History of the Macedonian People - Introduction
History of the Macedonian People from Ancient times to the Present
Part 1 - Introduction
by Risto Stefov email@example.com
All people that have existed on this planet have left their mark in some form or another. The Macedonians are no exception and will be the subject of this series of articles.
To properly reconstruct history, corroborating information from at least two sources must be obtained. One such source might be data collected from analyzing material finds like tombs, artifacts, relics and inscriptions, the type of information that can be derived from archeological research. Another source might be a body of literature derived from stories, legends, myths, folklore, poems, songs, etc. passed down from generation to generation.
Unfortunately, for obvious reasons upon which I will expand, the reconstruction of the Macedonian history has been neglected and as a result has not achieved the desired maturity to be considered adequate.
Scientific interest in the southern Balkan region in general began for the first time in the early 1800’s alongside political and economic interests. While German and British scholars were studying findings from the Bronze Age in the Peloponnesus and Crete, Macedonia was still in the grip of the Ottoman Empire. Later, after 1912 and 1913, in the hands of the Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian States, anything to do with Macedonia became politically sensitive. Since the time that Greece annexed a large part of Macedonia the Greek authorities have concealed all archeological materials which didn’t agree with their political agenda. Only materials that strengthened their claims to Macedonia and attracted tourists are made public.
Without sound archeological data, reconstruction of history is scant at best. “Early twentieth-century historians continued occasionally to write political biographies of the pre-eminent fourth-century B.C. kings, and when they did consider Macedonian affairs they viewed them only as part of general Greek history. What was required for a deeper understanding of Macedon and its kings were serious source studies and archeology, but archeological interest remained dormant for decades because twentieth-century interest in Macedonia sprang from modern politics rather than from a study of antiquity.” (page 8, Eugene N. Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, The Emergence of Macedon).
As for using literature to reconstruct Macedonia’s history, 19th century Western scholars relied heavily on Greek and Roman sources and neglected to reference Eastern, Macedonian and other literary sources. Eastern scholars on the other hand by political motivation or by nonchalance, continued to stagnate.
Unfortunately to this day, Greek and Bulgarian opposition still remains the biggest obstacle to reconstructing Macedonia’s history. Both states occupy Macedonian territory and refuse to cooperate on matters of Macedonian interests, especially archeology. Greece, which occupies the largest and archeologically richest part of Macedonia, will only cooperate if Macedonian history remains peripheral to mainstream Greek events and if it is presented from the Greek point of view. Bulgaria still refuses to recognize a Macedonian nation and is in agreement with Greece on matters of ancient history.
The academic community to date has been hesitant to become involved in the reconstruction of a mainstream Macedonian history (outside of the 4th century B.C.) partly due to the difficulties in obtaining information from non-Greek sources but mostly due to Greek pressure to keep Macedonia under the Greek periphery. Whatever evidence exists today, is fragmented and derived mainly from biased sources. “What we know about the Macedonians are primarily from Greek sources or from translations derived from the Greek sources and therefore we have a skewed view of them depending upon the views of people who were largely their enemies in antiquity”. These are the words of Dr. Eugene Borza, the “world authority” on ancient Macedonia. Dr. Borza clearly summarizes the conditions under which mainstream Macedonian history has been presented.
I want to emphasize that the Ancient Macedonian history taught in schools today was written during the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly by Western authors who relied mainly on politically motivated Greek sources for their research. Even though the Ancient Macedonian people were a unique and separate nation, their history presented to us always places them together with the people of the Greek city-states. There is no western text where the Macedonian identity is treated separately from the Greek identities of the city-states. Also, the same mainstream history which is taught to our children today, personifies the ancient Macedonian people as a mere vehicle that united the city-states and did nothing more than do their bidding in spreading Hellenic culture throughout the ancient world. Also, Modern Greek historians made sure that the negativity of orators like Demosthenes referring to the Macedonians as “barbarians” and “culturally backwards”, was well portrayed in the minds of western writers.
The fact that some modern authors ascribe Hellenic affinity to the ancient Macedonians should come as no great surprise, given the impact of Johan Gustav Droysen on early nineteenth-century historians where Macedonia is depicted as a natural "unifier" of the Greek city-states. The same role was played by Prussia and Savoy in German and Italian unification in the nineteenth century. "On this false analogy the whole of Greek history was now boldly reconstructed as a necessary process of development leading quite naturally to a single goal: unification of the Greek nation under Macedonian leadership". (Werner Jaeger) To paraphrase Eugene Borza, it was a dynamic idea in the minds of 19th century German intellectuals and politicians to see something of themselves, of the German State unification, conquests, creativity and culture in the Greeks and Philip as the embodiment of national will and the unifier of Greece. In other words, the ancient history written for the modern Greeks by 19th century German scholars was nothing more than a German vision of the “Glorious” German unification superimposed on the Greek model.
