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Macedonia (historic region).  Region in southeastern Europe , in the south central part of the Balkan Peninsula . Macedonia covered about 66,000 sq km (25,500 sq mi). Today slightly more than half of the region lies in northern and northeastern Greece, in the Greek province of Macedonia . The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and a small portion of Bulgaria make up the remainder of the region. Macedonia spanned a diverse geographic area. Though mostly mountainous, the region also encompassed the valleys of the Aliakmon , Vardar (Axios), Nιstos, and Struma rivers, all of which drain into the Aegean Sea .

Neolithic peoples established settlements in northern Macedonia in about 6200 BC. After 3000 BC, a Greek-speaking tribe of shepherds settled first in the mountainous regions between Mounts Olympus and Pindus and later in the rich alluvial plain of the Aliakmon and Axios rivers. Philip II, who ruled from 359 to 336 BC, led the kingdom into a period of growth and expansion. Philip conquered the Greeks in 338 BC and unified the Greek city-states and Macedonia into one empire.

Philip's son, who became known as Alexander the Great, took command of the empire following Philip's assassination in 336 BC. Alexander pursued his father's objectives and created a vast empire which stretched south into Egypt and across Persia (now known as Iran ) to northwestern India . Culture and art flourished under Alexander's rule.

Alexander died in 323 BC, leaving the empire with no clear successor. The vacuum created by Alexander's death led to conflicts within the empire and eventually to its dissolution. Generals in the Macedonian army divided the empire into smaller kingdoms. These kingdoms continued to fight with each other for several decades until the year 215 BC. Starting in 215 BC Macedonia was assailed by the Romans in a series of three wars which lasted until 168 BC. In 148 BC the region became a Roman province. During the early Christian period the region was an important field for the missionary labors of Saint Paul the Apostle.

After the final division of the Roman Empire in AD395 Macedonia became part of the Byzantine Empire . In the 6th century Slavs from other parts of eastern Europe settled in Macedonia in large numbers. Successively thereafter the region was assailed by bands of Goths, Huns, Slavs, Bulgars, and Turks. The Ottoman Empire ruled the region from 1371 to 1912. After the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) the region was divided among Greece , Bulgaria , and Serbia .

ALEXANDER THE GREAT    Alexander_Thesaloniki_1.jpg (16402 bytes)   MEGA ALEXANDROS

356-323 B.C.                                                        356 - 323 P.C


Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), king of Macedonia, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and one of the greatest military geniuses of all times.

Alexander, born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia, was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and of Olympias, a princess of Epirus.  Aristotle was Alexander's tutor; he gave Alexander a thorough training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy.  In the summer of 336 BC Philip was assassinated, and Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne. He found himself surrounded by enemies at home and threatened by rebellion abroad.  Alexander disposed quickly of all conspirators and domestic enemies by ordering their execution.  Then he descended on Thessaly (Thessalia), where partisans of independence had gained ascendancy, and restored Macedonian rule.  Before the end of the summer of 336 BC he had reestablished his position in Greece and was elected by a congress of states at Corinth.  In 335 BC as general of the Greeks in a campaign against the Persians, originally planned by his father, he carried out a successful campaign against the defecting Thracians, penetrating to the Danube River.  On his return he crushed in a single week the threatening Illyrians and then hastened to Thebes, which had revolted.  He took the city by storm and razed it, sparing only the temples of the gods and the house of the Greek lyric poet Pindar, and selling the surviving inhabitants, about 8000 in number, into slavery.  Alexander's promptness in crushing the revolt of Thebes brought the other Greek states into instant and abject submission.

Alexander began his war against Persia in the spring of 334 BC by crossing the Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) with an army of 35,000 Macedonian and Greek troops; his chief officers, all Macedonians, included Antigonus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.  At the river Granicus, near the ancient city of Troy, he attacked an army of Persians and Greek mercenaries totaling 40,000 men.  His forces defeated the enemy and, according to tradition, lost only 110 men; after this battle all the states of Asia Minor submitted to him.  In passing through Phrygia he is said to have cut with his sword the Gordian knot. Continuing to advance southward, Alexander encountered the main Persian army, commanded by King Darius III, at Issus, in northeastern Syria.  The size of Darius's army is unknown; the ancient tradition that it contained 500,000 men is now considered a fantastic exaggeration.  The Battle of Issus, in 333, ended in a great victory for Alexander.  Cut off from his base, Darius fled northward, abandoning his mother, wife, and children to Alexander, who treated them with the respect due to royalty. Tyre, a strongly fortified seaport, offered obstinate resistance, but Alexander took it by storm in 332 after a siege of seven months. Alexander captured Gaza next and then passed on into Egypt, where he was greeted as a deliverer.  By these successes he secured control of the entire eastern Mediterranean coastline.  Later in 332 he founded, at the mouth of the Nile River, the city of Alexandria, which later became the literary, scientific, and commercial center of the Greek world. Cyrene, the capital of the ancient North African kingdom of Cyrenaica, submitted to Alexander soon afterward, extending his dominion to Carthaginian territory.

