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Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

Author(s): Jack Martin Balcer


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Source: Historia: Zeitschrift fr Alte Geschichte, Bd. 37, H. 1 (1st Qtr., 1988), pp. 1-21
Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag
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ABHANDL UNGEN
PERSIAN OCCUPIED THRACE (SKUDRA)
Students of ancient Greece and the Achaemenid Empire have usually listed
the European region of Thrace among the Persian imperial satrapies.' Two
recent articles sustain that claim. N. G. L. Hammond began his article of 1980
with the statement that Skudra was a Persian satrapy, a statement without
qualification yet based upon the mention of 'Skudra' among the Persian
inscriptions and the inclusion of Skudrians amid the reliefs at Persepolis.2
Seven years earlier, however, George G. Cameron had demonstrated that the
royal Achaemenid inscriptions at Persepolis, Naqsh-i Rustam, Susa, and
Bisitun refer not to provinces or satrapal organizations but rather to ethnic
groups, to peoples and not governmental structures.3
Then, in 1983, Wtodzimierz Paj4kowski presented the thesis that Sestos was
the Satrapal center of the Persian satrapy of Skudra, and he noted that the
Persian Artayktes had been one of its satraps or governors.4 Paj4kowski's
argument is centered upon a key statement within Herodotus' Histories,
9.116.1: ETdVvQdVVF&E
6E' TOUTOU TO VORio EERw iUTCxpxo'AQTQXT1j;,
tvile tv fleQuqq. Paj4kowski's line of reasoning rests upon his interpretation
of that line to be: "Artayktes, Xerxes' satrap and a Persian man, ruled this
province." His argument focuses upon the interpretation of the two key
words, voRo'g and `6auct(xog,as satrapy and satrap. Within the context of
Herodotus' text, however, in each instance their primary meanings are region
or subdivision and commander; and as region vo[O6 also denotes a taxable
1 A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (Chicago 1948), 157-8; Benjamin D. Meritt,
H. T. Wade-Gery, and Malcolm McGregor, The Athenian Tribute Lists, vol. 3 (Princeton 1950),
214; N. G. L. Hammond, A History of Greece to 322 B.C. (Oxford 1959), 179; A. R. Burn, Persia
and the Greeks (New York 1962), 110-1; J. Wiesner, Die Thraker (Stuttgart 1963), 89; Helmut
Castritius, "Die Okkupation Thrakiens durch die Perser und der Sturz des athenischen Tyrannen
Hippias", Chiron 2 (1972), 4, 10; Walther Hinz, Darius und die Perser, vol. 1 (Baden-Baden
1976), 206; J. M. Cook, The Persian Empire (New York 1983), 77-85; J. M. Balcer, Sparda by the
Bitter Sea: Imperial Interaction in Western Anatolia (Chico 1984), 184. B. Lenk, "Thrake
(Geschichte)," RE Ser. 2, vol. 6.1 (Stuttgart 1936), 420; Christo M. Danov, Altthrakien (Berlin
1976), 272; rejected the satrapal status.
2 N. G. L. Hammond, "The Extent of Persian Occupation in Thrace," Chiron 10 (1980),
53-61, esp. n. 19.
3 G. G. Cameron, "The Persian Satrapies and Related Matters," JNES 32 (1973), 47-56.
4 Wlodzimierz
Paj4kowski, "Einige Bemerkungen zur Lokalisierung der persischen Provinz
(Satrapie) Skudra," Eos 71 (1983), 243-255.

Historia,

Band XXXVII/I(1988) ?) Franz Stciner Verlag Wicsbaden GmbH, Sitz Stuttgart

JACK MARTIN BALCER

unit, a fiscal subdivision.5 Only occasionally, thus secondarily, do they refer


to satrapy and satrap.
Within thirty-six Herodotean examples of nomos only five can be interpreted as denoting a satrapy or province, and those five also connote a large
fiscal unit (Persian: 1.192.2; 3.120.2, 3; 5.102.1; and 9.113.1). Thirty
examples clearly refer to fiscal units as subdivisions of larger provinces
(Egyptian: 2.4.3, 42.1, 2, 46.3, 4, 71, 91.1, 152.1, 165, 166.1, 169.4, 172.1;
3.90.1, 90.2, 90.3, 91.1, 2, 3, 4, 92.1, 2, 93.1, 2, 3, 94.1, 94.2, 127.1; 4.62.1,
66), with the clearest example being 2.164.2, . . . ex vo[V & TWV& -LClL
y 6 vo,uovs A'ynoT &racTaza
xaTa yae
bLaeCQLQat (". . . and they belong
to the following nomoi, for all divisions in Egypt are made according to
nomoi"). Thus, we must simply not translate the word nomos as satrap or
province in Herodotus 9.113.1, but rather to analyze the word within the
context of Herodotus' text in order to determine whether Artayktes ruled a
satrapy or a subdivision, the fiscal nomos.
In regard to the word huparchos, Herodotus wrote that term at twentythree occasions. Of those, seven examples refer to the huparchos of the
Sardians, or of Sardis, the Achaemenid satrapy of Sparda in western Anatolia,
almost repetitious forms of the phrase 6oXctLwv `nactexog (3.120.1; 5.25.1,
73.2, 123; 6.1.1, 30.1, and 42.1). For a Persian administrative province well
known to him, Herodotus was able to list both Oroites (3.120.1) and
Artaphrenes, the half brother of the Great King Darius (5.25.1), as satraps;
and that evidence, within context, appears historically correct. Sardis served as
the western capital of the Achaemenid Empire, and its governmental role in
western Anatolia ranked with extreme imperial importance.
Fifteen other examples (including the crucial reference of 9.116.1) are
varied, and range from satrap to subordinate commander. Herodotus noted
Aryandes to have been the huparchosof Egypt (4.16 6. 1), and that also appears
to be a correct reference to that satrapal organization (Polyaenus 7.11.7).
Satrapalstatus for Masistes in Bactria (9.113.2) may be less secure yet possible,
while for the office of huparchos for Hystaspes, Darius' father (3.70.3), the
evidence remains uncertain. According to the Bisitun inscriptions (DB),
Hystaspes had been among the Parthians, and there suppressed the revolution
against his son.6 In the opening of the Old Persian text (DB I. 13-7) Parthiaand
J. M. Balcer, "Ionia and Spardaunder the Achaemenid Empire, the Sixth and Fifth Centuries
B.C.: Tribute, Taxation and Assessment," Le Tribut dans l'Empire achebmnide, Table Ronde de
Paris 12 et 13 d&cembre1986, forthcoming.
6 Roland G. Kent, Old Persian Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, 2nd ed. (New Haven 1953), DB I.
2-3; II. 92-4; III. 1-9; Elizabeth N. von Voigtlander, The Bisitun Inscriptionof Darius the Great:
Babylonian Version(London 1978). FranKoisVallet, "Corpus des Inscriptions royales en Elamite
achemenide." These presentee pour l'obtention du Doctorat de 111' Cycle, Paris 1977. All
Achaemenid inscriptions noted herein as D, X and A are cited in Kent, Old Persian.
I

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

other regions are listed as dahyava- dabyu- as "land, district, province, or


peoples"; but in this instance Parthiacannot be considered a satrapy, as
Cameron has demonstrated. Parthia must be understood to mean "the
Parthians,"an ethnic group and not a satrapy.Finally, the three Herodotean
statementsfor Daskyleion, an imperial palacial site north of Sparda, the
huparchoiMitrobates(3.120.2, and 126.2) and Oibares(6.33.3), may not be
interpretedas theirbeingsatrapsbut ratheras subordinatecommanders,as we
lackconfirmationfrom the Persianinscriptionsor Persepolisreliefsof the late
sixth or early fifth centuriesB.C., that the peoples of Daskyleion were a
notable ethnic group, no less composed a satrapy.Nor are they mentioned
amongthe PersepolisFortificationTabletsandTreasuryTablets.7 Not untilthe
late 480's B.C., did that regiongain satrapalstatus (Thuc. 1.129.1). We shall
examine later this particularrole of Daskyleion in the early Achaemenid
Empire.

