Illyria or Illyrian (for the Romans Illyricum, in Illyrian: Iliria) was the region corresponding to the western part of the Balkan peninsula, towards the south-eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, inhabited by the Illyrians, an ancient Indo-European language population.
The main cities of Illyria were Apollonia, Epidamno (today's Durres), Scodra (today's Scutari in Albania) and Rhizon (Risano, now in Montenegro).
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, archaeologists associated the Illyrians with the Hallstatt culture, an Iron Age population known for producing bronze and iron swords with a winged (or C) shaped hilt. and for horse breeding. Today, making a given political and linguistic group correspond to a material culture is considered a mistake, since we do not have the knowledge of cultural and linguistic changes available.
The area was initially inhabited by two groups, known since the time of the Roman Empire as Pannoni and Dalmatians, but modern ideologies on racial nationalism tend to minimize the phenomenon of tribal intermingling that has taken place over the last three millennia.
The Illyrians had trade relations and conflicts with their neighbors. They also mixed with the Thracians in the annexation of the eastern territories. To the south and along the coasts of the Adriatic Sea, the Illyrians were greatly influenced by the Greeks, who founded trading posts there. Today's city of Durres developed from a Greek colony known as Epidamno, founded at the end of the 7th century BC. Another famous Greek colony, Apollonia arose between Durres and the port city of Vlora.
The Illyrians traded in cattle, horses, agricultural products and forged in local copper and iron, luxury goods. Thefts and wars were the order of the day among the Illyrian populations, their pirates were a long plague for the sailors who sailed the Adriatic. The councils of elders chose a chief to lead each of the Illyrian tribes.
From time to time, local leaders extended control over other tribes and formed short-lived kingdoms. During the 5th century BC, a well-developed center had spread to the north, on the upper part of the valley of the Sava River, now Slovenia. Illyrian friezes have been discovered in the present-day city of Ljubljana showing ritual sacrifices, holidays, battles, sporting events and other activities.
Some groups of Illyrians migrated across the Adriatic to the Italian peninsula.
The Illyrian kingdom
The Illyrian reign of King Bardylis became a significant center of power in the 4th century. In 359 BC, the king of Macedon, Perdiccas III, was killed during an assault on the Illyrians. In 358 BC, Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, defeated them and took control of their territory as far as Lake Ohrid. Alexander himself led the troops of their leader Clitus in 335 BC. and Illyrian tribal leaders as well as many soldiers accompanied Alexander to the conquest of Persia. After his death in 323 BC, independent Illyrian kingdoms rebelled again. In 312 BC King Glaucus expelled the Greeks from Durazzo. Towards the end of the third century BC, an Illyrian kingdom settled near the present-day Albanian city of Shkodra and placed its control over parts of northern Albania, Montenegro and Herzegovina. Under Queen Teuta, they attacked Roman merchant boats in the Adriatic Sea and gave Rome the reason to invade the Balkans.
The Roman province of Illyricum
In the Illyrian wars of 229 BC and in 219 BC, Rome passed well beyond their settlements in the Narenta river valley and suppressed the piracy that had made the Adriatic a dangerous sea. In 180 BC the Dalmatians declared themselves independent from King Genti, who placed his capital in Scutari. The Romans regained the region in 168 BC, the Roman troops captured King Genzio in Scutari (which they called "Scodra") and