Letter from Skanderbeg to the Prince of Taranto ▬ Skanderbeg, October 31 1460
Në këtë nën-frorum do të hidhen të gjithë ato artikuj apo shkrime që marrin në analizë historine kulturën dhe gjuhën tonë. Në të nuk do të mungojnë dhe shkrime të tjera lidhur me aspekte te tjera të jetës dhe botës qe na rrethon.
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The Albanian essence of ancient Macedon
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“Alexander the Great must, according to these archaeologists, have spoken an ancient Albanian dialect at his riotous banquets with his Macedonian officers”.
HISTORY OF THE GREEK REVOLUTION by GEORGE FINLAY p.41
The Coming of the Indo-Europeans
Indo-Europeans began to arrive in the Balkans about 3000 B.C. ‘apparently emerging from an area to the north of the Black Sea. With their language they brought their culture. Archaeological evidence suggests the common source of the Indo-Europeans as the par( of southern Russia lying between the Danube Basin and the Urals. As they moved west, the closely related dialects of the Indo-Europeans were mixed with the existing, older languages of eastern and central Europe. Over the last two thousand years B.C., these new dialects spread to every part of Europe, overwhelming, but not eliminating completely, the existing languages. The new languages created by this process, called the Indo-European languages, include almost all the living languages of Europe as well as many of the languages of the Middle East and northwest India. Immediately we are presented with an idea relevant to this question about racial origins. All of the Indo-Europeans came from the same general area.
Differences that arose between them sometimes were influenced by the natures of the original inhabitants of the lands they invaded, and sometimes by accidents of history. An instance of the latter development concerns a distinction that came about between one group of Indo-European dialects and another, the kentum/satem split. The dialects from which Illyrian, Greek, Italic, Celtic and Gothonic languages were to emerge retained the original k sound, while another group, from which arose the later Baltic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Albanian and Armenian, “palatalized” the k. making it a sibilant s or sh. Early philologists called these two groups kentum and salem (respectively) from the Latin and Avestan words for 100. This split probably resulted from a relatively long separation between the two different groups of dialects. Other differences are likely to have developed as peoples became separated from each other, inhabited diferent lands whose environments demanded different words, and established vital and novel culture in their own communities. John Geipel explains that in pre-Roman times, Indo-European languages such as Thracian, Phrygian, Dacian, Getic and Bithynian were widely spoken
throughout modern-day Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, and Albania. By about the sixth century A.D. all of these were extinct, and there is little evidence of them today except perhaps for some traces of Thracian in modern Albanian. Geipel considers that Illyrian was a kentum language, which would make it different from Slavic dialects.
At the beginning of the second millennium B.C., the area later known as Macedonia was inhabited principally by Illyrians in the west and Thracians in the east. During the second millennium B.C., the ancient Greeks descended in several waves of migration from the interior of the Balkans into what is now Greece. Some passed through the Morava-Vardar Valley and across the plain of Thessaly on their way south. Others traveled through Epirus. Some scholars recently suggested that Asia Minor was the original Greek homeland. The Bronze Age Mycenaean civilization, named after the city of Mycenae on the Peloponnesus, was at its height from about 1400 to 1100 B.C. in mainland Greece and on the Aegean islands. Some authorities cite archaeological evidence in arguing that the Mycenaeans, a people closely resembling the Vlachs, came down into the Balkans from South Russia in about 2200 B.C. Remnants of their burial pits (tumuli) have been found spreading from Albania to western Macedonia, and down the Haliacamon valley into Aegean Macedonia!
These people brought Greek and Illyrian into the Balkans. There have been few such archaeological finds from Macedonia, leading some scholars to believe that ancient Macedonia lay beyond the cultural and ethnic borders of Mycenaean culture. In any case the Mycenaeans had little if any long-term influence on Macedonia.
A little later, around 1250-1150 B.C., the Dorians, speakers of a Greek dialect arrived in the Balkans. Hammond claims archaeological evidence for their presence in the pastoral areas of Albania, Macedonia, and North Epirus, but their visible impact was in the south. These people were called the “descendants of Hercules,” or the Heracleidae. There is no evidence of contact between the Dorians and the Illyrians and Macedonians who occupied Macedonia soon after.
The old substratum of Macedonia
During its striking history Macedonia was characterized by a ‘heterogeneous’ demography that gives the wrong impression of a melting pot between different races and languages. As we are going to argue in this paper, those tribes were so closely with each other. The most accurate term to apply in general to describe them is the Pelasgian people. But who were the Pelasgians?
Ancient Greek writers used the name Pelasgians (Greek: Pelasgoí, s. Pelasgós) to refer to groups of people who preceded the Hellenes and still dwelt in several locations in mainland Greece, Crete, and other regions of the Aegean, as neighbors of the Hellenes, into the 5th century. The whole ‘Haemus’ continent, from the borders of Thrace and Macedonia to the extreme point of Peloponnesus and in North as far as Danube, was peopled with the great Pelasgian nation. The ancient Greek references to the Pelasgians are confusing. However, it is agreed that Pelasgians had spoken a "barbaric" (non-Greek) language. Ancient writers agreed that the Greeks increased in numbers and strength, eventually dispossessing the Pelasgians. Some of the earlier inhabitants were driven out of their southernmost Balkan holdings. To escape the increasing pressure others voluntarily migrated northward. Yet others were absorbed into the Dorian and Greek populations. During the later period of Greek colonization other discontented Pelasgians were scattered throughout the Mediterranean basin. Thus by one process or another - by expulsion, by migration, by absorption or by dispersion - the Pelasgian presence diminished in old Greece. Their concentration in the upper provinces of the Balkan peninsula, especially in Epirus, Macedonia and Illyria, made it possible for them to conserve their Pelasgian identity, language, culture and traditions. As Mr. Hahn said: “The Albanians have as much right to the name of modern Pelasgians as the modern Greeks have to their name. And in fact the Jews living in the Levant continue to apply to them the name Pelishtim (the Hebrew corrupted form of Pelasgian)”. The entire Macedonia, a country with great political ideals and ruler of the world in the times of Alexander the Great, had had in ancient times a Pelasgian population. Herodotus [book.I. 56] also writes that the Pelasgians who dwelt in the region of Pindus were called Macedoni. In a legendary history, which was probably derived from Theopompus, the subjects of the first king of Macedonia are called Pelasgians and the Elimiots. An almost same legend can be found at Aeschyles where he describes the territorial extent of king Pelasgus dominions which corresponds perfectly with territory of Macedon:
[Aeschylus Suppliants 258]
For I am Pelasgus, offspring of Palaechthon,
whom the earth brought forth, and lord of this land;
and after me, their king, is rightly named the race of the Pelasgi,
who harvest the land. Of all the region through which the pure.