AdditionalHerodoteanreferencesto huparchosarealso impreciseas to their


meaning.Two referencesto Persianhuparchoiappearto referto subordinate
governors (3.128.3, "all of the huparchoi have royal secretaries"; 7.26.2, "now
which of the huparchoi received the promised gifts from the King for bringing
the best-equipped army, I cannot say"). The latter reference could be
interpreted to indicate satraps; yet the meaning remains uncertain. This
ambiguity is underscored by four other Herodotean references to huparchoi as
commanders of cities or fortresses: 5.27.1, "the Persians sent an huparchos [to
Lemnos] over those Lemnians left"; 7.194.1, Sandokes the huparchos in
Aeolian Kyme; 7.105, Maskames the huparchos in [Thracian] Doriskos; and
the general yet significant phrase of 7.106.1, "huparchoi had been appointed
everywhere in Thrace and on the Hellespont." The most commanding
Herodotean phrases, therefore, are 7.106.1, that many huparchoi governed in
Thrace, and 2.164.2, that numerous nomoi existed in Egypt.
Thus, when Herodotus referred to Artayktes as the huparchos of Sestos
("the Athenians with Xanthippos . . . took Artayktes, a Persian man, who
was huparchos of Sestos, and crucified him alive,"' ['AQTCEtrXlv hvbQCE
Ft jojqv kXfo4VT6v5 XrOJT0coV3luctxov16v-Ca JTQcog
(cva6Ct LE&aCitxvoaak
av]
7.33), the Artayktes of the critical entry of 9.116.1 for Palakowski's argument,
we grapple with the pivotal problem. Was Artayktes the satrap of the Persian
province of Thrace, actually labeled Sestos, or was he the commander of the
nomos of Sestos, and subordinate to a higher regional official? If Herodotus
referred to the Anatolian satrapy of Sardis (Sparda) by the name of its capital

7
George G. Cameron, Persepolis Treasury Tablets (Chicago 1948); Richard T. Hallock,
Persepolis Fortification Tablets (Chicago 1969); or among the unpublished tablets, now in The
Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago.

JACK MARTINBALCER

center, then could his reference in 7.33 refer to a Thracian satrapy called
"Sestos" rather than Thrace or our Old Persian ethnic region of Skudra? No
ancient text, however, supports that thesis. We return, therefore, to the two
significant Herodotean passages, 7.33 and 9.116.1, and consider them to
indicate that Artayktes was no more than the administrator of Sestos and the
Chersonese as a fiscal region.
The problem of the Herodotean huparchos is further illustrated by a twelfth
reference, and that to the Macedonian King Amyntas, "a Greek man, being
huparchos of the Macedonians" (5.20.4). Amyntas was a King in his own right
but he was also a vassal monarch in subordinate alliance with the Achaemenid
Empire of Darius (5.17-8). Macedonia between c. 513 and 492 B.C., was not a
regular satrapy nor was it included as a specific ethnic region among the
imperial Achaemenid inscriptions. During the early period of Megabazos'
conquest of coastal Thrace and his alliance with King Amyntas, the Persian
scribes wrote of "peoples" or "Ionians" (Yauna) along the northern Aegean
coast. The may have been both Macedonians and Skudrians (Thracians), but
more likely just Skudrians. The Old Persian text on the southern terrace wall
at Persepolis (DPe) mentions "the peoples beyond the sea,"8 and an
inscription at Susa mentions "the lonians who are across the sea" (DSe: 28-9).
"Ionians" or Yauna, more precisely "Greeks" generically, was a collective
term referring to all Greeks: lonians, Thracians, Macedonians, mainlanders,
and others (Ar. Ach. 100).9 Yet, there is no compelling reason to include the
Macedonians within those two epigraphical statements. They refer only to
northern "Greeks" without specific reference: Skudrians certainly, but it is
questionable that they included Macedonians.
With Mardonios' conquest of Macedonia several years later in 492 B.C.,
however, the Achaemenid inscriptions did list the Skudrians and the Macedonians seperately. The inscription upon Darius' tomb at Naqsh-i Rustam
(Darius died in November 486 B.C.)'0 specifically mentions the "Ionians
wearing broad-brimmed hats," an ethnic group that is listed after the
Spardians, the lonians, the Scythians across the Sea, and the Skudrians, and
before the Libyans (DNa 28-29: Sparda : Yauna : Saka: tyaiy : paradaraya:

8 George G. Cameron, "Darius, Egypt, and the 'Lands Beyond the Sea,"' JNES 2 (1943),
307-13; "lands" corrected to "peoples," Cameron, "The Persian Satrapies," JNES 32 (1973),
47-56; Kent, Old Persian, DPe: 12-5, Yauna: tyaiy: uskahya: uta: tyaiy: drayahya: uta:
dahyava: tya: para: draya . . .
9 Wilhelm Brandenstein, "Der persische Satz bei Aristophanes, 'AXaQvIt;,Vers. 100," Wiener
Zeitschriftfur die Kunde Siid- und Ostasiens 8 (1964), 43-58.
10 Richard A. Parker and Waldo Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75
(Providence 1956), 16-7.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

Skudra : Yauna : takabara : Putaya). These broad brimmed Greeks in the


north were, indeed, the patasos-wearing Macedonians."1
King Amyntas' Submission of "earth and water," c. 513-2 B.C., constituted
Macedonia's mark of privileged vassalage status beyond the regular organized
imperial sphere cf the conquered satrapies; a contract structured upon
Zarathustrian offerings and oath-fidelity'2 that created the semiautonomous
status maintained by Macedonia for two decades.'3 In 492 B.C.,14 several years
after the death of Amyntas,'5 Mardonios, Darius' nephew (Hdt. 7.5.1), sonin-law (Hdt. 6.43. 1), and general, invaded Thrace and then Macedonia, this
time tO conquer t'he Macedonians. At this point, Herodotus (6.44.1) stated
clearly that Macedonia had previously not been part of the regular
&E Tq)
Achaemenid imperial structure: TO1YTOJTEbd)
MzixE60vstq 3Qot 10T1L
80XOl3
tQho0EXTflCFaVTO T'O yatQ EVT1g Maxebl6vwv EiOver
'zUTQ)X01'01T
7rvTa orpi W6 '1JtOXdQLUa yEyovOTa ("then, by means of the land army,
they gained as subjects the Macedonians to those they held subordinate, for
they had already taken in hand all of the ethnic groups this side of
Macedonia"). In this Herodotus noted that Mardonios' army had marched
through southernTFhrace,that its tribes had been previously subjugated (tQos
TO110 tU'JtcdQYXOL)., and only then did the Persians gain the Macedonians as
douloi or subjects. 16 For Herodotus, that was not sufficient information, for
he continued statirngthat the Persian army had already taken in hand all of the
ethnic groups (Ti . . . Ovect JTacVTCt) to the east of Macedonia (&vTb;
Mx0b6vxwv)'7 an(dthe border of the Strymon River between Macedonia and

Thrace.18

" A. T. Olmstead, "Wearing the Hat," American Journal of Theology 24 (1920), 94-5; W.
Eilers, "Vom Reisehut zur Kaiserkrone: A. Das Wortfeld," AMI 10 (1977), 153-68; Kent, Old
Persian, 185, sv. takabara- adj. "wearing the patasos," as proved by the Akkadian "who bears
shields on their heads."
12 Castritius, "Die Okkupation Thrakiens," Chiron 2 (1972), 2; Louis L. Orlin, "Athens and
Persia ca 507 B.C.: A Neglected Perspective," in Michigan Oriental Studies in Honor of George
G.Cameron (Ann Arbor 1976), 255-66; Balcer, Sparda by the Bitter Sea, 215, 268.
13 Hammond and CGriffith,History of Macedonia, vol. 2, 58-69; argued that Macedonia was
included in the satrapy of Skudra, 59; cf. J. M. Balcer, "Miletos (IG 12.22 [13.21]) and the
Structures of Alliance," in Wolfgang Schuller (ed.), Studien zum Attischen Seebund: Xenia,
Konstanzer althistorischpeVortragerund Forschungen (Konstanz 1984), 11-30.
14 W. W. How and J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, vol. 2 (Oxford 1912), 79.
15 Hammond and Griffith, History of Macedonia, vol 2, 60.
16
Balcer, Sparda by the Bitter Sea, 214-8.
17 How and Wells, Commentary on Herodotus, vol. 2, 80.
18 Ibid; Hammond ind Griffith, History of Macedonia, vol. 2, 60; did not consider Amyntas
and the Macedonians other than as subjects before Mardonios' invasion.

