The Celtic Migration into the Balkans 330–278 BCE


Map Code: Ax02094

In the 4th century BCE, the Celts moved out of their German heartland south into Italy and east into the Danube basin. The eastern advance was spearheaded by the Boii and Volcae confederacies, who scented richer pickings in the southern Balkans. By the century’s end, the Illyrians, Paionians and Triballi were overrun, then (298 BCE) the Celtic leader Cimabaules conquered western Thrace. With Alexander the Great dead, and his successors locked in civil war, the Celtic leader Brennus went for the ultimate prize: Greece (281 BCE). His vast horde overwhelmed the Macedonian army, killing their king Ptolemy Keraunus, but rather than pressing on they returned laden with loot. Brennus launched a follow-up (279 BCE) reaching as far as Delphi, only to be blocked and defeated by a Greek coalition. Soon afterwards, Brennus died of his wounds, and his retreating army was defeated at Lysimachia. Further expeditions founded Tylis in Thrace, where it is said that the Celts extorted the native population and were overthrown in 212 BCE.

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