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Illyrian Origin

The theory is that the Albanian language represents a survival of an indigenous Illyrian language. There is a gap of eight centuries between the last historical mention of the Illyrians and the first mention of Albanians and of the names 'Albanon' and 'Arbanon' to indicate the region. Supporters of the theory say that the term 'Albanian' gradually came to be applied to the surviving Illyrians.

Arguments for:

Here follows some examples:

::*Ragusa: Rush
::*Scodra: Shkoder
::*Astibus: Shtip
::*Naissus: Nish (Naissus was in Moesia and is usually considered Thracian)
::*Scradus mons: Shar
::*Scupi: Shkup (not known to be Illyrian)
::*Drivastum: Drisht
::*Pirustae: Qafa e Prushit
::*Lissus: Lesh/Lezha (in Latin to Albanian, Lat. ''-is-'' becomes Albanian ''--esh--'')
::*Candavia: Kunavlja
::*Durrachium: Durr?s (lat. suffix -ium)
::*Isamnus: Ishem
::*Scampinus: Shkumbini
::*Aulon: Vlone/ Vlore
::*Thyamis: Tcham
::*Ulcinium: Ulqin (lat. suffix -ium)
::*Amatia: Mati
::*Stoponion: Shtiponje
::*Tomarus: Tomor
::*Ochrid: Oh?r
::*Phoenice: Foinike, Finiq
::*Drinus: Drini
::*Mathis: Mat
::*Ulpiana (Ulipiana): Lipjan (Ulpiana is a Roman toponym) and this is present and today name for city PRISTINE. Image below showing part of ULPIANA, and what is visible is that all is covered with ground-earth-land few meter tick.


Today Pristine was  built on ruins of ULPIANA.

Image:Bgiusca_Jirecek_Line.jpg|thumb|250px|The [[Jirecek Line|Jireček Line divides the areas of the Balkans which were under Latin and Greek influences]]
Arguments against:

Thracian/Dacian origin

Arguments for:

Arguments against:

Pelasgian/Etruscan origin

The Pelasgians are generally considered to be the people that were living in the Balkans before the Indo-European arrival, the Greek writers mentioning them as autochthonic peoples that predated hellenic settlement. The Etruscans were also indigenous people of Europe, but it is not known whether they were or not related to the Pelasgians.

The Communist regime of Albania embraced the ideology that the Albanians were descendants of the Etruscans (based on the books of French scholar Zacharia Mayani) and used this for propaganda, discarding the fact proven scientifically that Albanian is an Indo-European language (having known kins would make Albanians less unique).

Mainstream linguists and historians never seriously considered the idea of Albanians having an Etruscan origin, because the proponents of the Etruscan-theory were not using a scientific method, but were using pure linguistic coincidences.

Caucasus origin

In ancient times, there was another region called "Albania", in the Caucasus, bordering the Caspian Sea. However, that name was simply a coincidence, "alb" being a common Indo-European word meaning "white" or "mountain" with many toponyms deriving from it, including the Alps and Alba, the Gaelic name of Scotland.



In classical history, '''Illyria''' or '''Illyricum''' or '''Illyrikon''' was a region of the western Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the tribes and clans of '''Illyrians''', an ancient people who probably spoke an Indo-European language the Illyrian languages.

Illyrian languages

The '''Illyrian languages''' are a group of Indo-European languages that were spoken in the western part of the Balkans in pre-Roman times. Around 230 BC the speakers of these languages were romanized (in some cases completely, as in the case of Dalmatian speakers).

From the 7th century onwards, the surviving Illyrian languages began to lose ground to other languages spoken in the area, largely Slavic languages in the rural areas and the languages descended from vernacular Latin such as Dalmatian and Venetian in the urban areas.

Today, the main source of authoritative information about the Illyrian languages consists of a few cited words and numerous examples of proper names, toponyms, and hydronyms. Since so little is known about these languages, when linguists encounter what they consider to be anomalies in their data, they humorously blame them on "Illyrian influences".

Messapian, an extinct language of South-eastern Italy, is believed by most scholars to be a dialect of Illyrian, based on the personal names found on the tomb inscriptions, and based also on classical references which state explicitly that the Messapians migrated by sea to Southern Italy, having originally come from Illyria. Some scholars decline to identify Messapian specifically as an Illyrian language; yet most scholars consider that the languages were closely related.

Illyrian may also have been related to the Venetic language once spoken in Northeastern Italy, though the theory that Illyrian and Venetic were closely related is no longer favored by current scholarship.

