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ILLYRIA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 326 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ILLYRIA, a name applied to part of the Balkan Peninsula extending along the eastern shore of the Adriatic from Fiume to Durazzo, and inland as far as the Danube and the Servian Morava. This region comprises the modern provinces or states of Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, with the southern half of Croatia-Slavonia, part of western Servia, the sanjak of Novibazar, and the extreme north of Albania. As the inhabitants of Illyria never attained complete political unity its landward boundaries were never clearly defined. Indeed, the very name seems originally to have been an ethnological rather than a geographical term; the older Greek historians usually wrote of " the Illyrians " (oi' 'IAlcvpiot), while the names Illyris ('IAIsvpis) or less commonly Illyria ('IXXvpia) came subsequently to be used of the indeterminate area inhabited by the Illyrian tribes, i.e. a region extending eastward from the Adriatic between Liburnia on the N. and Epirus on the S., and gradually shading off into the territories of kindred peoples towards Thrace. The Latin name Illyricum was not, unless at a very early period, synonymous with Illyria; it also may originally have signified the land inhabited by the Illyrians, but it became a political expression, and was applied to various divisions of the Roman Empire, the boundaries of which were frequently changed and often included an area far larger than Illyria properly so called. Vienna and Athens at different times formed part of Illyricum, but no geographer would ever have included these cities in Illyria. Ethnology.—Little can be learned from written sources of the origin and character of the Illyrians. The Greek legend that Cadmus and Harmonia settled in Illyria and became the parents of Illyrius, the eponymous ancestor of the whole Illyrian people, has been interpreted as an indication that the Greeks recognized some affinity between themselves and the Illyrians; but this inference is based on insufficient data. Herodotus and other Greek historians represent the Illyrian as a barbarous people, who resembled the ruder tribes of Thrace. Both are described as tattooing their persons and offering human sacrifices to their gods. The women of Illyria seem to have occupied a high position socially and even to have exercised political power. Queens are mentioned among their rulers. Fuller and more trustworthy information can be obtained from archaeological evidence. In Bosnia the lake-dwellings at Butmir, the cemeteries of Jezerine and Glasinac and other sites have yielded numerous stone and horn implements, iron and bronze ornaments, weapons, &c., and objects of more recent date fashioned in silver, tin, amber and even glass. These illustrate various stages in the development of primitive Illyrian civilization, from the neolithic age onward. The Hallstatt and La Tene cultures are especially well represented. (See W. Ridgeway, The Early Age of Greece, tool; R. Munro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dalmatia, Edinburgh, 1900; and W. Radimsky, Die neolithische Station von Butmir, Vienna, 1895-1898.) Similar discoveries have been made in Dalmatia, as among the tumuli on the Sabbioncello promontory, and in Croatia-Slavonia. H. Kiepert (" -Ober den Volkstamm der Leleges," in Monatsber. Berl. Akad., 1861, p. 114) sought to prove that the Illyrians were akin to the Leleges; his theory was supported by E. Schrader, but is not generally accepted. In Dalmatia there appears to have been a large Celtic element, and Celtic place-names are common. The ancient Illyrian languages fall into two groups, the northern, closely connected with Venetic, and the southern, perhaps allied to Messapian and now probably represented by Albanian. See K. Brugmann, Kurze vergleichende Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen (Strassburg, 1904) ; and his larger Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik (2nd ed., Strassburg, 1897), with the authorities there quoted, especially P. Kretschmer, Einleitung in die Geschichte der Griechischen Sprachen (Gottingen, 1896) : see also
End of Article: ILLYRIA
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