Essential Histories

Essential Histories

Essential Classical Societies

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The Illyrians were a group of tribes and petty kingdoms, who inhabited part of the western Balkans and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula. The territory the Illyrians inhabited came to be known as Illyria.

The Illyrians were at various stages subject to varying degrees of Celticization, Hellenization, and Romanization.


Communities in Illyria were initially small, kin-based, non-heriarchical societies, though they had complex social networks. Many tribes possessed at least one centrally fortified place called a gradina, which was similar to a Celtic oppidum.


The Illyrians were known as skilled craftsman and shipbuilders


Illyrians were renowned warriors and had effective weapons such as the sica, a curved-tip sword that originated in Illyria and was eventually adopted all over the Balkans.


The Illyrians controlled much of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea using their numerous warships and frequently took to piracy.


Illyrian religion was polytheistic with many different deities. There appears to be no single most prominent Illyrian god and there would have been much variation between individual Illyrian tribes.