Bosnia and the Balkans in ancient and medieval times

I want to share some ancient and medieval sources I’ve compiled about Bosnia and the Balkans in ancient and medieval times.


Abraham Ortelius about
Pannonians and Illyrians: http://www.orteliusmaps.com/book/ort_text203.html
Illyricum: http://www.orteliusmaps.com/book/ort_text144.html
Bosnia and the Balkans: http://www.orteliusmaps.com/book/ort_text145.html

Map of Bosnia by Blaeu


About Bosnia and the Balkan region in ancient times. From various sources from ancient times to Ortelius.

Here are some examples of the definitions of Illyricum (and Illyrians) (Abraham Ortelius):

“144.5. Illyricum or (which pleases others better Illyris} is a country on the coast of the Hadriatic sea opposite Italy. The bounds of this province vary according to various authors. For Plinius assigns only a small area [to it] between the rivers Arsia and Titius. And Ptolemæus gives its confines a further extension, namely from Histria to Macedonia, along the entire coast, and inland towards its more central parts he makes it reach out as far as the borders of Pannonia {1580/1589G & 1602G have instead{Austria}1602G instead} and Mœsia the higher {1608/1612I has instead{Hungary, Bosnia and Sclavonia}1608/1612I instead}. 144.6. Pomponius Mela and Dionysius Alexandrinus make it even far larger, ascribing [as they do] to Illyricum all that part from the Hadriatic sea that there is between Triest and Montes Ceraunij, and say that the Illyrij dwell [even] beyond the river Danube. And Mela counts the river Danube among the rivers of Illyricum. Strabo also, in the seventh book of his Geography, says that the Illyrij border on Macedonia and Thracia.”
“But Appianus Alexandrinus makes it even larger than any of the writers mentioned, for he writes about the Illyrij like this: The Greeks, he says, call all those people Illyrij who dwell between Chaonia and Thesprotis (beyond Macedonia and Thracia) up as high as the river Ister. For this is the length of this province. The breadth of it is the distance between Macedonia and the mountains of Thracia all the way to Pæonia and the Ionian sea, and it also borders on the Alps, which is a distance of a five day journey. Its length is trice as much as its width. “ [I think the Paeonia here is the Greek-termed Paeonia, not related to the Pannonians (Pannoni)]
“145.12. And a little after the same author has these words: The Romans generally include under the Illyrij not only what has been mentioned before, but also the Pæones beyond these, together with the Rheti, Norici and Mysij who inhabit Europe and whatever other nations border on these which they have on the right hand side when sailing up the river Ister. And again, to distinguish the Hellenes from the Greek, they call them by various proper names.” [Again the Paeones.]
“145.14. Sextus Rufus who lived at the time of Valentinianus the emperor, attributes seventeen provinces to Illyricum: Two of the Norici, the two Pannonies, Valeria, Savia, Dalmatia, Moesia, the two Dacias, Macedonia, Thessalia, Achaia, two Epirus, Prævalis and Creta.”

And here follows some relevant ancient accounts:

“The tribes of the Pannonii are: the Breuci, the Andisetii, the Ditiones, the Peirustae, the Mazaei, and the Daesitiatae, whose leader is26 Bato,27 and also other small tribes of less significance which extend as far as Dalmatia and, as one goes south, almost as far as the land of the Ardiaei. The whole of the mountainous country that stretches alongside Pannonia from the recess of the Adriatic as far as the Rhizonic Gulf28 and the land of the Ardiaei is Illyrian, falling as it does between the sea and the Pannonian tribes.” – Strabo
“Next to them comes acorn-bearing Pannonia1, along which the chain of the Alps, gradually lessening as it runs through the middle of Illyricum from north to south, forms a gentle slope on the right hand and the left. The portion which looks towards the Adriatic Sea is called Dalmatia and Illyricum, above mentioned, while Pannonia stretches away towards the north, and has the Danube for its extreme boundary. In it are the colonies of Æmona2 and Siscia.” – Pliny the Elder
“the whole of the country situated above this [the “Illyrian seaboard”] is mountainous, cold, and subject to snows, especially the northerly part, so that there is a scarcity of the vine, not only on the heights but also on the levels. These latter are the mountain-plains occupied by the Pannonians; on the south they extend as far as the country of the Dalmatians and the Ardiaei, on the north they end at the Ister, while on the east they border on the country of the Scordisci, that is, on the country that extends along the mountains of the Macedonians and the Thracians. [11]” – Strabo

About Dalmatia as defined during Pliny’s time:

“Scardona, situate upon the river1, at a distance of twelve miles from the sea, forms the boundary of Liburnia and the beginning of Dalmatia. Next to this place comes the ancient country of the Autariatares and the fortress of Tariona, the Promontory of Diomedes2, or, as others call it, the peninsula of Hyllis, 100 miles3 in circuit. Then comes Tragurium, a place with the rights of Roman citizens, and celebrated for its marble, Sicum, a place to which Claudius, the emperor lately deified, sent a colony of his veterans, and Salona4, a colony, situate 112 miles from ladera. To this place resort for legal purposes, having the laws dispensed according to their divisions into decuries or tithings, the Dahmatæ, forming 342 decuries, the Deurici 22, the Ditiones 239, the Mazæi 269, and the Sardiates 52.” – Pliny the Elder
“To the same jurisdiction also belong the Issæi7, the Colentini, the Separi, and the Epetini, nations inhabiting the islands. After these come the fortresses of Peguntium8 and of Rataneum, with the colony of Narona9, the seat of the third jurisdiction, distant from Salona eighty-two miles, and situate upon a river of the same name, at a distance of twenty miles from the sea. M. Varro states that eighty-nine states used to resort thither, but now nearly the only ones that are known are the Cerauni10 with 24 decuries, the Daorizi with 17, the Dæsitiates with 103, the Docleatæ with 33, the Deretini with 14, the Deremistæ with 30, the Dindari with 33, the Glinditiones with 44, the Melcomani with 24, the Naresii with 102, the Scirtarii with 72, the Siculotæ with 24, and the Vardæi, once the scourges of Italy, with no more than 20 decuries. In addition to these, this district was possessed by the Ozuæi, the Partheni, the Hemasini, the Arthitæ, and the Armistæ.” – Pliny
“besides in former times many Greek towns and once powerful states, of which all remembrance is fast fading away. For in this region there were formerly the Labeatæ, the Enderini16, the Sasæi, the Grabæi17, properly called Illyrii, the Taulantii18, and the Pyrei.” – Pliny
About the redefinition of (the Roman province) Pannonia:
“This province (Pannonia) corresponded to the eastern part of Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, the whole of Hungary between the Danube and Saave, Slavonia, and part of Croatia and Bosnia. It was reduced by fiberius, acting under the orders of Augustus.” – Note about Pannonia in Pliny the Elder’s work at http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?p.164:262.PerseusLatinTexts


“The personal name Plator was very common among Illyrians, attested among the southern Illyrians, Delmatae, Pannoni etcetera, sometimes in lands north of the Delmatae it was also spelled Pletor. The name is also found with derivatives such as Platino and Platoris. Among the Liburnians the name is found as Plaetor, among the Veneti as Plaetorius” – http://www.thefullwiki.org/Plator

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