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Map of Black Sea

Balkan is a geographic area in southeastern Europe, present Bulgaria. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea.

Variants of name


The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres in the Rila mountain range.


The word "Balkan" comes from Ottoman Turkish balkan 'a chain of wooded mountains";[1][2] related words are also found in other Turkic languages.[3] The origin of the Turkic word is obscure; it may be related to Persian bālk meaning "mud", and the Turkish suffix an, i.e., swampy forest[4] or Persian balā-khāna 'big high house'.[5]


In earlier times, the Balkan Mountains were known as the Haemus Mons (/ˈhiːməs ˈmɒnz/). It is believed that the name is derived from a Thracian word *saimon, 'mountain ridge', which is unattested but conjectured as the original Thracian form of Greek Emos. In antiquity, the mountain range and the area around it was populated by free Thracian peoples such as the Bessi, Dii, and Satrae. Herodotus records that an oracle-shrine of Dionysus (originally a Thracian god whose cult became widespread among the ancient Greeks) was located atop one of its mountains. Bryges is the historical name given to a people of the ancient Balkans.

From classical antiquity through the Middle Ages, the Balkan Mountains were called by the local Thracian[6] name Haemus.[7] According to Greek mythology, the Thracian king Haemus was turned into a mountain by Zeus as a punishment and the mountain has remained with his name. A reverse name scheme has also been suggested. D. Dechev considers that Haemus (Αἷμος) is derived from a Thracian word *saimon, 'mountain ridge'.[8] A third possibility is that "Haemus" (Αἵμος) derives from the Greek word "haema" (αἷμα) meaning 'blood'. The myth relates to a fight between Zeus and the monster/titan Typhon. Zeus injured Typhon with a thunder bolt and Typhon's blood fell on the mountains, from which they got their name.[9]

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the Balkans are usually said to comprise Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo,[a] the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, while Greece and Turkey. [10]

Arrian[11] writes that ....Setting out then from Amphipolis, Alexander the Great invaded in 335 BC the land of the people who were called independent Thracians, keeping the city of Philippi and mount Orbelus on the left. Crossing the river Nessus, (The Nessus, or Nestus, is now called Mesto by the Greeks, and Karasu by the Turks.) they say he arrived on the tenth day at Mount Haemus, Now known as the Balkan. The defiles mentioned by Arrian are probably what was afterwards called Porta Trajani. [12] Here, along the defiles up the ascent to the mountain, he was met by many of the traders equipped with arms, as well as by the independent Thracians, who had made preparations to check the further advance of his expedition by seizing the summit of the Haemus, along which was the route for the passage of his army.

Jat History

James Francis Katherinus Hewitt[13] notes the connection between Jats and Goths: "The Jats ... trace their descent to the land of Ghazni and Kandahar, watered by the mother-river of the Kushika race, the sacred Haetuman or Helmand. Their name connects them with the Getae of Thrace, and thence with the Gattons, said by Pytheas to live on the southern shores of the Baltic, the Gaettones placed by Ptolemy and Tacitus on the Vistula in the country of the Lithuanians, and the Goths of Gothland = Sweden. This Scandinavian descent is confirmed by their system of land-tenure, for the chief tenure of the Muttra district is that called Bhagadura, in which the members of the village brotherhood each hold as their family property a separate and defined area among the village lands, according to the customs of the Bratovos of the Balkan Peninsula and the Hof-bauers of North-West [14] Germany .. The Getae of the Balkans are said by Herodotus to be the bravest and most just of the Thracians."

Prof. B.S. Dhillon[15] quotes Hewitt, J.F. [16] who wrote, "The Getae of the Balkans are said by Herodotus (a fifth century BC writer) to be the bravest and most just of the Thracians. These Thracian Getae must, as a Northern race of individual proprietors, have held their lands on the tenure existing in the Jat villages, and these Indian Jats, or Getae, have not degenerated from the military prowess of their forefathers, for those Jats, who have become Sikhs in the Punjab, are known as some of the best and most reliable Indian soldiers". [17]

Ram Sarup Joon[18] writes... In 500 BC, Jats took part in the civil war in Italy. When the hunters invaded Italy, the Jats defeated them on the battlefield of Nester. As a reward the ruler of Italy permitted them to occupy the Danube basin called Balkans now. After four years, differences arose between the Jats and king Theodius of Italy, who attacked the Jats. The Jats were victorious and occupied Asia Minor. Then they attacked Rome and after defeating the famous military commander Allers, occupied the south Eastern portion of Italy. Theodius gave his daughter in marriage to the Jat leader. The Jats vacated Italy, advanced into and settled in Spain and Portugal.

In 490 BC, there was another battle after which Jats occupied the whole of Italy and ruled there for 65 years upto 425 BC. During this period Italy made a great measure of progress.

After the death of the great Jat leader Totila, the Jat power declined and they were driven out of Italy. Soon after, the Arabs drove the Jats out of Spain and Portugal. Consequently Jats were so weakened and scattered that they ceased to exist as a recognised group in this area.

External links


  1. "Balkan". Encarta World English Dictionary. Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009.
  2. "balkan". Büyük Türkçe Sözlük (in Turkish). Türk Dil Kurumu. Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. "Sarp ve ormanlık sıradağ"
  3. Oxford English Dictionary, 2013, s.v.
  4. Current Trends in Altaic Linguistics; European Balkan(s), Turkic bal(yk) and the Problem of Their Original Meanings, Marek Stachowski, Jagiellonian University, p. 618.
  5. Todorova, Maria N. (1997). Imagining the Balkans. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. p. 27. ISBN 9780195087512.
  6. "Bulgaria". Hemus – a Thracian name. Indiana University. p. 54.
  7. Balkan Studies. 1986.
  8. Decev, D (1986). Balkan Studies. University of Michigan.
  9. "Gods and Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus". Google Books.
  10. "Balkans". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  11. The Anabasis of Alexander/1a, ch.1
  12. Cf. Vergil (Georg., ii. 488); Horace (Carm., i. 12, 6).
  13. Hewitt, James Francis (1894). The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times in India, South-Western Asia and Southern Europe. London: Archibald Constable & Co. p. 481-482.
  14. Hewitt 1894, p. 482
  15. History and study of the Jats/Chapter 1,p.10
  16. Hewitt, J.F., The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times in India, South-Western Asia and Southern Europe, Archibald Constable & Co., London, 1894, pp. 481-487.
  17. Bhim Singh Dahiya:Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/The Jats, p.2-3
  18. History of the Jats/Chapter III, p.41-42