The White Tower of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece. Photo (cc) dungodung.
I’ve been reading the letter to President Obama signed by various classical scholars regarding the claims over Macedonia, It’s about 50% successful in my case. It’s got me taking the Macedonia problem much more seriously, but I couldn’t sign the letter.
Criticising prominent professors when you’re job-hunting is a very bad idea. Nonetheless as far as the archaeology of ethnicity goes it’s poor. The simple equation of language with ethnicity, which the letter follows, has been given a thorough kicking in other areas of archaeology. Worse, even if the archaeology was right, it would still be a bad argument to say Greece’s claim to Macedonia rests on the ancient Macedonians being Greek. To show this I’ll conduct a little thought experiment.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that next year there’s a surprising find in Thessaloniki. A marble tablet from a temple dating to 350 BC is found. To everyone’s surprise the table is inscribed with Cyrillic letters rather than Greek, and the language is a variant of Bulgarian. Would that mean Greece would have to hand over Macedonia to its northern neighbour?