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Ethnicity of Ancient Macedonians

contrary to modern greek claims, macedonia was never part of greece, and the ancient macedonians were not regarded as ancient greeks. quite the opposite – the macedonians conquered greece and enslaved the greeks for centuries until rome conquered macedonia in 168 bc. thepurpose of these pages is to provide the reader with documented evidence for all these assertions above and show that ancient macedonians could not have been greeks based on all documented evidence. it will provide scholarly evidence that the ancient macedonians:

  • were just that - macedonians, who did not regard the greeks as their kindred but looked down upon them with contempt.
  • were called barbarians, a label that the ancient greeks attributed only to non-greeks.
  • conquered greece and enslaved the greeks, not united the greek city-states.
  • pillaged, burnt, razed greek cities to the ground, destroyed greek religious temples and monuments, and sold the greek inhabitants as slaves.
  • garrisoned greek cities just as the thracian and illyrian cities (a sure sign of servitude).
  • used the greeks just as they used the thracians and the illyrians for their asian conquest.
  • were asked to evacuate from the whole of greece back to macedonia by the romans.
  • were hated by the greeks, and that the greeks fought both on the side of the persians and on the side of the romans to expel the macedonians from the whole of greece.
  • were not regarded as greeks by the greeks, nor they regarded themselves to be greek, but were proud of their macedonian nationality and way of life, and
  • that alexander's macedonian army was not a greek army, nor that the macedonian conquest of asia wasa greek conquest.

here you will find evidence, both ancient and modern, that proves that the ancient macedonians were not greeks, evidence that is overwhelming. to the ancient peoples and to the ancient authors that was not a matter for debate - it was a simple fact. diodorus, justin, arrian, curtius rufus, plutarch, livy, polybius, thracymachus, thycidides, herodotus, isocrates, demosthenes, ephoros, josephus, ptolemy, strabo, pausanias, theopastrus, medius of larisa, pseudo-scylax, pseudo-herod, dyonisus, josephus

the german 19th century view and its negative influence

late nineteenth and early twentieth century historians who were inamorata with anything greek, and who saw ancient greece as the cradle of the western civilization, could not possibly imagine that uncouth, and brute people like the ancient macedonians could topple the greek states, specifically athens, and build an empire of the likes that europe has not seen yet. they regarded philip of macedon and his macedonians as destroyer of "greek spirit and culture", as people who extinguished the flame from the athenian glory.

athens in particular, and the rest of the greek city-states in general, were culturally and physically exhausted. hogarth says that they suffered from "premature senility", incapable of growth and re-organization of its citizenry. the enthusiasm for hellas in a cultivated modern age, and the romanticism with greek art and culture, created an atmosphere of hatred for the person and the people (philip and his macedonians) who destroyed greek autonomy. in the backdrop of such a poisonous milieu, the ancient macedonians "could not possibly be perceived as masters of the world", for if anybody should achieve such a supreme act, they must be greek. these people could not accept the fact that the organism in the greek city-state, as they have come to know and appreciate, no longer breathed any signs of life, and that the macedonians as a non-greek nation possessed power, discipline, and inner strength to conquer not only the greeks but the persians too. thus, subsequent reference to ancient macedonians as greeks should not come to a great surprise.

some historians from the west, specifically german historians led by droysen, saw parallelism between events which occurred in greece and macedonia with those in prussia and germany. the 19th century is the birth of nationalism in europe, italy was unifying, and prussia was the advocate of the german unification. therefore:

  • when philip and his macedonians conquered the greeks after chaeronea it was not a conquest but a "unification" (contrary to all ancient sources).
  • when alexander undertook the conquest of asia, it was the "greek vengeance", not the macedonian plan for action (contrary for all sources that point that alexander fought for the glory of macedonia).
  • when the macedonian army conquered territories from greece to india, it was the "greek empire" that received the recognition, not the macedonian empire (although alexander's empire had never been called greek in the ancient sources but specifically macedonian).
  • another modern inventions were added - that with the conquest of asia the "greeks were spreading hellenism", and that the macedonian kingdoms after alexander, which were ruled till their end by macedonians, not by greeks, were "hellenistic kingdoms", and so on, and so on...

those western historians from the modern age (like the german ones followed by droysen), by denying philip and his macedonians the merit that they so rightfully deserve, have simply ignored the writings of the ancient biographers and chroniclers. however, even with this occasional omission on their part, the inevitable recognition of macedonians as a separate people from the greeks does occur nevertheless. in the end, it was the whole revisionist movement launched against the false historical interpretations and led by badian from harvard university, to finally put an end to the historical inaccuracies and prove once for all that the macedonians were not greeks, but a proud distinct nation who had enslaved them for centuries.

