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Ancient Macedonians

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Ancient Macedonians
Deer hunt mosaic from Pella.jpg
Stag Hunt Mosaic, 4th century BC
Ancient Macedonian,
then Attic Greek, and later Koine Greek
ancient Greek religion

The Macedonians (

Greek pantheon, although the Macedonians continued Archaic burial practices that had ceased in other parts of Greece after the 6th century BC. Aside from the monarchy, the core of Macedonian society was its nobility. Similar to the aristocracy of neighboring Thessaly, their wealth was largely built on herding horses and cattle

Although composed of various clans, the

Mediterranean world. The Macedonians were eventually conquered by the Roman Republic, which dismantled the Macedonian monarchy at the end of the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC) and established the Roman province of Macedonia after the Fourth Macedonian War
(150–148 BC).


The ancient Macedonians participated in the production and fostering of

chariot races, as well as feasting and drinking at aristocratic banquets known as symposia



μακεδνός (makednós), meaning "tall, slim", also the name of a people related to the Dorians (Herodotus).[25] It is most likely cognate with the adjective μακρός (makrós), meaning "long" or "tall" in Ancient Greek.[25] The name is believed to have originally meant either "highlanders", "the tall ones", or "high grown men".[note 4]

Origins, consolidation, and expansion

Historical overview


West Asia and the Hellenized Mediterranean Basin.[30] With Alexander's conquest of the Achaemenid Empire, Macedonians colonized territories as far east as Central Asia.[31]

The Macedonians continued to rule much of

Macedonian monarchy under Perseus of Macedon (r. 179–168 BC– ) and replaced the kingdom with four client state republics.[35] A brief revival of the monarchy by the pretender Andriscus led to the Fourth Macedonian War (150–148 BC), after which Rome established the Roman province of Macedonia and subjugated the Macedonians.[36]

Prehistoric homeland

In Greek mythology, Makedon is the eponymous hero of Macedonia and is mentioned in Hesiod's Catalogue of Women.[37] The first historical attestation of the Macedonians occurs in the works of Herodotus during the mid-5th century BC.[38] The Macedonians are absent in Homer's Catalogue of Ships and the term "Macedonia" itself appears late. The Iliad states that upon leaving Mount Olympus, Hera journeyed via Pieria and Emathia before reaching Athos.[39] This is re-iterated by Strabo in his Geography.[40] Nevertheless, archaeological evidence indicates that Mycenaean contact with or penetration into the Macedonian interior possibly started from the early 14th century BC.[41][42]

In his A History of Macedonia, Nicholas Hammond reconstructed the earliest phases of Macedonian history based on his interpretation of later literary accounts and archaeological excavations in the region of Macedonia.[43] According to Hammond, the Macedonians are missing from early Macedonian historical accounts because they had been living in the Orestian highlands since before the Greek Dark Ages, possibly having originated from the same (proto-Greek) population pool that produced other Greek peoples.[44][45] The Macedonian tribes subsequently moved down from Orestis in the upper Haliacmon to the Pierian highlands in the lower Haliacmon because of pressure from the Molossians, a related tribe who had migrated to Orestis from Pelagonia.[46] In their new Pierian home north of Olympus, the Macedonian tribes mingled with the proto-Dorians. This might account for traditions which placed the eponymous founder, Makedon, near Pieria and Olympus.[47] Some traditions placed the Dorian homeland in the Pindus mountain range in western Thessaly, whilst Herodotus pushed this further north to the Macedonian Pindus and claimed that the Greeks were referred to as Makednon (Mακεδνόν) and then as Dorians.[48][49] A different, southern homeland theory also exists in traditional historiography. Arnold J. Toynbee asserted that the Makedones migrated north to Macedonia from central Greece, placing the Dorian homeland in Phthiotis and citing the traditions of fraternity between Makedon and Magnes.[50]

Temenids and Argeads

The Macedonian expansion is said to have been led by the ruling Temenid dynasty, known as "

Midas Gardens by the foot of the Vermio Mountains, and then set about subjugating the rest of Macedonia.[53] Thucydides's account is similar to that of Herodotus, making it probable that the story was disseminated by the Macedonian court,[54] i.e. it accounts for the belief the Macedonians had about the origin of their kingdom, if not an actual memory of this beginning.[55] Later historians modified the dynastic traditions by introducing variously Caranus[56][57][58] or Archelaus, the son of Temenus, as the founding Temenid kings—although there is no doubt that Euripides transformed Caranus to Archelaus meaning "leader of the people" in his play Archelaus, in an attempt to please Archelaus I of Macedon.[59]

The earliest sources, Herodotus and Thucydides, called the royal family "Temenidae". In later sources (Strabo, Appian,

Argos",[63][64] and is first attested in Homer, where it was also used as a collective designation for the Greeks ("Ἀργείων Δαναῶν", Argive Danaans).[65] The most common connection to the royal family, as written by Herodotus, is with Peloponnesian Argos.[66] Appian connects it with Orestian Argos.[60] According to another tradition mentioned by Justin, the name was adopted after Caranus moved Macedonia's capital from Edessa to Aegae, thus appropriating the name of the city for its citizens.[67] A figure, Argeas, is mentioned in the Iliad (16.417).[61]

Taking Herodotus's lineage account as the most trustworthy, Appian said that after Perdiccas, six successive heirs ruled:

Achaemenid Persia.[69][70] However, Alexander I (r. 498–454 BC– ) is the first truly historic figure. Based on this line of succession and an estimated average rule of 25 to 30 years, the beginnings of the Macedonian dynasty have thus been traditionally dated to 750 BC.[61][71] Hammond supports the traditional view that the Temenidae did arrive from the Peloponnese and took charge of Macedonian leadership, possibly usurping rule from a native "Argead" dynasty with Illyrian help.[53] However, other scholars doubt the veracity of their Peloponnesian origins. For example, Miltiades Hatzopoulos takes Appian's testimony to mean that the royal lineage imposed itself onto the tribes of the Middle Heliacmon from Argos Orestikon,[52] whilst Eugene N. Borza argues that the Argeads were a family of notables hailing from Vergina.[72]

Expansion from the core

Expulsion of the Pieres from the region of Olympus to the Pangaion Hills
by the Macedonians

Both Strabo and Thucydides said that Emathia and Pieria were mostly occupied by Thracians (Pieres, Paeonians) and Bottiaeans, as well as some Illyrian and Epirote tribes.[73] Herodotus states that the Bryges were cohabitants with the Macedonians before their mass migration to Anatolia.[74] If a group of ethnically definable Macedonian tribes were living in the Pierian highlands prior to their expansion, the first conquest was of the Pierian piedmont and coastal plain, including Vergina.[75] The tribes may have launched their expansion from a base near Mount Bermion, according to Herodotus.[76] Thucydides describes the Macedonian expansion specifically as a process of conquest led by the Argeads:[77]

But the country along the sea which is now called Macedonia, was first acquired and made a kingdom by Alexander [I], father of Perdiccas [II] and his forefathers, who were originally Temenidae from Argos. They defeated and expelled from Pieria the Pierians ... and also expelled the Bottiaeans from Bottiaea ... they acquired as well a narrow strip of Paeonia extending along the Axios river from the interior to Pella and the sea. Beyond the Axios they possess the territory as far as the Strymon called Mygdonia, having driven out the Edoni. Moreover, they expelled from the district now called Eordaea the Eordi ... The Macedonians also made themselves rulers of certain places ... namely Anthemus, Grestonia, and a large part of Macedonia proper.[77]