To Demosthenes and others like him, the Macedonians were an enemy that conquered and subdued them and embodied everything that was vile and despicable. Ignoring all signs of a rich and civilized culture beyond imagination, modern Greek scholars hid the real face of ancient Macedonia under a veil of contemptible words spoken by enemies and by bitter politicians.
Modern day Greeks would like to pass off Demosthenes’s castigations of Philip II as political rhetoric, and yet Demosthenes was twice appointed to lead the war effort of Athens against Macedonia. He, Demosthenes, said of Philip that, “Philip was not Greek, nor related to Greeks but comes from Macedonia where a person could not even buy a decent slave.” Soon after his death the people of Athens paid him fitting honours by erecting his statue in bronze, and by decreeing that the eldest member of his family should be maintained in the prytaneum at public expense. On the base of his statue was carved his famous inscription: “If only your strength had been equal, Demosthenes, to your wisdom Never would Greece have been ruled by a Macedonian Ares.” (J.T. Griffith) Greece "ruled" not "united" by a Macedonian Ares. Also, was it not the Greek philosopher Lycurgus who said, "With the death of Chaeronea was buried the freedom of Greece?"
The reader should be aware that the word “Greek” is a Latin term that originated during Roman times and should not be used to refer to a people that existed hundreds of years earlier. The people of the ancient city-states could not possibly have been called “Greek” before the word was actually invented. Also, modern Greek academics are more than willing to interpret ambiguous evidence when it serves their political interests, and at the same time, to dismiss the obvious when it doesn’t. If you want to learn more about the differences between the ancient Greeks and ancient Macedonians please read Josef S. G. Gandeto’s book, Ancient Macedonians, Differences Between the Ancient Macedonians and the Ancient Greeks.
“ There is not a single word or fact written by the ancient authors that shows that the Macedonians are Greek. There is not a single word or fact written where the Macedonians thought of themselves as Greeks. There is not a single book written by the ancient authors, including the ancient Greek authors, that has mixed the lineage and has not shown diverse differences between Macedonians and Greeks.” (Joseph Gandeto)
Since the emergence of the Republic of Macedonia in the 1990’s, research in the field of archeology has increased dramatically but mainly inside the Republic of Macedonia. Also, new Macedonian literature and publications are slowly emerging and in time should provide an alternative to the vast, biased Greek sources.
On the subject of language, it would be evident from the text of Arrian, Plutarch, and Curtius Rufus that Alexander's army spoke Macedonian not Greek. Any other interpretation would be intolerably difficult, if not impossible, to accept. “ The main evidence for ancient Macedonian existing as a separate language comes from a handful of late sources describing events in the train of Alexander the Great, where the Macedonian tongue is mentioned specifically. The evidence suggests that Macedonian was distinct from ordinary Attic (ancient Athenian) used as a language of the court and of diplomacy. The handful of surviving genuine Macedonian words - not loan words from Greek - do not show the changes expected from a Greek dialect.” (Eugene Borza)
There are many scholars who will argue that there is ample evidence to place the ancient Macedonians as a distinct nation with a unique culture and language, separate from the ancient city-states. Unfortunately, until recently there was little interest and not much incentive to carry the argument beyond discussion.
If the ancient Macedonians were a distinct nation, then where did they come from? What language did they speak? Has any part of their language survived? What was their culture like?
To answer these questions we need to avoid being bogged down by conflicting arguments. We need to get away from the well-trod mainstream path, free ourselves from the biased modern Greek sources and take a fresh look at the old and new evidence, especially the evidence that has been omitted or intentionally bypassed in the past.
It has been my belief that the arguments presented by Greek historians are not only biased and politically motivated, but are designed to bog down the academic world and keep it on the defensive thus stifling any chance for real progress.
On the topic of new archeological and linguistic evidence, there have been numerous projects undertaken since the 1960’s.
A major archeological discovery was made in 1977 in Kutlesh (Vergina) about 30 miles north of Mount Olympus. Archeologists uncovered what appeared to be the royal tomb (Golemata Tumba) of Philip II. In addition to yielding much information about the Macedonians, the find also unearthed much controversy. Some of the artifacts found, according to Eugene Borza, belonged to a later period of the 4th century B.C., which cast some doubt as to whether it was truly Philip II’s tomb. What is more important however, is the type of treasure found in the tomb. The treasure is physical evidence which “proves unmistakably” that the Macedonians were not a barbarian tribe whose only accomplishment was making war. Archeologists are finding increasing evidence that the Macedonians were a far more sophisticated culture than previously thought. What was most impressive in this find, besides the solid gold casket with the symbol of the starburst, was the exquisite gold foiled wreath made from 313 gold oak leaves. It is the heaviest and most elegant gold wreath ever discovered.