the modern greek propaganda

the greek propaganda claiming that the ancient macedonians "were greek", extensively bombards the internet, libraries, and bookstores. below are the main points of the greek propaganda, which is examined in details. one can easily see that all of these claims are absurd in the eyes of the history and are completely unsupported by credible evidence. thus, the goal of this page is to provide the audience with all evidence (ancient and modern), and to prove the absurdity of the modern greek claims that the ancient macedonians "were greek".

greek claim 1: "macedonia is a greek land"

greek claim 2: "ancient macedonians were greeks"

greek claim 3: "philip ii from macedon united the greek states"

greek claim 4: "alexander's conquest was a greek conquest"

greek claim 5: "alexander's army was a greek army"

greek claim 6: "there is no ancient macedonian language but a greek dialect"

professor eugene borza who is credited as "macedonian specialist" by the american philological association, and who have done extensive studies regarding the ethnicity of the ancient macedonians, had also presented in-depth analysis on the modern greek position which claims that the ancient macedonians were greek. in his in the shadow of olympus (p.91-92) he writes:

"thus, long before there was a sufficient ancient evidence to argue about the ethnic identity--as revealed by language--of the ancient macedonians, there emerged a "greek" position claiming that the macedonian language was greek, and that thus the inhabitants were greek."

the modern greeks (like the 19th century germans) have therefore, developed a position that the macedonians were greek, long before there was sufficient ancient evidence to argue about their ethnicity. yet although modern historiography had long abandoned this prematurely established "greek" position, modern greeks are still their most zealous defenders, despite the overwhelming evidence available today, which overwhelmingly shows that the macedonians were not greeks, but a distinct nation. borza continues:

"for example, recent work describes the funerary stelae found in the tumulus covering the royal tombs at vergina. these stelae date from the fourth and early third centuries, and the preponderance of names are greek… the excavator of vergina, manolis andronikos, in a useful summary of the epigraphic evidence, writes: "in the most unambivalent way this evidence confirms the opinion of those historians who maintain that the macedonians were a greek tribe, like all the others who lived on greek territory, and shows that the theory that they were of illyrian or thracian descent and were hellenized by philip and alexander rests on no objective criteria." manolis andronikos vergina:the royal tombs, 83-85."

here is borza’s answer to andronikos:

"this argument is true enough only as far as it goes. it neglects that the hellenization of the macedonians might have occurred earlier then the age of philip and alexander, and can not therefore serve as a means of proving the macedonians were a greek tribe."

indeed. not only andronakis was obviously wrong to conclude that the macedonians were greek, but also notice how the greek archeologist does not point that the macedonians might have been a separate nation, but prefers instead to call it if not greek, either illyrian or thracian, two ancient nations that can not be associated with the balkans politics surrounding greece since 1913 in the matter of macedonia (see below). also notice how andronikos used the term "like all the others who lived on greek territory". it’s like he wants to convince us that macedonia is a greek territory, which is exactly what he uses as a base for his inaccurate conclusion.

borza’s conclusion on the greek position

"the fullest statement of the "greek" position, and also the most detailed study of the macedonian language, is by kallaris, les anciens macidoniens, esp. 2: 488-531, in which alleged greek elements in the macedonian language are examined exhaustively. a more chauvinistic (and less persuasive) point of view can be found in daskalakis, hellenism, esp. pts. 2. and 3. the most blatant account is that of martis (the falsification of macedonian history). this book, written by a former minister for northern greece, is an polemical anti-yugoslav tract so full of historical errors and distortions that the prize awarded it by the academy of athens serves only to reduce confidence in the scientific judgment of that venerable society of scholars. the most sensible and scholarly greek position is that laid out by sakellariou, in macedonia, 44-63. lest it seem, however, that the "greek" position is held only by modem greeks" - borza, his in the shadow of olympus p.91

sakellariou, in his macedonia 4000 years of greek history, 44-63 (quite questionable of accuracy title to begin with), "proves" that the "macedonians were greek" although he purposely avoided all evidence that does not suit his conclusion. borza has a line for him as well:

"it is indicative of the strength of badian’s case that his critics have succeeded only in nit-picking: e.g., sakellariou, macedonia, 534-35 nn. 52.53" borza, in the shadow of olympus p.96.

ernst badian from harvard in his extensive research greeks and macedonians presented all evidence and soundly concluded that the macedonians were distinct nation from the greeks. that is precisely what sakellariou had avoided, and instead choused to nit-pick badian's argument.

why is greece stealing the macedonian history?