Strymon flows, on the side toward the setting sun,
I am the lord. There lies within the limits of my rule
the land of the Perrhaebi, the parts beyond Pindus
close to the Paeonians, and the mountain ridge of Dodona;
the edge of the watery sea borders my kingdom.
I rule up to these boundaries.
Original text: τοῦ γηγενοῦς γάρ εἰμ' ἐγὼ Παλαίχθονος
ἶνις Πελασγός, τῆσδε γῆς ἀρχηγέτης.
ἐμοῦ δ' ἄνακτος εὐλόγως ἐπώνυμον
γένος Πελασγῶν τήνδε καρποῦται χθόνα.
καὶ πᾶσαν αἶαν, ἧς δί' ἁγνὸς ἔρχεται
Στρυμών, τὸ πρὸς δύνοντος ἡλίου, κρατῶ.
ὁρίζομαι δὲ τήν τε Περραιβῶν χθόνα,
Πίνδου τε τἀπέκεινα, Παιόνων πέλας,
ὄρη τε Δωδωναῖα· συντέμνει δ' ὅρος
ὑγρᾶς θαλάσσης· τῶνδε τἀπὶ τάδε κρατῶ.
The known original inhabitants of Macedonia
At the beginning of the last millennium B.C., the inhabitants of Macedonia were probably the Brygi. These people had a rich culture around Vergina, which ended about 800 B.C. Double axes that have been held to represent this culture have been found throughout Macedonia and Thrace, at Voynik near Kumanovo and in central Bulgaria! Greek and other historians frequently mention the Brygians. Their name derives from the Macedonian word breg, “hill/mountain." Thus the Brygians were the “hillsmen” of Macedonia. The Brygians of Macedonia were believed to be the European branch of the people who in Asia Minor were known as the Phrygians.
From about 800 B.C.. in the east and west of Macedonia. including Pelagonia and Eordaea, new people appeared. These people were likely to have been Illyrians who came from what was recently central Yugoslavia, an area that had acted as a reservoir of Illyrian peoples. There was a great expansion of the Illyrians, south to Thessaly, east to the middle Vardar valley, to places that were the forerunners of modern day Kumanovo, Skopje, Stip and Titov Veles, westem Bulgaria and Romania, and west to northern Epirus. Most of upper and lower Macedonia were taken over. Thus Phrygian influence was replaced by Illyrian. The centers of Illyrian power in lower Macedonia were at Vergina by the Haliacamon and on both sides of the Vardar by Gevgheli. Other Illyrians took control of the middle Strymon valley and the coastal plain, including the site of Amphipolis. The lllyrians did not combine to form a centralized power, but remained nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists. To the east of the Illyrians were Thracians, with whom borders were often disputed. Around the time of the birth of Christ, Thracian speakers inhabited land that is now part of modern Bulgaria and the Greek provinces of Thrace and Turkey in Europe, except for the coastal districts. It is also likely that Thracian and Phrygian dialects, bearing some resemblance to modern Albanian, lingered on in the less accessible northern parts of (modern) Greece until after the expansion of the Hellenes.”
The coming of the Macedonians
In the first millennium B.C., the mountainous area of Orestis, near present-day Kastoria, and the valley of the Haliacmon River were settled by a people called the Macedons. About 700 B.C., this clan had migrated eastward from Orestis in the Pindus mountains, looking for arable land for their cattle. Lower Macedonia was ruled by Macedonian chiefs who subjugated or expelled the earlier Illyrian or Thracian inhabitants, while upper Macedonia was inhabited by semi-autonomous tribes. The royal dynasty of the Argeads, to which Philip II himself belonged, was the leading family among the Macedonians. The Macedonians first occupied Pieria, the coastal plain running northward from Mt. Olympus, and afterwards extended their conquests to include the alluvial plain of Bottiaea, named Emathia by Homer, which lay west of the Thermaic gulf. The city of Edessa was a part of their territory, and nearby they established Aegae, which was to become a significant center of Macedonian administration.
The original Macedonian kingdom. While it is reasonable to argue that the original Macedones who emerged in Emathia in the eighth century were a homogeneous group, this is not true of the great Macedon kingdom at the time of Alexander the Great. A majority of the population of that kingdom was not Macedonian, but Illyrian and Thracian. There were many different tribes that Philip II welded together to form the Macedon nation. This mixture of peoples, few of whom were unequivocally Greek, makes suspect any claim of Greek ethnic continuity in Aegean Macedonia.
A chain of various scholars believes that Macedonia’s history consists in the two different parts: the rulers (Argeads) of “Hellenic descent” and the native Pelasgian peoples who were subjected to the new overlords. It is widely accepted that the mythical claim of “Hellenic descent” of Macedonian kings was a smart diplomatic effort of them to gain Hellenic credentials and privileges among the Hellenes. But this supposed ‘Heracleid’ origin had no weight at all since during all the time Greeks and Macedonians contested such claim. In the eyes of each other, Macedonians perceived Greeks as a foreign people as well as Greeks perceived Macedonians and their kings “not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian from any place that can be named with honors, but a pestilent knave from Macedonia, whence it was never yet possible to buy a decent slave" [Demosthenes, 3rd Philippic 31]. In 480 BC, the Macedonian king Alexander I attempted to participate in the Olympic Games, and met with resistance by competitors, who regarded him as a non-Greek. Even Alexander the Great himself despised the arrogance of Greeks in his Macedonian army during Asiatic exploits: “Do not the Greeks appear to you to walk about among Macedonians like demi-gods among wild beasts?" [Plutarch, The life of Alexander, 51, 2].
