Kingdom of Dardania

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Kingdom of Dardania
4th century BC–28 BC
Map of Dardanian Kingdom (green)
Map of Dardanian Kingdom (green)
Historical eraClassical antiquity
• Founded
4th century BC
• Roman conquest
28 BC
Succeeded by
Roman Republic
Today part ofAlbania
North Macedonia

The Kingdom of Dardania was a polity formed in the central Balkans in the region of Dardania during classical antiquity. It is named after the Dardani, a Paleo-Balkan tribe which formed its population and formed the core of the Dardanian polity. Dardania included present-day Kosovo[a], northwestern North Macedonia, parts of the Raška region and area of Naissus in Serbia and the Kukës County in Albania.[1] The eastern parts of Dardania were at the Thraco-Illyrian contact zone. The kingdom of the Dardanians eventually became part of the Roman Empire, first as the province of Moesia and then the province of Dardania.


Illyrian tribes in the 7th–4th centuries BCE.

In Dardania tribal aristocracy and pre-urban development emerged from the 6th–5th centuries BC. The contacts of the Dardanians with the Mediterranean world began early and intensified during the Iron Age. Trade connections with the Ancient Greek world were created from the 7th century BC onwards.[2] The proto-urban development was followed by the creation of urban centers and the emergence of craftsmanship, and a Dardanian polity began to develop from the 4th century BC.[2] Material culture and accounts in classical sources suggest that Dardanian society reached an advanced phase of development.[3][4]

The Dardani are referred to as one of the opponents of Macedon in the 4th century BC, clashing with Philip II who managed to subdue them and their neighbors, probably during the early period of his reign.[5][note 1] The Dardani have remained quiet until Philip II's death, after which they were planning defection. However an open war have not been caused by their riots, since Alexander the Great menaged to have the full control of the kingdom and its army after succeeding his father to the Macedonian throne. Indeed the Dardani have not been mentioned in the ancient accounts concerning the events of Alexander's Balkan campaign.[11] It appears that the Dardani evaded the Macedonian rule during the Wars of the Diadochi between 284 BC and 281 BC, at the time of Lysimachus'empire. Thereafter the Dardani became a constant threat to Macedon on its northern borders.[12]

In 279 BC, at the times of the great Celtic invasion, Dardania was raided by several Celtic tribes on their campaigns that were undertaken to plunder the treasuries of Greek temples.[12] During these events an unnamed Dardanian king offered to help the Macedonians with 20,000 soldiers to counteract the invading Celts, but it was refused by the Macedonian king Ptolemy Keraunos who, underestimating the Celtic strength, died fighing them.[13][14][12] Only at the oracle of Delphi the Celts eventually arrested and were defeated. Afterwards they withdrew in the north passing through Dardania, however they were completely destroyed by the Dardani.[15] Further references to the Dardani are provided in the ancient sources describing Dardanian constant wars against Macedonians from the second half of the 3rd century BC.[15]

After the Celtic invasion of the Balkans weakened the state of the Macedonians and Paeonians, the political and military role of the Dardanians began to grow in the region. They expanded their state to the area of Paeonia which definitively disappeared from history.[16] In 230 the Dardani under Longarus[17] captured Bylazora from the Paeonians.[18] Taking advantage of Macedonian weakness, in 229 the Dardani attacked Macedonia and defeated Demetrius II in an important battle.[19] After obtaining a great victory over the Macedonian army the Dardani invaded Macedon proper. The Dardanian expansion in Macedon, similar to the Ardiaean expansion in Epirus around the same years, may have been part of a general movement among the Illyrian peoples.[20]

In this period Dardanian influence on the region grew and some other Illyrian tribes deserted Teuta, joining the Dardani under Longarus and forcing Teuta to call off her expedition forces in Epirus.[21] When Philip V rose to the Macedonian throne, skirmishing with Dardani began in 220-219 BC and he managed to capture Bylazora from them in 217 BC. Skirmishes continued in 211 and in 209 when a force of Dardani under Aeropus, probably a pretender to the Macedonian throne, captured Lychnidus and looted Macedonia taking 20.000 prisoners and retreating before Philip's forces could reach them.[22]

