Odrissae?

c.180 BC

Tsizelmi (Zybelmios?)

Confused with Biz of the Odrissae?

148 BC

This obscure tribal territory eventually falls to Rome (if it even exists as a territory in its own right), possibly in 148 BC when it formally occupies Thrace. The tribal kingdom of the Odrissae continues.

Tribal Kingdom of the Odrissae

The formal Odrysian kingdom appears to have broken up in the early second century BC, although it survived until Roman annexation in 148 BC. The possibility is that the occupation of Thrace by Pergamum for three years had destroyed or damaged Thracian organisation to such an extent that the kingdom was terminally weakened. Two tribal kingdoms appeared alongside it, probably located more to the north, in the mountain uplands. Of the Canites and Odrissae, the former is almost completely obscure after its first two rulers. Another tribe, the Bessoi, had already existed for some time, but this was a minor group and almost totally obscure.

The latter was conquered at about the same time as the formal Odrysian kingdom, when Rome invaded Thrace, but the Odrissae also exist alongside the formal kingdom for over thirty years. Their first king was Cotys IV, probable son of Seuthes IV, suggesting that the kingdom was divided amongst offspring, or that the Odrysian throne was usurped and Cotys IV refused to acknowledge it, forming his own splinter state in the process. Reignal numbering continues from the previous Odrysian kingdom.

(Information co-authored by Edward Dawson, and additional information from Continuity and Innovation in Religion in the Roman West, R Haeussler, Anthony C King & Phil Andrews, Liber Prodigiorum, Julius Obsequens, Periocha, Livy, Ammianus Marcellinus, Valerius Maximus, Pseudo-Quintilian, Paulus Orosius, Epitome of Roman History, Florus, Historia Romana, Cassius Dio, Flavius Eutropius, Ammianus Marcellinus, Strategemata, Frontinius, 'Breviary', Sextus Festus, St. Jerome Emiliani (Hieronymus), Getica, Jordanes, The Celts in Macedonia and Thrace, G Kazarov, The Origin of the Gundestrup Cauldron, Antiquity, Vol 61, 1987, A K Bergquist & T Taylor, and The Getae in Southern Dobruja in the Period of the Roman Domination: Archaeological Aspects, S Torbatov, and from External Links: Journal of Celtic Studies in Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor, and Scordisci Swords From Northwestern Bulgaria.)

180 - 168 BC

Cotys IV / Kotys IV (III)

Son of Odrysian King Seuthes IV. Or c.170-160 BC.

168 BC

The Third Macedonian War sees the Macedonian king, Perseus, enjoy some initial success but then is forced to surrender following defeat at the First Battle of Pydna on 22 June 168 BC. Roman rule of Macedonia and Thrace follows the defeat, although several Thracian revolts occur over subsequent years.

Odrysian treasures
The treasures of the Odrysian kingdom would in part have been inherited by the Odrissae

fl c.168 BC

Diygyles / Diegylos / Dyegilos / Diagylis

Son? Probably m Apama of Bithynia. Or 150-140 BC.

fl c.168/166 BC

Biz / Byzas / Byses

Or fl c.148/146 BC as Beithys.

163 - ? BC

Sothimes

Son of Diygyles?

c.149 BC

Tires VI

Last of the Odrissae kings?

149 - 148 BC

Andriscus invades Macedonia from Thrace in 149 BC and defeats an army under the Roman praetor, Publius Juventius. Then he proclaims himself King Philip VI of Macedonia. In the following year, his popular uprising is put down by the legions at the Second Battle of Pydna, and they establish a permanent residence in Greece. The Achaean League of Greek states rises up against this presence and is swiftly destroyed. Rome also destroys Corinth as an object lesson and annexes Greece, including Macedonia and Thrace.