Argeads have nothing in share with ‘Greek’ Argos in Pelopponessus which was supposed to be their ancestral home. The problem stands in the confusion that one get from the duplication of Argos’s names. Appian’s account gives us a very useful information:
“[§63] Thus Seleucus died at the age of seventy-three, having reigned forty-two years. It seems to me that the oracle hit the mark in his case when it said to him, "Do not hurry back to Europe; Asia will be much better for you," for Lysimacheia is in Europe, and he then crossed over to Europe for the first time after leaving it with the army of Alexander. It is said also that once when he consulted an oracle in reference to his own death he received this answer:
If you keep away from Argos you will reach your allotted year, but if you approach that place you will die before your time. There is an Argos in Peloponnese, another in Amphilochia, another in Orestea (whence come the Macedonian Argeadae)” [Appian Book XI Chapter X-63].
It is noteworthy to add that the region of Orestea as well as the other ‘cantons’ of Upper Macedonia had at the given historical period a well-established Illyrian presence. J.R. Ellis makes known in a summarized manner the seats where Illyrian culture (of Glasinac type) flourished:
“One of the significant sites which illustrates their presence [the presence of the Illyrian tribes] is the one in the vicinity of the neighboring villages Vergina and Palatitsia, at the foot of the Pirin Range, which projects above the southwestern corner of the Emathia Plain, twenty kilometers from Methone on the land and seven or eight kilometers in the south from the coasts of the lower Haliacmon River. The archaeological picture there shows the presence of an Illyrian population from 800 B.C. until the middle of the seventh century. Further to the south, on the slopes of Mt. Titarion and the Pirin Mountains as well as the northern extensions of Mt. Olympus lived Macedons, who gave their name to the region Macedonia.”
Also, the ancient traditions show that prior to the Macedonian hegemony, the territories north of mount Olymp were called “Illyria”. This is what Herodotus (8.137) confirms:
137. Now of this Alexander the seventh ancestor was that Perdiccas who first became despot of the Macedonians, and that in the manner which here follows:–From Argos there fled to the Illyrians three brothers of the descendents of Temenos, Gauanes, Aëropos, and Perdiccas; and passing over from the Illyrians into the upper parts of Macedonia they came to the city of Lebaia.
137. τοῦ δὲ Ἀλεξάνδρου τούτου ἕβδομος γενέτωρ Περδίκκης ἐστὶ ὁ κτησάμενος τῶν Μακεδόνων τὴν τυραννίδα τρόπῳ τοιῷδε. ἐξ Ἄργεος ἔφυγον ἐς Ἰλλυριοὺς τῶν Τημένου ἀπογόνων τρεῖς ἀδελφεοί, Γαυάνης τε καὶ Ἀέροπος καὶ Περδίκκης, ἐκ δὲἸλλυριῶν ὑπερβαλόντες ἐς τὴν ἄνω Μακεδονίην ἀπίκοντο ἐς Λεβαίην πόλιν.
Illyrian language of Macedonians
"Alexander was influenced to a preeminent degree by his background. Sprung, according to tradition, from Heracles and Achilles, he was of Greek descent, but from both parents he had some Illyrian (Albanian) blood. His military skill and cold rationalism were inherited from his father, but his own inner being, his mysticism and romanticism and impetuousness, came from his mother, Olympias, a fiery, passionate princess of Epirus”.
(Alexander the Great: the meeting of East and West in world government and brotherhood, Charles Alexander Robinson, 1949; Hellenic history, George Willis Botsford, Charles Alexander Robinson, 1956; Ancient history from prehistoric times to the death of Justinian, Charles Alexander Robinson, Alan Lindley Boegehold, 1967).
Due to the strong Illyrian (or Pelasgic) presence in both upper and lower Macedonia, the aboriginal Macedonians were closely identified in speech, dress, and method of wearing their hair with the Illyrian tribes by the ancients. Thus Barbara Jelavich gives the following definition on Macedonian ethnicity matter "The Macedonians were probably Illyrian in ethnic background, although by this time the upper class was under the strong cultural influence of Greece". (History of the Balkans: Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Volume 1 1989, p. 7). While we are at the main language spoken in Macedon, linguists find difficulties to define whether it belongs to Thraco-Illyrian or to Hellenic gruops of Indo-European language. Some linguists believe that tribes of mountainous Macedonia spoke an archaic language closer to Thracian or Illyrian, but people in towns and the upper class, influenced by Greek achievements, gradually were losing their native tongue and took up Greek. But this does not mean that upper class ceased of speaking their native language since Quintus Curtius Rufus afford us a valuable account during the trial of Philotas by Alexander the Great and his adjutants. Alexander the Great speaks in front of the Macedones of his army: "The Macedonians are going to judge your case," he said. "Please state whether you will use your native language before them. Philotas: "Besides the Macedonians, there are many present who, I think, will find what I am going to say easier to understand if I use the language you yourself have been using, your purpose, I believe, being only to enable more people to understand you." Then the king said: "Do you see how offensive Philotas find even his native language? He alone feels an aversion to learning it. But let him speak as he pleases - only remember he as contemptuous of our way of life as he is of our language". The key phrase [Curtius(2) Hist. Alex. Magni Maced., IV, I11.4.: ] " . . . Macedonatus, homines linguae suae per interpretem audire," (". . . born a Macedonian, to hear the men of his language through an interpreter,") is very significant because it shows that translator was needed to communicate a “Greek” with a Macedonian, which is a certain sign that Macedonian and Greek were entirely different languages. Every further explanation is abundant. Despite the possessing of Greek culture and language, Macedonians never lost their native tongue and were proud of it! many historical sources are written in Greek, and it was a common practice among Greek historians to hellenize foreign names. For example, the name of the powerful first king of the Persian empire, Kuruš, ought to be transcribed as Kourous or Kouroux in Greek, but became Kyros, because this looks like a Greek word ("Mr. Almighty"). The name that is rendered as Alexandros, which has a perfect Greek etymology, may in fact represent something like Alaxandus, which is not Greek. A related argument that forces us to hesitate is that the Greeks nearly always converted the names of foreign deities. So, the fact that Greek authors use Greek names for Macedonian people and deities does not prove very much about the Macedonian language. There is evidence that Greeks were unable to understand people who were makedonizein, "speaking Macedonian". The Macedonian king Alexander the Great was not understood by the Greeks when he shouted an order in his native tongue and the Greek commander Eumenes needed a translator to address the soldiers of the Macedonian phalanx. The Greek orators Thrasymachus of Chalcedon and Demosthenes of Athens called Macedonian kings like Archelaus and Philip II barbarians, which prima facie means that they did not speak Greek. It would be in interest of reader to get a more detailed knowledge about ancient Macedonian and its modern descendant – Albanian:
[Strabo, Geography 7 Fragment 2] :"Among the Thesprotians and the Molossians old women are called peliai and old men pelioi, as is also the case among the Makedonians; at any rate, those people call their dignitaries peligones…”.