JACK MARTIN BALCER

Only with Mardonios' campaign did the Persians conquer and subjugate
Macedonia as a regular subordinate imperial satrapy. "' Thus, the Macedonians
appear as a distinct ethnic group late in Darius' reign, whereas previously they
may or may not have been included with the Skudrians. Consequently, in book
7.108. 1, Herodotus wrote that all of the territories up to Thessaly (Thrace and
Macedonia) had been subjugated first by Megabazos and later by Mardonios,
and that the territories were tributary to the King. All of Herodotus' evidence
indicates that by the time of Mardonios' campaign in 492 B.C., both Thrace and
Macedonia had become subjected to the Achaemenid Empire and, consequently, submitted their tributes to that government; yet it does not suggest that
the two European regions were politically linked. Megabazos had initially
gained Macedonia by treaty, and then Mardonios subjugated it (Hdt. 7.9. a 2,
,B2). Thrace had been subjugated separately and earlier.
If we accept Herodotus' statements in 5.17-20, and the subsequent statement
of 6.44.1, as they are written, we cannot conclude that Macedonia under King
Amyntas had been a subpart of the provincial unit of Thrace or that Amyntas
had been a satrap of Macedonia. Yet, he had been its commander. The offering
of "earth and water" set Amyntas' Macedonia apart from the regular satrapal
system of King Darius' imperial structure and marked Macedonia as a
semiautonomous unit such as Cilicia,20the Phoenician coastal city-states, and
that treaty offered to the Athenians in 479 B.C. (Hdt.8.140.1-2). In regard to
King Amyntas, the term huparchos does not denote a satrap but rather a
provincial ruler. Thus, when we return to Artayktes we must also note that he
was a provincial commander, an huparachos(9.116.1) and over only the nomos
of Sestos (7.33), the Thracian Chersonese. Herodotus' text allows no other
interpretation. Artayktes was not a satrap nor is there evidence that Thrace as
Skudra was a regular and distinct satrapy within the Empire.
If Artayktes, however, was only the provincial ruler of Sestos and
subordinate to a higher office, where then was that office and who was its
official? Herodotus, unfortunately, did not state clearly that information,
except in the complex sentence of 5.25.1, which we shall analyze shortly. His
excursus upon Macedonia quickly ended and he then became involved in
describing the Ionian Revolt (5.28.14.43.1), and in doing so Herodotus
omitted reference to political and other events in Thrace and in Macedonia
(except for references to Histiaios' Thracian fort at Myrkinos: 5.23.1-25.1,
124.2, 126).
Skudrians were well known within the Achaemenid Empire, and as noted in
19 Herodotus' story (5.18-21) about the murder of the Persian embassy to Amyntas' Court is a
fabrication of King Alexander I's propaganda. I am grateful to Professor Eugene Borza for this
observation from his forthcoming book on Macedonia, by letter, 10 February 1987.
20 John D. Bing, "A History of Cilicia during the Assyrian Period," Ph. D. dissertation, lndiana
University 1969.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

the publishedPersepolisFortificationTablets(509-494 B.C.)2' hundredsof


Skudrianswere in the serviceof the GreatKingin Parsa,22alongwith Ionians,
Sardians,Carians, Cappadocians,Syrians, Egyptians, Arabians,Assyrians,
Babylonians,Bactrians,Sogdians,Indians,andothers.Among all of them, the
Skudriansappearto havebeen one of the largestif not the largestethnicgroup
noted; and the additional records of the unpublishedtexts confirm this
observation.23 At Persepolis, upon the Apadana's staircase reliefs, the Skudrians wear a Scythian style hat with cheek flaps tapering under the chin and
tied; their capes bear weighted tassels at the bottom corners, and are worn over
a long beltless coat; their trousers are tucked into halfboots; and each carries
two spears and a shield almost hemispherical in shape, with vertical ribbed
patterns.24 It is curious, however, that among the eighty-five texts of the
Persepolis Treasury Tablets (492-458 B.C.) Skudrians are not noted.25 This
absence, after the numerous notations among the Fortifications Tablets, may
be due to the relatively small number of Treasury Tablets, thus by accident of
their fewness; yet it may also reflect the reality of the breaking away of
significant parts of European Thrace from the Achaemenid Empire after 479
B.C., therefore, a marked decline of new Skudrians going to the Asiatic
regions of the Empire.
Royal scribes at Susa during the reign of Darius also listed Skudrians as well
as "Ionians across the sea" (DSe: 27-9), and in an imperial inscription they
again noted Skudrians and the Macedonian "patasos-wearing Ionians" (DSm:
10-11); yet neither Skudrians nor Macedonians were mentioned among the
workmen at Darius' palace at Susa (DSf). Some years later during the reign of
Xerxes other scribes at Persepolis listed "Ionians who dwell across the sea"
along with Skudrians (XPh: 23-5, 27); and decades later during the reign of
either Artaxerxes II or III, other scribes at Persepolis still listed Skudrians
among the imperial subjects, although the Achaemenid Empire had lost its
Thracian territories (A?P). Those Skudrians, however, may have long been in
residence in the Asian territories of the Empire and still retained their ethnic
identity, even though they are strangely absent among the Persepolis Treasury
Tablets.
It is curious, however, that the gold and silver trilingual plates from
21

Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets.


Twenty-three tablets: PF 851, 852, 853, 1006, 1010, 1056, 1057, 1085, 1172, 1176, 1186,
1215, 1278, 1363, 1575, 1813, 1823, 1847, 1946, 1954, 1955, 2055, 2069.
23 Letter communication from Professor Matthew W. Stolper, The Oriental Institute, 30
January 1987, thirty-seven tablets: PF-NN LI -750, 780, 823, 1396, 1968, 2170; L2 -68, 343, 606,
1405, 1428; L3 -721, 860, 955, 2137, 2484; M -175, 583, 785, 916, 1198, 1646, 1948, 2237; N -867,
2227; P -1909; Q -1126, 1937; R - 1827; V -2211, 2261, 2265, 2349, 2479, 2487; W -2196.
24 Erich F. Schmidt, Persepolis, vol. I
(Chicago 1953); vol. 3 (Chicago 1970), 150-1.
25 Cameron, Persepolis Treasury Tablets.
22

