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The Triballi and their dynasty

The Panagyurishte treasure
The Panagyurishte treasure

One of the most numerous and warlike Thracian ethno-cultural communities were the Triballi. Their territory stretched far west and northwest of the reaches of the Oxios River, todays Iskar, crossing the field of Sofia, ancient Serdica. The Triballi, likened to a swarm of locusts when they were at war, were known to the Athenians already in the fifth century BC, but they became famous for their resistance against Alexander III the Great who in the spring of 335 BC made his march through Thrace in order to secure his rear before the Persian campaign. Then king Syrmos formed up his army for a pitched battle. He was repulsed by the Macedonian phalanx but withdrew in battle order. From this time onwards, the Triballi started to be used as mercenaries because of their excellent skills as warriors, in the armies of the Hellenistic rulers and in the Roman army as well (from the third century BC). Except of Syrmos, the sources also report of the name of king Hales who in the first half of the fourth century BC led the invasion of the Triballi into the south as far as Abdera on the mouth of the Mesta river, ancient Nestos, on the Aegean sea. An inscription on the phiale with the image of Auge and Heracles (the Rogozen Treasure) tells about the name of Didykaimos, which is a typical kings name stemming from the coded name of the Great Mother Goddess.

However, the greatness of the dynasty of the Triballi is understandable from the biggest heap of treasures found so far on the Thracian territory in one plan. From the land of the Triballi came the memorable finds of sets made of precious metal, for example the Rogozen set, and some of the most luxurious kings burials with rich funeral gifts as that one found in the Mogilanska mound in Vratsa. Archaeological data show that at least during the period of the fourth second/first century BC, i.e. till the Roman conquest, the dynasty of the Triballi was equal with the dynasties of the Odrysai, Bessi and Getai in its military power, politically and economically. In competed successfully with them and was their equal partner.

Prof. Aleksander Fol

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