Archaeologists Find Out Who Was Last Ancient Thracian Odrysian King before Roman Conquest

A map showing the Thracian populated territories in the 5th-3rd century BC, which was also the height of the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom. Map: Kandi, Wikipedia

A map showing the Thracian populated territories in the 5th-3rd century BC, which was also the height of the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom. Compare with the territory of the Roman province of Thrace (Thracia) in the map below. Map: Kandi, Wikipedia

The name of the last ruler of the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom, probably the most powerful kingdom of Ancient Thrace, has been established by archaeologists and revealed during the 1st International Conference on “Roman and Late Antique Thrace" (RaLATh) organized by Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology.

The Conference took place on October 7-10, 2016, in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, which is also known as Europe’s oldest city, and is the successor of ancient Philipopolis (Trimontium in the Roman period).

The first military clashes of the Romans with Thracian tribes are believed to have occurred as early as the first half of the 2nd century BC.

All of Ancient Thrace south of the Lower Danube, including what had been left of the Odrysian Kingdom (5th century BC – 1st century AD) (which had been reduced to a client state of Rome by the early decades of the 1st century), was conquered by the Roman Empire in 46 AD.

The Thracian (Getian / Dacian) regions north of the Lower Danube were conquered by the Romans under Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD) in 106 AD, and were lost in 271 AD, while the rest of Ancient Thrace, south of the Danube, remained part of the Roman Empire and later the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) up until the expansion of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018) south of the Danube in 680-681 AD.)

The name of the last King of the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom was Arascus, he was a son of King Rhoemetalces II (ruler of the Odrysian Kingdom and the Sapaean (Sapaioi) Thracian tribe in 18-38 AD), according to the latest archaeological findings presented at the “Roman and Late Antique Thrace", Assoc. Prof. Lyudmil Vagalinski, Director of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, has revealed, as cited by BNT.

“His name was Arascus and he was the son of Rhometalces II. His grandmother was a queen of the ancient kingdom of Pontus which at this time occupied the northern coast of the Black Sea," Vagalinski says.

It is noted that King Arascus was a young man from the Sapaean Dynasty (named after the tribe of the Sapaeans) who reigned ca. 40-45 AD, right before the Roman Empire incorporated what was left of the Odrysian Kingdom as the province of Thrace (Thracia).

The name of the last ruler of the Ancient Thracian is reported to have been found out as a result of recent discoveries shedding new light on an inscription from a stele discovered on the Greek island of Samothrace in the Aegean.

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A map from a 19th century atlas showing the Roman provinces in the Balkans in the 1st-2nd century AD, including the province of Thrace (Thracia). Map: Wikipedia

A map from a 19th century atlas showing the Roman provinces in the Balkans in the 1st-2nd century AD, including the province of Thrace (Thracia). Map: Wikipedia

A 2015 discovery of an inscription dated to the 20s-30s AD in the ancient city of Aquae Calidae in Bulgaria’s Burgas also provided information about some of the last rulers of the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom: King Rhoemetalces II and his sister Pythodoris II.

Another novelty from the 1st International Conference on “Roman and Late Antique Thrace" in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv, is the newly compiled full list of the names of the governors of the Roman province of Thrace presented by epigraphist Assist. Prof. Nikolay Sharankov from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

“This is very helpful when we need to date the events in Thrace, and to enrich our knowledge about the land where we live," Vagalinski says.

Background Infonotes:

The Ancient Thracians were an ethno-cultural group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting much of Southeast Europe from about the middle of the second millennium BC to about the 6th century AD on the territory of modern-day Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia.

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The Odrysian Kingdom, a union of Thracian tribes dominated by the tribe of the Odrysians (also known as Odrysea or Odrysai bearing the name of a mythical ruler, Odryses or Odrisis, (ca. 715 – ca. 650 AD)), was one of the two most powerful states of the Ancient Thracians. It existed from the unification of many Thracian tribes by a single ruler, King Teres, in the 5th century BC till its conquest by the Romans in 46 AD on the territory of most of modern-day Bulgaria, Northern Greece, Southeastern Romania, and Northwestern Turkey.

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