JACK MARTIN BALCER

Persepolis, deposited during the reign of Darius, describe the Achaemenid


Empire as being "from the Scythians who are beyond Sogdiana, thence unto
Kush (Nubia); from India (Hindush), thence unto Sardis" (DPh), and do not
mention the western Skudrians. While the date of Darius' campaign against
India remains uncertain, it is usually placed after Darius' campaign into
European Thrace (Hdt. 4.44.3; DPe: 17-8). The omission of the Skudrians in
DPh may be a significant point: perhaps a mere oversight of fact, perhaps that
the northwestern Hindush had been conquered before European Thrace, or
perhaps that Skudra was a peripheral area to the Asiatic regions and not
formally a satrapal unit. Of these, the first two possibilities remain problematic and tenous. The third possibility has merit, and we shall investigate it
further.
Herodotus' accounts of the numerous Achaemenid military campaigns in
Thrace are brief, yet they allow us to analyze six phases of conquest and
reconquest between 513 and 492 B.C. Each phase of military activity began
outside of Thrace, none began within Thrace from a Persian fortress or center,
and each but the last was significantly ineffective. The Persians often had to
reconquer coastal poleis, fortresses, territories, and the offshore islands. At the
time of the sixth campaign phase, that of Mardonios in 492 B.C., the Aegean
coastal regions of Thrace had to be reconquered; and the Hellespontine and
Bosporos regions, also in turmoil, were still not firmly under Achaemenid
control. Most of all, Herodotus' text contains no evidence of a satrapal
organization at any time for that northwestern imperial region, from the
eastern Bosporos and Hellespont to the western Strymon, from the southern
Aegean coast northward.
Herodotus' account of the preparation for the initial invasion of Europe in
513 B.C. (4.1.1, 83),26 set the stage for the King Darius' departure from Asia
near yet unconquered Kalchedon across the Bosporos to Europe, and his
expedition into the upper Hebros valley27and on across the Danube River into
Scythia (4.89-97). Thracian Byzantion across from Kalchedon was subdued,
and Ariston, the Greek commander of that garrison port polis, and Miltiades,
the Athenian tyrant of the Thracian Chersonese, joined the Persian directed
26 J. M. Balcer, "Herodotus IV.1: Darius' Scythian Expedition," HSCP 76 (1972), 99-132;
incorrectly dated the expedition to 519 B.C.; J. M. Balcer, review of Heidemarie Koch and D. M.
MackKenzie, Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achamenidzeit und ibr Fortleben (Berlin 1983) =
AMI, Erganzungsband 10, in Bibliotheca Orientalis 41, no. 5/6 (Sept.-Nov. 1984), 661; noted the
error of 1972; see now Jinos Harmatta, "Darius' Expedition against the Saki Tigraxauda," AAH
24 (1976), 15-24; S. M. Burstein, "A New Tabula Iliaca: The Vasek Polak Chronicle," The J.
Paul Getty Museum Journal 12 (1984), 153-62.
27 E. Unger, "Die Dariusstele am Tearos," AA 30 (1915), 3-18. I question the authenticity of
the Gehrla tablet written in Old Persian, Jinos Harmatta, "A Recently Discovered Old Persian
Inscription," AAH 2 (1953), 1-16.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

East Greek fleet that sailed into the Pontos and up the Danube without effort
to meet Darius at a crossing some distance west of the river's marshy delta and
its several mountain barriers (Hdt. 3.89). This all too rapid and limited land
expedition simply does not support Herodotus' facile remark that Darius had
subduedThrace:xacLxaoTwTQE?CRFvog OQELxag,4.118.1. Only Byzantion,
parts of the Thracian Pontic coast, and the Hebros valley had been subdued in
this first phase of conquest.
Upon Darius' return from the Danube to Sestos apparently by a route down
the Hebros valley to its mouth, the Great King established at Doriskos the
important Achaemenid fortress, the Teichos Basileion or Royal Fort. From
Doriskos, Darius and his forces returned to Sestos on the Hellespont and then
to Asia, and at Sestos the King left Megabazos in command of the European
side of the Hellespontine region. With a large contingent of troops,
Megabazos reduced all of the states in that area that had not previously joined
the Empire (4.143-44). While Herodotus again implied that Thrace included
all of the territory south of the Danube, it is yet another vague reference
without discrete boundries (5.9.1 and echoed in 5.10.1; similar to 4.118.1),
and appears to refer to the geographic and ethnic boundries of Thrace rather
than to the areas under Achaemenid control. At this point, Darius could lay
imperial claim to only the lower Hebros valley and Doriskos, as he seems to
have lost the upper valley, and to the coastal Hellespontine region; and to
nothing more in this second phase of conquest. Byzantion and the southwestern Pontic coast appear no longer to have been under Achaemenid command.
Megabazos then turned from the Hellespont, campaigned westward along
the Aegean coast, and subjected the cities and villages up to the Strymon River,
the Thracian border with Macedonia, within the third phase of conquest
(5.13.2). From that river valley area, Megabazos, obeying Darius' command,
removed most of the Paionians and transported them to Asia, first to Sardis
and then to Phrygia, in a policy structured to quell malcontents (5.12.1,
repeated 14.1; 15.3).2i Perhaps many of those Paionians were the Skudrians
noted in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets, and for some unknown reason
had moved farther to Parsa, which might account for their exceedingly large
numbers in the Treasury Tablets; yet some did escape from Phrygia and
returned to western Thrace (Hdt. 5.98). If, however, the Persians had not
transported the Paionians east of Phrygia, we must consider that hundreds of
other Skudrians had entered Asia and had moved to Parsa.
Often, the Persians settled other ethnic groups from the Empire on the lands
vacated, as indicated by Darius' threat to the rebellious Ionians to remove
28 Bustenay Obed, Mass Deportation and Deportees in the Neo-Assyrian Empire (Wiesbaden
1979); Delfino Ambaglio, "II notivo della deportazione in Erodoto," Rendiconti Istituto
Lombardo 109 (1975), 378-83.

10

JACK MARTIN BALCER

them to Phoenicia and to repopulate their poleis with Phoenicians (Hdt.


6.3);29 the transportation of the vanquished Milesians in 494 B.C., to Susa and
the Tigris' marshy delta, and the resettlement of the Milesian plains by Karians
from Pedasos (Hdt. 6.20); and the presence of eastern Hyrkanians and
Bactrians settled in the Kaikos valley in Lydia.30 But as to Paionia, the
evidence of other ethnic groups being settled in that area by the Persians is
lacking. Meanwhile, Megabazos gained alliance with King Amyntas' Macedonian kingdom by means of that special subordinate treaty (5.17.1; Justin 7.3 is
derived from Hdt. 5.17, therefore, adds no new evidence).
During the period between Darius' return from the Danube to Sardis and his
departure from Sardis to Susa (Hdt. 5.11.1-25.1), Megabazos directly
controlled the Thracian regions subject to the Great King (4.143; 5.1.1). But
with Darius' departure several crucial events occurred. Megabazos left Thrace,
brought to Sardis the Paionians (Hdt. 5.98.1), and was replaced by Otanes as
the Persian general in command of the seacoasts from the Bosporos to the
northeastern Aegean. At the southern Bosporos, Otanes' forces reconquered
European Byzantion, took Asian Kalchedon, and in the southern Troad
subdued Antandros and Lamponeia; then with ships gained from Lesbos, they
took the key northeastern Aegean islands of Lemnos and Imbros, within the
fourth phase of conquest (5.26). Further territories in European Thrace had
not been gained, and even some of those just taken, Byzantion and at least a
part of Imbros, would later have to be reconquered.
The crucial issue rests within Herodotus' particular phrasing of the
departure of Darius to Susa, the replacement of Megabazos by Otanes, and the
appointment by Darius of his royal half brother Artaphrenes to the satrapal
command of Sardis; three significantly interrelated events (5.25. 1 tYUTvE
'E@wiToi 6ioJTtT'AQTpC vea &EX(cp6v
Aatedog F'YTagxai XantTilcaT
'IGnTMIov,
QLOV iUnQXov ELvcL
XIEQ&wv,3uri'mve ; XoOuctC`E[tct
d&y6REvo;
TbV
ELVac
axwoiWv
nOea
'OTdVca & &a,o09Ct
v6b0v...
OTQtr9yOV
"Thus said Darius; and appointing Artaphrenes, his brother on his father's
side, to be huparchos (satrap) of Sardis he rode away to Susa, taking Histiaios
with him; and he left Otanes as general of all of the troops along the
seacoast . . ."). This sentence implies that Artaphrenes served as the King's
commander over Otanes and his control of the eastern Thracian regions.
Neither Megabazos nor Otanes held satrapal command but rather functioned
as Persian military leaders; Megabazos, the general (4.144.3), was directly
29 Eretrians to Susa (Hdt. 6.20; Plato Menex. 240a-b; Leg. 3.698c); Libyans to Bactria (Hdt.
4.165, 167, 204); and Karians under Darius III to the Tigris (Arrian An. 3.8.5., 3.11.5); F.
Grosso, "Gli Eretriesi deportati in Persia," Rivista di filologia e di istruzione classica 86 (1958),
350-75; R. J. Penella, "Scopelianus and the Eretrians in Cissia," Athenaeum 52 (1974), 295-300.
30 Strabo 13.4.13; A. Keramopoullos, '0
Athena 16 (1904),
KiO(ogxai TO'Y(x6vtov rtEb(ov,
161-88; L. Robert, "Hyrcania," Hellenica 6 (1948), 16-26.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

