Macedonians were not Greeks

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Aleksandar DONSKI

THE ANCIENT MACEDONIANS WERE NOT GREEKS! (IN DEFENCE OF MACEDONIA)A REJOINDER TO A RECENT LETTER, BY AUTHORS SYMPATHETIC TO THE GREEK POSITION, ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BARACK OBAMA

Institute of History and Archeology Goce Delcev University Stip, Republic of Macedonia Translated by: MILKICA PANEVA MICHAEL BRAXTON (USA) Publisher MNLD Grigor Prlicev Sydney EMARI - Stip For the publisher: Dushan RISTEVSKI Maria KUBAISKA

ISBN: 978-0-9804813-9-6Sydney - Stip, 2010

Aleksandar DONSKI

THE ANCIENT MACEDONIANS WERE NOT GREEKS! (IN DEFENCE OF MACEDONIA)A REJOINDER TO A RECENT LETTER, BY AUTHORS SYMPATHETIC TO THE GREEK POSITION, ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BARACK OBAMA

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This material has been E-mailed or posted to: The President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama Members of the Presidents Cabinet and senior U.S. government officials Members of the U.S. Senate Members of the U.S. House of Representatives The 300 signatories of the original letter to President Obama, all classical scholars, all of whose names are included below The rectors and deans of the signatories respective institutions Selected students and colleagues of the 300 signatories Senior members of the Government of the Republic of Greece Leading figures of NATO, the EU and the European Parliament The leadership of the Greek Diaspora Selected international universities and their respective departments of history Appropriate internet addresses, web sites and blogs

Dear President Obama: In writing this letter, I am under no illusion that your busy schedule will allow you to read it. I am confident however that appropriate officials in your government will absorb its contents and react in due course. This letter was prompted by another sent to you on May 18, 2009 and initially signed by 220 international classical scholars. (Later, the number of signatories rose to 300, when an additional 80 added their names and support.) The undersigned demanded that the U.S. Government withdraw its recognition of the Republic of Macedonias constitutional name, a move that would align U.S. policy with longstanding official Greek policy towards and propaganda against Macedonia and Macedonians.

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The undersigned scholars are of course free to serve the policies and propaganda of Greece at the expense of Macedonia, which is a relatively poor, small and defenseless Balkan state compared to Greece, but nevertheless is a steadfast U.S. ally. The freedom to support the Greek viewpoint however, does not confer on the signatories the right to create and manipulate historical facts. This letter disputes the errors and corrects the record contained in the letter sent to you in May of 2009 and it is dedicated to presenting an accurate account of the history of Macedonia. The letter that you received contains material that those with a background in this subject will recognize as factually incorrect, tendentious and replete with a variety of subjective assertions, and misleading or completely erroneous statements. These flaws render the scholarly value and historical accuracy of the letter of these scholars dubious at best and, taken together; they are the most compelling reasons why it should not be regarded as objective work or serious scholarship. Rather than probing the intentions and motivations of those who wrote and signed the letter, I will highlight the errors in the signatories approach in selecting their information and marshalling their facts, errors which effectively transformed their effort into a document presented the sole value of which is to promote the objectives of contemporary, unprovoked, anti-Macedonian propaganda. A detailed rebuttal in defense of Macedonia follows. Ancient Macedonia and the territory of todays Republic of Macedonia In their tract the signatories initially wrote: "The land in question, with its modern capital at Skopje, was called Paionia in antiquity. Mt. Barnous and Mt. Orbelos (which today form the northern limits of Greece) provide a natural

