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European Kingdoms

Celtic Tribes


MapScordisci (Early Celts)
Incorporating the Artacoi, Celegeri, Dindari, Meldi, Serdi, & Tricornenses

FeatureIn general terms, the Romans coined the name 'Gaul' to describe the Celtic tribes of what is now central, northern, and eastern France. The Gauls were divided from the Belgae to the north by the Marne and the Seine, and from the Aquitani to the south by the River Garonne, and they also extended into Switzerland, northern Italy, and along the Danube. The Scordisci were a major tribal confederation that, by the middle of the first century BC, was occupying the later Roman provinces of Pannonia Inferior and Moesia Superior, the latter of which today forms much of Serbia. They were neighboured by the Iazyges and Illyrian Apuli to the north, the Ciagisi to the east, and the Dardani to the south-west.

The confederation's name is an intriguing one. Its core word, 'scord', cannot be reasonably located in either proto-Celtic or proto-Germanic. The (adjective-forming) suffix, '-isc' (removing the Latin '-i') that is found in both Scordisci and Taurisci appears to be the Germanic suffix, recreated as '-iskaz' in proto-Germanic, and familiar in modern English and German as '-ish' and '-isch' respectively. The Latin and Greek cognates are '-icus' and '-ikos' respectively (it is uncertain whether the proto-Germans added the 's' sound or the Latins and Greeks lost it, but the latter option is preferred here as it provides a simpler explanation for another group of non-Germans in the form of the Scordisci using the '-isc' sound). The proto-Indo-European root is unattested but would have led to all the forms shown above. Scordisci would mean 'scord-like', but what on earth a scord might have been is anyone's guess.

The lack of certainty about the confederation's name makes it much more likely that it, consisting of the leftovers of a large number of tribes, was named for the location in which it settled. The Scordus mountain (today's Šar Mountain) was located between the regions of Illyria and Paeonia. However, it is just as possible that the mountain was named for the confederation as the other way around. Pokorny suggests it refers to 'men with shirts, kilts (like women)', via Illyrian, with the Albanian (*skodra) 'kodra', meaning 'hill', actually once meant '(*short) low mountain, low hill' (to match low (short) skirts - Albanian commonly drops the initial s- in 'sk' to end up with a 'k' sound alone). Having studied the reasoning behind that, Edward Dawson remains convinced that 'scord' derives from some variant of the proto-Indo-European verb 'to cut': 'sker-', found in both centum (western) and satem (eastern) tongues.

As for the known tribes of the confederation, the Artacoi name (or Artacii according to Cassius Dio) is based on the Celtic element, 'ardu-', meaning 'high' (from the proto-Celtic *ardwo-), making them 'the high ones'. This is particularly appropriate given their location in the Balkan Mountains, but does it suggest a tribe formed only during the Celtic retreat to the mountains in the first century BC or one that existed there previously? In addition, this translation of the name depends on a fairly early 't' to 'd' shift in the Celtic language, something that did not happen until later in Britain, at the other extremity of Celtic settlement. The upheavals in the Balkans could have hurried it along there, but a pre-shift translation of the name would be 'artos', the 'bear people'. Neither Artacoi nor Artacii is entirely correct due to the Greek -oi and Latin -i/-ii suffixes. The name would be Artac, plus whatever unrecorded Celtic suffix there may have been, if any. It remains unclear whether recorded Celtic settlements to the east of Sofia - Burgaraca and Magaris, as well as the settlement of Brentopara - should also be associated with the Artacoi, or with the Serdi tribe.

To back up the likelihood of an early 't' to 'd' shift in the Celtic language in the Balkans, the Meldi name makes no sense with a 'd', but if it was originally a 't' then it means 'honey', from 'meli(t)'. By extension the tribe could have been the 'mead drinkers'. But if the same rule applies to the Serdi, then their name is rather unusual, as 'serto-' means 'lewd' in proto-Celtic! There is no s-e-r-d sequence as an alternative, which is puzzling, so the only other option is a local name picked up by the Celts and altered to fit.

By the first century BC the confederation occupied a large pocket of territory in the Balkans, surrounded on all sides by Illyrians and other non-Celts (Paeonians, Thracians, and Dacians). The Danube seems to have run directly through the centre of this territory, with Sirmium lying on their western border and Novae on the eastern. They arrived there after leaving the main body of Celts in modern Germany and the Alps, and migrating into the Balkans during the third century BC. According to Roman propaganda (penned by Ammianus Marcellinus in this instance) they were accustomed to offering up their prisoners to Bellona and Mars, and drinking blood from the skulls of the murdered prisoners. Although undoubtedly rough and ready by Roman standards (which were hardly without blemish when it came to shedding blood), they were probably no worse than most other Celtic tribes.