Since the emergence of the Republic of Macedonia new and exciting archeological discoveries have been made. Rocks with inscriptions never before deciphered were found in several sites inside the Republic of Macedonia. Similar inscriptions have also been found in Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and even Crete, Pil and Knosos. Unfortunately, up until now archeologists have consistently failed to decipher them. Thanks to dedicated archeologists like Vasil Ilyov the inscriptions have now been deciphered.
According to Ilyov’s palaeographic and paleolinguistic research, the signs on the rocks are actual letters of an old pre Slavic phonetic alphabet that belongs to the Macedonian language of Aegean Macedonia. In other words, the language of the Pelazgian and other Macedonian tribes, like the Payonian, Piertian, Brygian or Phrygian, Venets or Enets, etc., is in fact the language of the ancient Macedonians which dates back to prehistoric times.
Symbols found on Prevedic solar and cosmographic artifacts that belong to the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Eneolithic cultures, place the inscriptions somewhere between 7,000 to 3,000 B.C. (Page 37, October 15, 1999, number 560, Makedonija magazine).
What is more interesting is that Vasil Ilyov and his team have translated almost every inscription discovered and so far have identified and tabulated 35 characters of the ancient alphabet. (Pages 60 and 61, July 1, 2000, number 577, Makedonija magazine). There is finally proof that a Macedonian written language existed in prehistoric times. In fact, according to Vasil Ilyov, not one but two phonetic alphabets have been discovered. One was known as the common alphabet used by the general public and the other was known as the “secret” alphabet used for religious and ceremonial purposes. To date, the texts of more than 150 artifacts have been translated and about 6,000 ancient Macedonian words have been identified.
According to Ilyov, apart from giving us the oldest phonetic alphabet found to date, the prehistoric Macedonians have also given us clues that they were gazing at the skies. The word “cosmos” which the Hellenes borrowed from the Macedonians, and the modern Greeks without offering adequate etymology pass off as their own, Iliov says comes from the Macedonians. In the ancient Macedonian language the base of the noun cosmos comes from the adjective KOS (winding slanted) and the noun MOS (bridge). “Kosmos” was the winding bridge that the ancient Macedonian astronomers called the cluster of stars in the Milky Way galaxy looking like a winding bridge when viewed from the earth.
Even before Irodot (Herodotus 484-424 B.C.) gave the world the idea of history as we know it today, the ancient Macedonians were already familiar with the notion. The West considers Herodotus to be the father of history. As for the word “history”, its roots are found in the ancient Macedonian noun “TR” which is the oldest name given to the god of thunder. In time, the word evolved from “TR” to “TOR”, “TORI” and in the past tense, “STORI” which in Macedonian means “happened”. If we apply this action to events that involve people we then come up with the Macedonian words “TIE I STORIA” which in English translates to “they did”. So, when Herodotus published his work under the title “HISTORY” by Herodotus of Halicarnassus, he in fact used a Macedonian word for his title.
If Herodotus, using a similar analogy derived his title from the Atikan dialect, as modern Greeks claim, he would have had to produce a noun from the verb “KANO” or “EKANA” and the actions “they did” would translate to “AVTI EKANAN” which is a far cry from the word HISTORY. (Pages 56 and 57, June 15, 2000, number 576, Makedonija magazine).
I want to mention here that in spite of Greek claims otherwise, Irodot (Herodotus) was not Greek and was not from Athens. Herodotus was Karian born in the city of Halicanassus in Asia Minor.
More evidence that gives credence to the existence of an ancient prehistoric Macedonian civilization comes to us from ancient literature. One such source that greatly influenced our impression of the ancients and inspired Alexander the Great to seek adventure was Homer’s epic poems. About five hundred years after the Trojan Wars, Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer’s work captivated his audience with events that, according to Tashko Belchev, began and ended in Macedonia. Homer was born in the 8th century B.C. and created true literary masterpieces that are enjoyed as much today, as they were in the days of Alexander the Great. Originally, Homer’s stories were folktales told and retold for millenniums until they were immortalized in print in the 6th century B.C. What is most interesting about Homer’s stories, especially the Iliad, is that they were originally written in the prehistoric Macedonian language. The first paleolinguist to openly proclaim the similarities between the words of the Iliad and those of the modern Slavic languages was the German Homerologist Pasov. Inspired by Pasov and others, researcher Odisej Belchevsky has furthered the study by clearly illustrating the fundamental relationship between the modern Macedonian language and the language of Homer.
