Macedonia: From bad to worse

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Thessaloniki
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?
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