Albanian for ‘old’ is ‘pelak’ or ‘plak’, and the members of the council of headmen are the ‘peleknit’ or ‘pleknit’. (Edith Durham 2005). It should be noted also that Albanians practiced the same form of assembly (peligones) as Macedonians did in classical age.
An another Pelasgic people (or more accurately Illyrian) seems to have influenced stronger the later Macedonian nation. They were known as Paeonians, whose boundaries were often changed by the pressure of their kindred tribes for political and economical domination. Emathia, the district between the Haliacmon (Bistritza) and Axius, was once called Paeonia; and Pieria and Pelagonia were inhabited by Paeonians. In consequence of the growth of Macedonian power, and under pressure from their Thracian neighbours, their territory was considerably diminished, and in historical times was limited to the N. of Macedonia from Illyria to the Strymon. Paeonians tried unsuccessfully to gain their original lands which were taken by military elite of Macedonians. They frequently made inroads into Macedonian territory, until they were finally subdued by Philip, who permitted them to retain their government by kings. The daughter of Audoleon, one of these kings, was the wife of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and Alexander the Great wished to bestow the hand of his sister Cynane upon Langarus, who had shown himself loyal to Philip. An inscription, discovered in 1877 at Olympia on the base of a statue, states that it was set up by the community of the Paeonians in honour of their king and founder Dropion. The narrow relationship (including marriages and permanent servings of Paeonians in Macedonian army) between latter Macedonian kings and Paeonians speaks for a very close kinship between them. However Strabo in his paragraph about Emathia do not speaks about Paeonians there:
[7.5.1 ] “What is now called Macedonia was in earlier times called Emathia. And it took its present name from Macedon, one of its early chieftains. And there was also a city Emathia close to the sea. Now a part of this country was taken and held by certain of the Epeirotes and the Illyrians, but most by the Bottiaei and the Thracians.”
This leaves some room that the ethnic affiliation between Illyrians, Epeirotes, Paeonians and Thracians was so narrow as many ancients were not able to distinct them from each other. The most reasonable and logical explanation regarding the etymology of the name of the ancient Macedonia is found in the language of Illyrians and Epirotes, who were the ethnic inhabitants of ancient Macedonia. The very name of Macedonia, formerly known as ‘Emathia,’ derives in all probability from the Albanian word “E Madhia”, meaning “The Greatest”. (Larned et al 1922). The ties of kinship among the kindred peoples of Illyria, Molossia, and Macedonia were still more strengthened by the intermarriages between their dynasties, Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, was a daughter of Molossia. Through the right of succession derived from the intermarriages, the same king sometimes happened to rule two or all three kingdoms. (Chekrezi 1919).
Illyrian character of Macedonians
'The Albanians are among the very oldest inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula.
Classical authors give the names of very many tribes which dwelt in those lands when history dawns. The Greeks classed them as 'barbarians' and they spoke a non-Greek tongue. They were united in groups under native kings, and of these groups some of the most important were the Macedonians, the Illyrians, and the Epirotes. According to Strabo, all three spoke the same language. And it is from the Illyrians and the Epirotes that the Albanians of today descend. Modern Albanian, in all probability, derives from the language of Alexander the Great and King Pyrrhus'.
(ALBANIA AND THE ALBANIANS: SELECTED ARTICLES AND LETTERS 1903-1944, by M. EDITH DURHAM, p. 83)
The Illyrians were first to became a part of the Macedonian people, not merely through assimilation, but in particular as the main element in the “out-kingdoms" which were to become firmly identified with the Macedonian nation under Philip II. The ancient myths as well, tell us that the Macedonians have had a close relationship with the Illyrians. In the Ethnika of Stephanus of Byzantium Atintan is the son of the Macedon (Μακεδών). At the same time, the ancient chronicles mention Atintians as an Illyrian tribe, located between Illyria, Epirus and Macedonia. The British historian Hogarth points out that at the beginning of Philip’s reign, the Pindus ranges were controlled by the hill tribes (probably lllyrian), Chalcidice was Greek territory, and the plain of Monastir was in the hands of the Paeonians." As ancient history tells us:
All these lands, indeed, except Chalcidice, as Thucydides bears witness, were to be called later by the common name Macedonia, and Lyncestians, and Elimiotes and other upland peoples were included eventually among Macedonians, but as a result of conquest.
