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Ancient tribe Macedonians - Ancestry and origin

Who are the Macedonians?

The spelling of the name of a nation is ambivalent in German usage. In general, Macedonians and Macedonians (corresponding to Macedonia/Macedonia) are written without distinction. To avoid confusion of Macedonians (people of antiquity related to the Greeks) with Macedonians (South Slavic people of modern times) and Macedonians (state of antiquity) with Macedonia (Balkan state), the spelling with -k- is preferred here to identify the ancient population.

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What is the history of the Macedonians?

Macedonia is a geographical, transnational region on the territory of the ancient kingdom, Macedonia a specific state territory. The Slavic Macedonians of today are sharply separated from the ancient people of Macedonia. Recourse of modern Macedonian nationalists to the Macedonian Alexander the Great as a famous ancestor is culturally and historically unfounded, as there is no settlement or cultural continuity in the Macedonian region.

The ancestors of the Macedonians immigrated to the historical landscape of Macedonia in the 2nd millennium BC. Although the Macedonians were closely related to the Greek tribes, they were considered by them to be "barbarians" with un-Greek customs and incomprehensible language.

The currently predominant research opinion regards the Macedonians as a northern Greek tribe, which initially differed culturally from the other Greeks due to close contacts with Thracians and Illyrians. There are also different opinions about the Macedonian language. Was Macedonian an independent language closely related to Greek or just a Greek dialect? The question of whether the Macedonians were Greeks cannot be answered at the present state of research, even though many experts are convinced that they were Greeks who, especially in the Athenian sources (especially Demosthenes), were deliberately denied their Hellenism for political reasons.

The language of the Macedonians was closely related to Greek. Both are Indo-European languages and form a separate branch within this language family. Macedonian was not used as a written language, but Greek.

The name of the historical region of Macedonia, formerly settled by the ancient Macedonians, has been preserved over the millennia and has been used by all the inhabitants of this region. The name of the Roman province Macedonia, established in 148 B.C., has also been preserved as an Eastern Roman diocese. After the Slavic land grab in the 6th century, the Slavs living here were named after the region in administrative acts of the Eastern Roman Empire. The larger, southern part of the classical Macedonian territory today forms the region of Macedonia in northern Greece. The smaller, northern part forms the state that declared its independence from Yugoslavia as the Republic of Macedonia in 1991. Other smaller parts belong to southwest Bulgaria and southeast Albania.

Who are the Macedonians of today?

The South Slavic people of Macedonia takes its name from the historical landscape of Macedonia. This is where the ancestors of today's Macedonians, the South Slavic migrants, who came there in the 6th and 7th century AD as land-taking farmers, found a home. The Slavs mingled with the local population, which consisted of paions (protobulgarian tribes from Paionia), ancient Macedonians and other ethnic elements. In the 9th century, most of today's Macedonia came under the rule of the First Bulgarian Empire and from 1371 the region was gradually conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

As a result, the ancestors of the current Macedonians were mostly considered Bulgarians, and large parts of them also considered themselves as such, in part until the 19th century. For this reason, it is controversial whether one can speak of the existence of a Macedonian language, nation or ethnic group before 1943. Until the outbreak of the Second World War, there were no efforts on the part of the state to promote extensive autonomy or an independent state with (Slavic) Macedonian identity on the territory of Vardar Macedonia (today's Republic of Macedonia). The Macedonian nation-building process is closely linked to the establishment of socialist and federal Yugoslavia after the Second World War. On 29 November 1943, the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia in Jajce decided to establish a "Republic of Macedonia" in a future federal Yugoslavia. During this period the "Macedonian language" was proclaimed the official language of Macedonia and was subsequently developed into a fully functioning standard language based on the Vardar Macedonian dialects and Serbian. The aim was to develop an independent national identity distinct from the Bulgarian one.

The extent to which this recognition as a nation or ethnicity was a continuous development since the 19th century or a "nation-building" forced by the Yugoslav head of state Josip Broz Tito is the subject of both historical and political debates.

The closest language to Macedonian is Bulgarian. The Macedonian dialects are part of a dialectal continuum that continues to Bulgarian and Serbian. Until 1944, the Slavic dialects in the area of present-day Macedonia were still classified as Bulgarian in Slavonic studies. Today, Macedonian is a fully developed standard language equipped for utterances in all areas of life.

The dispute over the name Macedonia was a conflict between the states of Greece and Macedonia over the use of the name Macedonia. Thus, Greece also refused to allow its northern neighbour to use the name Macedonia merely because it feared that Macedonian history would be appropriated and Slavic monopolized. Because of the Hellenization of the ancient Macedonians, Greece claims the ancient cultural heritage of the historical region of Macedonia. Between 1991, the name "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" was used for the most part in international traffic. After an agreement with Greece in 2018, the name of the state was changed to "Republic of Northern Macedonia" in February 2019.

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