“ In the Iliad and Odyssey, attributed to Homer, the great multitude of non-Greek people living around Olympus and further north in Europe were described as being as, ‘Numerous as the leaves in the forests… with chariots and weapons decorated with gleaming gold and silver…like gods.’ Unless destroyed by natural disaster, large nations and their languages do not simply disappear but rather change and evolve over time. This evolution is influenced by the conditions of life and interaction with other nations, called ‘symbiosis’ by Lidija Slaveska in The Ethnological Genesis of the Macedonian People. A tremendous number of words from everyday life as well as the names of a number of places, rivers, mountains, kings, gods, common people, and numerous tribes can be found in the Homeric poems. The majority of these words have survived until today. This is not a strange phenomenon. What attracts our attention is that these words have retained their basic meaning and can be easily recognized especially by the speakers of the contemporary Slavic languages. This linguistic material clearly shows the existence and strong influence of a language, which surely was neither Greek nor Latin. After extensive research taking over twelve years, I (Oddisej Belchevski) have studied, analyzed and resolved a large number of linguistic problems through the evidence of that archaic language which profoundly influenced the Greek, Latin, and Germanic languages in their historic development since ancient times.
The question of what constituted ancient Macedonian has been studied by many scholars over many centuries. There have been many attempts to reconstruct it as a “Greek dialect.” My research indicates the following: 1. 1. Not a single linguist nor scholar in any other field has ever conducted a comparative study of this ancient language with the largest linguistic group in Europe and Asia--the Slavic languages--in use today! The question is: Why? It seems that the truth has been hidden in darkness and altered by western scholars and politicians for almost two hundred years. It is easy to suppose that this has been done for nationalistic, political interests and gains. 2. 2. The Macedonian words identified in Homer (1000-800 BC) are a part of the basic everyday life of the Macedonian people today. When compared to the contemporary Macedonian language, there is an incredible similarity and in many cases there are complete cognates. 3. 3. Moreover, those Homeric words which belong to that base are found in the roots of many words in the modern Macedonian language. They form huge families of words--a series of words that are interrelated on a functional basis or are simply built according to the Law Of Functional Etymology. 4. 4. Some of these words have been adopted in the Greek language, but have been assimilated beyond recognition. Others again “stand alone” in the Greek language, without Greek roots or functional relationships. But most of these words are absolutely not related to modern Greek.
Many western scholars think that kinship terms from 1500-1000 BC disappeared long ago. My research proves that they exist today in the largest language group of nations in Europe and Asia, including the modern Macedonian nation. These specific terms were of utmost importance as they were the basis for preserving large family units --clans, tribes, and the prevention of marriages between family members. All this resulted in forming of great nations.
The Pelazgian people are clearly described in Homeric poems as non-Greek, with their own language and traditions totally different from Greek. They inhabited the Balkan Peninsula (known by the names Macedonians, Thracians, Illyrians, etc.) and they spread throughout south-eastern Europe (under the common name Scythians). Later, they migrated to the east in Asia Minor (Lydians, Brigians-Frigians etc.) and to the west into central and northern Italy (Etruscans, Veneti etc). Their name, Pelazgians, most logically could be interpreted as the ‘dwellers of the flat lands’. They cultivated the fertile valleys and became a part of the landscape their fecundity only paralleled by the far Eastern nations. In the Iliad, they are identified as Trojans and as the inhabitants of Crete. According to Greek writers, they are credited with building the Acropolis and as those natives that the ‘Greek’ tribes met when they arrived in Southern Europe. How could it have happened that so great a number of Pelazgian tribes disappeared without leaving traces of their language? It should be pointed out that there is forgotten evidence revealed in the linguistic inscriptions on stones in Delphi (Greece) and Asia Minor (Turkey). These are written in Greek and in ‘another language’, which western scholars identify as Etruscan. In his study ‘The Language of the Etruscans’, L. Bonafonte identifies the ‘other language’ as Etruscan. My study of the Etruscan and Lydian languages reveals that these languages were closely related to the ancient and modern Macedonian language. Other apparent lexical correspondences between the Homeric and modern Macedonian are, for example: paimiti(s)-pamti; veido, veiden-vide; ischare-izgara, skara; idri-itar; kotule-katle; okkos-oko; steno-stenka; pliscios-seli, preseli; oditis-odi od odenje. There are a great many examples like this in the 1800 dictionary compiled by the German linguist Ludwig Franz Passoff on the basis of the most ancient extant manuscripts of Homer’s Iliad. The English edition was prepared by Henry George (New York, 1850). Not knowing the Macedonian language, Passoff concentrated on the most contrasting preserved words, unknown in Greek and Latin with the Czech and Slovak languages of that time. So these words were identified, in fact, as Slavic words. Hence, in my opinion the golden rule for analyzing a language is the aforementioned Functional Etymology. Since the functional relations of words are the fundamental building blocks of word forms, I name this rule the ‘GOLDEN RULE OF FUNCTIONAL ETYMOLOGY.’ In studies of the ancient and modern Macedonian language at the Canadian-Macedonian Historical Society in Toronto the priority project based on an earlier understanding is the question of ‘Studying The Macedonian Language--Ancient and Modern’. Another interesting topic is the problem of the ‘Lost Words in the Indo-European Language Exist Today in the Modern Macedonian Language’. In order to illustrate my argument in this respect, I focus on some examples of the genetic relationships between ancient and modern Macedonian language, through the Macedonian word daver, dever ‘brother in law’.
