Origins of the Albanians

The name and origins of the Albanians have long been debated. Authors often have contradictory views and often with imaginary elements.

Daniel Farlati: “The ancestors of Pelasgians are derived from and named after Pelasgian Hyllos, the son of Pelasgian Hercules.”

Daniel Farlati. Illyricum Sacrum, 1751.

Skender Blakaj. Skënderbeu. Prishtinë, Arbi, 2006.


Herodotus, The Histories, Book I.

“What language the Pelasgians spoke I cannot say definitely… At that time (they) inhabited the country which now is called Thessalian— and of the Pelasgians who inhabited Placia and Scylace on the Hellespont who came to live among the Athenians, and by other towns too  if, as I said, one may judge by these, the Pelasgians spoke a language which was not Greek. “

( )

As for the Pelasgians, almost everyone is of the opinion that they were the older tribe spread throughout the Hellenes.”


Selim Islami. Ilirët dhe Iliria te autorët antikë  (Tiranë, 2002)

Map of Illyrian Tribes and States in ASHAK. Harta Arkeologjike e Kosovës I. (Prishtinë,  2006)

Albanians are the indigenous inhabitants of Illyria, Epirus and Macedonia and one of the oldest races in Europe.”


Morton F. Eden. Albania its dissatisfaction and their origin. (Cited in Tiranë, Infbotues, 2011)


“All Albanologists are of the opinion that the ancient denomination of the nation of Albanians, Arbanes or Arberites originated from the Alban tribe, which was mentioned by geographer Ptolemy in 200AD.”

Aristotel Mici. Prejardhja e emrit shqiptar. (Tiranë, 2012)

Swedish Institute of Languages (1975). The branching of Indo-European languages, where Albanian first settled. Skender Blakaj. Skënderbeu. (Prishtinë, 2006), 24.

“The Illyrians spoke a language distinct from the languages of other peoples of the ancient Balkans, it was a distinct Indo-European language. Some of the Illyrian language elements such as place names, tribes and people can be expained through the Albanian language”.

ASHASH. Historia e Popullit Shqiptar I. (Tiranë, 2002)

Dardanian borders in I-IV centuries BC.

Edi Shukriu. Kosova Antike. Prishtinë. (Muzeu i Kosovës, 2004)

The Dardanian kingdom emerged on the historic stage in the 4th century BC. The etymology of the Dardan name is related to the Albanian word ‘dardhë’, meaning pear.”

ASHASH. Historia e Popullit Shqiptar I. (Tiranë, 2002)

The territory of pre-urban Dardania initially stretched between the rivers Drilon (Dri), Brong / Margus (Morava), Timacus (Timus), Axios (Vardar)
and Astribo (Breagllnica), then the Dardanian state was strengthened and expanded its territory

Edi Shukriu. Kosova Antike. Prishtinë. (Muzeu i Kosovës, 2004)


Territorial Expansion of the Illyrian tribes

Roads in Kosovo in the Roman times.

Edi Shukriu. Kosova Antike. Prishtinë. (Muzeu i Kosovës, 2004)

Documentary films


Documentary on the Illyrians by Marin Mema, “Albanian Trail”


Kol Marku documentary, “The Dardanians”

Korab Lecaj “Voyage” documentary, “How old are the Albanian people”

Ulpiana – ancient city in Dardania. II century AD

Emperor Probus medallion, 278AD, Ulpiana


Smyrna’s Circular Labyrinth, which is the Dardanian conception of the life cycle and cosmic order. 211AD

Fragment on the Origins of Nations

What is possibly the earliest written reference to the Albanians is that to be found in an old Bulgarian text compiled around the beginning of
the eleventh century. It was discovered in a Serbian manuscript dated 1628 and was first published in 1934 by Radoslav Grujic. This fragment of a legend from the time of Tsar Samuel endeavours, in a catechismal ‘question and answer’ form, to explain the origins of peoples and languages. It divides the world into seventy-two languages and three religious categories: Orthodox, half-believers (i.e. non-Orthodox Christians) and non-believers. Though the Serbs go unmentioned, the Albanians, still a small conglomeration of nomadic mountain tribes at this time, find their place among the nations of half-believers. If we accept the dating of Grujic, which is based primarily upon the contents of the text as a whole, this would be the earliest written document referring to the Albanians as a people or language group.

 It can be seen that there are various languages on earth. Of them, there are five Orthodox languages: Bulgarian, Greek, Syrian, Iberian (Georgian) and Russian. Three of these have Orthodox alphabets: Greek, Bulgarian and Iberian. There are twelve languages of half-believers: Alamanians, Franks, Magyars (Hungarians), Indians, Jacobites, Armenians, Saxons, Lechs (Poles), Arbanasi (Albanians), Croatians, Hizi, Germans.

[Extract from: Radoslav Grujic: Legenda iz vremena Cara Samuila o poreklu naroda. in: Glasnik skopskog naucnog drustva, Skopje, 13 (1934),
p. 198 200. Translated from the Old Church Slavonic by Robert Elsie. First published in R. Elsie: Early Albania, a Reader of Historical Texts, 11th – 17th Centuries, Wiesbaden 2003, p. 3.]