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barrier that separated then, and separates today, Macedonia from its southern neighbor. The only real connection is along the Axios/ Vardar River and even this valley does not form a line of communication because it is divided by gorges. The import of the above passage means that ancient Macedonia was situated on the territory of todays Greece, while the territory of todays Republic of Macedonia coincided with the territory of Paionia. This premise would deny todays Macedonians the right to claim their own ancient Macedonian ethno-cultural heritage. It has the effect of restricting their historical antecedents to Paionia, alone. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how classical scholars could ignore certain salient facts. The borders of ancient Macedonia changed constantly over different periods. At its inception ancient Macedonia spread only over a small part of what is today southwestern Macedonia. Later, the conquests of its rulers effected changes in Macedonias borders. There was a period when a large part of ancient Macedonia was located on the territory of Macedonia that came under Greek authority for the first time in 1913. (Today, Macedonians living in this recently-acquired Greek territory historically have been denied by local authorities any right to identify with their ethnic or national traditions). In earlier times, ancient Macedonia also spread over a large portion of todays Republic of Macedonia. Surely, the signatories are aware of the ancient Macedonian region Lyncus, which largely extended over the territory of todays Republic of Macedonia. The ancient Greek geographer, Strabo, (63/64 BCE ca. CE 24), states: that the Lyncus, region was an inextricable part of ancient Macedonia. He also wrote: "in fact the regions around Lyncus, Pelagonia, Orestia, and Elimeia, used to be called Upper Macedonia, though later on they also were called by some Free Macedonia. But some go so far as to call the whole of the country Macedonia" (Strabo Geography, Book VII, Chap. 7, 6).

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In ancient Macedonia, or Lyncus, there lived a famous tribe called the Lyncestians, whose inhabitants were part of the ancient Macedonian population. Philip IIs mother, Eurydice, came from the Lyncestian tribe and actually she was born on the territory of todays Republic of Macedonia. Thucydides also wrote about the Macedonian origin of the inhabitants of Lyncus: "There is an upper Macedonia, which is inhabited by Lyncestians, Elimiots, and other tribes; these are the allies and the client states of the lower Macedonians, but (they) have kings of their own". (Thucydides, Book II). The capital city of the ancient Macedonian region of Lyncus, called Lynk, was located on the territory of todays Republic of Macedonia. This city was located in the current village of Bukri, located at the curve of the Erigon, or Black River, at todays High Hill (Visoko Brdo). The ancient Macedonian city of Heraclea, also located on the territory of Lyncus, is reported to have been personally established by Philip II of Macedon. Even today, the citys ruins are evident on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia and all are free to visit these sites. Other sites found in todays Republic of Macedonia include the famous ancient Macedonian cities: Gordinia, Atalanta, Eidomen and a significant part of the ancient Macedonian region of Amphakstida. That Eidomen is located on the territory of the present Republic of Macedonia and also was an ancient Macedonian city is further supported by Thucydides. In his description of the war between the Thracians and the Macedonians, in the middle of the fifth century BCE, Thucydides explains that the Thracian army attacked the Macedonians and took the city of Eidomen: "Leaving Doberus, the Thracian army first invaded the country which formerly had been the principality of Philip, and took Eidomen by storm." (Thucydides, Book II).

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Thucydides (II, 100) also mentions the conquest of the ancient Macedonian cities of Gordinia and Atalanta, also located on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. Another city located on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia is the ancient Macedonian city of Dostonei. Further evidence of the existence of an ancient Macedonian civilization is clear from the presence of numerous defensive fortresses that ancient Macedonians built to protect themselves from outside attacks. The most famous of these is located outside the city of Demir Kapiya. There are others elsewhere in the Republic of Macedonia. Thousands of ancient Macedonian coins and other objects such as jewelry, weapons, household artifacts and tombs have been unearthed in the Republic of Macedonia and are on display both in Macedonia and in other countries. Numerous artifacts from Macedonias ancient past testify to the fact that a vibrant, ancient and distinctively Macedonian civilization thrived on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. Some data on this topic can be found in "Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia in the Republic of Macedonia" by Prof. Dr. Viktor Lilcik (The Journal for Archeology, History, History of Art and Ethnology, Year VIII, No. 23, Skopje, 2004, Republic of Macedonia; ISSN 1409/5742). The territory of Paionia, which the signatories stoutly maintain is the historical territory of today's Republic of Macedonia, also changed its boundaries constantly throughout its history. A large part of Paionia was located on what is today, the part of Macedonia that is under Greek authority. Note for example that during the Troyan War, Paionia stretched along the central part of, what is today, the Aegean portion of "Greek" Macedonia. Around the sixth century BCE, Paionia occupied an even larger expanse of Greeces Aegean Macedonia and also included the area around todays Thessaloniki (Solun). Along with the