When a young woman marries, the brother of her husband (usually the youngest) becomes a ‘dever’. This is an ancient tradition done to ensure that the young male is entrusted with the care of the family in case the husband dies or is killed.
In such circumstances the youngest brother becomes the new husband and takes over the family. This was necessary to protect the children and keep accrued wealth and property within the same family. The meaning of the word in Macedonian, according to functional etymology could be extracted as follows: vera-verba-doverba-doveri-dever ‘to be entrusted’. This word belongs to a large cluster of Macedonian words containing the root (-verba-). In ancient Macedonian (1000 BC), according to Homer (p.305 L.L.) there is da-DAVER; dao(s), where the digama stands for/v/ and the word means ‘brother in law’. In the word daver-daer we note the missing consonant /v/ in inter vocalic position. This indicates that the rule of the speech economy has been in force for a long time in the language. Dropping consonants has been a rule quite often occurring in Macedonian as in the examples: to private >to praoite; covekot ojde > coekon ojde, etc. Yet in Greek ‘brother in law’ ginaika delfos ‘ginaika delfoos’, could obviously not be related to the Homeric daver-davero(s).”( Odisej K. Belchevski, Pages 29, 30, 31 and 32, Number 503, III 1995, Makedonija magazine).
If you didn’t know who Homer was and happened to be reading his stories about the customs of the Trojans, you would think that he was talking about modern Macedonia. After three millenium, we find the same customs, crafts, hunting techniques, agricultural methods, etc. being practiced today. Be it spinning, weaving, dowry, hospitality, nature, or house design, everything else described in Homer’s epics, says Angelina Markus, is unchanged and present all around us today. (Page 56 and 57, July 1, 2000, number 575, Makedonija magazene.
Another archeological source that provides evidence for the Macedonians is the work of German Toponimist Max Fasmer. Fasmer in his book “The Slavs in Greece” examines the origins of 334 prehistoric Phoenician toponyms in Epirus and concludes that they are of Slavic origin. Through his studies, Fasmer has discovered that there is a relationship between the ancient Phoenicians and the medieval Slavs. He also clearly emphasizes that that “Slavs” inhabited Epirus. What is also interesting is that in German, the words “Slaven” and “Vinden” are synonymous. Tashko Belchev furthers the idea that the Slavs inhabited the Balkans long before previously thought by connecting the Vindi, Veneti and Phoenician to a single family of people with common origins. (Page 68, February 1, 2001, number 591, Makedonija magazine).
According to the writings of G. S. Grinevich, dealing with the subject of pre-Slavic literacy, the decoding and linguistic coding results show that pre-Slavic literacy existed much before the creation of the letters and coding of the Slavic language by the brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodi. This is more evidence that the proto-Slavs originated in Macedonia and according to Grinevich, the language spoken by the Aegean Pelasti is the same as that spoken by the pre-Slavs (p. 175). Grinevich has also stated that the pre-Slavic written language is very close to the Old Slavic written literary language of all Slavs. (Genadij Stanistavlovich Grinevich, World History Department, Russian Physical Society, Moscow, 1994)
According to Alexander Donski, “There are many indications that the ancient Macedonians were of Venetic origin (the term "Slavic" came into use much later), and there is evidence in favor of this.
Historical Evidence We can see from several ancient documentary sources that Macedonians and Hellenes were two different peoples. Some Greek, as well as Roman historians, have explored this view, and have left evidence collected from earlier periods, clearly showing that ancient Macedonians were of Venetic origin.
Linguistic Evidence Although the surviving vocabulary of the ancient Macedonians is relatively small, it gives a good indication in favor of our thesis; which is, that the modern Macedonian language is at least in part the continuation of the language spoken by Alexander the Great and his contemporaries.
Onomastic Evidence There is considerable heritage from the area of burial customs and archaeological remains. They contain many examples of sameness or similarity between the ancient and modern Macedonian, and other Slavic languages. There are also some narrative, oral testimonies pointing in the same direction.” Alexander Donski has recently published a book on this subject, which will be available in English soon.
A recently published book "Veneti: First Builders of European Community", considered to be one of the most comprehensive works on the early history of Slovenes, presents the Proto-Slavic Veneti as the first known nation of central Europe and the Slovenes as their most direct descendants. The Veneti (not to be confused with Venetians) settled in the alpine area in Slovenia, northern Italy, eastern Switzerland and Austria during the Bronze Age around 1200 B.C. In their original settlement area there are to this day countless Slovene place-names.