Some linguists believe the modern Albanian language to be the survival of an Illyrian language, yet this is controversial. The majority of scholars and linguists consider Illyrian to have been a centum language, while Albanian is satem. The identification of Illyrian as centum is not unanimously accepted; objections being raised by those linguists who attempt to link Albanian with Illyrian. In general, Illyrian words from ancient sources suggest that Albanian and Illyrian are on different branches of the Indo-European langauge-tree, though there are some possible correspondances between Illyrian and Albanian.

Some examples of Illyrian names are ''Epicadus, Bato, Gentius, Temus, Pinnes/Pinnius, Monounios, Grabus, Epidius, Verzo, Zanatis.''

See also

External link

Category:Extinct languages
Category:Indo-European languages
als:Illyrische Sprache
az:Paleobalkan qrupu
de:Illyrische Sprache
pl:Język iliryjski
ro:Limbile ilirice

The main cities of Illyria were Lissus and (probably) Epidamnus. The Illyrians may have appeared in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula about 2000 BC, a period coinciding with the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age. The Illyrians were not a unified body but a conglomerate of many different tribes. These tribes however had a common language and culture. The people were unified by the King Hyllus who is reportedly to have died around the year 1235 B.C. Some believe that this was the first sign of unified Illyrian kingdom. For at least the next millennium, they occupied lands extending from the Danube, Sava, and Morava rivers to the Adriatic Sea and the Šar Mountains.
Some believe that the modern Albanians are in large part descended from the Illyrians.

An Illyrian tribe of "mountain folk" called the Arber, or Arberesh?, and later Albanoi, lived near Durr?s.

Origin of Albanians

The '''origin of Albanians''' has been for some time a matter of dispute among historians. Albanians are people who speak Albanian, an Indo-European language that has no other close living relative, making it dificult to determine from what ancient Balkan language it evolved.

Place of origin

The place where Albanian was formed is also disputed, but by studying the language we can learn that Albanian was formed in a mountainous region rather than plain or seacoast: while the words for plants and animals that are characteristic of the mountainous regions are entirely original, the names for sea-fishes and those for agricultural activities, (such as ploughing) are borrowed from other languages.

We can also be sure that the Albanians didn't live in Dalmatia, because the Latin influence over Albanian is of Balkan Romance (that evolved into Romanian) origin rather than of Dalmatian origin. This Balkan Romance influence includes Latin words exhibiting idiomatic expressions and meaning changes that are only found in Romanian and not in other Romance languages. Adding this to the words common only to Albanian and Romanian, we can assume that the Romanians and Albanians once lived closely. Generally the areas where this might have happened are considered to be regions varying from Transylvania, Eastern Serbia (region around Naissus/Nis), Kosovo and Northern Albania/Macedonia.

However, Romanian has most agricultural terms of Latin origin, but not terms related to city activities, showing that Romanians, as opposed to Albanians (who were originally shepherds), were agricultural people in the low-plains.

Some scholars even explain the gap between Bulgarian and Serbian languages by an Albanian-Romanian buffer-zone east of the Morava river. (although an intermediary Serbian dialect exists, it was formed only later after the Serbian expansion to the east)

Another argument that sustains a northern origin of Albanians is the relative small number of words of Greek origin, although Southern Illyria was under the influence of Greek/Byzantine civilization and language, especially after the break-down of the Roman Empire.

Earliest mentions of Albanians in Albania

The Alexiad

The '''Alexiad''' is a book written around the year 1148 by the Byzantine historian Anna Comnena, the daughter of Emperor Alexius I.

She describe the political and military history Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father (1081-1118), making it one of the most important sources of information on the Byzantines of the Middle Ages.

External links

Ethnic origin

The two chief candidates considered by historians are Illyrian or Thracian, though there were other groups in the ancient Balkans that were neither Illyrian nor Thracian, including Paionians (who lived north of Macedon), Agrianes, Laeaeans, Odomantians, Siropaeonians, and Paeoplians. The Illyrian language and the Thracian language are generally considered to have been on different Indo-European branches. Not much is left of the old Illyrian or Thracian tongues, making it difficult to match Albanian with any of them.

There is debate whether the Illyrian language was Centum or Satem, and there is no conclusive evidence yet either way, though what evidence there is strongly indicates that Illyrian was centum. It is also uncertain whether the Illyrians spoke a homogenous language or rather a collection of dialects or even different languages that were wrongly considered the same language by ancient writers. The same is sometimes said of the Thracian language. For example, based on the toponyms, it has been argued that Thracian and Dacian may be different languages or dialects.

In the early half of the 20th century, many scholars thought that Thracian and Illyrian were one language, but due to the lack of evidence, most linguists are skeptical and now reject this idea, and usually place them on different branches. The Messapian language is often considered to have been an Illyrian language, but this is disputed by some.

