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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the general name of a broad group of Indo-European tribes, which, in antiquity, occupied the northwestern Balkan peninsula, from the middle course of the Danube to the Adriatic Sea (the most important of the Illyrian tribes were the Dalmatae, Liburnians, Istrians, Iapodi, Pannonians, Desitiatoi, Pirusti, Dicionai, Dardanai, Ardaei, Taulantii, and Plerei), and the southeastern part of the Italian Peninsula (the Japyges, Messapians).

The Illyrians are first mentioned in the works of the Greek writers Hecataeus of Miletus (sixth century B.C.) and Herodotus (fifth century B.C.). Archaeologically the Illyrians are connected with the Hallstatt culture of the Early Iron Age (the cultic vehicles, the ceramic and bronze utensils with figures and raised friezes, and the ornaments date from the period of the greatest development of the Hallstatt culture in 700–400 B.C.). In the seventh to the third centuries B.C. the Greeks founded a number of commercial and agricultural colonies on the territory settled by the Illyrians. At first, the Illyrians constructed fortresses of unhewn stone, but later, under the Greek influence, they began to build walls of dressed blocks and decorate their sanctuaries with sculpture. At the beginning of the third century B.C. the Celts invaded the Illyrian provinces; they partly drove the Illyrians back and partly subjected them to Celticization (thus forming a group of Illyro-Celtic tribes).

In the third century B.C., when the Illyrians came into conflict with the Romans, they were at the stage of declining primitive communal relations (the first early class formations developed even sooner among the southern Illyrian tribes: among the En-chelei, in the fourth century B.C.; among the Taulantii, in the second half of the fourth century B.C.; and among the Ardaei, in the middle of the third century B.C.). After subjugating the neighboring tribes, the Ardaei created a vast state with its capital at Scodra (modern Shkoder). As a result of the so-called Illyrian Wars (229–228, 219, 168–167 B.C.) between the Ardaei and the Romans, the territory of the Ardaei’s state was conquered by the Romans (167 B.C.) and became part of the Roman province of Macedonia (148 B.C.). The northern coastal regions, which were inhabited by the Liburnians, Dalmatae, and Iapodi, were conquered by the Romans in the second to the first century B.C.; the tribes were finally subjugated during the Illyrian War of 35–33 B.C. At that time, the Pannonian tribes on the Middle Sava were also conquered. From 13 to 9 B.C. the tribes to the north of the Sava up to the course of the Middle Danube were subjugated by the Romans. The tribes of the interior of Dalmatia (the Desitia-toi, Pirusti, and others) were subdued by the Romans in the course of the suppression of the Pannonian-Dalmatian insurrection (6–9 A.D.). The Illyrians were subjected to rapid and powerful Romanization, especially in the coastal areas and the cities. In the course of the Great Migration of Peoples, the Illyrians were finally assimilated; the ancient Illyrian language also gradually disappeared. Some scholars consider the modern Albanians to be descendents of the ancient Illyrians. Remains of the Illyrian culture have been preserved in Austria, Italy, Albania, and Yugoslavia.


Sviridova, I. N. “llliriiskie plemena v kon. 1 v. do n.e.—v nach. 1 v. n.e.” Uch. zap. Moskovskogo Gos. pedagogicheskogo in-ta im. V. I. Lenina, 1960, no. 153 [a].
Budimir, M. “Iliri i prailiri.” Vjesnik za arheologiju i historiju dolmatinsku. 1952, no. 53.
Stipcevic, A. “O umjetnosti starih ilira.” Republika, [Zagreb], 1960, no.1, pp. 16–17.
Alfoldy, G. Bevolkerung und Gesellschaft der römischen Provinz Dalmatien. Budapest, 1965.
Stipcevic, A. Bibtiographia illyrica. Sarajevo, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(36.) Illyrians were an ancient people that inhabited roughly the Western Balkans since the first millennium B.C.E.
Illyrians and, as the economy prospered, so did the arts and culture.
After the opening of the exhibition on the Citadel, the pressures for making the site "Illyrian" calmed down; until last weekend.
(46) About the claims that ancient Balkan Illyrians were only the ethnic Serbs, see J.
Although Malvolio's possible Puritanism has been the subject of much discussion, less attention has been paid to the religious affiliation of the other Illyrians. Anthony Nuttall claims there is no "factional grouping" in the play (241), an untenable assertion given that as soon as Sir Andrew learns Malvolio is "a kind of puritan," he exclaims, "O, if I thought that, I'd beat him like a dog!" (2.3.140-41).
[4.] Illyria, an ancient name of the region in the Balkans along the Adriatic coast, inhabited by the Illyrians, an Indo- European people.
Nodier's Smarra opposes French imperial influence in the region, celebrating the "primitive culture of the Illyrians" (146), whereas Merimee's La Guzla promulgates the opposite view of Dalmatia as superstitious and unenlightened, in need of the Empire's modernizing influence.
The area was populated by the Illyrians during the ancient times, and they strengthened Grad by building terraces and walls, thus turning it into one of the most fortified towns in the Adriatic.
Starcevic was in his youth a supporter of a pan-Yugoslav group of mostly Croat intellectuals, known as Illyrians, but he grew disillusioned with Yugoslavism and turned into an extreme Croat nationalist.
There were, to begin with, the Ottoman Turks who, despite the initial and successful resistance put up by Skanderbeg (George Kastriota, 1405--68), conquered Albania in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries and maintained a measure of authority until 1912; the Albanians were the last, Kadare admits, "to free themselves of the Turkish yoke." For a proud people, descendants of the ancient Illyrians, this was a difficult pill to swallow.