These facts presented in the book are not new and have already been studied and reported by earlier researchers but for unknown reasons, have not been taken seriously.
Besides important historical data, the authors of this book have presented numerous Slovene toponyms in the alpine region and to the west and north where the Veneti once lived. Also, the book reveals many similarities between the modern Slovene and the Venetic languages. Research done on the Venetic inscriptions has proven that not only was the ancient Venetic language (contrary to official linguistics) Proto-Slavic, but also that the modern Slovene language is a continuation of it.
The first known nation of central Europe, according to the authors of this book, were the Proto-Slavic Veneti and the original language of central Europe before the arrival of the Indo-Europeans around 2,000 B.C. was Slavic.
The book "Veneti: First Builders of European Community" is a first step towards the gradual correction of the “distorted history” which was “written for us” by foreigners.
Until recently, no one had been able to decipher the Venetic script on the urns unearthed from archeological digs because no one ever thought of using the ancient Slavic language as a basis to try and solve this ancient mystery. So they say!
Matej Bor, a Slovenian linguist, seems to have cracked the Venetic script using the Slovenian language. (Jozko Šavli, Matej Bor, Ivan Tomazic, “VENETI: First Builders of European Community”)
Soon perhaps, Macedonian researchers will compare notes with Slovenian researchers and shed some new light on this ancient mystery.
In the article “Who is Afraid of Ancient Macedonian Culture, and Why?” Tashko Belchev talks about Deyan Medakovic, President of the Serbian Academy of Science and his attempts to cover up certain archeological facts that do not agree with mainstream Serbian history.
On March 4, 1987 Academic, Vladimir Dediyer, President of the research board of the Serbian Academy, sent a letter to Deyan Madakovic complaining about his involvement in stopping the symposium devoted to the Vincha world which existed 6,000 – 3,000 years B.C. The symposium was organized by the Serbian Academy of Science and Art, the Historical Science Department and the Center for Scientific Research at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. Among other things, the letter chastised Medakovic with the words, “Damn you Deyan Medakovic, for your petty ambitions to be President of the Serbian Academy of Science. You are a sycophant to the authorities, breaking all human principles of behaviour. (L. Klyakic, ‘Beginning of the Road’, p. 56.)” (Page 69, August 1, 2000, number 579, Makedonija magazine).
On the subject of the Vincha Group, Vasil Iliov, in an article in the Makedonija Magazine, talks about a discovery of a rather imposing monument containing an ancient script found in Sitovo cave, located near the city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria. The monument has two lines of inscriptions about 3.4 meters long and the text is about 40 centimeters high, written from right to left. According to Ilyov, the text can be dated back to 4,500 B.C. and is written in the ancient, prehistoric Macedonian phonetic language. The text, although not deciphered at the time, was published in 1950 and again in 1971. With Ilyov’s assistance, the text was finally deciphered in 1995. In a crude attempt, here is what it says in English “and the father-in-law ran in (flew in) and in the flight horrors have haunted him and there the house psalms (in the house they sing psalms) and in roast you are a guest of the ducks-go dream!” (Page 71, December 15, 1999, number 564-565, Makedonija magazine) You can decide for yourself what the ancient scribe wants to say. More importantly, it is not what the message says but rather that it has been deciphered and translated. Perhaps it is not a message meant for us. In any case here is Iliov’s interpretation. The duck in this message refers to an ancient swamp bird, which rises from a deceased person and carries his/her spirit to the blue sky. Ilyov has based his interpretation on an artifact in the shape of an anthropomorphic figure standing on a chariot drawn by harnessed swamp birds. The central figure is decorated with symbols of the sun and planets.
Yet another source of archeological data in support of a Macedonian civilization comes from Bronze Age research. According to Vangel Bozhinovski (page 61, June 1, 2000, number 575, Makedonija magazine) the Neolithic civilization in Macedonia appeared 3,000 years before it appeared in Western Europe. Similarly the Bronze Age appeared in Macedonia 1,200 years earlier and the Iron Age 200 years earlier. The tragedy of the Bronze Age is reflected in the death and destruction it brought to Macedonia after it was introduced to Western Europe. In the hands of the Europeans to the North and to the West, the metal that once shaped art in Macedonia became a weapon of death and destruction. Was it mankind’s nature to crave war above peace? If we examine our behaviour by the amount of money we spend on our military budgets today, I would say yes.
Almost all of the valuable artifacts made between 1,200 and 800 B.C. were discovered in cemeteries. Macedonia dubbed “the culture of the fields of urns” has an abundance of cemeteries. It seems that no matter how many are unearthed or destroyed there are plenty more to be found. It is in mankind’s nature to be this way says Vangel Bozhinovski, just look at the textbooks from which our children learn in school today and you will realize that civilization is nothing but an endless war. War is a western invention which was imported to Macedonia during the Bronze Age and has become our way of life ever since.
