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Illyria was a mosaic of various peoples and warring tribes, mostly settled in the crowded souther part of the adriatic coast, between sea and mountain. A Thraco-Paeonian invasion occurred, and the Dardanians were clearly of thracian culture. Rival kingdoms in perpetual wars in the homeric style was also used to described the thracians, as these people have a lot in common. But if the greek influence was strong in the south (particularly during Bardyllis reign), the celtic halstatt culture was predominant in the north, particularly amongst the fierce Scordisci which eventually ruled their neihbours. They bear some italic-celtic links with the veneti peoples form the northwest, and a foot in italy proper, with the italic tribes of the Dauni, Peuceti, Lapyges and Messapians. It was during the IVth century that illyria became known as a powerful ingdom, during the rule of Bardyllis, which succeed to unite all southern tribes, making Scodra (modern Skhoder) as his capital. He defeated and killed the macedonian king Perdiccas but was himself eventually killed by Philip II in battle. His kingdom, however, was still strong under his dynasty, and particularly during the reign of Pleuratos. It was became famous during the reign of Queen Teuta in 230 bc, the last beeing nickname "queen of pirates" because of the roman struggle against growing piracy in adriatic, which eventually led in a decisive campaign until 227 bc. The whole affair gone to an end with the very last king odf Scodra, Gentius, lost the Dalmatians and after a war, he was capture by the Romans and showed at their trumph in 165 bc. Illyria was now organized as a Roman province.

The Illyrian army was composed, in the southern, greek influenced, part of the kingdom, of light infantry, equipped with tunics without belt, cloaks, wicker shield, wood shields, celtic-style scutum shields, and Aspis shields for the elite or Bardyllian reformed infantry. Helmets were of wicker and stud type, reinforced with bronze plates, armor was generally of leather type. The Nobility was better equipped with bronze armors, greek swords, greek helmets, bronze aspis, and greaves. Swords were generallly short, or curved in the thracian style, and they used a specific weapon, a very light, curved throwing axe. Medium infantry used pot or negau type helmets, or the so-called "illyrian" helmet which was the grandmother of greek types, including the famous Corinthian one. Northern troops like the scordisci and north-east neighbours were equipped mostly as celtic halstatt warriors, while northwest illyrians were roughly similar to the Veneti and italic warriors. The Delmatae were nomadic pastoralist, dressed in a mix of thacian and celtic styles, with fur caps. The Liburnians were Venetic peoples, and equipped like ancient italic warriors, Lapyges and italic eastern coast independant illlyrians were equipped as Italics.

Illyria was divided, although a single kingdom at Scodra was the dominant power, Rhizon and Pharos as local capitals. Cities were a few, and Hoplites, by the way, only recruited in these very few cities, like Scodra. They subjugated all southern illyrians and dominated the western coast, including the Delmatae and Liburnians. Their only enemies were the fierce Scordisci, Pannonii, and the epirots and macedonian greeks.