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7 th International Colloquium of Funerary Archaeology

Al 7-lea Colocviu internaţional de arheologie funerară

Topic : “The society of the living – the community of the dead” (from Neolithic to the Christian era)

Tema: „Societatea celor vii”- „comunitatea celor care dorm” (din neolitic la epoca creştină)

Sibiu 6-9 october / octombrie 2005

Social structure in central Thrace, 6th–3rd century B. C. (abstract)

Jan Bouzek (Prague – Czech Rep.), Lidia Domaradzka (Sofia - Bulgaria)

(Part I)

From the archaeological point of view the beginnings of this period is marked by elaborate shaft graves containing exceptional objects of gold and silver (esp. Duvanli and Kaloyanovo); they were means of representation of the aristocracy before more stable system could be established. A good parallel to these graves is the manor house at Vasil Levski, built of soft dressed stones and covered with glazed tiles. Late 5th century shows the transition from shaft graves to monumental tombs – heroa, in which persons of the uppermost class were buried and their memory worshipped. The way from forts and villages to towns lasted longer; emporion Pistiros is a Greek foundation, though Greeks and Thracians lived there together; especially in the female part of its inhabitants Thracians seem to have prevailed, as attested notably by the local types of loom-weights.
The tumuli of Akandjievo show in some grave offerings Attic lekythoi; a custom of last oitment was typical for the Greeks, while Thracian burial ritual was different. The sanctuaries were religious centres and meeting points of those who did not develop cities even in Greece, and Thracians had apparently at that time rather small forts (thurseis) than proper towns, though even among the settlements a hierarchy can be traced. The classes parallel to Dacian pileati and capillati apparently existed also in central Thrace south of the Haemus, and
the clients depended on the chiefs, though the Gefolgschaft system enabled social mobility to able warriors. After the Celtic campaign, the rich graves of warriors, like one uncovered at Plovdiv, show again that in this part of Thrace the system enabled also a cooperation between Thracians and Celts; some of the latter were apparently accepted into the Thracian society, though others founded the Tylis kingdom or the tribal princedom of the Scordici.

(Part II)

The review of epigraphic evidence consisting of more than 140 epitaphs from 5th to 3rd century B.C. gives us the opportunity to gain insights in the ethno-social structure of the population in Thrace. 130 epigraphic monuments are known from Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast. The majority of them is of Greek citizens of the colonies, but a few exceptions give us interesting information about Thracian liberated slaves (Messembria) or about women bearing Greek names, but with Thracian patronyms. From the Thracian inland we only have some ten inscriptions. Only one of them, an epitaph written on the architrave at the entrance to the tomb of a noble Thracian woman (Gonimasedze, wife of Seuthes, dated c. 300 B.C.), has been found north of the Haemus (at Smiadovo Shumen region). Eight epitaphs are known south of the Haemus mountains. The earliest of them is the epitaph of Antiphanes, son of Cherandros, found near Parvenetz (Plovdiv region), dated to c. 400 B.C. Judging by the rare epichoric name of his father the latter probably came from Eretria on the island of Euboea. Three epitaphs have been found at Pistiros; they all are of Greeks from the poleis Maroneia and Apollonia. The presence of traders from these Greek poleis in Pistiros, as well as from Thasos, is also attested by the Vetren inscription (dated 457/6 B.C.) and by the archeological objects discovered there. It is certainly not accidental that the usage of Ionic forms of Greek is prevailing at Pistiros and its immediate area. Two other epitaphs are known from the Chirpan region, from the villages of Saedinenie and of Spasovo. The first of them is of Diotimos, son of Sozis; the second is a fragmentary inscription (both date from the 4th century B.C.). A fragment of another funeral epigram has been found at Taja, Kazanluk region (3rd century B.C.); it mentions Sparatokos, a Thracian nobleman, and his beautiful horses. From Alexandrovo, Haskovo region, comes a newly discovered graffito, written by an unknown Thracian and dedicated to a relative of his, who had recently passed away (“Kozimases chrestos”).
All these monuments show the complex processes of mutual influence between the Thracians and Greeks living together, which not only led to hellenisation of the Thracians in Greek colonies, but also to accepting many aspects of Thracian culture by Greek colonists living in Thrace. These epigraphic monuments bring us names of ordinary people originating from Greek poleis, acting as traders, sculptors, artists, craftsmen, masons and in other professions in Thrace. From other evidence we knew of their activities in various fields of craftsmanship, but now also we have their names and some information about the native places of their motherland origin. Finally we can express hope that future archeological research will enrich our knowledge of the ethno-social population structure of Thrace during the Classical and Hellenistic periods.


International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences


The 30th comission

"Lucian Blaga" University Sibiu

Research Centre:

„BRUKENTHAL” National Museum


History Museum (MNBS)

Directia judeţeană pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional Sibiu



For further information, please contact:

Prof.univ.dr. Sabin Adrian Luca: E - mail: sabinadrianluca@hotmail.com

Dr. Valeriu SIRBU: E - mail: valeriu_sirbu@yahoo.co.uk