It has been said that thousands of years ago many small tribal kingdoms occupied the region where the three continents meet (Europe, Asia and Africa). They lived off the land, traded, and peacefully co-existed with each other for many centuries. Even though they were known by many names, the people had a common ancestry and spoke dialects of the same language. For a thousand years the masters of the crafts possessed the secret of the metals with which they made their cities beautiful with sculptures and decorations.
It was foretold that if the secret of the metal (bronze) was allowed to escape, the gods of peace would curse the people and allow disaster to befall them for a thousand years. Unfortunately, after a thousand years or so of contentment, ignoring the ancient warnings, the old masters became arrogant and careless and let the secret of the metal escape. No one could have predicted the outcome of what was about to happen, especially the gentle tribes who knew nothing of evil, violence or bloodshed.
When the gods of war who lived to the north and west of the gentle tribes learned the secret of the metal, they forged mighty weapons. With promises of power and glory, they bewitched the tribesmen’s leaders to use the weapons against their enemies. Greed and lust for power soon blinded the tribesmen who unleashed bloodshed, death and destruction. When the cities of light turned to dust the wars ended and the dead were buried in cities of tombs below the surface of the earth where their bones lay in peace, undisturbed for all eternity or until archeology unearthed them.
In 800 B.C. when the catastrophic wars were finally over, the survivors of the small tribal kingdoms were left weak, devastated and vulnerable. One of those small kingdoms was Macedonia. But Macedonia’s story does not end with the tribal wars, it only begins.
There are those who believe that the name “Macedonia” was first spoken by the child warriors who longed to return home during the tribal wars. What they affectionately called “Makedon” was not their kingdom but their wish to return to “mother’s home”.
“Make” (mother) and “don” (home) or Makedon as it came to be known to the outside world, was “mother’s home” to the children of Macedonia. There are other stories that make reference to the meaning of the name “Makedon” but this, I believe, is the most realistic meaning.
One of the oldest sources of evidence written on stone in the ancient Macedonian phonetic language dates back to the Neolithic period, to the time of the “Zets”. I want to mention here that a “Zet” is a “son in law”. From the deciphered inscriptions, it appears that the Zets of various tribes seemed to be involved in some sort of conflict with each other.
Perhaps one of the most characteristic documents ever found was the text engraved on a stone in the shape of a long fish found in Osinchani, near Skopje. Here the inscription describes a battle between Zets expressing how one Zet subdued another.
Another description that dates between 2,100 B.C. and 1,200 B.C., tells a boastful story of how the Zet Ig’Lal destroyed the Ege kingdom. (Vasil Ilyov, page 51, August 15, 2000, number 580, Makedonija magazine).
Yet another Neolithic inscription from the Tsrna Loma or Ilina Gora locality, near the village Osinchani, conveys the following message: “taa, rechta, zasega e uteha na majkite, koishto loshoto voinata, niv gi oshteti”, which in English translates roughly to, “the word for now is consolation for the mothers, whom the wicked war damaged”.
Outside of Homer’s epics, nothing has captured the young imagination more than the adventures of the ancient mythological gods and heroes.
Were these gods and heroes exclusively Egyptian, Greek and Roman? Because that is exactly what the modern Greeks would want us to believe.
Contrary to modern Greek claims, Professor Tashko Belchev believes that the mythology as we know it today originated in the fertile minds of much older people than the ancient Greeks, the ancient Macedonians. The Greeks simply took the mythology and adopted it for themselves. Even the word “mythology” comes from the ancient Macedonian words “mit” and “log”. In modern Macedonian the word “mit” means “telling” or “bribing” (potmiti go, bribe him) and the word “log” (logika) means “logic” or “science”. Putting the two words together we come up with “Mitlog” or, in modern Macedonian, “Mitologija” the science of telling or the science of “bribing” the young imagination. (Page 58, June 15, 2000, number 576, Makedonija magazine).
Taking all evidence into consideration, it is not difficult to piece together a theory of what the pre-Macedonian world looked like. We already know a lot about the ancient city-states and how they dealt with overpopulation and expansion. For example, as each of the ancient city-states grew beyond the city’s ability to support its population, people were driven out or left voluntarily to start a new city. New settlements followed the coastline indicative of the peoples’ desire to pursue a familiar means of livelihood. The same principle can be applied to the pre-Macedonian inland dwellers who lived in what we today call geographical Macedonia.
For personal protection and for companionship, the ancient people built their homes in close proximity similar to those of today’s modern villages. As the community grew in population beyond the land’s ability to support it, people moved and started new communities. This practice continued uninterrupted as long as there was space to expand. In time, the entire region of Macedonia became dotted with settlements. Unchecked by war, disease and pestilence, the populations grew and expanded outwards.
