Thracian tribes appeared about 3 thousand years BC. Thracians inherited and developed the skills of older people in these lands. The Vulchitrun Treasure (1600-1200 BC) shows already much more precise metal processing. The first Greeks appeared in 1900 BC in Hellas. The Troyan War broke out in 1200 BC. Celtic tribes inhabited central Europe in 800 BC. 776 BC marks the first material evidence of the conduct of the Olympic games. Rome was founded in 753 BC.
Thracians are the oldest inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula, which is witnessed by written records. The ethnonym “Thracians” indicates numerous population that inhabits the territory of the Carpathian Mountains to the north, to the Black Sea in the east, to the Vardar River in the west and to the Aegean Sea in the south. According to Herodotus “the Thracian nation is the largest after the population of India. In each area Thracians bear different name, but the manners and customs of the whole nation are the same everywhere”.
Polygamy was widespread in Thracian society. While the girls had a great sexual freedom, married women were watched with great strictness.
Warfare was considered by Thracians “noble” activity. They were considered the most militant tribes among European nations. Thrace served as an inexhaustible source of mercenaries. Many Thracian kings were involved in the Troyan War. Homer mentions Rhesus (son of Eyoney, ruler of the Southern Rhodope area), the king of Bistonites Diomedes, and Peiroy (son of Imbras) who ruled the lands around the mouth of the Maritsa River. All of them are described as great heroes, equal in every way to Achilles, Hector, Odysseus and others. Greeks borrowed from Thracian tribes the idea of light, very mobile infantry.
Ancient Thracians were unsurpassed skilled miners and jewelers. Large amounts of gold, silver, copper and iron were mined. They were the first people who replaced bronze weapons with iron ones. The Panagyuriste, Rogozen, Ruse and other Thracian treasures include many gold and silver rhytons, phials and other containers. These treasures are made of gold and silver that was mined probably on the territory of Bulgaria. Actually, Thracians inhabited mineral-rich areas. Our lands are part of a huge metallogenic belt, which extends from the Alps, across the Balkan Peninsula and the Himalayas to the Pacific – the so-called Tethys-Eurasian metallogenic belt. It is localized in the conflicting space between the Tethys Ocean and the Laurasian continental plate and has a long and dynamic life. On the territory of Bulgaria are distinguished Balkan, Srednogorie and Rhodope metallogenic provinces.
Rich Thracians were buried in tombs, on which were built mounds. It is estimated that the number of Thracian tombs in Bulgaria is from 10 000 to 60 000.
Thracians had several kingdoms. The most significant one was the Odrysian Kingdom. But they had no script. Therefore information about them is obtained from indirect sources.
Many Greek colonies were built along the Black Sea and the Aegean. Greeks, however, settled not far from the coast and inwards, the eastern part of the peninsula, remained populated mainly by Thracians. Greeks and Thracians led peaceful coexistence. Their cultures mingled and enriched. The Greeks borrowed many gods, myths and customs from the Thracians. Thrace was visited by the Argonauts and Hercules. The legendary singer Orpheus and the rebel gladiator Spartacus, who shook the Roman Empire, were born here.
The Roman emperor Claudius annexed the last Thracian Kingdom in 45 BC. Since then Moesia and Thrace became Roman provinces. Thracian tribes perceived much of Greek and Roman culture. Some of the Roman emperors were born in Thrace and Pannonia and were considered both by themselves and by historians Thracians.
During the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the Balkan Peninsula remained in possession of the eastern Byzantine Empire. Its capital was Constantinople, today’s Istanbul. Thracians still existed as a nation in these lands.
During the 4th-7th century, Slavs settled in the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula and assimilated the Thracians. In the 7th century, pre-Bulgarians invaded the Balkans from the northeast. Bulgarians and Slavs lived together in the newly established Bulgarian state. Over time, they mutually assimilated. Initially Bulgaria was a pagan country. Christianity became the official religion in the 9th century during the reign of King Boris I. Bulgaria lived in constant tension and frequent wars with Byzantium. However, our culture enriched with Byzantium culture.
During the 14th and 15th century, the Ottoman Empire conquered both Byzantium and the Balkan Peninsula. Byzantium never revived again. Balkan nations managed to get rid of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th century at the cost of many uprisings and victims.
The Balkan Peninsula is at a crossroad. Here confronted pagan cultures with Christianity and Islam – Heros and Zeus, Perun and Tangra, Christ and St. Peter, Allah and Mohammed. And Orpheus was palying his lyre at the top of the Sacred Rhodope Mountain.