Language and Ethnic Identity of the Thracians during the Roman Age and Late Antiquity

  • Svetlana Yanakieva Institute of Balkan Studies & Centre of Thracology Bulgarian Academy of Sciences 13 Moskovska Str. BG-1000 Sofia
Keywords: Thracian language preservation, ancient authors, inscriptions, onomastic material, ethnic identity


The paper examines two interrelated issues: the Thracian language during the Roman Age and Late Antiquity, and the link between the language and the ethnic identity of the Thracians. The two theories in the literature on the Thracian language are discussed, notably: its preservation until the end of Antiquity, and its extinction and replacement by Latin or Greek already during the Roman Age. The theory about the preservation of the Thracian language until the end of Antiquity and the settling of the Slavs on the Balkan Peninsula is supported by research on the available data: evidence provided by Greek and Roman authors, the data from inscriptions and onomastic material – anthroponyms, toponyms, oronyms and hydronyms.

On the second issue the author presents her views on the role of language for the preservation of the Thracian ethnic identity within the same chronological boundaries.