11

subordinate to King Darius at Sardis; and Otanes, also a general (Hdt. 5.25.1),
was directly subordinate to Artaphrenes who replaced the King's brief
personal rule at Sardis. To this moment, Thrace still had not been organized
into an imperial satrapy, and remained as a peripheral border region of the
lower Hebros valley and coastal territories, first subordinate to Darius and
then to Artaphrenes, when both respectively ruled from Sardis. The Thracian
territories clearly were not governed by King Amyntas of Macedonia.
Herodotus' numerous comments about Thracian and Scythian gold;3' the
critical issues of the rebellious western Paionians, rich in silver (Hdt. 5.17.2,
23.2); the key center of Myrkinos and the gold and silver mines of neighboring
Pangaion, both in western Thrace (Hdt. 5.17.2; 6.46.2-47; 7.112; cf. 7.113.2,
115.2; Thuc. 1.100.2); indicate that Achaemenid interest in Thrace was more
than the natural expansion of the Empire32but also the attempt to control the
ore rich region of the Pangaion.33That issue clearly rests behind Herodotus'
account of Megabazos' concern with Darius' gift of Myrkinos to Histiaios
(5.23), regardless of what actually may have been the historical reason.34
The fifth phase of the Persian conquest of Thrace, in two brief stages,
occurred after the final Achaemenid settlement of the Ionian Revolt, in the
early spring of 493 B.C. (Hdt. 6.33.1). Once again, the Persian Imperial Fleet
of Phoenician ships sailed into the Hellespont and this time forced the
Athenian Miltiades (Hdt. 6.34.1), who twenty years earlier had served Darius
on the Danube, to flee. The Ionian Revolt between 499 and 494 B.C., had
significantly disrupted the tenuous ties between the Achaemenid government
in Sardis and the several disparate Thracian regions. During the first stage of
this campaign, the Persians for a second time subjugated almost all of the
numerous poleis in the Thracian Chersonese, with the exception of Kardia on
the northwestern coast (Hdt. 6.33.3), affirmed their control of Sestos, and
then along the European coast of the Propontis subjugated Perinthos, the
several Thracian walled forts (the teichea), Selymbria and, for a third time,
Byzantion. The fleet then returned to the Chersonese and, in a second stage,
took several other poleis not previously subjugated (Hdt. 6.33.2).
Achaemenid control of Byzantion never obtained the stability achieved in
other garrison centers elsewhere in Thrace; nevertheless, when under Persian
rule it ranked second to the garrison at Sestos on the Hellespont as an
31 Hdt. 4.5.2, 4.5.3, 4.7.1, 4.7.2, 4.10.1, 4.13.1, 4.26.2, 4.27, 4.65.1, 4.71.4; Stanley Casson,
Macedonia, Thrace and Illyria (Groningen 1968 ed.), 57-79.
32 Albert T. Olmstead, "Persia and the Greek Frontier Problem," CP 34 (1939), 305-22.
33 J. M. Balcer, "The Persian Occupation of Thrace, 519-491 B.C.: The Economic Effects,"
Actes du IIe Congres international des 'Etudes du sud-est Europeen (Athens 1972), 241-58.
34 Megabazos' warning to Darius of Histiaios' fortification of Myrkinos (Hdt. 5.23)
is
anachronistic; G. A. Chapman, "Herodotus and Histiaeus' Role in the Ionian Revolt," Historia
21 (1972), 555-8.

12

JACK MARTIN BALCER

Achaemenid port from Europe to the Asian coast. Byzantion had briefly fallen
to Achaemenid control when, across the narrows of the Bosporos north of that
polis, the Samian engineer Mandrokles constructed the bridge for Darius'
forces to invade Thrace and western Scythia in 513 B.C. (Hdt. 487-9). From
Byzantion, Ariston, the Persian appointed commander of that polis (Hdt.
4.138.1), directed one of the several important naval contingents to assist the
Great King's crossing of the Danube into Scythia (Hdt. 137-8). Byzantion,
nevertheless, soon revolted. Following his return to Sardis (Hdt. 5.1 1), Darius
consequently appointed Otanes to take over the military command in eastern
Thrace and to reconquer Byzantion (Hdt. 5.25-8).
Following the Greek raid upon Sardis in 499 B.C., Byzantion apparently
had again rebelled, but not until the spring of 493 B.C., was the Persian
Imperial Fleet able to take that port for a fourth time. But before the Persians
could control that polis, many Byzantines had fled northward to Mesembria
on the Pontic coast midway to the Danube, a region obviously outside
Achaemenid control (Hdt. 6.33). This Byzantine action suggests that the
Persians' tenuous control of the Thracian Pontic shore briefly gained in 513
B.C., and the establishment of the Persian city of Boruza (Hekataios FGrH I
F 166), had quickly disintegrated just as had Persian control in the upper
Hebros Valley, the Aegean coastal regions, and the Propontic coast from the
Hellespont to the Bosporos. Each phase of conquest had been unstable,
incomplete, and necessitated future reconquest from without. In 492 B.C., the
Persians had to regain the coastal Thracian regions and the islands. This, too,
implies the absence of a centralized satrapal center; and confirms the
suggestion that the several and limited Thracian territories claimed by the
Achaemenids to be theirs were governed from without, from Sardis whence
military commands and commanders were dispatched. What Thracian
territories did remain under Persian control were all too often isolated one
from another, as losses of territories continued. Thus, the regional commanders of Persian forts, ports, and cities were never able to structure a Thracian
political or military network, but rather remained tied to the satrapalcenter at
Sardis.
Byzantion apparently remained secure under Achaemenid control during
the succeeding fourteen years (Hdt. 9.89.4). Yet, in 479 B.C., after the Persian
naval defeat at Mykale, the Greek maritime forces attacked Sestos on the
Hellespont and its commander Artayktes (Hdt. 9.114-121), and that conquest
led to the subsequent Greek attack upon Byzantion in the late spring of 478
B.C. In this, the Byzantines may have welcomed the Greeks and thus
facilitated the fall and the destruction of the Persian garrison in their city.
Because of the instability of Byzantion, therefore, the Persians usually
preferred Sestos as the major crossing from Europe to Asian Abydos.
Certainly from the time of Darius' return from the Danube by way of

