The Thracian horseman (also "Thracian Rider" or "Thracian Heros") is the name given to a recurring motif of a horseman depicted in reliefs of the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the Balkans (Thrace, Macedonia,Moesia, roughly from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD). Inscriptions found in Romania identify the horseman as Heros (also Eros, Eron, Herros, Herron), apparently the word heros used as a proper name. Inscriptions from Bulgaria give the names Salenos and Pyrmerula/Pirmerula.
The Thracian horseman is depicted as a hunter on horseback, riding from left to right. Between the horse's hooves is depicted either a hunting dog or a boar. In some instances, the dog is replaced by a lion. Its depiction is in the tradition of the funerary steles of Roman cavalrymen, with the addition of syncretistic elements from Hellenistic and Paleo-Balkanic religious or mythological tradition.
The Cult of the Thracian horseman was especially important in Philippi, where the Heros had the epithets of soter (saviour) and epekoos "answerer of prayers". Funerary stelae depicting the horseman belong to the middle or lower classes (while the upper classes preferred the depiction of banquet scenes).
The motif most likely represents a composite figure, a Thracian heroes[ clarification needed ] possibly based on Rhesus, the Thracian king mentioned in the Iliad, to which Scythian, Hellenistic and possibly other elements had been added.
Under the Roman Emperor Gordian III the god on horseback appears on coins minted at Tlos, in neighboring Lycia, and at Istrus, in the province of Lower Moesia, between Thrace and the Danube.
In the Roman era, the "Thracian horseman" iconography is further syncretised. The rider is now sometimes shown as approaching a tree entwined by a serpent, or as approaching a goddess. These motifs are partly of Greco-Roman and partly of possible Scythian origin. The motif of a horseman with his right arm raised advancing towards a seated female figure is related to Scythian iconographic tradition. It is frequently found in Bulgaria, associated with Asclepius and Hygeia.
Apart from syncretism with other deities (such as Asclepios, Apollo, Sabatius), the figure of the Thracian Horseman was also found with several epithets: Karabasmos, Keilade(i)nos, Manimazos, Aularchenos, Aulosadenos, Pyrmeroulas. One in particular was found in Avren, dating from the III century CE, with a designation that seems to refer to horsemanship: Outaspios, and variations Betespios, Ephippios and Ouetespios.
Related to the Dioscuri motif is the so-called "Danubian Horsemen" motif of two horsemen flanking a standing goddess.These "Danubian horsemen" are thus called due to their reliefs being found in the Roman province of Danube. However, some reliefs have also been found in Roman Dacia - which gives the alternate name for the motif: "Dacian Horseman". Scholarship locates its diffusion across Moesia, Dacia, Pannonia and Danube, and, to a lesser degree, in Dalmatia and Thracia.
The motif of a standing goddess flanked by two horsemen, identified as Artemis flanked by the Dioscuri, and a tree entwined by a serpent flanked by the Dioscuri on horseback was transformed into a motif of a single horseman approaching the goddess or the tree.
Pahonia, the national symbol of various Central-Eastern European states since ~12th century, may be related.
The motif of the Thracian horseman is not to be confused with the depiction of a rider slaying a barbarian enemy on funerary stelae, as on the Stele of Dexileos, interpreted as depictions of a heroic episode from the life of the deceased.
The motif of the Thracian horseman was continued in Christianised form in the equestrian iconography of both Saint George and Saint Demetrius.
Thrace or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. It comprises southeastern Bulgaria, northeastern Greece, and the European part of Turkey. The region's boundaries are based on that of the Roman Province of Thrace; the lands inhabited by the ancient Thracians extended in the north to modern-day Northern Bulgaria and Romania and to the west into the region of Macedonia.
The Dacians were the ancient Indo-European inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the area near the Carpathian Mountains and west of the Black Sea. They are often considered a subgroup of the Thracians. This area includes mainly the present-day countries of Romania and Moldova, as well as parts of Ukraine, Eastern Serbia, Northern Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Southern Poland. The Dacians spoke the Dacian language, which has a debated relationship with the neighbouring Thracian language and may be a subgroup of it. Dacians were somewhat culturally influenced by the neighbouring Scythians and by the Celtic invaders of the 4th century BC.
The Thracians were an Indo-European speaking people who inhabited large parts of Eastern and Southeastern Europe in ancient history. Thracians resided mainly in the Balkans but were also located in Anatolia and other locations in Eastern Europe.
The legend of Saint George and the Dragon tells of Saint George taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices. The story goes that the dragon originally extorted tribute from villagers. When they ran out of livestock and trinkets for the dragon, they started giving up a human tribute once a year. This was acceptable to the villagers until a princess was chosen as the next offering. The saint thereupon rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. The narrative was first set in Cappadocia in the earliest sources of the 11th and 12th centuries, but transferred to Libya in the 13th-century Golden Legend.