148 BC

Roman occupation of Thrace begins with a large production run of silver tetradrachms. The fate of Tires V is unknown but it seems possible that he is either killed during the uprising of Andriscus or is subsequently removed from office. Rome assumes direct control, ending the formal kingdom, but not the tribal states of the Canites and Odrissae.

c.148/146 BC

Beithys

Ruled? Or c.168/166 BC as Biz.

146 BC

The four Greek client republics are dissolved and officially incorporated into the Roman province of Macedonia, which also includes Epirus, Thessaly, and areas of Illyria, Paeonia, and Thrace. With these regions under tighter control, Rome is free to take a tougher line against the recalcitrant Scordisci tribe in the Balkans and the various Thracian tribes to the east of Greece.

135 BC

The peace is broken by the Romans who launch a fresh attack on the Scordisci in Thrace. As Livy mentions, the Celts are defeated this time, by Praetor Marcus Cosconius. This is painted as a Roman victory, but it is one that should lead directly to the annexation of fresh territory. However, Roman writers are notably silent on the aftermath, raising the possibility that the victory is instead another stalemate.

115 BC

Following the scare of 119 BC, former consul Quintus Fabius Maximus Eburnus is sent to Macedonia. Eburnus has established his reputation as a strict disciplinarian (and later goes so far as to execute his own son for 'immorality' in 104 BC, for which he is prosecuted). Plans are drawn up for the Roman conquest of Thrace, probably by him (according to Orosius, Pseudo-Quintilian, and Valerius Maximus). As part of this strategy a Roman fortress is established at Heracleae Sintica (modern Rupite, near Petritch in south-western Bulgaria) with a garrison of two cohorts commanded by one Lucullus. Located on the strategic Struma river valley, and possibly already inside Celtic territory, it is the only practical route for moving a large military force into western Thrace. The invasion begins in 114 BC, led by Consul Gaius Porcius Cato.

109 BC

Retaliation is delivered by Rome when a Roman army enters Thrace under the command of Minucius Rufus. According to several Roman writers and also an inscription at Delphi (which is probably ordered by Rufus himself), both the Scordisci and the Thracian Bessoi tribe are defeated. If true it would be the first Scordisci defeat since 135 BC, or even earlier. The attack targets not only barbarian military means but, in a change to previous encounters, targets the civilian populations in a rather brutal manner. Rome triggers a pattern of increasing atrocities in its war against the tribes in Thrace and the Balkans.

Interestingly, the campaign ignores the perils of the Struma Valley and instead proceeds along the much more open River Hebrus river valley (the modern Maritsa), which is much more suitable for a Roman army. It also seems to be aimed at the heart of the territory controlled by the previously peaceful Bessoi tribe, although it happily involves any other tribes, especially the Scordisci. As the Bessoi live along the Hebrus they make an ideal target without the involvement of dangerous forays away from the river valley. No territory is gained as a result of the raid, but it lays down a marker for the future.

To take the gloss off the campaign's success, during their homeward march a large part of the Roman army drowns when ice on the river breaks underfoot. The attack on the Bessoi also turns them into one of Rome's most bitter enemies in Thrace, and forces them into forging closer links with the Celts in Thrace.

109 - 90 BC

While no further campaigns appear to be mounted by Rome during the closing years of the second century BC, the Scordisci and their Thracian allies, especially the Maedi, continue to attack Roman Macedonia. These attacks continue into the early years of the first century BC. Archaeology shows a dramatic increase in the levels of La Tène militarisation during this period, as Scordisci society gears up to face the continuing conflict.

Scordisci weapons
This photo displays material gathered from the Scordisci warrior burial at Montana in north-western Bulgaria

The constant warfare is also reflected in mass burials such as the one found at Slana Voda, where a large number of Celtic battle casualties are buried at the same time. Hoards of Hellenic and Roman plunder are notable from the same period, especially in the form of coins, alongside Celtic issues which often depict attacks against Roman resources. Finds also include a dense collection of La Tène swords in sites between the rivers Timok and Iskar in modern north-western Bulgaria - the largest concentration of such Celtic materials in Europe. Rome has sown the seeds of warfare and is now reaping the whirlwind of endless attacks by the new enemies it has made.

c.100 BC

After almost half a century of Roman rule, a new Thracian tribal kingdom appears in the region. It is not clear if the Astean kingdom is a vassal of Rome or is entirely independent. Its first ruler is possibly the son of Beithys, one of the last kings of the Odrissae.

c.90 - c.80 BC

Amodokos IV

Rebel during the great 'barbarian' attack?