See also


  1. {{note|1}} Duridanov, Ivan. [http://members.tripod.com/~Groznijat/thrac/thrac_9.html "The Language of the Thracians"], (''Ezikyt na trakite''), Nauka i izkustvo, Sofia, 1976
  2. {{note|2}} Georgiev, Vladimir. [http://members.tripod.com/~Groznijat/vg/vg.html "Genesis of the Balkan People"], The Slavonic and East European Review 44, no. 103, 1960, p. 285-297
  3. {{note|3}} Malcolm, Noel. [http://vmro.150m.com/en/nm/kosovo.html "Kosovo, a short history"], Macmilan, London, 1998, p. 22-40
  4. {{note|4}} Eric P. Hamp, University of Chigaco [http://members.tripod.com/~Groznijat/balkan/ehamp.html The Position of Albanian] (Ancient IE dialects, Proceedings of the Conference on IE linguistics held at the University of California, Los Angeles, April 25-27, 1963, ed. By Henrik Birnbaum and Jaan Puhvel)
  5. {{note|5}} Rosetti, Alexandru. "History of the Romanian language" (''Istoria limbii rom?ne''), 2 vols., Bucharest, 1965-1969.
  6. {{note|6}} Alinei, Mario. [http://www.continuitas.com/interdisciplinary.pdf "Balkan sprachbund may date back to Neolithic times"], May 2003.
  7. {{note|7}} Wilkes, John. "The Illyrians", Oxford, 1992.
  8. {{note|8}} Jirecek, Konstantin. "The history of the Serbians" (''Geschichte der Serben''), Gotha, 1911
  9. {{note|9}} Cabej, Eqrem "''Die aelteren Wohnsitze der Albaner auf der Balkanhalbinsel im Lichte der Sprache und Ortsnamen''", Florence, 1961
  10. {{note|10}} G. Weigand, "Sind die Albaner die Nachkommen der Illyrier oder der Thraker"
  11. {{note|11}} By Dr. S.S. Juka [http://www.home.no/dukagjin/Footnotes.html Kosova: The Albanians in Yugoslavia in light of historical documents]


In the 19th and early 20th century, archaeologists associated the Illyrians with the Hallstatt culture, an Iron Age people noted for production of iron and bronze swords with winged-shaped handles (Ha C) and for horse breeding. Nowadays, the equation of material culture with linguistic and political groups is seen as problematic, as neither the rate of culture change nor of linguistic change is well known.

The area had initially been settled by two groups that would later be known as the Pannonians and the Dalmatians in Roman Empire times, but modern ideologies of racial nationalism tend to minimize the amount of tribal mixing that has taken place over the last three millennia.

The Illyrians carried on commerce and warfare with their neighbors. The ancient Macedonians may have had an Illyrian (as well as Thracian) element, but under Philip of Macedon their ruling class adopted Greek cultural characteristics. The Illyrians also mingled with the Thracians in adjoining lands on the east. In the south and along the Adriatic coast, the Illyrians were heavily influenced by the Greeks, who founded trading colonies there. The present-day city of Durr?s evolved from a Greek colony known as Epidamnos, which was founded at the end of the 7th century BC Another famous Greek colony, Apollonia, arose between Durr?s and the port city of Vlor?.

The Illyrians produced and traded cattle, horses, agricultural goods, and wares fashioned from locally-mined copper and iron. Feuds and warfare were constant facts of life for the Illyrian tribes, and Illyrian pirates plagued shipping on the Adriatic Sea. Councils of elders chose the chieftains who headed each of the numerous Illyrian tribes.

From time to time, local chieftains extended their rule over other tribes and formed short-lived kingdoms. During the 5th century BC, a well-developed Illyrian population center existed as far north as the upper Sava River valley in what is now Slovenia. Illyrian friezes discovered near the present-day Slovenian city of Ljubljana depict ritual sacrifices, feasts, battles, sporting events, and other activities.

At various times, groups of Illyrians migrated over land and sea into Italy.

Illyrian kingdom

The Illyrian kingdom of Bardhyllus became a formidable local power in the 4th century BC. In 359 BC, King Perdiccas III of Macedonia was killed by attacking Illyrians. In 358 BC, however, Macedonia's Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, defeated the Illyrians and assumed control of their territory as far as Lake Ohrid. Alexander himself routed the forces of the Illyrian chieftain Clitus in 335 BC, and Illyrian tribal leaders and soldiers accompanied Alexander on his conquest of Persia. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, independent Illyrian kingdoms again arose. In 312 BC, King Glaukius expelled the Greeks from Durr?s. By the end of the third century, an Illyrian kingdom based near what is now the Albanian city of Shkod?r controlled parts of northern Albania, Montenegro, and Herzegovina. Under Queen Teuta, Illyrians attacked Roman merchant vessels plying the Adriatic Sea and gave Rome an excuse to invade the Balkans.

