Wikijunior:Ancient Civilizations/Illyria

Where did they live?

Illyrian tribes in antiquity

Illyria was a region in the western part of today's Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians, a heterogeneous coalition of tribes. Very little is known about the Illyrians, though a number of them are assumed to have been united by a common Illyrian language.

Illyrians were divided in tribes such as Albani, Dassareti, Enchelei, Dalmatae, Deraemestae, Taulantii, Pannonian tribes, Pirustae, Partheni, Abri, Maezaei etc.

Illyrian border lies from rivers Drava and Sava in the north and the region of the Bylliones in the South.

What did their buildings look like?

Theater of Apollonia.

Illyrian architecture was almost the same as Greek and Roman architecture. Thanks to its position Illyria was greatly influenced by those two countries. Illyrian buildings had regular shape and the main materials that were used were limestone and marble or gold for decorations. Some famous buildings that still remain are those in the site of Apollonia (in the photo) and Butrinti, the amphitheatre in Durrës etc.

What did they eat?


Illyrian used to eat meat, bread, honey, milk and drink a kind of beer (which is still known as The Beer of Peja), brandy and wine. Brandy is still used in Albania and other parts of Balkan Peninsula as a kind of "national drink"

What did they wear?


Their writing looked like the Greek writing of today. But many scientists have discovered that if you try to translate the Illyrian language into the modern European languages that Albanian is the most suitable language to translate it into, because a lot of those ancient words used by the Illyrians can be translated into Albanian which quite frankly and weird is not the case with the Slavic and Greek languages.

What did they believe?


In matters of religion, Illyrians believed in an afterlife and buried their dead along with arms and various articles intended for personal use.

What is their history?


Illyrian culture is believed to have evolved from the Stone Age and to have manifested itself in the territory of Albania toward the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 2000 BCE). The Illyrians were not a uniform body of people but a conglomeration of many tribes that inhabited the western part of the Balkans, from what is now Slovenia in the northwest to (and including) the region of Epirus, which extends about halfway down the mainland of modern Greece. In general, Illyrians in the highlands of Albania were more isolated than those in the lowlands, and their culture evolved more slowly—a distinction that persisted throughout Albania’s history.Seeing Illyrian territory as a bridgehead for conquests east of the Adriatic, Rome in 229 BCE attacked and defeated the Illyrians, led by Queen Teuta, and by 168 BCE had established effective control over Illyria. The Illyrians, bearers of the Hallstatt culture, were divided into tribes, each a self-governing community with a council of elders and a chosen leader. A strong tribal chieftain, however, could unite several tribes into a kingdom. The last and best-known Illyrian kingdom had its capital at Scodra (modern Shkodër, Albania). One of its most important rulers was King Agron (second half of the 3rd century BCE), who, in alliance with Demetrius II of Macedonia, defeated the Aetolians (231). Agron, however, died suddenly, and during the minority of his son, his widow, Teuta, acted as regent. Queen Teuta attacked Sicily and the coastal Greek colonies with part of the Illyrian navy. Simultaneously, she antagonized Rome, which finally sent a large fleet to the eastern shores of the Adriatic. Although Teuta submitted in 228, the Illyrian kingdom of the interior was not destroyed, and a second naval expedition was sent against Illyria in 219. Philip V of Macedonia aided his Illyrian neighbours and thus started a protracted war that ended with the conquest of the whole Balkan Peninsula by the Romans. The last Illyrian king, Genthius, surrendered in 168 BCE. Authors of antiquity relate that the Illyrians were a sociable and hospitable people, renowned for their daring and bravery at war. Illyrian women were fairly equal in status to the men, even to the point of becoming heads of tribal federations.

How was there land?


The land of Illyria was rich in minerals—iron, copper, gold, silver—and Illyrians became skillful in the mining and processing of metals.

Illirians were known for what?


Illyrians became skillful in the mining and processing of metals. Also,They were highly skilled boatbuilders and sailors as well; indeed, their light swift galleys known as liburnae were of such superior design that the Romans incorporated them into their own fleet as a type of warship called the liburnian.

Are some of them famous even today?

Pyrrhus of Epirus

Yes of course, haven't you heard about Roman emperors for example Decius, Hostilian, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, Probus and so on and so on? They were from Illyria. Pyrrhus of Epirus was a Molossian from Illyria. Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great was from Illyria too. Want you more? OK, Bardyllis, Monunius, Queen Teuta, Gentius, Bato, Celer were famous Illyrians too.

What is left of them today?


The whole modern Albania, Kosovo and other parts inhabited by Albanians in Balkan such as Western Macedonia, Northwestern Greece, Southeast Montenegro etc.