The Balaites (Ancient Greek: Βαλαιειταί, Βαλαιιταί) were an ancient tribe in southern Illyria, modern-day Albania. The tribe is known from a number of Greek inscriptions, otherwise unmentioned among ancient written sources.[1]


It has been suggested that the Balaites probably were a subdivision or local district of Apollonia, located on the fringes of its territory, and that they were not one of its citizen communities.[2] Neritan Ceka raised the likelihood that the ancient fortifications near the modern-day Gurëzeza or Klos might have been belonging to the Balaites.[3] M.B. Hatzopoulos based on observations by N.G.L. Hammond proposes a location at Treport on the Bay of Vlorë.[4]

Organization and Onomastics

The political organization and institutions of the Balaites were inspired either from Apollonia or Corfu.[5]

The most important archaeological finding related to them is a public memorial carved of chalkstone (so-called chalkoma) that conveys the thankful message to a certain poliperarchon Aristen of Parmenon on behalf of the koinon of the Balaites.[6] The text provides a list of the Hellenistic political institutions of the Balaites, the ecclesia and the presbyters, whereas the prytaneis and the tamia (tax collector) are even mentioned by name.[3] The social organization of the Balaites suggests a developed Hellenistic community which, according to the scholars, might have been located within the radius of cultural influence of Apollonia, most likely close to the territories of the Amantes or Bylliones territory. [7][3] Neritan Ceka and Olgita Ceka (2017) concluded that the ethnic features of the Balaites were similar to the nearby Illyrian Bylliones, while some personal names were similar to the nearby Corinthian colony of Apollonia, suggesting an affiliation of the Balaites to a political community in the town of Gurëzeza.[8] The honorary decree of the Balaites displays their onomastics, political institutions and calendar features which are written in the Greek language with the use of Greek technical terms (Epirote and Corinthian), perhaps under the influence of nearby Corinthian colony of Apollonia.[9] Balaites formed a koinon (league). The offices of the Balaties were of mixed character and displayed Corinthian, Epirote and Macedonian features.[10] Based on the specific inscriptions Hatzopoulos (1997) concluded that the koinon of the Balaites had a Greek identity.[11]

The text of the decree includes two forms of ethnicons: Βαλαιειταί (Balaieitai) and Βαλαιιταί (Balaiitai). The latter are indicated as the recipients of Aristen's philanthropic actions and later of the thanksgivings of the peripolarchos, while the former are indicated as the political subject issuing the decrees and as the political community that was official recipient of the crown mutually conferred by Aristen. The difference between these two terms, the ethnos with its territory on one hand, and the tribal polis, which was the capital of the ethnos on the other hand, seems to be observed in other epigraphy and numismatic material of the area, including the cases of the Hellenized Illyrian city-states of Dimale (Dimallitan/Dimalla) and Byllis (Byllionon/Byllis).[12]

See also


  1. ^ Lasagni 2019, p. 68.
  2. ^ Wees 2008, p. 134: "It is possible that they were not a citizen community but a subdivision, a local district, of Apollonia, on the fringes of its territory."
  3. ^ a b c Ceka 2013, p. 229.
  4. ^ Hatzopoulos 1997, p. 145: "Cabanes proposes that it should be placed at the inland archaeological site of Gurtset but Hammond ' s suggestion54 seems more probable : he prefers another important site , at Treporti , on the Gulf of Aulon , since the passage in Strabo derives from an ancient periplous that listed coastal cities."
  5. ^ Cabanes, P. (1997). "Η ανάπτυξη των πόλεων". In M. V. Sakellariou (ed.). Ηπειρος: 4000 χρόνια ελληνικής ιστορίας και πολιτισμού. Ekdotike Athenon. p. 89. ISBN 9789602133712. Οι Θεσμοί των γειτονικών κρατών: Σε άμεση γειτνίαση με την Ήπειρο υπήρχαν πολλές πόλεις και κράτη ομοσπονδιακού τύπου με τους δικούς τους θεσμούς: Η Βυλλίς, η Αμαντία, η Κασσώπη και το κοινόν των Βαλαϊτών είχαν οργάνωση εμπνευσμένη από αυτήν της Κέρκυρας ή της Απολλωνίας.
  6. ^ Ceka 2013, pp. 229, 422.
  7. ^ Cabanes 1988, p. 301.
  8. ^ Ceka & Ceka 2017: "Due to the similarity of the ethnic features of the Balaites to those of the Byllines, and the similarity of some personal names to those of Apollonia, its affiliation has been assumed to a political community in the city of Gurzeza, which still has not been intensively excavated."
  9. ^ Hatzopoulos 1997, p. 145: "...The personal names, calendar and political institutions mentioned in the inscriptions -which is in the Greek language and uses Greek technical terms- present a mixture of Epirote and Corinthian elements , possibly under the influence of the nearby Corinthian colony of Apollonia."
  10. ^ Hatzopoulos 1997, p. 144: "Its political institutions , finally have a mixed character. The prytanis is the epnymous official of the Corinthian colonies though it spread at an early date beyond them to Amantia, Byllis, Nikaia, Kassope and possible to Orikos. The "elders", who replaced the concil, recall the Epirote peleioi and the Macedonian peliganesm rather than the bouleutai of the Corinthian colonies. As for the term koinon, this can refer equally to the political form of polis or ethnos."
  11. ^ Hatzopoulos 1997b, p. 145. "Η επιγραφή , χαραγμένη στην ελληνική γλώσσα και με ελληνικούς τεχνικούς όρους , εμφανίζει ανάμειξη ηπειρωτικών και κορινθιακών αποικιακών στοιχείων στο ονοματολόγιο , ημερολόγιο και τους πολιτικούς θεσμούς και αποτελεί αδιάψευστο μαρτύριο της ελληνικότητος του « κοινού » των Βαλαιϊτών."
  12. ^ Lasagni 2019, pp. 73–74.

General bibliography