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The Costoboci ( //; Latin: Costoboci, Costobocae, Castabocae, Coisstoboci, Ancient Greek: Κοστωβῶκοι, Κοστουβῶκοι or Κοιστοβῶκοι) were an ancient people located, during the Roman imperial era, between the Carpathian Mountains and the river Dniester. During the Marcomannic Wars the Costoboci invaded the Roman empire in AD 170 or 171, pillaging its Balkan provinces as far as central Greece, until they were driven out by the Romans. Shortly afterwards, the Costoboci's territory was invaded and occupied by Vandal Hasdingi and the Costoboci disappeared from history.
Mainstream modern scholarship locates this tribe to the north or north-east of Roman Dacia. Some scholars considered that the earliest known mention of this tribe is in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder, published ca. AD 77, as a Sarmatian tribe named the Cotobacchi living in the lower Don valley.. Other scholars have challenged this identification and have recognised the "Cotobacchi" as a distinct tribe.
Ammianus Marcellinus, writing in ca. 400, locates the Costoboci between the Dniester and Danube rivers, probably to the north-east of the former Roman province of Dacia. In his Geographia (published between 135 and 143 AD), the Greek geographer Ptolemy seems to indicate that the Costoboci inhabited north-western  or north-eastern Dacia. In addition, some scholars identify the people called Transmontanoi (literally: "people beyond the mountains") by Ptolemy, located to the north of the Carpathians, as Dacian Costoboci. These Costoboci Transmontani, according to Gudmund Schütte, also inhabited the Dacian town of Setidava mentioned by Ptolemy, located by Schütte in the south-east of modern Poland.[undue weight? ]
||It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Lipiţa culture. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2012.|
Some scholars associate the Costoboci with the Lipiţa culture. However Roger Batty, reluctant to correlate material culture with group identity, argues that Lipiţa culture belonged either to a subgroup of the Costoboci or to some population they ruled over. This culture developed on the northern side of the Carpathians in the Upper Dniester and Prut basins in the Late La Tène period.
The bearers of this culture had a sedentary lifestyle and practiced agriculture, cattle-breeding, iron-working and pottery. The settlements were not fortified and contained sunken floored buildings, surface buildings, storage pits, hearths, ovens and kilns. There are numerous pottery finds of various types, both wheel and hand-made, with similarities in shape and decoration to the pottery of the pre-Roman Dacia. The pottery finds of the northern Lipiţa sites in the upper Zolota Lypa basin are similar to that of the Zarubintsy culture.The cemeteries were found close to settlements. The predominant funeral rite was cremation, with urns containing ashes buried in plain graves, but several inhumation graves were also excavated.
An imperial-era funerary inscription in Rome was dedicated to Zia or Ziais the Dacian, the daughter of Tiatus and the wife of Pieporus, a king of the Costoboci. The monument was set up by Natoporus and Drilgisa, Zia's grandsons. The inscription was first published by the Italian scholar Mariangelus Accursius in the 16th century, but it is now lost.
The name of the tribe is attested in a variety of spellings in Latin: Costoboci, Costobocae, Castaboci, Castabocae, Coisstoboci and in Ancient Greek: Κοστωβῶκοι, Κοστουβῶκοι, Κοιστοβῶκοι. According to Ion I. Russu, this is a Thracian compound name meaning "the shining ones". The first element is the perfect passive participle Cos-to-, derived from the Proto-Indo-European root kʷek̂-, kʷōk̂- "to seem, see, show", and the second element is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root bhā-, bhō- "to shine", extended by the suffix -k-. Ivan Duridanov considered it a Dacian name with unclear etymology.
The origin of the Costoboci is uncertain. The mainstream view is that they were a Dacian tribe, among the so-called "Free Dacians" not subjected to Roman rule. However some scholars suggested they were Sarmatian, Slavic, Germanic, Celtic, or Dacian with a Celtic superstratum.
During the rule of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Empire fought the Marcomannic Wars, a vast and protracted struggle against Marcomanni, Quadi, and other tribes along the middle Danube. The Costoboci also joined the anti-Roman coalition.
In AD 167 the Roman legion V Macedonica, returning from the Parthian War, moved its headquarters from Troesmis in Moesia Inferior to Potaissa in Dacia Porolissensis, to defend the Dacian provinces against the Marcomannic attacks. Other auxiliary units from Moesia Inferior participated in the middle Danube campaigns, leaving the lower Danube frontier defenses weakened. Taking the opportunity, in 170 or 171, the Costoboci invaded Roman territory. Meeting little opposition, they swept through and raided the provinces of Moesia Inferior, Moesia Superior, Thracia, Macedonia and Achaea.
Crossing the Danube, the Costoboci burnt down a district of Histria which was thus abandoned. Their attacks also affected Callatis and the walls of the city required reparations. Two funerary inscriptions discovered at Tropaeum Traiani in Moesia Inferior commemorate Romans killed during the attacks: Lucius Fufidius Iulianus, a decurion and duumvir of the city and a man named Daizus, son of Comozous. A vexillatio made of detachments of the legions I Italica and V Macedonica was deployed at Tropaeum in this period, perhaps to defend against these attacks. The raiders then moved west reaching Dardania. A tombstone found at Scupi in Moesia Superior was dedicated to Timonius Dassus, a decurion from the Roman auxiliary cohort II Aurelia Dardanorum, who fell in combat against the Costoboci. Their offensive continued southwards, through Macedonia into Greece.
Thereafter, the barbarians reached Athens where they sacked the famous shrine of the Mysteries at Eleusis. In May or June 171, the orator Aelius Aristides delivered a public speech in Smyrna, lamenting the limited damage recently inflicted to the sacred site. damage was limited. Three local inscriptions praise an Eleusinian priest for saving the ritual's secrets. On one of these inscriptions there is mention of the "crimes of the Sarmatians" which has been variously interpreted by scholars: that the name of the Sarmatians was used as an umbrella term for raiders crossing the lower Danube, that it shows that the Costoboci were a Sarmatian tribe, or that it attests a joint invasion by Costoboci and Sarmatians.
Even though much of the invasion force was spent, the local resistance was insufficient and the procurator Lucius Iulius Vehilius Gratus Iulianus was sent to Greece with a vexillatio to clear out the remnants of the invaders. The Costoboci were thus defeated.
In the same period the Costoboci may have attacked Dacia. A bronze hand dedicated to Jupiter Dolichenus by a soldier from a cohort stationed in Dacia was found at Myszków in Western Ukraine. It has been suggested that this may have been loot from a Costobocan raid. Some scholars suggest that it was during this turbulent period that members of King Pieporus' family were sent to Rome as hostages.
Soon after AD 170, the Vandal Astingi, under their kings, Raus and Raptus, reached the northern borders of Roman Dacia and offered the Romans their alliance in return for subsidies and land. Sextus Cornelius Clemens, the governor of the province, refused their demands, but he encouraged them to attack the troublesome Costoboci while offering protection for their women and children. The Astingi occupied the territory of the Costoboci but they were soon attacked by another Vandal tribe, the Lacringi. Both Astingi and Lacringi eventually became Roman allies, allowing the Romans to focus on the middle Danube in the Marcomannic wars. Scholars variously suggest that the remnants of this tribe were subdued by the Vandals or fled and sought refuge in the neighbouring territories of the Carpi or in the Roman province of Dacia.
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