The point here is that whatever the ethnic and language character of the small group of original Macedones, there was a complicated mixture of peoples at the time of Macedonia’s greatness. The original inhabitants were the Bisaltae and Edones inhabitants from the Strymon, westward to the Thermaean gulf; the Pieres, in Pieria, on the western shore of the Thermaean gulf; the Bottiaei; the Bryges or Phryges, a part of which migrated to Asia Minor; in the north-east the Maedi; all these were of the Thracian stock: of the Illyrian stock were the Paeonians, about Emathia, divided into a number of separate tribes. The policies of Macedonian kings never achieved to abandon the autonomous character of old inhabitants of Macedonia. The ruling people, formed by the amalgamation of the Argeads and the natives, were termed Macedones or Macetae; supported by Xerxes they pursued their conquests; subjecting the Bisaltae near the Strymon, and the Elymiotes and Lyncestae, Illyrian tribes : the country was then divided into Lower Macedonia, or the level country about the Thermaic gulf, and Upper Macedonia. The Agrianes and Dardanians were governed by their own princes; but those princes were dependent on the Macedonian king. Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, gave to Macedonia its full extent: under his son the Macedonian nobility aided by the phalanx became sovereigns of the world.
A similar conclusion is made by P. W Wallbank, Rathbone Professor of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at the University of Liverpool, who refers to the writings of the Roman historian Livy to make the point that in Philip's time there was a strategos for Paeonia, which includes the area where Skopje is today and some of modem Serbia. But these outlying areas maintained their traditional culture, despite having a governor from Pella. Wallbank says that although it is true that by the time of Alexander the absorption of the outlying districts into Macedonia was almost complete, there is evidence of a strong regional sense in these parts. Thus Illyrian culture and language were maintained.
The Greek towns showed an even stronger resistance to being ethnically and culturally absorbed by the Macedonians. Wallbank says that the Greeks living in Macedonia only sometimes called themselves Macedonian. These towns had once been independent, but had been forcibly absorbed into Macedon. However, ever since the fifth century when the Macedonian kings invented a family connection with Greek mythical figures and adopted a philhellenic policy, towns such as Beroea, Pella and Edessa, on the Hellenic model, had existed in Macedonia. In general they were loyal to the rulers of Macedon, and on some special occasions they even called themselves Macedonians. Nevertheless, the essentially Greek nature of these towns persisted. It is worth noting this distinction Wallbank makes between Greek culture within the borders of Macedonia and Macedonian culture. Clearly they were different. Hellenes were recognized as different from Macedonians. Badian tells us that the annexed Greek cities counted as parts of the Macedonian kingdom, not as allies. This was why they had not become members of the Hellenic League after the conquest of the Greeks. However, while counted as Macedonian subjects ofthe king, they still retained some sort of civic identity that put them on a level with the districts of Orestis or Eordaea within old Macedonia. The Macedonian kingdom was thus formed of many parts.
The mixed nature resulting from this combination was evident in local interests and cultures. The original, non-Macedonian languages were still spoken in many areas. Historian Tom Winnifrith says it is very likely that even at the time of the Roman conquest, nearly two hundred years after Alexander the Great, quite a high proportion of the wilder districts of both Macedonia and Epirus were still speaking a non-Greek language. This was less likely in Epirus, Winnifrith says, but more than likely in the north of territory which the Roman writer Strabo called “free Macedonia.” In describing the people of these areas, Strabo talked of bilingual barbarians, and his use of the present tense suggests he was talking of his own time. An important point to understand is that before the Romans conquered Macedonia, Greek was the language of government and administration in Macedonia and in the Greek states. After the Roman conquest, the longer-established Greek language was gradually replaced by Latin in the Northern Balkans. In fact, the progress of Latin slowed and stopped after a time. In the northwest of Macedonia, the second language for these “barbarians” was Latin, and in the southeast it was Greek. The presence of the official language says nothing at all about what language was used in private, in the family context for example. People tended to be at least bilingual, speaking both the official language (Greek or Latin) as well as their own language. The first language was their own vernacular, probably Illyrian in the north and west and Thracian in the east. This kind of bilingualism continued throughout the next two thousand years as one ruling power was replaced by another. Many of these same issues are raised and explained in just the same way by other writers. On the matter of the ethnic character of ancient Macedonia, R. A. Crossland writes that the river Axius (Vardar), in the southwest of Macedonia, was the ethnic boundary between Thracians and Macedonians except where the Macedonians made conquests to the east of it in the fifth and fourth centuries. Crossland explains that the Paeones were probably Illyrian, and the Dardanoi are described as Illyrian by Strabo.
Furthermore, Strabo spoke about the hill tribes in the west of Macedonia as Illyrian tribes ruled by Greek dynasties. This is consistent with two ideas raised earlier: first, that the provinces retained their local culture and language, and second, that the use of Greek customs and language may well have been confined to a ruling elite.
Tom Winnifrith explains "that most of the people of the Macedonian kingdom spoke a rough-and-ready kind of Greek, but that Philip and Alexander and some other strong Macedonian kings also ruled over some peoples who never spoke Greek at all. He suggests that an important factor in determining the persistence of local languages in this area was the changing boundaries of Macedonia as Macedonian military strength waxed and waned. For instance, at times of Macedonian weakness, as with the invasion of the Celts in 279 B.C. the boundary receded much further south. He points out also that the fact that Greek and later Latin were the language of the literati. and therefore the only
languages likely to be recorded on written inscriptions, has tended to obscure the importance of Thracian and lllyrian. Nowadays. philologists have come to recognize the importance of these languages in explaining underlying common features in various Balkan languages.
Peter Green tells us more about the divisions between peoples in Macedonia. He says that the country was divided, both geographically and ethnically, into two quite distinct regions: lowlands and highlands. Lower Macedonia comprised the flat, fertile plain around the Thermaic Gulf. This plain is watered by two great rivers, the Axius (Vardar) and the Haliacamon (Vistritza).