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

13

Doriskos in 513 B.C., Sestos appears to have remained Achaemenid until the
Greek conquest of that Hellespontine port in the winter of 479/8 B.C., and the
crcifixion of Artayktes. The two staged conquests of the Thracian Chersonese in 493 B.C., had forcefully reconfirmed Achaemenid control in that
military important spit of European territory, and reinforced the crucial
Persian fortress at Sestos.
Following that Chersonese campaign, the Persian Imperial fleet then took
the island of Tenedos off the Asian coast of the Troad at the mouth of the
Hellespont (Hdt. 6.41.1), and may have had to reinforce its control of the
islands of Imbros and Lemnos, previously taken by the Otanes. In flight from
the Persians, Miltiades had left the Chersonese from Kardia (Hdt. 6.41.1),
landed briefly and safely on Imbros (Hdt. 6.41.2, 4; 6.104.1), and then sailed
on to Athens. At some point thereafter, the Persians controlled fully the island
of Imbros, and also seized Kardia, which remained loyal to the Persians (Hdt.
9.115).
Mardonios' campaign in 492 B.C., with numerous land and naval forces,
from Sestos (Hdt. 6.43.1-2) across the southern coastal route of Thrace to the
Strymon, constituted the sixth and most successful phase of conquest, the
military inforcement of Achaemenid imperial control along the coastal areas
previously conquered. Greek poleis were again subjugated and new
Achaemenid military garrisons established. The particular new aspect of
Mardonios' expedition, however, was the military conquest of Macedonia and
the subsequent transferralof that semiautonomous kingdom from its status as
a privileged region marked by the alliance of "earth and water" to a fully
dependent and imperial region (Hdt. 6.44.1; 7.108.1). The Achaemenid
Empire now extended westward to the northern border of Thessaly. Thus, at
Naqsh-i Rustam, just a few years later, the scribes could include the "petasos
wearing 'Ionians'," the Macedonians, within the imperial structure, and as
Herodotus noted as subjects (doulous) by conquest (6.44.1).
With land forces accompanied by a naval contingent, Mardonios had
crossed the Hellespont and had proceeded across the coastal road toward
Macedonia. Rebellious Greek poleis west of Doriskos were resubjugated, the
island of Thasos (and perhaps Samothrace also) conquered, and in face of the
advancing Persian troops the western Thracian Greeks complained that the
Thasians should have defended them (Hdt. 6.43). The Thasians controlled
extensive ore bearing centers not only on their island but also on the Thracian
mainland (Hdt. 6.46.3; Thuc. 1.100.2); and these were as important for
Mardonios as they had been for Megabazos, no less Histiaios. As with many
centers in Thrace, Thasos proceeded to prepare to rebel against the Persians
(Hdt. 6.46.1), but little seems to have occurred.
Exactly at what point the key fortress of Eion on the Strymon River was
established, we unfortunately lack information; yet it seems to have been in

14

JACK MARTIN BALCER

place by 492 B.C. Eion may have been founded when Megabazos removed the
Paionians from western Thrace, and established as a critical fort on the border
of Thrace and Macedonia, a fort reaffirmed by Mardonios' conquest of
Macedonia. In contrast, Doriskos at the mouth of the Hebros River (Hdt
7.59.1) had been within the areas traversed by Darius and his forces upon their
return from Scythia (7.59.1). That key fortress remained loyal to the
Achaemenids and was the last European territory to be lost by them. Above
any urban or fortress center, Doriskos and not Sestos had the quality and the
traditions to have been the satrapal center for Thrace, but the ancient sources
never suggest that role.
Following Mardonios' campaign (although aborted by his military losses
and his consequential wound), Thrace remained secure under Achaemenid
control between 492 and 479 B.C. The events leading toward King Xerxes'
major invasion of Europe in 480 B.C., indicate continued Persian control
without additional conquests. At the base of the Mt. Athos peninsula,
beginning in 483 B.C. and lasting three years, the Persians Bubares and
Artachaies supervised the construction of the great canal through the one
section of sandy marl within the solid rock (Hdt. 7.22.1); others a bridge
across the Strymon River (Hdt. 7.42); and in preparation for the massive army
accompaning Xerxes, military supplies were established at four Thracian
centers: Leuke Akte, Tyrodiza near Perinthos, the Teichos Basileion of
Doriskos, and Eion, as well as other supplies deposited in Macedonia (Hdt.
7.25.2). There is no suggested of aggressive military activities accompaning
either the feats of engineering or the storage of military supplies for Xerxes'
forces.
From Abydos, Xerxes and his massive armies crossed the double shippontoon bridge to Europe, just to the north of Sestos (Hdt. 7.33-36).35 In
command of that garrison port, Artayktes then gathered the bridge cables and
sent them to Kardia within his district (the nomos) for safekeeping (Hdt.
9.115), as Xerxes forces advanced along the coastal route in Thrace toward
Macedonia and ultimately Athens (Hdt. 7.56). From Sestos to Doriskos,
Herodotus omitted refence to any Thracian or Greek opposition to the
advancing Achaemenid forces (7.58); and at Doriskos, Xerxes mustered his
land troops and the naval contingents, which Herodotus noted in colorful
detail (7.59.3-101.1), yet he did not mention Thracians, European Greeks, or
Macedonians among them.
Upon leaving Doriskos, Xerxes appointed Maskames commander (huparchos) of that fort, and removed the huparchos whom Darius had appointed
(Hdt. 7.105). In a further reference, Herodotus remarked that Maskames
35 Dietram Muller, "Von Doriskos nach Therme. Der Weg des Xerxes-Heeres durch Thrakien
und Ostmakedonien," Chiron 5 (1975), 1-11.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

15

excelled all of the other huparchoiappointed by either Darius or Xerxes


establishedin Thraceand aboutthe HellespontbeforeXerxes'expeditionhad
begun(7.106.1). Herodotusfurthernoted that afterthe disastrousexpedition,
all of the huparchoiwere driven out of their centers, except Maskames,
although many had made the attempt; consequently, the Great King sent
specialgifts annuallyto Maskames'descendents(7.106.2). In this, we realize
that neither Sestos nor Byzantion but ratherDoriskos was the important
Persianfortressin Thrace, that its commander,either Darius' appointeeor
Maskames,was only one of severalcommandersor huparchoiin the Thracian
and Hellespontine regions, and that Maskemes ranked with Boges, the
commanderof Eion, whom Xerxes judged an exceedinglybraveman (Hdt.
7.107.1). Herodotus gave no actualtitle for Boges, but huparchosis implied
from his preceedingstatementin 7.106.1.36Artayktesthe huparchosof Sestos
had not receivedsimilargifts of praise. We note, consequently,that in 480
B.C., threehuparchoigovernedin Thrace:Artayktesin Sestos(Hdt. 9.116.1),
Maskamesin Doriskos (Hdt. 7.106.1), and Boges in Eion (Hdt. 7.107.1,
113.1). Therefore,huparchosin eachcase cannotreferto a satrapbut ratherto
a commanderor governorof the polis, fortress,or region. Our thesis is again
confirmed, that Thrace and the Hellespontinecontaineda series of regions
commandedby Persiangarrisonsand their huparchoi,and that no satrapal
centeror satrapalstatushad been developedby the Achaemenidsfor Thrace.
Proceedingfartherwest, Xerxes'armiesmet no adversarybetweenDoriskos
and the Strymon,neithermilitaryoppositionfrom ThracianGreekpoleis nor
from Thraciantribes;3"althoughhis expeditionhad causedgreatmisery and
distress(Hdt. 7.118.1). The peopleof Thrace,Herodotusnoted, "hardput to
it as they were, did as they were commanded"(Hdt. 7.121.1). Once again,he
remindedus that "the whole country as far as the frontiersof Thessalyhad
been (as I [Herodotus]have earliermentioned[5.2-18; 6.44-5]) subjugated
and made tributaryto the King by the conquestsof Megabazos,and, more
lately, of Mardonios"(7.108.1).
The major Persian naval disaster at Salamis later that year, however,
reversedthe Achaemenidoffensivecampaignsinto Europe;andin a new phase
of their own offensive militaryactivitiesa few of the Greek poleis, briefly
united within the Hellenic League and then the Athenian directed Delian
Confederacy,begana seriesof attacksupon Thrace.Withina few years they
would liberateall of EuropeanGreecefrom Achaemenidrule.
Just a few days afterSalamis,Xerxes and his troops withdrewto Thessaly
(Hdt. 8.113.1), and there left Mardonios.The King then quickly departed
36 Plutarch Kim. 7.2, labeled him strategos.
T. D. Zlatkovskaya, "South Thracian Tribal Alliances: Vlth to Vth Centuries B.C.," VDI 2
(1967), 147-58 [in Russian].
37