In the Illyrian Wars of 229 BC and 219 BC, Rome overran the Illyrian settlements in the Neretva river valley and suppressed the piracy that had made the Adriatic unsafe. In 180 BC the Dalmatians declared themselves independent of the Illyrian king Gentius, who kept his capital at Skodra (Shkoder). The Romans made new gains in 168 BC, and Roman forces captured Gentius at Shkoder, which they called ''Scodra'', and brought him to Rome in 165 BC. A century later, Julius Caesar and his rival Pompey fought their decisive battle near Durr?s (Dyrrachium). Rome finally subjugated recalcitrant Illyrian tribes in the western Balkans during the reign of Emperor Tiberius in 9 AD, and established the province of Illyricum, governed by an Imperial legate. The Romans divided the lands that make up present-day Albania among the provinces of Macedonia, Dalmatia, and Epirus.

Roman province of Illyricum

For about four centuries, Roman rule brought the Illyrian-populated lands economic and cultural advancement and ended most of the enervating clashes among local tribes. The Illyrian mountain clansmen retained local authority but pledged allegiance to the emperor and acknowledged the authority of his envoys. During a yearly holiday honoring the Caesars, the Illyrian mountaineers swore loyalty to the emperor and reaffirmed their political rights. A form of this tradition, known as the kuvend, has survived to the present day in northern Albania.

The Romans established numerous military camps and colonies but complete latinization was confined to the coastal cities. They also oversaw the construction of aqueducts and roads, including the Via Egnatia, a famous military highway and trade route that led from Durres through the Shkumbini River valley to Macedonia and Byzantium (later Constantinople). Copper, asphalt, and silver were extracted from the mountains. The main exports were wine, cheese, oil, and fish from Shkod?r Lake and Lake Ohrid. Imports included tools, metalware, luxury goods, and other manufactured articles. Apollonia became a cultural center, and Julius Caesar himself sent his nephew, later the Emperor Augustus, to study there.

Several of the Roman emperors had their origin in the Romanized population of Illyria. They included Diocletian (284-305) who saved the empire from disintegration by introducing institutional reforms, Constantine the Great (324-337) who accepted Christianity and transferred the empire's capital from Rome to Byzantium, which he called Constantinople and Justinian (527-565) -- who codified Roman law, built the most famous Byzantine church, the Hagia Sophia, and reextended the empire's control over lost territories.

Illyrians distinguished themselves as warriors in the Roman legions and made up a significant portion of the Jovians and Herculians imperial guard of the Roman Emperors, from their assignment to the task in 284 by Diocletian, when they replaced the Praetorian Guard, until 988 when they were replaced by the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Empire.


Christianity came to the Illyrian-populated lands in the 1st century Saint Paul wrote that he preached in the Roman province of Illyricum, and legend holds that he visited Durr?s. When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western halves in 395, the lands that now make up Albania were administered by the Eastern Empire but were ecclesiastically dependent on Rome.

However in 732 a Byzantine emperor, Leo the Isaurian, subordinated the area to the patriarchate of Constantinople. For centuries thereafter, the Albanian lands became an arena for the ecclesiastical struggle between Rome and Constantinople. Most Gheg Albanians living above the Shkumbini River which includes today's Tirana, the Capital of Albania, Shkodra, the fertile lands by the Adriatic Sea and the lake of Shkodra, and the especially prosperous fields of Kosovo and Tetovo became Roman Catholic, while the Tosk Albanians living across the Mountenous Eastern South and the Boggy Southwest regions, below Shkumbini River, joined the Orthodox church.


The name "Illyria" went out of use after the division of the Roman empire under Diocletian. It was revived by Napoleon for the 'Provinces of Illyria' that were incorporated into the French Empire from 1809 to 1813, and the 'Kingdom of Illyria' was part of Austria until 1849, after which time it was not used in the reorganised Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The name ''Illyrians'' was used by some groups among the Croats up to their period of romantic nationalism in the 19th century, but was eventually abandoned as a potentially misleading anachronism.

In drama and literature Illyria can be a half-fictional country, e.g., in William Shakespeare's ''Twelfth Night'', Jean-Paul Sartre's ''Les Mains Sales'' and in Lloyd Alexander's ''The Illyrian Adventure'' ISBN 0141303131.

Today, there are Albanian personal names which are obviously part of Illyrian legacy such as masculine names: "Ilir", "Arber", "Dardan", "Agron" as well as feminine names like "Teuta".

Illyrian tribes

See also


External links




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