On all sides except the east there are hills, and in the east the first natural frontier is provided by the Strymon (Struma) River. Green says that lower Macedonia was the old central kingdom, founded by the original Macedon migrants. Upper Macedonia and Paeonia formed a single geographical unit. The highlands lay mostly to the west and southwest of the central plain and were divided into three areas that were at first autonomous kingdoms. These were Elimiotis in the south, Orestis to the west, and Lyncestis to the northwest. The northern frontier of Lyncestis met with Paeonia. All three highland kingdoms shared frontiers with Illyria and Epirus. According to Green, in many ways their inhabitants had more in common with Illyrians, Paeonians or Thracians than with the lowland Macedonians. We should note that Orestis, the place from which the Macedonians came to their new lowlands home, remained essentially Illyrian in culture and language. We might wonder if this is a clue to the ethnicity of the Macedonians themselves. In describing the religious preferences of the highlanders, Green notes that they were “much addicted to Thracian deities, Sabazius, the Clodones and Mimallones.” Green concedes that the highlanders were at least partly of Illyrian stock, and that they intermarried with Thracians or Epirots more often than they did with the lowland Macedonians.
Towards the end of the fifth century B.C., the Macedonian king Archelaus increased his control over the highland “out-kingdoms.” As they have been called, by forming a contract with nobles of various origins in which they served the king from time to time in a special infantry group called the Companions, and in return were granted large tracts of land in the conquered territories. These grants served to increase the prestige of Archelaus' kingship and helped to assure the loyalty of these Macedonian nobles to himself and his family. In this way, a more or less permanent unification between Upper and Lower Macedonia was achieved. Partly by such means, and by the use of force when necessary; Archelaus established a much more stable relationship with his out-kingdoms so that it became possible for him to think of expanding his conquests elsewhere. The Macedonians of the plain became one state with the people of Upper Macedonia, even though the latter spoke other languages, related to Illyrian and Thracian, and in spite of religious differences. The mountain tribes worshipped snakes, joined in orgiastic cults, and venerated Dionysus, whereas the Macedonians of the plain worshipped Zeus and Heracles. Hogarth notes that the origin of the peoples who inhabited Macedonia is an obscure and perhaps insoluble question. He points out that any inquiry based on philological or archaeological evidence must fail because there is not nearly enough evidence available to lead to any useful result. Hogarth was writing nearly one hundred years ago, and since his time there have been many fascinating excavations in Aegean Macedonia. Despite the wealth of knowledge that we have gained since Hogarth’s time, the conclusions we come to today are essentially the same as Hogarth’s. A quick look at Crossland’s observations described earlier, will confirm this idea.
According to Hogarth, ancient tradition held that the population of Macedonia had at least two different sources and histories. The Hellenic influence had become so strong amongst the ruling gentry and the lowlanders in general by the fourth century, that they were sometimes described as Hellene. He explains that the other group were sometimes labeled barbarian. This barbarian group was called Pelasgic meaning “the old folk.” Hogarth says it is certain that this group was largely Illyrian, the same peoples as the Bryges. These people, from Phrygia, brought us the myths of Gordius and Midas.
The lowland Macedonians pushed the older peoples into the western and northern highlands. These peoples were called Orestians, Lyncestians, Elimiotes, Paeonians, and so on. Hogarth says the belief that the Macedonians of the coastal plains and the highlands were distinct peoples with distinct traditions was held not only in Greece, but in Macedonia as well. However, Hogarth suggests, “probably much intermixture took place.”
Hogarth says, perhaps in some contradiction to Green’s comments, that until the time of Philip II there was, between the Macedonians of the coastal plain and the free men of the highlands, little of that “community of tradition and hope which alone consummates the identity of a nation.” There had been an unsatisfactory kind of compromise between two forces that were very nearly equal in power and significance. lt was only in Philip's time that these two very different parts of the Macedonian kingdom were truly bound together as one nation. In explaining the ethnic nature of the peoples from the Macedonian out-kingdoms, Hogarth says that Greek historians did not clearly distinguish between the hill tribes and their Illyrian neighbors, who were at times their allies. He argues that in nine out of ten cases, when Macedonian kings went out to battle with “Illyrians," they were at war first and foremost with their own great feudatories of Lyncestis, Orestis, Elimiotis, or Paeonia. Thus, until the accession of Philip II, Macedonia was "a group of discordant units, without community of race, religion, speech. or sentiment."
Furthermore all geographical descriptions in most cases exclude Macedonia from Greece. The ancient Greek historians and geographers from the classical and the post-classical period, Ephoros, Pseudo-Skylax, Dionysius son of Kalliphon, and Dionysius Periegetes, all put the northern borders of Greece at the line from the Ambracian Gulf in the west to the Peneios River to the east, thus excluding Macedonia from Greece.(Sakellariou 1992) Medeius of Larisa was one of the Greeks accompanying Alexander the Great in Asia. According to him the Thessalians are 'the most northerly of the Greeks', thus excluding the Macedonians as non-Greeks since they live north of Thessaly. Almost in the same way Herodotus support this line:
[Book 7, 130]: Polymnia This he said in reference to the sons of Aleuas, because they, being Thessalians, were the first of the Hellenes who gave themselves over to the king; for Xerxes thought that they offered him friendship on behalf of their whole nation. Having said thus and having looked at the place, he sailed back to Therma.
Original Greek text: ταῦτα δὲ ἔχοντα ἔλεγε ἐς τοὺς Ἀλεύεω παῖδας, ὅτι πρῶτοι Ἑλλήνων ἐόντες Θεσσαλοὶ ἔδοσαν ἑωυτοὺς βασιλέι, δοκέων ὁ Ξέρξης ἀπὸ παντός σφεας τοῦ ἔθνεος ἐπαγγέλλεσθαι φιλίην. εἴπας δὲ ταῦτα καὶ θεησάμενος ἀπέπλεε ἐς τὴν Θέρμην.