The ethnic background of these Celts is often disputed. Although the majority opinion prefers a Celtic origin, they have also been referred to as Illyrians and Thracians, while their names suggest a Belgic origin, like that of the Taurisci and possibly even the Galatians. Once they arrived in their new homeland, the various elements of the Scordisci often acted independently of one another, raiding and roaming into Dacia, Illyria, and Thrace. They also formed various collectives, the two most well-established being known to later scholars as the Scordisci Major (to the west of the River Velika Morava) and the Scordisci Minor (to the east of the same river). Some minor groups were little more than a clan based around a specific settlement or town, especially following the Roman subjugation of the Scordisci. These included the Dindari (Dindarii) of the Driva Valley across the modern Bosnia-Serbia border. The Thraco-Celtic Tricornenses ('people of the three horns, corners') replaced the preceding Celegeri thanks to the same new controls. The most likely solution to the question of their origins is that they lived in the Balkans for almost three hundred years before full integration into the Roman state, so it would have been quite natural for them to have integrated themselves into the local populations.

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information from Continuity and Innovation in Religion in the Roman West, R Haeussler, Anthony C King & Phil Andrews, from Liber Prodigiorum, Julius Obsequens, from Periocha, Livy, from Res Gestae, Ammianus Marcellinus, from Valerius Maximus, Pseudo-Quintilian, and Paulus Orosius, from Epitome of Roman History, Florus, from Historia Romana, Cassius Dio, from Flavius Eutropius, from Strategemata, Frontinius, from 'Breviary', Sextus Festus, from St Jerome Emiliani (Hieronymus), from Getica, Jordanes, from The Celts in Macedonia and Thrace, G Kazarov, from The Origin of the Gundestrup Cauldron, Antiquity, Vol 61, 1987, A K Bergquist & T Taylor, from 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, and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny.)

279 - 277 BC

Celts invade Greece during the first part of the century. Many move on to found Galatia. The remnants join together to form a confederation that finally settles at the junction of the rivers Savus and Danube in the Balkans. They adopt a name which highlights their acceptance of this territory as their new home, taking the mountain's name itself as the 'people of the Scord' - the Scordisci. They probably pick up elements of many of the local peoples along the way, Dacians, Illyrians, and Thracians, and subdue the previously dominant Autariatae tribe of Illyrians. From there they raid into Macedonia, weakening the kingdom and later forcing a good many of the Roman governors there to campaign against them during the late second and early first centuries BC.

156 BC

Having recently defeated the Macedonian kingdom in the Third Macedonian War, Rome appears to be dominant in south-eastern Europe. Little resistance is expected from the various tribes of Greece, Thrace, and the Balkans. And yet it takes a century and-a-half to fully subdue both the hard-fighting Thracian tribes and the Dacians and Celts of the Balkans. In this year a minor clash takes place between Rome and the Scordisci, although the details and location are unknown.

Jakimovo treasure horde
A silver or gilt plate depicting a Scordisci chieftain, part of the Jakimovo horde which was discovered in north-western Bulgaria, dated to the second or first century BC

146 BC

The four client Greek republics are dissolved and Macedonia officially becomes 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.

141 BC

Having organised its forces in Greece, Rome makes its first move against the Scordisci by launching an offensive that, to its surprise, fails. The Scordisci repulse the attack and launch a counter-attack on Macedonia, although this is also repulsed. Thanks to this stalemate a period of peace follows.

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.

119/117 BC

Although generally ascribed to 119 BC, Kazarov places this event in 117 BC. After a general period of peace lasting for more than fifteen years, the Scordisci manage to push all the way through the Roman defences, reaching the Aegean coast. The Roman governor of Macedonia, Pompeius, is killed during an attack on Argos. A force led by Quaestor Marcus Annius finally ends their adventure, pushing them back. A subsequent attack by the Scordisci together with the Thracian Maedi tribe is also repulsed.

The involvement of the Maedi tribe in the second attack marks the beginning of a new, more widespread involvement in the frequent campaigns between Romans and barbarians. While the Celts in Thrace and the lower Balkans continue to offer the biggest threat to Roman expansion, the native Balkan tribes frequently support them, especially the Bastarnae, Dardani, and the free Thracian tribes (the Bessoi, Denteletes, Maedi, and Triballi). It takes this Macedonian raid to make Rome fully aware of the severity of the threat to its security in the region.

