TH-04A Thracian Peltast with Spear in Back, 4th Century BC
They became the main type of Greek mercenary infantry in the 4th century BC. Their equipment was less expensive than that of traditional hoplites and would have been more readily available to poorer members of society.
When faced by hoplites, peltasts operated by throwing javelins at short range.
If the hoplites charged, the peltasts would retreat.
As they carried considerably lighter equipment than the hoplites, they were usually able to evade successfully, especially in difficult terrain. They would then return to the attack once the pursuit ended, if possible, taking advantage of any disorder created in the hoplites’ ranks.
The Athenian general Iphicrates destroyed a Spartan phalanx in the Battle of Lechaeum in 390 BC, using mostly Thracian peltasts.
In the first decade of the sixth century BC, the Persians conquered Thrace and made it part of their satrapy Skudra. Thracians were forced to join the invasions of European Scythia and Greece. According to Herodotus, the Bithynian Thracians also had to contribute a large contingent to Xerxes’ invasion of Greece in 480 BC.
Later the conquest of the southern part of Thrace by Philip II of Macedon in the fourth century BC made the largest Thracian state, the Odrysian kingdom extinct for several years. After the kingdom had been reestablished, it was a vassal state of Macedon for several decades under generals such as Lysimachus of the Diadochi.