Greek settlements in Macedonia and Thrace
Without any doubts, the Greek settlements in Macedonia provide an important aspect in our efforts to define ethnicity of ancient Macedonians. If Macedonians were in any way Greeks or close cognates of Greeks, then why Greeks need to establish colonies in their country? Now we are going to give a general review of these colonies through Macedonia and Thrace. We should note that Herodotus is able to distinguish “Hellenic” colonies from the rest of non-greek cities. Here is a passage that speaks about military invasion of Persian king, Xerxes in south-eastern Macedonia:
[Herodotus Book 7: Polymnia 122]. The fleet, when it was let go by Xerxes and had sailed right through the channel made in Athos (which went across to the gulf on which are situated the cities of Assa, Piloros, Singos and Sarte), having taken up a contingent from these cities also, sailed thence with a free course to the Thermaïc gulf, and turning round Ampelos the headland of Torone, it left on one side the following Hellenic cities, from which it took up contingents of ships and men, namely Torone, Galepsos, Sermyle, Mekyberna, Olynthos: this region is called Sithonia.
122.  ὁ μέν νυν ναυτικὸς στρατὸς ὡς ἀπείθη ὑπὸ Ξέρξεω καὶ διεξέπλωσε τὴν διώρυχα τὴν ἐν τῷ Ἄθῳ γενομένην, διέχουσαν δὲ ἐς κόλπον ἐν τῷ Ἄσσα τε πόλις καὶ Πίλωρος καὶ Σίγγος καὶ Σάρτη οἴκηνται, ἐνθεῦτεν, ὡς καὶ ἐκ τουτέων τῶν πολίων στρατιὴν παρέλαβε, ἔπλεε ἀπιέμενος ἐς τὸν Θερμαῖον κόλπον, κάμπτων δὲ Ἄμπελον τὴν Τορωναίην ἄκρην παραμείβετο Ἑλληνίδας γε τάσδε πόλις, ἐκ τῶν νέας τε καὶ στρατιὴν παρελάμβανε, Τορώνην Γαληψὸν Σερμύλην Μηκύβερναν Ὄλυνθον. ἡ μέν νυν χώρη αὕτη Σιθωνίη καλέεται.
Also Strabo confirm that Greeks inhabited just a narrow strait of shores and the beginning of Greece is marked by the Ambracian gulf – the most northern frontier:
[Book VII, Chapter 7] “Then, beginning at the Ambracian Gulf, all the districts which, one after another, incline towards the east and stretch parallel to the Peloponnesus belong to Greece; they then leave the whole of the Peloponnesus on the right and project into the Aegaean Sea. But the districts which extend from the beginning of the Macedonian and the Paeonian mountains as far as the Strymon River are inhabited by the Macedonians, the Paeonians, and by some of the Thracian mountaineers; whereas the districts beyond the Strymon, extending as far as the mouth of the Pontus and the Haemus, all belong to the Thracians, except the seaboard. This seaboard is inhabited by Greeks, some being situated on the Propontis, others on the Hellespont and the Gulf of Melas, and others on the Aegaean”.
Based on these clear descriptions, the Swedish historian Johann Thunmann gives this important summarization:
"Only a small portion of Macedonia was inhabited by the Greeks. The mass of the population was Illyrian and Thracian. The Dassaretae, the Lyncestae, the Bryges or Phrygians, the Pelagones, The Eordi, the Elimiotes, the Atintanes, the inhabitants of the region around Candavia, Pella, Edessa and Verva have all been expressly referred to as Illyrian. To a great extent, it was almost only the towns on the coast that had Greek inhabitants. The Macedonians had a language of their own that was also spoken in the regions along the Ionian Sea across from Corfu and, thus in Greek Illyria and Epirus. There were also many non-Greek peoples in Epirus who, as noted above, spoke the Macedonian language, or the Illyrian language, which was probably the same thing".
WE shall now proceed on. the north of mount Olympus along the coast of the Aegean to consider the Greek colonies there. The Συνεχης Ελλας, according to Dicaearchus, who has hitherto been our guide, extends as far as mount Olympus. He has indeed some doubts as to whether Thessaly should be included, but he decides after all in the affirmative, because Greek was spoken in Thessaly. Thessaly was evidently a hellenised country, just like the cast of Germany, where formerly Wendish was spoken, while now pure German prevails, though rivers and mountains still have names which are completely Wendish. This hellenisation, however, did not extend beyond the boundaries of Thessaly; it scarcely reached as far as Peraebia, which was partly Macedonian and partly Thracian, the country beyond Olympus being inhabited by Macedonian and Thracian tribes. In the Homeric Catalogue, Thessaly extends beyond the Axius, a most beautiful river, as far as Pieria, which was regarded as part of ancient Thrace.
PIERIA forms the slope of the range of mountains of which Olympus, at the mouth of the Peneus, is the highest peak, rising to the height of the snow-line; this charming coast country extends from mount Olympus as far as the Thermaic gulf. The most important among the several Greek towns along this coast were PYDNA and METHONE, which arc called Chalcidian. It is very surprising to find, that the whole coast, from the foot of mount Olympus to the Strymon, though not continuously, yet for the greater part, is occupied by Greek, and, if we except the Dorian Potidaea, by Ionian towns, which are called Chalcidian, whence Thucydides' expression, Kalkidis eti Thrakes. If the population of all these towns had come from Chalcis in Euboea alone, that city, nay the whole of Euboea, would have been drained; we must assume that there was only a nucleus of Chalcidian ctistae, who brought with them Chalcidian nomima and took possession of the places; all the rest consisted of adventurers from all parts of Greece. Those towns were for the most part mikra polismata. Until the time of Philip, when Macedonia was a small and weak state, though more weak than small, they had in the most wonderful manner contrived to remain independent of Macedonia. The places on the western coast of the Thermaic gulf had no political connexion with those on the eastern side. In the reigns of Perdiccas and Archelaus, Pydna and Methone seem to have been allied with Macedonia, but only for a time; it is possible that they may have paid a tribute as a recognition, but they were free towns. Little can be said of them : Methone was conquered and destroyed by Philip, and Pydna was taken and changed into a Macedonian town.