90 BC

Rome's forces in the Balkans have increasingly been feeling the strain of the constant attacks on them. Now the dam bursts under the weight of yet another combined attack by the Scordisci and Maedi. The Roman historian Florus provides a detailed description of events. The Scordisci and Maedi, supported by the Thracian Denteletes and by the Dardanii, swarm through Dalmatia, Macedonia, and Thessaly, reaching as far as Epirus on the Adriatic. They vent the frustration of years of warfare against the Romans by freely destroying and plundering, although Florus paints a typically pro-Roman picture of barbarian atrocities, citing the Scordisci especially as 'the cruellest of all the Thracians... and to their strength was added cunning as well'. The attack deprives Rome of control over many areas of the Balkans and northern Greece.

85 - 84 BC

Rome is finally able to respond to their ongoing disaster in the Balkans and Greece. Sula leads an army against the Scordisci, apparently 'punishing' them according to Roman writers. Certainly prisoners are treated cruelly, with fire and sword being used to inflict severe cruelties upon them (so says Flores). However, Sula merely serves to further fan the flames. As soon as he leaves for Asia, the Celts and Thracians overrun the southern Balkans and northern Greece and penetrate the Peloponnese. They reach Delphi by the end of 85 BC to vandalise many of the religious sites there.

81 BC

Cornelius Scipio arrives to lead a fresh Roman campaign in the Balkans. Again, the effort appears punitive, with no long-term strategy to secure the territory. The Scordisci and Thracian tribes are undaunted by the action.

c.80 BC

Amodokos IV seems to be entirely obscure apart from his name. His short 'reign', unsupported by successors, suggests that he may be a rebel against the Roman annexation of Thrace. To survive for a decade, he probably has his base in the mountainous north. When his possible rebellion comes to an end, the Astean kingdom is the only remaining Thracian state until Sapes emerges with a king who comes from the Odrissae.

Tribal Kingdom of Astean

The four Greek client republics, which included both the former Odrysian kingdom and the tribal Odrissae, were dissolved and officially incorporated into the Roman province of Macedonia in 146 BC. This new province also included Epirus, Thessaly, and areas of Illyria, and Paeonia. Thrace remained under Roman control for almost half a century before a new Thracian tribal kingdom appeared in the region. It is not clear if the Astean kingdom, like the tribal Bessoi, was a vassal of Rome or was entirely independent. There is precious little information available on the kingdom at all, not even on its location, which was probably high up in the mountainous regions that later became part of south-eastern Bulgaria.

This kingdom was the only possible source of Thracian independence for a further half a century, and in some sources the reignal numbering is continued from the Odrissae kingdom. If Kotys I of the Astean kingdom was a descendant of one of the last of the Odrissae kings, then this was a continuation of the senior Thracian state.

(Additional information by I Mladjov, University of Michigan and Edward Dawson, and from Continuity and Innovation in Religion in the Roman West, R Haeussler, Anthony C King & Phil Andrews, Liber Prodigiorum, Julius Obsequens, Periocha, Livy, Ammianus Marcellinus, Valerius Maximus, Pseudo-Quintilian, Paulus Orosius, Epitome of Roman History, Florus, Historia Romana, Cassius Dio, Flavius Eutropius, Ammianus Marcellinus, Strategemata, Frontinius, 'Breviary', Sextus Festus, St. Jerome Emiliani (Hieronymus), Getica, Jordanes, The Celts in Macedonia and Thrace, G Kazarov, The Origin of the Gundestrup Cauldron, Antiquity, Vol 61, 1987, A K Bergquist & T Taylor, and The Getae in Southern Dobruja in the Period of the Roman Domination: Archaeological Aspects, S Torbatov, and from External Links: Journal of Celtic Studies in Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor, and Scordisci Swords From Northwestern Bulgaria.)