In 201 BC, Bato of Dardania (along with Pleuratus the Illyrian and Amynander, King of Athamania) cooperated with Roman consul Sulpicius Galba Maximus in his expedition against Philip V. Always being under the menace of Dardanian attacks on Macedonia, Philip V made an alliance with the Bastarnae at around 183 BC and invited them to settle in Polog, the region of Dardania closest to Macedonia. A joint campaign of the Bastarnae and Macedonians against the Dardanians was organized, but Philip V died and his son Perseus of Macedon withdrew his forces from the campaign. The Bastarnae crossed the Danube in huge numbers and although they didn't meet the Macedonians, they continued the campaign. Some 30,000 Bastarnae under the command of Clondicus seem to have defeated the Dardani. In 179 BC, the Bastarnae conquered the Dardani, who later in 174 pushed them out, in a war which proved catastrophic, with a few years later, in 170 BC, the Macedonians defeating the Dardani. Macedonia and Illyria became protectorates of the Roman Republic in 168 BC. The Dardanian Kingdom retained its sovereignty until 28 BC, when the Roman Empire under emperor Augustus conquered the region (and consequently it).[23][24]

The Romans created the province of Moesia from parts of Dardania, but later made it a separate province called Dardania.


Sites in Kosovo[edit]

Identified places and settlements in Kosovo.
# Settlement[note 2] Description Location Geographic coordinates Ref.
1 Municipium Dardanorum Soqanicë 43°3′17″N 20°48′36″E / 43.05472°N 20.81000°E / 43.05472; 20.81000 (Municipium Dardanorum) [25]
2 Romajë Romajë 42°17′31″N 20°35′34″E / 42.29194°N 20.59278°E / 42.29194; 20.59278 (Romajë) [26]
3 Busavatë Busavatë 42°34′49″N 21°32′36″E / 42.58028°N 21.54333°E / 42.58028; 21.54333 (Busavatë) [27]
4 Ulpiana Ulpiana 42°35′47″N 21°10′31″E / 42.59639°N 21.17528°E / 42.59639; 21.17528 (Municipium Dardanorum) [28]
5 Vindenis Gllamnik 42°51′58″N 21°10′59″E / 42.86611°N 21.18306°E / 42.86611; 21.18306 (Vindenis) [29]
6 Vlashnjë Vlashnjë 42°12′09″N 20°39′45″E / 42.20250°N 20.66250°E / 42.20250; 20.66250 (Vlashnjë)
7 Topanicë Topanicë 42°31′25″N 21°38′23″E / 42.52361°N 21.63972°E / 42.52361; 21.63972 (Topanicë) [30]
8 Duboc Dubovc 42°46′37″N 20°54′37″E / 42.77694°N 20.91028°E / 42.77694; 20.91028 (Dubovc) [31]
9 Dardana Fortress Kamenica 42°35′33″N 21°33′49″E / 42.59250°N 21.56361°E / 42.59250; 21.56361 (Dardana Fortress) [32]


The eastern parts of the region were at the Thraco-Illyrian contact zone. In archaeological research, Illyrian names are predominant in western Dardania (present-day Kosovo), while Thracian names are mostly found in eastern Dardania (present-day south-eastern Serbia). Thracian names are absent in western Dardania; some Illyrian names appear in the eastern parts.[33][34] The correspondence of Illyrian names, including those of the ruling elite, in Dardania with those of the southern Illyrians suggests a "thracianization" of parts of Dardania.[35][36] Strabo in his geographica mentions them as one of the three strongest Illyrian peoples, the other two being the Ardiaei and Autariatae.[37]

Dardanian rulers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to a historical reconstruction the first attested Dardanian king was Bardylis, who during the expansion of his dominion included the region of Dassaretis in his realm, but this is considered an old fallacy because it is unsupported by any ancient source, while some facts and ancient geographical locations go squarely against it.[6][7][8][9] Most scholars hold that the Illyrian kingdom that was established by Bardylis was centered along Lake Ohrid and east to the Prespa Lakes, which was called Dassaretis later in Roman times, located on the border between Macedon and Epirus.[10]
  2. ^ Italics: the ancient names are unattested.
  1. ^ The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo is formally recognised as an independent state by 101 UN member states (with another 13 states recognising it at some point but then withdrawing their recognition) and 92 states not recognizing it, while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.


