Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Recent Real Historical Tragedy - The Albanian Encyclopedia
Recently, Mr. Nijazi Muhamedi (President of the editorial board of the new 'fictional' Albanian Encyclopedia) stated: "The ancient warrior king Alexander the Great, was neither Greek, nor Macedonian, but Albanian" (http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/24745/). His book 'Albanian Macedonia', was launched in Tetovo, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) this week. Mr. Muhamedi said that he was not motivated nor supported by politicians, and that his approach was strictly scientific. How can such an approach be scientific, when historical evidence is well-known and clearly states otherwise?
The 'myth' stated by Mr. Muhamedi has been systemically produced from known Albanian centres that promote historical revisionism and extreme nationalism in the Balkans. Albanians are not universally acknowledged as the descendants of the Illyrians, as their origins are disputed by historians worldwide. This is confirmed from several studies and works such as ´Illyrians´ by John Wilkes; several works from an expert in Albanian history, Miranda Vickers; 'Albanian identities: myth and history' by Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers and Bernd Jürgen Fischer, and collective works from around the world such as the ancient, modern and medieval history from Cambridge and Oxford Universities.
Muhamedi's arguments are quite similar to the arguments raised in the similarly 'fictional' FYROM encyclopedia. Both encyclopedias lack historical merit, and attempt to change the reality that Alexander the Great was of Greek origin. This fact is supported by ......
most of the world's 'serious' historians, including Prof. Robin Lane Fox (Oxford University) and Prof. Paul Cartledge (Cambridge University), as well as thousands of historical works from many other historians such as Prof. Nicholas G.L. Hammond, Prof. Ian Worthington, Prof. A.B. Bosworth, Dr. Richard Stoneman, Dr. Ulrich Wilcken etc. They have all agreed that Alexander the Great was born in July 356 (Arr. 7.28.1, Plut. Alex. 3.5), was the son of Macedonian Philip´s fourth wife Olympias (daughter of Neoptolemus I, king of the Molossians, a principal Greek tribe in Epirus) (Nicholas G. L. Hammond, 'Philip of Macedon' Duckworth Publishing, February 1998). Olympias, was originally named 'Polyxena', as Plutarch mentions in his work 'Moralia', and changed her name to 'Myrtale' prior to her marriage to Philip II of Macedon, as part of her initiation to an unknown mystery cult ('Olympias, Mother of Alexander the Great' By Elizabeth Carney, New York and London: Routledge, 2006). The name 'Olympias' was the third of four names by which she was known by, taking it probably as a recognition of Philip's victory in the Olympic Games of 356 BC, which coincided with Alexander's birth (Heckel 2006, p. 181).
None of the historians aforementioned describe Alexander as Illyrian, and even more inaccurately - Albanian. A recent petition named Macedonia evidence, has been signed by 357 classical scholars (historians, archaeologists) who support the ´Greekness´ of the ancient Macedonians. Historians from all around the world have made it their duty to preserve the historic truth on Ancient Macedonia (http://www.macedonia-evidence.org/).
There is an Illyrian myth (now also found in the recent 'Albanian Macedonia' encyclopedia), with which Albanian culture has been flirting with for at least 150 years. There is also a very tentative Illyrian science, based mainly on archaeology, and on some data transmitted by Ancient Greek and Roman Historians. Historians who are ready to accept that Illyrians and Albanians were one people must analyze the Messapic inscriptions, in Puglia. These inscriptions show that the Illyrian question is an extremely complicated one, and that it isn't likely to be resolved anytime soon, unless fundamental epigraphic discoveries are made.
In the real world there are no examples of ancient Illyrian literature surviving (aside from the Messapian writings - and if they can even be considered Illyrian), it is difficult to clarify its place within the Indo-European language family. Albanians first appear in historical records in Byzantine sources in 'History' written in 1079-1080, by Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates. Very little evidence of pre-Christian Albanian culture survives, and Albanian mythology and folklore as it presents itself through the work of Mr. Muhamedi (in this case) is notoriously amalgamated.
One must wonder how certain Albanian scholars can suggest ancient Epirus (a north western Greek state of Doric origin) be conveniently passed as ancient Illyrian at all, let alone Albanian? In the earlier Greek period, Illyrians lived north of River Skubi and by the Classical Greek period, they had migrated southwards near North Epirus; only during the Roman period did they live in the same areas in which the Greek Molossians used to live.
As recorded by Arrian, Alexander himself is clearly distinguishes himself (a Greek) from Illyrian foreigners: "Our enemies are Medes and Persians, men who for centuries have lived soft and luxurious lives; we of Macedon for generations past have been trained in the hard school of danger and war. Above all, we are free men, and they are slaves. There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service — but how different is their cause from ours! They will be fighting for pay — and not much at that; we, on the contrary, shall fight for Greece, and our hearts will be in it. As for our foreign troops — Thracians, Paeonians, Illyrians, Agrianes — they are the best and stoutest soldiers in Europe, and they will find as their opponents the slackest and softest of the tribes of Asia. And what, finally, of the two men in supreme command? You have Alexander, they — Darius!" (Addressing his troops prior to the Battle of Issus, as quoted in Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian Book II, 7)
There isn´t much difference between historical revisionism and historical ignorance; and this concludes to the legitimate scholastic correction of existing knowledge about an historical event, or to the illegitimate distortion of historical records. This is why national encyclopedias such as the FYROM (http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n204267) and now Albanian (http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/24745/) encyclopedias do nothing more but ignite ethnic tension (http://rt.com/Top_News/2009-12-21/albanian-macedonian-conflict-encyclopedia.html) in an already volatile region, and have no place in a progressive Balkan region with a European vision.
Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC)
David Noel Freedman, 'The Anchor Bible Dictionary' Doubleday, 1992, pg 1093
Charles Edson 'Ancient Macedonian Studies in honor of Charles F. Edson' London, 1981, pgs 27-71
Robert Morkot, 'The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece' Penguin Publishing USA, January 1997
Nicholas G. L. Hammond, 'The Macedonian State: The Origins, Institutions and History'
Oxford University Press, Reprint Edition, July 1997; 4. The Language of the Macedonians, pgs 413, pgs12-14
A.B. Bosworth, 'Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great' Cambridge University Press, Reissue Edition, March 1993
Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, Book II, 7