c.100 - c.87 BC

Kotys I (V)

Son of Beithys of the Odrissae?

c.87 - c.80/79 BC

Sadalas I

Son.

c.80/79 - 45 BC

Kotys II (VI)

Son.

76 BC

The new Roman governor of Macedonia, Appius Claudius Pulcher, leads a large army against the Scordisci confederation - the same Celts who had destroyed Cato's army and garrison in 114 BC. This time, however, the Scordisci employ different tactics. Pulcher's army is probably superior to Cato's, so he is allowed to penetrate the Thracian mountains unmolested. There, a vicious and drawn-out series of skirmishes and small-scale battles takes place between Romans and natives, with the Celts especially employing highly successful guerrilla tactics to wear down the opposition. Following months of constant alerts, illness, and defeats, Pulcher dies and the remains of his army withdraws from western Thrace.

75 BC

Despite the disappointment of the campaign of 76 BC against the Scordisci, Rome is making gradual progress in other parts of Thrace. The campaigns of Cnaeus Scribonius Curio in western Thrace from 75 BC see Roman forces penetrate the previously hostile Struma Valley to reach the Danube. They take large numbers of prisoners along the way, including a chieftain of the Maedi named Spartacus. Plutarch states that his wife is also taken prisoner. Some ancient sources state that Spartacus is in fact a Roman auxiliary who is later condemned to slavery, but all generally agree on his Thracian origins.

South Struma Valley
The South Struma Valley, showing the kind of territory the Romans had to pass through during their relatively successful campaign of 75 BC

72 - 71 BC

Another Roman campaign, this time by Lucullus in eastern Thrace, captures the Pontic cities along with the central Thracian Valley. The various Balkan peoples have been united in their opposition to Roman expansion in south-eastern Europe for over a century, but they are finding themselves fighting an increasingly defensive war.

61 BC

A varying mixture of Bastarnae, Dardanii, Scordisci, and Thracians have met each Roman campaign with a stubborn resistance. Following one particularly successful encounter for the Balkan tribes in this year, that unity is broken by the Thracian tribe of the Getae, who are known to Rome as the Dacians based upon their general geographical position. In 61 BC the Getae are part of a force that is led by the Bastarnae. Together they inflict a humiliating defeat upon the Roman army of the inept Gaius Antonius Hybrida (uncle to Mark Antony) outside a Greek colony at the mouths of the Danube, at the Battle of Histria. The entire Roman force is massacred, abruptly terminating Roman control of the region.

60 - 59 BC

Following the success at Histria, relations between the Getae and their neighbours undergoes a notable deterioration. Suddenly, under the leadership of Burebista, who is apparently guided by a wizard called Deceneus, the Getae launch a succession of brutal attacks on their former allies. The Celts seem to be first on the list, although the Eravisci escape unscathed. The territory of the Boii and Taurisci are laid waste, with the Boii especially being almost genocidally exterminated by Burebista's brutal onslaught. The Scordisci in Thrace follow, their previously unassailable heartland laid open. Next to face Burebista's onslaught are the Bastarnae in Dobruja, who are apparently 'conquered', and then the largely defenceless western Greek Pontic cities.

Some towns resist him, including Histros, Mesambria, and Olbia. These are destroyed. Burebista subsequently declares himself 'King of all Thrace'. The Dionysopolis decree confirms this, having been dated to 48 BC. The start of this decade coincides with the end of local coin production by the Celts and Bastarnae, showing that the cultural and economic status quo has been fatally disrupted.