  1. ^ Shukriu 2008, pp. 11–12.
  2. ^ a b Shukriu 2008, p. 9.
  3. ^ Šašel Kos 2010, p. 626.
  4. ^ Gavrilović Vitas 2021, p. 3.
  5. ^ Vujčić 2021, p. 504.
  6. ^ Cabanes 2002, pp. 50–51, 56, 75.
  7. ^ Mortensen 1991, pp. 49–59.
  8. ^ Lane Fox 2011, p. 342: "Their own king Bardylis was king of a realm along Lake Ohrid and east to the two Prespa Lakes, the "Dassaretis" of later topography, not "Dardania", as Hammond postulated"
  9. ^ Vujčić 2021, pp. 501–504.
  10. ^ Toynbee 1969, p. 116; Mortensen 1991, pp. 49–59; Cabanes 2002, pp. 50–51, 56, 75; Šašel Kos 2002, p. 106; Castiglioni 2010, p. 58; Lane Fox 2011, p. 342; Mesihović & Šačić 2015, pp. 129–130; Parisot 2015, p. 477; Vujčić 2021, p. 503.
  11. ^ Vujčić 2021, pp. 504–505.
  12. ^ a b c d Petrović 2006, p. 8.
  13. ^ Robert Malcolm Errington (1990). A History of Macedonia. University of California Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-520-06319-8.
  14. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 253
  15. ^ a b Petrović 2006, p. 9.
  16. ^ Stipčević 1989, pp. 38–39.
  17. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 338
  18. ^ Errington 1990, p. 185.
  19. ^ A history of Macedonia Volume 5 of Hellenistic culture and society, Robert Malcolm Errington, University of California Press, 1990, ISBN 0-520-06319-8, ISBN 978-0-520-06319-8 p. 174
  20. ^ Eckstein 2008, pp. 34–35.
  21. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 335
  22. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 404
  23. ^ A history of Macedonia Volume 5 of Hellenistic culture and society, Author: Robert Malcolm Errington, University of California Press, 1990 ISBN 0-520-06319-8, ISBN 978-0-520-06319-8, p. 185
  24. ^ Hammond, N.G.L. (1988). A History of Macedonia: 336-167 B.C. Clarendon Press. p. 253. ISBN 0-19-814815-1.
  25. ^ Wilkes 1992, p. 258.
  26. ^ Schermer, Shukriu & Deskaj 2011, p. 236.
  27. ^ Alaj 2019, p. 41.
  28. ^ The Roman army as a community: including papers of a conference held at Adrian Keith Goldsworthy, Ian Haynes, Colin E. P. Adams, ISBN 1-887829-34-2, 1997, page 100
  29. ^ Fjalor enciklopedik shqiptar, Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë, Tiranë, 2009, fq. 2870 – 2871. ISBN 978-99956-10-32-6.
  30. ^ Alaj 2019, p. 51.
  31. ^ Alaj 2019, p. 65.
  32. ^ Alaj 2019, p. 91.
  33. ^ Papazoglu 1978, p. 131

    the Dardanians ... living in the frontiers of the Illyrian and the Thracian worlds retained their individuality and, alone among the peoples of that region, succeeded in maintaining themselves as an ethnic unity even when they were militarily and politically subjected by the Roman arms [...] and when, towards the end of the ancient world, the Balkans were involved in far-reaching ethnic perturbations, the Dardanians, of all the Central Balkan tribes, played the greatest part in the genesis of the new peoples who took the place of the old

  34. ^ Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing. p. 205. ISBN 1438129181. According to ancient sources, the Dardani, variously grouped but probably Illyrians, lived west of present-day Belgrade in present-day Serbia and Montenegro in the third century B.C.E, their homeland in the ancient region of Thrace (and possibly there since the eight century B.C.E).
  35. ^ Joseph Roisman; Ian Worthington (7 July 2011). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-4443-5163-7.
  36. ^ Wilkes 1992, p. 85

    Whether the Dardanians were an Illyrian or a Thracian people has been much debated and one view suggests that the area was originally populated with Thracians who then exposed to direct contact with Illyrians over a long period. [..] The meaning of this state of affairs has been variously interpreted, ranging from notions of Thracianization' (in part) of an existing Illyrian population to the precise opposite. In favour of the latter may be the close correspondence of Illyrian names in Dardania with those of the southern 'real' lllyrians to their west, including the names of Dardanian rulers, Longarus, Bato, Monunius and Etuta, and those on later epitaphs, Epicadus, Scerviaedus, Tuta, Times and Cinna.

  37. ^ Alaj 2019, p. 7.
  38. ^ a b Wilkes 1992, p. 86

    ... including the names of Dardanian rulers, Longarus, Bato, Monunius and Etuta, and those on later epitaphs, Epicadus, Scerviaedus, Tuta, Times and Cinna. Other Dardanian names are linked with...