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.

114 BC

A Roman army led by Consul Gaius Porcius Cato enters Thrace's Rhodope Mountains via the Struma Valley. Eliminating the barbarian threat here will allow Rome to expand into what is now western Bulgaria. However, the terrain quickly becomes heavily forested, making it ideal for surprise attacks while limiting movement by regimented forces. The consul has apparently underestimated the situation completely, with the consequence that his forces are destroyed.

The Celts enjoy such an overwhelming victory that they press on to attack the garrison at Heracleae Sintica. The garrison is unprepared, despite having witnessed the Roman invasion of upper Thrace. As described by Frontinius around two centuries later, the Scordisci use a small mounted force to pretend to drive off the garrison's livestock, provoking Lucullus into sending out his forces to drive them off. The main body of Celts immediately attacks, massacring the outnumbered Romans. Lucullus and eight hundred of his men are slain. Dreams of Roman expansion are rudely terminated.

c.113? BC

The Scordisci find themselves under attack from the north, a potential weak spot since much of their defensive effort will have been focussed on the south for the past three decades. A mass migration by the semi-Germanic Cimbri has brought them into the Balkans (or has pushed other tribes into the region, such as the Boii who are known to enter the Norican kingdom south of the Danube). These fresh invaders are finally stopped near the Celtic settlement of Singidunum (modern Belgrade). They may be able to indulge in some looting first, this being a possible date for the disappearance of the Gundestrup cauldron, a famous Scordisci treasure. The Cimbri now turn westwards, relieving the Scordisci of a second ever-present threat.

The Teutones wandering in Gaul
An illustration depicting the Teutones wandering in Gaul, part of a large-scale migration from modern Denmark into northern Italy in the second century BC

112 BC

The Scordisci victories provoke retribution by Rome. The Scordisci are attacked in Thrace by Consul Livius Drusus, although this appears to be a relatively minor thrust that is intended to provide a short term response to the losses incurred two years before.

109 BC

Greater retaliation is delivered by Rome when a Roman army enters Thrace under the command of Marcus 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.

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.

Scordisci weapons
Displayed here is which was gathered from the Scordisci warrior burial at Montana, now in north-western Bulgaria - although it actually belongs to a cavalry officer

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.

88 BC

By this time the Scordisci and their allies have swept through northern Greece and have reached Dodona in Epirus. Roman accounts have them destroying the temple of Zeus there, one which the Romans themselves had destroyed in 167 BC and which, presumably, had been rebuilt by the Greeks in the meantime. The Romans are suitably outraged by the destruction of many other temples and similar sites that they had also destroyed in the previous century while conquering 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.

76 BC

The new Roman governor of Macedonia, Appius Claudius Pulcher, leads a large army against the Scordisci confederation. It is useful to note that the Scordisci name is used by Rome to refer to all of the Celts of Thrace, whether they are in modern Bulgaria or Serbia, or in the north or south of the former. In this particular case, the attack is against the Celts of the Rila and Rhodope mountains in south-western Bulgaria, those 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 - 71 BC

Despite the disappointment of 76 BC, 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 against the Scordisci

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. They are located farther north than the 'core' of Thracian tribes, occupying territory in modern south-eastern Romania and north-eastern Bulgaria. Under the leadership of Burebista, the Getae become convinced that they can be the dominant force in the Balkans. Instead, as related variously by Cassius Dio, Suetonius, Strabo, Jordanes and Caesar, they create the conditions that will finally allow Rome to conquer the whole of the Balkans.

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. Their territory is subsequently known as the deserta Boiorum (effectively meaning the Boii wastelands, with 'deserta' meaning 'empty lands', or at least land that is sparsely populated). 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.

49 -46 BC

Civil war erupts between Julius Caesar and Pompey as the former crosses the Rubicon. Rome's various allies and subject peoples take sides, including the Getae who side with Pompey. Caesar wins the civil war at the Battle of Thapsus in 46 BC, and is appointed dictator of Rome for ten years. The Getae become one of his targets for retribution, but the tide has already begun to turn against Burebista. Having recovered somewhat from the slaughter inflicted upon them a generation previously, the Bastarnae prove especially determined to even the score. They attack the Getae repeatedly, panicking them.

44 BC

Burebista is murdered by his own people for losing his 'luck' in leadership. After picking the wrong side in the Roman civil war, he seems to be unable to defend his people against attacks by their neighbours. The Getic empire fragments into several weaker divisions which are engaged in frequent internecine warfare, and the Getae themselves seek help from their only possible ally in the region - Rome.

