Feb 112023

A History of Mankind

Iron (Age) Men

By the 13th century BC, southeastern Europe was in a great state of flux. Mycenaean Greeks had taken over Crete during the previous century, and turned the island into a base for raiding and piracy. Mycenaean warlords and their troops were recorded as persistent enemies of Hittite dominance of western Anatolia even at the height of the Hittite Empire’s power and the region in fact remained largely independent from Hattusa to the very end of the empire.

Long-range raiding expeditions, later recorded and much embellished in Greek mythology, such as Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece[7], were becoming a Mycenaean specialty, and these exploits reached the ears of fellow Indo-Europeans up north, including the Thracians of modern Bulgaria.

The Thracians, reputed as some of the fiercest warriors of antiquity[8], liked fighting and plunder as much as the next tribal confederacy. In the Iliad, Thracians are described as allies of the Trojans in the Trojan War against the Mycenaean Greeks, a clear sign that Greeks of the 1st millennium BC had a strong tradition of wariness and dislike for their northern neighbors, likely related to Thracian raiding of the southern lands[9], richer and easier to reach than the Dalmatian coast on the other side of the Shar Planina range that divides the Adriatic from the Aegean watersheds[10].

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