In the spring of 331 Alexander made a pilgrimage to the great temple and oracle of Amon-Ra, Egyptian god of the sun, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus.  The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra; and Alexander, the new ruler of Egypt
, wanted the god to acknowledge him as his son.  The pilgrimage apparently was successful, and it may have confirmed in him a belief in his own divine origin.  Turning northward again, he reorganized his forces at Tyre
and started for Babylon with an army of 40,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry.  Crossing the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, he met Darius at the head of an army of unknown size, which, according to the exaggerated accounts of antiquity, was said to number a million men; this army he completely defeated in the Battle of Gaugamela, on October 1, 331 BC.  Darius fled as he had done at Issus and was later slain by one of his own satraps. Babylon surrendered after Gaugamela, and the city of Susa with its enormous treasures was soon conquered.  Then, in midwinter, Alexander forced his way to Persepolis, the Persian capital.  After plundering the royal treasuries and taking other rich booty, he burned the city during a drunken binge and thus completed the destruction of the ancient Persian Empire.  His domain now extended along and beyond the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, including modern Afghanistan and Baluchistan, and northward into Bactria and Sogdiana, the modern Western Turkistan, also known as Central Asia.  It had taken Alexander only three years, from the spring of 330 BC to the spring of 327 BC, to master this vast area.

In order to complete his conquest of the remnants of the Persian Empire, which had once included part of western India, Alexander crossed the Indus River in 326 BC, and invaded the Punjab as far as the river Hyphasis (modern Beas); at this point the Macedonians rebelled and refused to go farther.  He then constructed a fleet and passed down the Indus, reaching its mouth in September 325 BC.  The fleet then sailed to the Persian Gulf.  With his army, he returned overland across the desert to Media.  Shortages of food and water caused severe losses and hardship among his troops.  Alexander spent about a year organizing his dominions and completing a survey of the Persian Gulf in preparation for further conquests.  He arrived in Babylon in the spring of 323 BC.  In June he contracted a fever and died.  He left his empire, in his own words, “to the strongest”; this ambiguous testament resulted in dire conflicts for half a century.

Alexander was one of the greatest generals of all time, noted for his brilliance as a tactician and troop leader and for the rapidity with which he could traverse great expanses of territory.  He was usually brave and generous, but could be cruel and ruthless when politics demanded. The theory has been advanced that he was actually an alcoholic having, for example, killed his friend Clitus in a drunken fury.  He later regretted this act deeply.  As a statesman and ruler he had grandiose plans; according to many modern historians he cherished a scheme for uniting the East and the West in a world empire, a new and enlightened “world brotherhood of all men. ” He trained thousands of Persian youths in Macedonian tactics and enrolled them in his army.  He himself adopted Persian manners and married Eastern wives, namely, Roxana (died about 311 BC), daughter of Oxyartes of Sogdiana, and Barsine (or Stateira; died about 323 BC), the elder daughter of Darius; and he encouraged and bribed his officers to take Persian wives.  Shortly before he died, Alexander ordered the Greek cities to worship him as a god.  Although he probably gave the order for political reasons, he was, in his own view and that of his contemporaries, of divine birth. The order was largely nullified by his death shortly after he issued it.

To bind his conquests together, Alexander founded a number of cities, most of them named Alexandria, along his line of march; these cities were well located, well paved, and provided with good water supplies.  Greek veterans from his army settled in them; young men, traders, merchants, and scholars were attracted to them; Greek culture was introduced; and the Greek language became widely known.  Thus, Alexander vastly extended the influence of Greek civilization and prepared the way for the kingdoms of the Hellenistic period and the conquests of the Roman Empire.