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.

After defeating the Bastarnae, Crassus leads his army through the territory of the Scordisci on their way back to Macedonia. They are attacked by the tribes of the Serdi and Meldi, although the consequences do not appear to be especially serious for either side.

Mount Haemus
The Haemus mountain range (the modern Balkana, or Stara Planina) is relatively easy to approach from the north, which is the way the Bastarnae travelled, but it presents a formidable barrier on its southern side

28 BC

A second campaign by Crassus is designed to 'punish' the Scordisci tribes of north-western Bulgaria for their activities in 29 BC (namely the Serdi, Meldi and Artacoi). Cassius Dio states that these tribes have 'never been captured and would not acknowledge his [Crassus] authority, priding themselves greatly upon this point and at the same time inspiring in the others both anger and a disposition to rebel'. It seems strange that these tribes are only now mentioned, three decades after the Scordisci had been broken by Burebista. It suggests that the confederation itself had been broken by the attack, and that these three tribes may now be the only ones capable of mounting any serious resistance to Rome, but on an individual basis rather than as elements of the confederation.

The campaign apparently does little more than push them into the hinterland, out of Rome's reach. Archaeological evidence shows a Celtic migration into the mountains from Thrace during this final period of Roman conquest over the more hospitable terrain. By this time Rome has engaged the Thracian kingdom of Sapes to act as a proxy government over local Thracian affairs and to oversee the gradual Romanisation of the region. It seems that Thracian resistance to Rome to any substantive degree has finally come to an end.

? - 26 BC

Dinas / Dinuus

King of the Artacoi. Surrendered and made captive.

26 BC

With the Celts now inhabiting the most inhospitable and least desirable parts of Thrace, they appear to pose no threat to Rome. Their steadfast refusal to acknowledge Rome's rule and send recruits to serve in the Roman army is a threat, however. The Roman solution to this problem is to ethnically cleanse the area. Mass deportations and demographic engineering have already been common imperial practice in Thrace, but the mountains provide good protection for the Celts from this. The leader of the Artacoi, Dinas, sends a delegation to the Roman military governor of Thrace, Gaius Poppaeus Sabinus, promising loyalty and friendship if the Romans leave them alone but he laces the request with a warning not to try and force the issue.

A Roman legion led by Pomponius Labeo arrives from Moesia to join that of Sabinus, and Sicambri cohorts are added to the force. The Thracian King Roimitalkes I of Sapes also supplies a body of auxiliaries from the Odrissae, amounting to a sizeable army to deal with the Celts.

Sabinus' army enters the Haemus (Balkan) mountains, and the Celts melt away before them. When he reaches the first Celtic fortress, his archers fire on a few warriors who are taunting the Romans, but a subsequent charge to clear them and take the fort is met with a completely unexpected and ferocious counter-attack. The Romans dig in for a more considered attack, leaving Roimitalkes to safeguard their rear. His troops begin to enjoy their orders to rape and pillage the Celts far too much and lose all discipline. The Celts learn of this and, under the cover of darkness, launch an attack on the Roman encampment. This is only a diversion, while other Celts slip past the Roman flanks and take the Thracians completely by surprise. Now easy prey, the Thracians are slaughtered.

26 BC

Turesis / Turaesius

Chieftain in the absence of Dinas. Led remaining Artacoi to safety.

26 BC


Co-ruler. Committed suicide.

A prolonged and bloody siege begins. Eventually starved into surrender the aged chieftain, Dinas, is accompanied by his wife and the sick and elderly as they leave the fort and surrender. The fort is sealed behind them, with one of two young leaders, Tarsa, selecting suicide to escape capture. along with his followers. The remaining leader, Turesis, decides that a great many Romans will accompany him in his trip into the afterlife.

He waits for the ideal cover - a wild thunderstorm - and launches a ferocious assault on the Roman lines with the women and children right behind the main body of warriors, fighting equally as hard. There is no room for mercy in this fight, and the Celts manage to sweep right through the Romans and into the safety of the forest. Their fort is burned to the ground by the battered Romans, but the time taken to subdue a single fortress means that the campaign against all the others has run out of time and is a failure.

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 along with the Thracian Dentheletae tribe 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.

by 12 BC

Despite the sudden attack on Macedonia by the Scordisci in 16 BC, the Scordisci finally appear to submit to Roman control. Now they are granted a level of local autonomy. As the new century opens, the Scordisci territories are included into the Roman provinces of Pannonia, Moesia and Dacia.

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