I have read many sources regarding Illyrian and Thracian cultures but it seems that their culture is not studied as much as their more relevant neighbours, the Hellenes... I understand that they have not left many written sources, but still, it seems that despite their role and geographical extension in the Balkans, they have not been studied as others that were similarly situated.

What accounts for the historiography (or lack thereof) for these peoples?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Steve Bird, Mark C. Wallace, Pieter Geerkens, Peter Diehr, NSNoob Aug 12 '16 at 7:17

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    You've presented no evidence that these cultures are less studied, nor what "merit" means. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 11 '16 at 16:05
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    Mark C Wallace - I disagree that the questioner needs to present evidence. Just go into a reasonable library or book shop and check how much shelf-space is given to Ancient Greece, and then how much is given to ancient Thrace and Illyria – Timothy Aug 11 '16 at 16:27
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    @Hari Haven't you answered your own question i.e."...not studied as much as their more relevant neighbours"? – KillingTime Aug 11 '16 at 16:55
  • i refocused the question on historiography, which may make it more answerable and have voted to re-open it in its current form. – Tom Au Aug 17 '16 at 18:47
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    It still seems to be based on the unsupported assumption that these two cultures are not studied as much as others. IF that assumption were clarified, I'd fully support re-opening. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 17 '16 at 19:19

As a non-expert I would guess that:

a) It is hard to study without much of written sources; one can tell if an inscription is in Greek, Latin or what but it must be much more conjectural whether an excavated group of huts was occupied by Thracian speakers or some other group.

b) As Thracian and Illyrian were later replaced in most of the Balkans by Slavonic languages, most modern inhabitants of those areas feel less connection to (I say less connection to, I do not say none) and desire to preserve the memory of those cultures. (Albanian may be descended from Illyrian but Albania is a small, poor country with limited resources.)

c) As far as I know, the Thracians and Illyrians mostly failed to burst into other nations' histories to compel attention in the way that say the Goths and Vandals did when they overran large parts of the Roman Empire.

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    We usually prefer references in an answer, but I still think this is largely correct. We have a similar question from a few years back about the Dravidians, and the answers were similar. If your society is entirely or nearly entirely illiterate, then there's not going to be much first-hand "history" around for us to study. – T.E.D. Aug 11 '16 at 18:25
  • I definitely agree with "number c" on that. Thrace still remains an interesting study historically because the source of so much Athenian wealth came from the region...yet to my knowledge no one really knows how or why, nor did the Greeks ever offer up any explanations interestingly. We know Greek coinage (Thracian silver) spread throughout the entire World quite quickly though...and with it much that was Greek. In that sense you might argue this region was the World's first "Wall Street" although Ancient Greece and in particular Athens left no Empire behind. – Doctor Zhivago Aug 11 '16 at 23:50
  • (...but Albania is a small, poor country with limited resources.) how is this related to the past? – mwweb Feb 24 '18 at 5:21
  • @mwweb The question is about historiography. It's about who's writing history now, and who's paying attention to them. – Nick Nicholas Apr 21 '18 at 13:17

Timothy has raised valid points. Here are a couple of other suggestions:

  1. Classical Greece is considered one of the main sources for western civilisation. It's philsophers, poets and thinkers has had a major influence on western (including islamic) thoughts during the millenia. This of course draws the attention of scholars. Even if we had as scant sources for the poltical history of ancient Greece as we have for Illyria, the influence of Plato and Aristotle alone would mean that people were more interested in what there is.
  2. Beyond pure history, there is also archaeology. Whereas normal history is comparably cheap, major archeological excavations are expensive, requiring large teams, and often takes place on prime estate. Greece might be only slightly better off than e.g. Romania or Albania, but because of 1, foreign scholars has been more interested in excavations in Greece and have spent time and money there rather than in Romania.
  • for #2 - I'd love to spend a winter doing "archeological research" in Greece – axsvl77 Aug 11 '16 at 23:39

The reasons may have been political, thereby resulting in the countries "fragmentation".

After the Romans conquered Illyria in the second century BCE, they subdivided the province into two shortly after the birth of Christ because of revolts in the area. After the fall of Rome, Illyria fell under the successive jurisdiction of Roman Catholic popes, and Byzantine rulers. These back-and-forths appear to have diluted "Illyrian" culture.

A similar story took place with Thrace, with was also repeatedly subdivided, particularly in the Middle Ages, into Turkish, Bulgarian, and Greek spheres. This kind of subdivision prevented the development, or at least the appearance of, a coherent "Thracian" culture.

So why are they not studied as much as other Balkan cultures? Because there is less available to study (in one piece), particularly because these cultures weren't good at keeping records to begin with.

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