Since the people of the various towns were related to each other, they maintained close contact through visits, celebrations, etc. which kept their traditions and language from diverging. The maximum population an ancient town could hold was dependent upon the land’s ability to support it. If a family could no longer make a living because it was too large for its land holdings, it either moved away in whole or split up. Some family members moved away to a smaller town or started a new community elsewhere. Newly founded towns usually took the name of the founding family.
Keeping track of genealogy was very important for several reasons. Family size usually dictated social status in the community. The family clan protected its family members and expected certain loyalties from them in return. Marriages between family members were avoided by knowing who belonged to which family. It was common practice in those days for a young man to leave his own family, marry and become a Zet (son in law) in another family. Based on the ancient scripts, being a Zet had its privileges, including those of waging war on other Zets for control over the family.
Because the Balkan terrain could not support uniform population growth, clusters of settlements developed usually with the larger towns in the fertile lowlands, surrounded by smaller towns in the highlands. As the older settlements grew and matured they began to trade with other settlements and developed transportation routes, commerce and a written language. They also developed a central administration, a security force and appointed central tribal leaders, who in time evolved into tribal kings. With the expansion of trade beyond the boundaries of the local community, the ancient people came into contact with other people who had new ideas and innovations.
With the discovery of metal, powerful weapons were built and bloodshed and destruction was not too far behind. Even family squabbles over small matters turned violent and ugly. A society that valued kinship and family above all else had the tendency to stick together and interact freely and peacefully. Unfortunately, at around 1,200 B.C. something went terribly wrong and war erupted between the various groups (families?), bringing four centuries of death and devastation to the peace loving people of ancient Macedonia.
Documented but not well understood are ancient “kinship and family ties”. Kinship was very important to the ancient people of Macedonia who ranked it at the top of their value system. A good example of this is Philip II’s marriages to various women from his annexed worlds. Marriages were a powerful symbol for bonding family ties and for forging powerful alliances. This custom may seem bizarre today but it was common practice in ancient Macedonia.
From a cultural and linguistic standpoint, the close relationship between the ancient societies allowed free interaction between the various peoples and kept their language and culture from diverging. This could account for the widespread Slav language commonality we are witnessing today.
Thus far, I have given you a glimpse of the remnants of an old prehistoric world with a rich culture and language. The sources of information that I have referenced provide valuable evidence of the existence of a world never before acknowledged. Also, the deciphered inscriptions and translated texts not only suggest that a pre-historic civilization existed, but also that the people of this old world are the ancestors of the modern Macedonians.
Some of the artifacts, like the stone writings and the “Iliad” translations, have been discovered and deciphered since the 1990’s but to this day they have not attracted the attention of mainstream archeology and paleolinguistics. Why?
I believe there are several reasons for this:
1. There are some who think the work is not serious enough to warrant their consideration.
2. Others, especially the highly paid administrators, are satisfied with the status quo and don’t want to rock the boat.
3. Yet others believe that any involvement on their part could undermine the entire foundation of ancient history as we now know it.
4. Unfortunately, there are also those, myself included, who believe that mainstream ancient history as we know it today, had been fabricated to support the political objectives of the 19th century Great Powers and their allies.
As George Orwell once pointed out, "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." History is written by the victors.
As I mentioned earlier, when the foundation of ancient history was laid down by the 19th century revisionists, it was done in aid of political objectives. Modern Greece was created by the Western Powers expressly to curtail Slavic expansionism. Moreover, Greece was created to divide the Slavs and stop Imperial Russia from achieving her long ambition of sailing the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
In their zeal to satisfy their own ambitions, the 19th century Powers, perhaps unbeknownst to them at the time, unleashed a “Balkan turmoil” that would have long lasting consequences for the Balkan people.
People that existed together, united for centuries by a common faith, were divided without their consent and thrown into disarray by artificially imposed values and ideals.
A century has passed and peace has not been achieved. Why?
When the Western Powers superficially created Greece in 1829, they launched her on a polemic course, her survival to be made possible only at the expense of the Macedonian nation. The problems experienced between Greece and Macedonia today are nothing new but another stage in a continuous and timeless struggle.
Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia have generated more literature to disprove the existence of a Macedonian nation than they have written books about their own histories. This is truly sad and such a waste of effort.
To be continued…
Josef S. G. Gandeto, Ancient Macedonians, The differences Between the Ancient Macedonians and the Ancient Greeks
Eugene N. Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus, The Emergence of Macedon
Jozko Šavli, Matej Bor, Ivan Tomazic, VENETI: First Builders of European Community
George Nakratzas M.D., The Close Racial Kinship Between the Greeks, Bulgarians and Turks, Macedonia and Thrace
Genadij Stanistavlovich Grinevich, World History Department, Russian Physical Society, Moscow, 1994
Makedonija Magazine – Ilustrirana Rebija za iselenitsite od Makedonija, Broj 503, 560 - 591
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