Proceeding from the coast of Pieria along that of Emathia and Bottiaea, we meet with several towns of which it is doubtful whether they were Chalcidian or Bottiaean: Therma, subsequently called Thessalonica, appears to have been Chalcidian. AENEA on the promontory where the smaller and larger Thermaic gulfs separate, is called by Herodotus a Greek town, but seems to have originally been Pelasgian and to have afterwards become hellenised. Farther on the Greek towns are more closely together, though nearly all of them are without historical importance. The Bottiaeans, who, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, rose against the Athenians, were a Pelasgianpeople, like the Epirots and Thessalians, but not Greek. From the projecting Acte of Macedonia, three peninsulas run out into the sea: the easternmost contains mount ATHOS, which extends in a south-eastern direction, and is highest at the point where it reaches the sea; this mountain must be conceived to extend below the sea, first to Lemnos and thence to mount Ida. PALLENE, the western peninsula, forms the eastern shore of the Thermaic, gulf, and is connected with the Acte by a narrow isthmus. The middle peninsula is called SITHONIA. The interior of the broad Acte was never inhabited by Greeks, but only by barbarians, except a few isolated points, such as Apollonia. Sithonia itself was likewise occupied by barbarians, and Miksellines existed only here and there. Pallene, on the other hand, was thoroughly Greek. This country is one of the most fertile in all Europe; it was also, like Campania, calledPhlegra, a name implying a volcanic district of immense fertility. The use of manure in Pallene would be injurious and cause the wheat to shoot up too high. There are districts in that peninsula where tobacco, which otherwise exhausts the most fertile soil, is grown in ordinary corn-fields; but if it were not for the tobacco, everything would be overgrown with weeds, and it would require great labour to destroy them. Wheat there grows to a height of from five to six feet, and it is nothing uncommon to see it rise even to seven or eight feet. Hence that country was a kora terimaketos. Potidaea, one of the faces malorum of the Peloponnesian war, was situated on the isthmus of Pallene. Potidaea and Syracuse, the two ill-fated places that brought ruin on Greece in this war, were colonies of Corinth.
The towns on this coast are called ta politsmata ta epi Thrakes, or poleis Kalkidikai epi Thrakesi. It is only in an improper sense that we speak of a country of the name of Chalcidice; wherever that name occurs, it is incorrect and belongs to a late period. We must not, however, believe that none but Chalcidian towns existed there; they only formed the majority; the towns were not even all Greek. Besides the Dorian Potidaea, there existed Andrian and Eretrian towns, though they were few in number. But the Hellenic character was communicated to the neighbouring tribes, not only to the Bottiaeans and Pelasgians ot mount Athos, but also to the Thracians, so that in the time of Philip many places are called Greek, which at an earlier period did not bear that name. The thirty-two Greek places on the Thracian coast, so often mentioned by Demosthenes, which were conquered and destroyed by Philip, cannot be taken as Greek towns in the strict sense of the term, but there were among them some which are called by Thucydides 86y\corrOt.
Following such a line of argument is seen that the issue of ethnicity in Macedonia is not so difficult to be solved. Exactly the wrong efforts of some Phil-Helene in Europe and the Greek nationalist historians have made scientific results on this 'enigma' to welter.
While comparing to another perspective: Illyrians and their descendants’ the Albanians as their relations with ethno-linguistic of ancient Macedonians, many of the questions that vexed us so far get solved. Finally conclusion is that:
(1) Macedonia since ancient times has been inhabited by Pelasgians and later of their derivate ethnicities: Phrygians, Illyrians and Thracians. Consequently, there is no Hellenic character in Macedonia.
(2) Macedonian language according to all evidence should have been the same with Illyrian, since they haven't had any relationship with Greek. Rolfe pointed out that the chancellery language of Macedonia was Greek: "For some generations the court language was Attic Greek". Greek was adopted as the language of the Macedonian royal court, but it never replaced the Illyrian vernacular of Macedonia. Today Albanian language - as the successor of Illyrian and Thracian - contains a good prospect of solving many words, of old Macedonian language and toponyms. In other words, Albanian is the key to ancient Macedonian language.
(3) Greeks have never prevailed in Macedonia and their presence in some seacoast cities refers to Greek colonization.
(4) Today's Albanian preserves a cleaner heritage of ancient Macedonians.
John Shea, Macedonia and Greece: The struggle to define a new Balkan nation, 1997.
N.G.L. Hammond, Illyris, Epirus and Macedonia IN ‘The Cambridge ancient history, second edition, Volume III: The expansion of the Greek World, Eighth to Sixth Centuries B.C, edited by John Boardman, N.G.L. Hammond’ Cambridge University Press, 1982.
Ernst Badian, "Greeks and Macedonians," in B. Barr- Sharrar and E. N. Borza (edd.) Macedonia and Greece in Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times
David George Hogarth, “Philip and Alexander of Macedon: Two Essays in Biography”, 2010 edition.
Eugene N. Borza, “Before Alexander: constructing early Macedonia”, 1999.
M. V. Sakellariou, “Macedonia, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization”, 1992
Jona Lendering, Ancient Macedonia, http://www.livius.org/maa-mam/macedonia/macedonia.html
A. J. van Windekens: Études pélasgiques, Louvain: Institut Orientaliste de l'Université, 1960.
Milan Budimir, The Greeks and Pelasti (1950)
Nicolae Densusianu, Dacia Preistorica Bucharest 1913
Robert d'Angély. Des Thraces & des Illyriens à Homère Nicariu, Corsica : Cismonte è Pumonti, c1990
Barthold Georf Neibuhr, Lectures on ancient ethnography and geography, 1854.
Josephus Nelson Larned, Augustus Hunt Shearer ‘The new Larned History for ready reference, reading and research Volume I’, 1922.
M. Edith Durham ‘Albania and the Albanians: selected articles and letters 1903-1944′ 2005.
Ne sot po hedhim faren me emrin Bashkim,
Qe neser te korrim frutin me emrin Bashkim!
Qe neser te korrim frutin me emrin Bashkim!