16

JACK MARTIN BALCER

with some of his troops, and forty-five days later reached the security of Sestos
(Hdt. 8.115.1); crossed safely to Abydos, and proceeded to Sardis (Hdt.
8.117.2). During this retreat the Thracian tribes generated sporadic rebellions
in refusal to assist the Great King; substantial revolts, however, were not
recorded (Hdt. 8.116.1). Eion remained securely Persian (Hdt. 8.118.1), as
did Doriskos, Sestos and the Greek polis of Abdera midway between Eion and
Doriskos (Hdt. 8.120). Xerxes' general Artabazos with (as Herodotus
reported it) six thousand troops had accompanied the Great King to Sestos,
and with the King's crossing to Abydos Artabazos and his troops returned
through Thrace without incident (Hdt. 8.126.2). While in the Chalkidike west
of Thrace, the cities and inhabitants of the Pallene peninsula had rebelled (Hdt.
8.126.2-129), the poleis and tribes of Thrace remained quiescent.
The critical Persian military failure and the death of Mardonios at Plataia in
479 B.C., however, reversed the effectiveness of Achaemenid control of
Thrace. Artabazos, having earlier joined Mardonios, retreated and rapidly
crossed Thrace by way of the inland and the shortest route to Byzantion, as
Thracians attacked and killed the fleeing Persians (Hdt. 9.77.2-89). Artabazos'
decision to follow the inland route and cross to Asia from Byzantion suggests
his fear of the hostile and rebellious Greeks and Thracians, and a critical
concern for his safety at Sestos.
The Greek fleet of the Hellenic League, meanwhile, following its naval
victory over the Persian Imperial Fleet at Mykale, sailed into the Hellespont
and captured Abydos (Hdt. 9.114). Across the straits was Sestos, the strongest
fort in the area (Hdt. 9.115), governed by Artayktes who controlled the
Chersonese, including Kardia where the bridge cables were stored (Hdt.
9.115-116.1). Artabazos' inland flight and passage from Byzantion to Asia
suggests that he feared the Greek fleet would sail into the Hellespont just as it
had, although Herodotus believed Artayktes had not anticipated the Greek
naval attack (9.116.3). For the first time since 492 B.C., Achaemenid control
of Thrace was in jeopardy. Doggedly yet amid dissension the Athenians
crossed from Abydos to the Chersonese and laid siege to Sestos (Hdt. 9.114.2,
117).
When Artayktes and the Persians escaped from Sestos and the Chersonesians within eagerly submitted to the attacking Greeks, that fortress fell. Some
of the Persians fled into Thrace but were quickly seized and sacrificed by the
Thracians, while the Greeks captured Artayktes and his troops and bound
them in chains (Hdt. 9.118-9). At the European spot where the Hellespontine
bridges had anchored, the Athenians then crucified Artayktes (Hdt. 9.120).
Several months later, by June of 478 B.C., the fleet of the Hellenic League
returned, sailed into the Bosporos, and captured Byzantion (Thuc. 1.94.1).38
38

Meritt, Wade-Gery, McGregor, Athenian Tribute Lists, vol. 3, 158-80.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

17

Beyond the eastern coasts from the Bosporos and throughout the Chersonese,
however, the rest of Thrace remained Achaemenid. With the brief control of
Byzantion by the renegade Spartan commander Pausanias in 477 B.C.,
nevertheless, that fortress may have reestablished political ties with Persia, but
that remains uncertain (Thuc. 1.129.3).39
In the following year, late in 476 B.C., the naval forces of the Delian
Confederacy attacked and captured Eion, its commander Boges, and enslaved
its inhabitants (Thuc. 1.98.1; Schol. Aeschin. 2.34.2).40 As to what other
Persian fortresses or territories in Thrace the Greeks attacked, as indicated by
this type-motif of "early confederate conquests" noted by Thucydides, we
unfortunately lack further evidence.4' Perhaps not much later, Doriskos also
fell to the confederate forces. Although Herodotus stated that the Greeks were
never able to expel Maskames (7.106.2), our sources fail to note his death and
further activities there.42With the growth of the confederate maritime control
of the Hellespont, the Bosporos, and the northern Aegean, both naval and
land communication between Doriskos and Sardis would have ceased and
Doriskos' isolated position would have lain subject to both Greek and
Thracian attacks.
The marked instability of Achaemenid control in Thrace, its limited
territories, and perhaps its lack of significant urban centers failed to produce a
stable and centralized region that the Persians could develop into a secure
politico-economic satrapy. The several Thracian areas, consequently,
remained subordinate to the satrapalcommand of Sardis, the satrapalcenter of
Sparda in western Anatolia. We, therefore, detect a satrapal structure to the
Achaemenid Empire significantly different from that previously considered.
Three types of Persian provincial governmental organizations existed: the
established satrapal provinces such as Sparda, Egypt, Babylonia, and Elam,
centralized and governed by the traditional satrap; subordinate provinces such
as Macedonia under King Amyntas, governed by its national ruler yet bound
to the Achaemenid Empire as a semiautonomous region marked by a special
treaty of privileged status; and peripheral regions such as constituted Thrace
that failed to develop their own centralized government and, consequently,
39 Pap. Oxy. 13.1610, fr. 191. 37-46; Dem. 23.119; Diod. Sic. 11.60.2; Plut. Kim. 7.1-4;
Nepos Kim. 2.2; Polyaenus 7.24; Paus. 8.8.9; Michael Steinbrecher, Der delisch-attische Seebund
und die athenisch-spartanischenBeziehungen in der kimonischen Ara (ca 478/7-462/1), (Stuttgart
1985), 29-37.
40 Pap. Oxy. 13.1610, fr. 191.40-2; Diod. Sic. 11.60.2; Justin 9.1.3; Plut. Kim. 6.6;
Steinbrecher, Der delisch-attische Seebund, 37-8.
4' Meritt, Wade-Gery, McGregor, Athenian Tribute List, vol. 3, 158, n.i; 214-23 included no
Thracian poleis in the original membership of the Delian Confederacy.
42 Aischines 3.82; Meritt, Wade-Gery, McGregor, The Athenian
Tribute Lists, vol. 3, 214-5,
and n. 92; suggested with the Peace of Kallias, 450/49 B.C.; Russell Meiggs, The Athenian Empire
(Oxford 1972), 82; suggested until the mid 460's.

18

JACK MARTIN BALCER

remained subordinate to the nearest secure satrapal center. Herodotus' text


indicates that the regions of Nubia and Libya were also peripheral and tied to
the Egyptian satrapal system at Memphis, and that the regions of Daskyleion
had also been subordinate to Sardis until the late 480's, when it gained satrapal
status.
The people of Daskyleion are noticably absent among the many
Achaemenid imperial inscriptions, they are not mentioned among the
thousands of Persepolis Treasury and Fortification tablets, and they are absent
amid the reliefs of the ethnic groups upon the Apadana staircases and the
hieroglyphic inscriptions upon the base of Darius' statue from Susa.43 The
reference in Darius' Susa inscription (DSe: 27-9) to "the Cappadocians, the
Spardians, the 'lonians' (those) who are by the sea and (those) who are across
the sea, the Skudrians, [and] the Libyans . . ." refers not to the people of
Daskyleion as Riidiger Schmitt suggested,44 but to the lonians along the
western Anatolian coast and the "Ionians" or Greeks along the northern
Aegean coast, to ethnic units and not political organizations. The important
phrase in DSe: 27-9, is similar to that of DPe that mentions "the peoples
beyond the sea."45
Two key Herodotean passages, within contexts prior to the 480's B.C.,
indicate that the regions of Daskyleion had been subject to Sardis. The first
three tributary nomoi listed by Herodotus (3.90.1-2) cross the later traditional
borders between Sparda and Daskyleion, therefore, suggest that when that
document had first been drafted, prior to being obtained by Herodotus, the
first three nomoi were fiscal units of Sparda. In similar fashion, within the sixth
nomos, Herodotus linked both Egypt and Libya. Our nonsatrapal regional
observation for Daskyleion is further sustained in Herodotus' Great Catalogue
of King Xerxes' forces in which the Mysians of later Daskyleion and the
Lydians of Sparda formed a provincial unit (7.74). This, too, suggests that
prior to the 480's B.C., and perhaps as late as 481 B.C., and the appointment
of Megabates as satrap to that province (Thuc. 1.129.1), the territories of
northwestern Anatolian territories, which later became the satrap of Daskyleion, had been subordinate to Sardis.
Some forty years earlier, Cambyses had appointed Oroites as huparchos of
Sardis, and Mitrobates ruler of the nomos of Daskyleion (Hdt. 3.120.2); but
with Darius' murder of King Bardiya, his usurpation of the Achaemenid
throne, and the fourteen subsequent empirewide rebellions against the new
43 M. Kervan, D. Stronach, F. Vallet, J. Yoyotte, "Une statue de Darius decouverte a Suse,"
Journal asiatique 260 (1972), 253-66. The ethnic units included on the right side Skudra, the
Arabians, and the Libyans, three regional groups bound to regular satrapies.
Historia 21
44 Rudiger Schmidt, "Die achaimenidische Satrapie TAYAIY DRAYAHYA,"
(1972), 522-7.
45 See note 8 above.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