Burebista was a Thracian king of the Getae and Dacian tribes from 82/61 BC to 45/44 BC. He was the first king who successfully unified the tribes of the Dacian Kingdom, which comprised the area located between the Danube, Tisza, and Dniester rivers, and modern day Romania and Moldova. In the 7th and 6th centuries BC it became home to the Thracian peoples, including the Getae and the Dacians. From the 4th century to the middle of the 2nd century BC the Dacian peoples were influenced by La Tène Celts who brought new technologies with them into Dacia. Sometime in the 2nd century BC the Dacians expelled the Celts from their lands. Dacians often warred with neighbouring tribes, but the relative isolation of the Dacian peoples in the Carpathian Mountains allowed them to survive and even to thrive. By the 1st century BC the Dacians had become the dominant tribe.
Sabazios is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, wielding his characteristic staff of power.
Dacian is an extinct language, generally believed to be Indo-European, that was spoken in the Carpathian region in antiquity. In the 1st century, it was probably the predominant language of the ancient regions of Dacia and Moesia and possibly of some surrounding regions. The language was extinct by the 4th century AD.
The Triballi were an ancient tribe whose dominion was around the plains of modern southern Serbia, northern part of North Macedonia and western Bulgaria, at the Angrus and Brongus and the Iskar River, roughly centered where Serbia and Bulgaria are joined.
The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara. The monument is dated in the very late 7th, or more often very early 8th century, during the reign of Bulgar Khan Tervel. In 1979 became enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Dacian Draco was the standard ensign of troops of the ancient Dacian people, which can be seen in the hands of the soldiers of Decebalus in several scenes depicted on Trajan's Column in Rome, Italy. This wind instrument has the form of a dragon with open wolf-like jaws containing several metal tongues. The hollow dragon's head was mounted on a pole with a fabric tube affixed at the rear. In use, the draco was held up into the wind, or above the head of a horseman, where it filled with air and gave the impression it was alive while making a shrill sound as the wind passed through its strips of material.
The Bessi were a Thracian tribe that inhabited the upper valley of the Hébros and the lands between the Haemus and Rhodope mountain ranges in historical Thrace.
Oescus, Palatiolon or Palatiolum was an important ancient city on the Danube river in Roman Moesia. It later became known as Ulpia Oescus. It lay northwest of the modern Bulgarian city of Pleven, near the village of Gigen.
In Roman literature of the early 1st century CE, the Moesi appear as a Paleo-Balkan people who lived in the region around the River Timok to the south of the Danube. The Moesi don't appear in ancient sources before Augustus's death in 14 CE and are mentioned only by three authors: Ovid, Strabo and Livy. Recent research suggests that a Paleo-Balkan people known as the Moesi never actually existed but the name was transplanted from Asia Minor to the Balkans by the Romans as an alternative name for the Dardani, a people who lived in the later province of Moesia. This decision in Roman literature is linked to the appropriation of the name Dardani in official Roman ideological discourse as Trojan ancestors of the Romans and the creation of a fictive name for the actual Dardani who were seen as barbarians and antagonists of Rome in antiquity.
The Thracian religion refers to the mythology, ritual practices and beliefs of the Thracians, a collection of closely related ancient Indo-European peoples who inhabited eastern and southeastern Europe and northwestern Anatolia throughout antiquity and who included the Thracians proper, the Getae, the Dacians, and the Bithynians. The Thracians themselves did not leave an extensive written corpus of their mythology and rituals, but information about their beliefs is nevertheless available through epigraphic and iconographic sources, as well as through ancient Greek writings.
The Rogozen Treasure, called the find of the century, is a Thracian treasure.
Ratiaria was a city founded by the Moesians, a Daco-Thracian tribe, in the 4th century BC, along the river Danube. In Roman times it was named Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria.
The Dacian bracelets are bracelets associated with the ancient people known as the Dacians, a distinct branch of the Thracians. These bracelets were used as ornaments, currency, high rank insignia and votive offerings Their ornamentations consist of many elaborate regionally distinct styles. Bracelets of various types were worn by Dacians, but the most characteristic piece of their jewelry was the large multi-spiral bracelets; engraved with palmettes towards the ends and terminating in the shape of an animal head, usually that of a snake.
The history of Dacian warfare spans from c. 10th century BC up to the 2nd century AD in the region defined by Ancient Greek and Latin historians as Dacia, populated by a collection of Thracian, Ionian, and Dorian tribes. It concerns the armed conflicts of the Dacian tribes and their kingdoms in the Balkans. Apart from conflicts between Dacians and neighboring nations and tribes, numerous wars were recorded among Dacians too.
Dava was a Geto-Dacian name for a city, town or fortress. Generally, the name indicated a tribal center or an important settlement, usually fortified. Some of the Dacian settlements and the fortresses employed the Murus Dacicus traditional construction technique.
Dacian art is the art associated with the peoples known as Dacians or North Thracians; The Dacians created an art style in which the influences of Scythians and the Greeks can be seen. They were highly skilled in gold and silver working and in pottery making. Pottery was white with red decorations in floral, geometric, and stylized animal motifs. Similar decorations were worked in metal, especially the figure of a horse, which was common on Dacian coins.
On the "Danubian Horsemen" or "Danubian Riders":