we can see a trend among the greek scholars (andronicos, martis, daskalakis, kallaris, and sakellariou) who desperately want to show the world that the macedonians "were greeks". martis' falsification of macedonian history was handed out to the foreign journalist in greece and translated into many languages. sakellariou’s macedonia 4000 years of greek history was even donated for free to the libraries throughout the united states. this exposes a well-developed greek propaganda strategy, to influence all those who are unaware that the "macedonians were greek." yet the greeks are showing the world that the "macedonians were greek" by avoiding all evidence that does not suit their purpose, and in that process they try to pass books so full of historical errors and distortions that can only be awarded by their greek academy. it is really ironical to see now the former greek politician nicolas martis write a book called the falsification of macedonian history, when in fact he is the one who is falsifying the history of macedonia with his errors and distortions which borza exposed.

it is sad and worrisome that the students of the countries who have nothing to do with the modern greek politics, must be exposed on historical fabrications and propaganda against one of the most dynamic powers of the ancient times - the macedonians. why is greece doing this, what is behind it, why do they steal the history of the ancient macedonians, and attempt to appropriate it as theirs?

the answer is in the year of 1913 when macedonia was partitioned after the balkan wars. greece swallowed the biggest part - 51%. there was nothing in macedonia then that connected that land with greece, apart from the not more then 10% small greek minority scattered in southern macedonia among the overwhelming majority ethnic macedonians who lived throughout the country. for complete statistical evidence, please see the "macedonian-greek conflict" on this matter. since in 1913 greece acquired a foreign territory, it had to provide a link that would justify their claim on that half of macedonia. that is exactly why the greeks claim that the ancient macedonians "were greek", so that if in ancient times there was a greek tribe (macedonians) living in macedonia, then that land therefore is greek (just like andronikos points above). what is not disputable however, is that since 1913 till today, the modern greek state continues to oppress the ethnic macedonians who now find themselves living in greece (see human rights watch, amnesty international) which is evidenced in the "macedonians in greece" page. the other northern part of macedonia, today’s republic of macedonia, broke out of yugoslavia and became independent in 1991. that brought addition fuel to the greek nationalists who are afraid now that one part of the ethnic macedonian nation is independent, the partition of 1913 can be seen as illegal, which could lead to eventual loss of their greek macedonian part and subsequent reunification of one macedonia. that is exactly why they claim that there is no modern macedonian nation, not in greece not anywhere, and continue to violate the basic human rights of their macedonian minority. it is politics filled with paranoia, which without the revision of the ancient history could not breathe.


it should be no surprise that alexander introduced the standard koine greek language for his multi-ethnic empire. the greek language was already the only international language on which the people in antiquity communicated prior to the macedonian conquest (just like english is international language today). the macedonians were smart enough to keep this international language for the persians, egyptians, jews, and all the nations of the empire to communicate. forcing all those people to learn now a new foreign macedonian language (or any other one) would have only provoked an additional hatred and multi-ethnic resistance for the macedonian occupation of asia, egypt, and greece, which the macedonians did not want to face. unlike the roman empire, there was no single powerful centralized macedonian empire, but there emerged three fragile macedonian kingdoms (macedonia, asia, egypt) which were occasionally in conflict with each other, and the macedonians needed such language standardization to help them maintain their power. that of course, does not mean that although the macedonians, persians, egyptians, jews, now communicated in greek, that they all turned into greeks. similary the african nations did not turn into english because of their usage of that language to communicate among themselves.

what is for certain is that alexander spoke macedonian with his own macedonian troops and used greek in addressing the asians and greeks. after all, the macedonians were his kinsmen (precisely the way he calls them), not the greeks. all ancient sources specifically refer to macedonian as language and not as "dialect of greek",and alexander himself specifically calls the macedonian - "our native language". during the trial of philotas, alexander himself clearly distinguishes his native macedonian language from the greek language which was used as in diplomacy as second language at the macedonian court alongside with macedonian (q. curtius rufus).

"what did others say about macedonians? here there is a relative abundance of information from arrian, plutarch (alexander, eumenes), diodorus 17-20, justin, curtius rufus, and nepos (eumenes), based upon greek and greek-derived latin sources. it is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the greeks and the macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples whose relationship was marked by considerable antipathy, if not outright hostility" (borza).

the conclusion is thus complete – ancient macedonian was a separate indo-european language, different from ancient greek, just like the macedonians were a separate nation different from the ancient greek nation. the claim that macedonian was a "dialect of greek" and that "macedonians were greeks", a claim that today is supported only by the modern greeks and only out of political reasons, is absurd and ridiculous.

quotes and comments provided by www.macedon.org/anmacs/index.htm. proofread, introduction, modern greek propaganda, conclusion, additional authors and comments, and format by monak.

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