19

King, in a major powerplay to gain control of western Anatolia Oroites


murdered Mitrobates (Hdt. 3.126.2).46 Almost a decade later, after
Megabazos' campaign across southern Thrace and his return to Sardis with the
captive Paionians, he also may have commanded the acropolis of Daskyleion
in the region of Phrygia where he settled those hapless exiles, as Herodotus
noted it (5.98); although following Megabazos' return to Sardis, Herodotus
gave no further information about that Persian general. By 493 B.C.,
Megabazos' son Oibares commanded Daskyleion (Hdt. 6.33.3), which also
suggests that Megabazos had governed that center.
At some point thereafter, Megabates was appointed the first satrap of
Daskyleion, to be succeeded by Artabazos who established a secure dynasty to
govern that satrapy (Thuc. 1.129.2).47 Artabazos' father, Farnaka (Pharnakes
I), had held the important post of chief economic official for Darius (e.g. PFT
1793, 1795) at Persepolis where he transmitted royal edicts, issued orders on
his own authority, received extraordinary daily rations, and at the palace
ranked with Gobryas, Darius' chief assistant and the father of Mardonios who
died at Plataia.48Xerxes had rewarded Artabazos with this key position not
only for his loyalty and courage in escorting the Great King back to Asia in the
autumn of 480 B.C., after the disaster at Salamis, but also for Artabazos'
return to Asia in the autumn of 479 B.C., with the remnants of the defeated
Persian armies after the death of Mardonios.49 A key element in satrapal
government was the satrap, an Achaemenid of notable rank and related
directly to the commanders and chiefs in the Achaemenid court, such as
Artaphrenes of Sardis and the satraps of Memphis and Babylon.
In the nonsatrapal status of Skudra, and the presatrapal status of Daskyleion, we can now understand the imperial and fiscal significance of Herodotus'
statement that, in general, Darius "fixed the tributes to come in to him, nation
by nation, while he joined their neighbors with each nation, and, as he got
farther from the center, he distributed the more remote nations in various

J. M. Balcer, Herodotus & Bisitun, Historia Einzelschriften 49 (Wiesbaden 1987), 146-8.


Balcer, Sparda by the Bitter Sea, fig. 23, p. 168.
48
Richard T. Hallock, "The Evidence of the Persepolis Tablets," The Cambridge History of
Iran, vol. 2 (Cambridge 1985), 589-92.
49 While the correspondence between Pausanias and Xerxes (Thuc. 1.128-32) were late fifth
century B.C. forgeries, the satrapal role of Artabazos at Daskyleion should not be disputed; A. T.
Olmstead, "A Persian Letter in Thucydides," AJSL 49 (1933), 154-61; C. W. Fornara, "Some
Aspects of the Career of Pausanias of Sparta," Historia 15 (1966), 257-71; D. J. Stewart,
"Thucydides, Pausanias, and Alcibiades," C] 61 (1966), 145-52; M. Lang, "Scapegoat
Pausanias," CJ 63 (1967), 79-85; A. Y. Parshikov, "Pausanias and the Political Struggles in
Sparta," VDI 1 (1968), 126-38 [in Russian]; J. M. Balcer, "The Medizing of the Regent
Pausanias," Actes du Premier Congres international des 'Etudes Balkaniques et sud-est Europeenes, vol. 2 (Sofia 1969), 105-14; A. Blamire, "Pausanias and Persia," GRBS 11 (1970), 295-305.
46

47

20

JACK MARTIN BALCER

groups"50(3.89.1):
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ftd6CjTo cp6Qou

OL

OtCVaL XZTTa cOvEa TE xai


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The regional but nonsatrapal status of Thrace perhaps may also be detected
at Persepolis, upon the great staircases to the Apadana. To the left of the well
preserved east staircase, and left of the three major registers of the imperial
ethnic groups, amid the slanting terminal row, five delegations bear their
encomium gifts to the Great King. First is the Nubians (*23), whom
Herodotus noted were beyond the satrapy of Egypt and who submitted not
tribute (the dasmophoros) to the Great King but rather gifts (dora)5' gold,
ebony, young boys, and elephant tusks (3.97.3), the tusks as carved upon the
relief. Second are the Libyans (#22), who were also subordinate to the satrapy
of Egypt. The identity of the third delegation remains unknown (*21) yet it
appears to be related to the central Median-Iranian groups.52 The fourth
delegation is the Arabians (#20), whom Herodotus noted, like the Nubians,
were outside the governing provincial districts, and subordinate to the satrapy
of Syria, yet they too brought gifts, a thousand talents in weight of
frankincense annually, rather than tribute. The final delegation is the
Skudrians (*19), who were subordinate to the satrapy at Sardis.53 It is
possible, therefore, that the ethnic delegations on the terminal row were
carved there specifically because they were from border regions subordinate to
the major satrapies, whose ethnic delegations were included in the three major
registers on those staircases. If this be correct, then we may consider the
unidentified group *21 as also having been a border and subordinate group to
a major central Iranian satrapy.54
The Persians had not developed the region of the Skudrians into an
Achaemenid satrapy as it remained a series of limited territories loosely
structured as frontier areas, with each territory centered upon a fortress or
polis such as Byzantion, Sestos, Doriskos, and Eion. Like the other
unstructured border regions of Nubia, Libya, and before the late 480's
Daskyleion, imperial Achaemenid control had not permanently penetrated
Thrace far inland nor had it developed a politico-economic structure that
warranted or necessitated its advancement to regular satrapal status. The
50 Translation adopted from How and Wells, Commentary on Herodotus, vol. 1, 281.
51 Balcer, "Ionia and Sparda under the Achaemenid Empire, the Sixth and Fifth Centuries
B.C.," Le Tribute dans l'Empire achemenide, Table Ronde de Paris 12 et 13 d&embre 1986,
forthcoming.
52 Gerold Walser, Die Volkerscbaftenauf den Reliefs von Persepolis (Berlin 1966), 98-9.
53 Schmidt, Persepolis, vol. 1, 89-90; Persepolis, vol. 3, 145-58.
54 Herodotus noted Kolchians living near the Caucasus, who every fifth year offered the Great
King dora-gifts of a hundred young boys and a hundred young girls (3.97.4). Panel #21 does not
appear to represent people from Daskyleion.

Persian Occupied Thrace (Skudra)

21

immediatepolitical superiorto each of the governingThracianhuparchoiin


those forts andpoleis was, nevertheless,the regalsatrapwho ruledSardis,first
ArtaphrenesI, Darius'half brother,and then the satrap'sson ArtaphrenesII,
Xerxes'cousin (Hdt. 7.74.2; Aesch. Pers.21). With the creationof the Delian
Confederacy, the several Thracianterritoriesquickly fell to the attacking
Greekforces, andAchaemenidclaimsto Europeanterritoriesrapidlydeteriorated. Problems in the eastern satrapies and border regions apparently
necessitatedthat Xerxes abandonedhis claims to all regions borderingthe
AegeanSea, includingThrace.5"
The Ohio StateUniversity

JackMartinBalcer

ss G. L. Cawkwell, "The Power of Persia," Arepo 1 (1968), 1-5; Balcer, Sparda by the Bitter
Sea, 334.