PHILIP II   Philip.jpg (45288 bytes)   FILIPPAS II

382-336 B.C.                                           382 - 336 P.C

Philip II (of Macedonia ) (382-336 BC), king of Macedonia (359-336 BC) and father of Alexander the Great, born in Pella.  From 367 to 365, Philip was a hostage in Thebes, and during that period he observed the military techniques of Thebes, then the greatest power in Greece.  In 364 he returned to Macedonia.  In 359 he was made regent for his infant nephew Amyntas; later that year he seized the throne for himself.

Faced by internal dissensions and attacked on all sides, Philip reorganized the Macedonian army on the model of the Theban phalanx.  In less than two years he had secured the safety of his kingdom and firmly established himself on the throne.  From then on his policy was aggressive.  In 357 he conquered the Athenian colony of Amphipolis in Thrace, gaining possession of the gold mines of Mount Pangaeus, which financed his subsequent wars.  In 356 he captured Potidaea
in Chalcidice and Pydna on the Gulf of Thermaikos.  In 355 he captured the Thracian town of Crenides, which, under its new nam, Philippi, soon acquired great wealth and fame.

In 354 Philip conquered Methone and then advanced into Thessaly.  By 352 he had reached the pass of Thermopyle, which he did not attempt to take, because it was strongly guarded by the Athenians.  In 351 the great Athenian orator Demosthenes delivered the first of his Philippics, a series of speeches warning the Athenians about the Macedonian menace to Greek liberty.  By 348 Philip had conquered Thrace and Chalcidice.  Two years later he made peace with Athens, which had been at war with him in defense of its ally, the Chalcidian city Olynthus.  Philip was next requested by the Thebans to interfere in the sacred war against Phocis.  He marched into Phocis in 346 and destroyed its cities.  Thereafter Macedonia replaced Phocis in the Amphictyonic League, giving Philip the right to participate in Greek political affairs; in 338 the council appointed Philip commander of the league forces.  The Athenians, aroused by Demosthenes, united with the Thebans against Philip, but their combined army was utterly defeated in 338 at the Battle of Chaeronea.  Philip's victory made him complete master of Greece.  Two years later, while preparing to invade Persia, he was assassinated.

Philip was the greatest statesman and general of his time.  He laid the foundation of the Macedonian military power employed by his son, Alexander the Great, to conquer and Hellenize the Middle East.  A treasure-filled royal tomb, believed to be Philip's, was excavated at Vergina, near Thessaloniki
, Greece, in 1977.


On the 8th of November 1977 , the archaeologist Manolis Andronikos excavated the royal tomb of Philippos II in the Megali Toumba hill in Vergina.  The excavated tomb has already been identified as Philippos' by M. Andronikos.

Description of the tomb

(1) Philippos_Tomb_Pic_1.jpg (82351 bytes)    (2) Philippos_Tomb_Pic_2.jpg (33080 bytes)    (3) Philippos_Tomb_Pic_3.jpg (53648 bytes)    (4) & (7) Philippos_Tomb_Pic_4.jpg (76566 bytes)    (6) Philippos_Tomb_Pic_5.jpg (99805 bytes)    (7) Philippos_Tomb_Pic.jpg (92199 bytes)


The main chamber contained many items related to Philippos.  Among those, the most significant was the golden larnaka with the 16-ray star that contained his remains, and a golden oak wreath (the largest ever found).  The study of the main-chamber reveals that it was quickly built and has had no inner wall-decoration (the plaster on the walls is not finished), when the antechamber was constructed with more care.  That could seem strange for the tomb of a great king like Philippos, but it is totally justified.  When Philippos was murdered in Aiges (336BC), Alexander III was promptly presented to the army and was accepted as the new king.  But the capital of his kingdom was Pella and Alexander had to go there quickly to take care of any clai me rs of the throne.  That couldn't happen before Philippos' tomb was sealed.  So they started to quickly build the main-chamber of the tomb, while the ceremony was prepared. Then Philippos was burnt (just like Achilleas in the Iliada, probably because of Alexander's will), and his bones were collected, washed with wine, and carefully placed in the golden larnaka, with the golden oak-wreath.  Then the chamber was sealed with the closing of a big marble door.  Now Alexander was free to leave for Pella and the workers could finish up the building of the rest of the tomb.

In the antechamber, another golden larnaka (with a 14-ray star) was found with the remains probably of Philippos' last wife Kleopatra, murdered by Olympiada. On the face of the building (outside) there is a wall painting that describes a hunting scene where we can see Philippos and his son Alexander. After the completion of the tombs' construction it was covered with soil up to the surface of the ground.