Thrace is the name Greeks gave to the land bordering their north-east. Today ¼ of Thrace consists of the part of Turkey that is in Europe, 1/10th is the north-eastern-most part of Greece, and 2/3 is in southeast Bulgaria.

The land, less mountainous than much of Greece and Bulgaria, contains some valleys and wide plains. Agricultural production includes tobacco, corn, wine, rice, silk, fruit, olive oil, cotton, & wheat.

Greeks (via Homer) say Thracians were allies of Troy in the Trojan war (about 3200 years ago). They were described as rural (raising crops and animals, living in fortified villages on hilltops, avoiding cities), fierce barbarian warriors and horsemen (barbarians were anyone who didn’t speak Greek). They were admired for their poetry, music, and craftsmanship in gold. The Greek mythic hero Orpheus, who could charm all living things with his music (even stones!), was born of the Thracian king Oeagrus and the Muse Calliope. Linguists conclude the Thracians spoke an Indo-European language, brought by invaders from the steppes of Ukraine/southern Russia 5000 years ago.

Thracians were then a very loose collection of tribes occupying most of what is today’s Bulgaria. Their near relatives, the Dacians, occupied much of Romania. Although technically on par with the Greeks, constant political fragmentation made Thracians easy prey for invaders (Persian, Macedonian, Roman, Bulgar, Turk).

Between 279 and 212 BCE, Celtic Gauls occupied parts of Thrace, on their way to settling in the region of Galatia, Anatolia.

Thrace has rarely been independent politically, but has never lost its identity under other rulers. Thus, after the 1912-1913 Balkan wars, Greece and Bulgaria each called land acquired from the Ottoman Empire-Thrace.

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