Archaeological finds from the modern southern Dobruja region also indicates the nature of Burebista's 'Dacian' expansion. During the previous centuries of the Iron Age in the Balkans, around seventy settlements have existed in modern north-eastern Bulgaria, but only twenty-nine of these survive into the Roman period, and continuous habitation even in these is by no means certain. Balkan unity has been destroyed and the Getae now dominate - but for less than twenty years.

c.55 BC

The rival Thracian tribal kingdom of Sapes is founded, and in circumstances just as mysterious as those of the founding of the Astean kingdom. In 57-55 BC there is unrest in Macedonia during which the Roman governor of Macedonia, Lucius Calpurnius Piso, has to take action to restore control over the Bessoi, and perhaps other tribes, making this the perfect opportunity to secede from Roman control.

c.44 - 42 BC

Sadalas II

Son.

c.42 - 31 BC

Sapes conquers or otherwise controls the Astean kingdom, although no details appear to be known regarding the circumstances. It seems highly likely that Roman interference is to blame.

c.31 BC

Sadalas III

Son?

31 - 18 BC

Kotys III (VII)

Son of Sadalas II.

29 BC

The Bastarnae cross the Haemus in support of the Scordisci in modern north-western Bulgaria. They attack a Thracian tribe known as the Dentheletae who are allies of Rome. General Marcus Licinius Crassus, proconsul of Macedonia, goes to assist the Dentheletae with help from the Getae under King Roles, and the Bastarnae withdraw. Crassus follows them and eventually engages them in battle. Caught unawares, the Bastarnae are routed and their king is killed in combat with Crassus. According to Roman writers, thousands of Bastarnae perish in the ensuing slaughter.

18 - 11 BC

Raskouporis II

Son. Killed during the Bessoi uprising.

16 BC

The Celts of the former Scordisci confederation have one last surprise remaining for Rome. As imperial Rome stamps its authority on the Balkans, Celtic tribes swoop down from the Thracian mountains. They swarm into Macedonia and lay waste to the Roman province once again. The attack surely comes from the Rhodope Mountains in south-western Bulgaria, making it the last hurrah of the Scordisci and providing Rome with a brutal reminder that although the cities and plains may be civilised, the mountains of central and western Thrace are still areas to be feared.

15 BC

A Dionysian priest named Vologeses leads an uprising of his fellow Bessoi which aims at freeing and re-conquering the sanctuary of their god after it had been taken away by the Romans and delivered to the Odrysians. Raskouporis, a relative of King Roimetalkas I of Sapes, is killed by the Bessoi during the four-year uprising.

11 BC

Kotys IV

Last Astean king.

11 BC

Upon the death of Kotys IV, the last Astean king, the Roman Emperor Augustus confers all of Thrace to his Sapaen uncle, Roimitalkes. He rules the region as a client kingdom.

Astean bronze coin
Bronze coins issued during the reign of Roimitalkes I, client Astean king under Rome

11 BC - AD 12

Roimitalkes I / Rhoemetalkes I

Uncle of Roman Emperor Augustus. Client king. Murdered.

12 - 19

Kotys III

King of Sapes.

19 - 38

Roimitalkes II / Rhoemetalkes II

King of Sapes.

38 - 46

Roimitalkes III / Rhoemetalkes III

King of Sapes.

AD 46

Roimitalkes of Sapes is murdered by his wife, and Thrace is annexed as a province by Emperor Claudius, permanently ending its independence. Under the third century administrative reforms of Diocletian, Thrace's territory is divided into four smaller provinces: Europa, Haemimontus, Rhodope and Thracia. These are overseen by the diocese of Thraciae, which is part of the 'Prefecture of the East'. This organisation remains in place until the Balkan peninsula is largely overrun by the Avars and Slavs in the 640s, following which it is reorganised as a Byzantine diocese. Today the territory forms parts of south-eastern Romania, central and eastern Bulgaria, and Greek and Turkish Thrace.