TH-04B Thracian Peltast with Spear in Back, 4th Century BC
Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The Thracians in classical times were broken up into a large number of groups and tribes (over 200), though a number of powerful Thracian states were organized, such as the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace and the Dacian kingdom of Burebista.
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.
The Thracians were a warrior people, known as both horsemen, but mainly as lightly armed skirmishers with javelins, which were known as peltasts. They were regarded by other peoples as warlike, ferocious, and bloodthirsty.
The peltast, was a type of soldier of the ancient period, which probably originated in Thrace. Thracian peltasts were to have a notable influence in Ancient Greece. A Thracian Peltast carried a crescent-shaped wicker shield and was armed with several javelins (akontia). The style of fighting used by peltasts probably originated in Thrace and the first peltasts used by Greek armies were recruited from the Greek cities of the Thracian coast. They are generally depicted on Greek vases and in other images as wearing the typical Thracian costume, which includes the distinctive Phrygian cap made of fox-skin, with ear flaps. They also usually wore a patterned tunic, fawnskin boots and a long cloak, called a zeira, which was decorated with a bright, geometric, pattern.