Friday, June 15, 2007

Ancient Macedonia Geographical boundaries

Macedonia has revolved within the sphere of Greek history for more than four millennia. Around 2300 BCE groups of people who spoke a very early form of the Greek language entered Macedonia , Epirus and the north-west corner of Thessaly . Some groups from Epirus and Macedonia moved further south around 1900 BCE and later. On the borders of these two areas the Greek tribe of the Macedonians took shape. Part then became a founding element of the Dorians and the other part spread over southern Macedonia . From the eighth century Chalkidike and the coast of the rest of Macedonia saw the establishment of colonies sent out by cities of Euboia and the Cyclades .

The Macedonians, like the peoples beyond the Pindos and on its southern fringes, were less culturally advanced than other Greeks, especially the Athenians. But they were never cut off from the mainstream of Greek life or from its history. From 490 BCE rulers of the Macedonians were successful in narrowing the gap, and from time to time even played an important role in events in the Greek world. Within a very short space of time Macedonia became the leading Greek power; in 337 BCE its king, Philip II, was recognized as the head of a Greek confederation. Alexander set out on his Asian campaign to revenge the Greeks for the damage they had suffered from the Persians. The successors of Alexander established multinational states, through which Hellenism could be disseminated to non-Greeks.

After the death of Alexander, the old kingdom of the Macedonians was reborn and, because of its geographical position, it had much greater contact with the Greek states of the south. This position, together with its interests in the direction of the Adriatic Sea , made Macedonia the first Greek state to clash with the rising power of Rome .

From the end of the sixth century A.D. the earliest migrations of the Slavs into the Balkan peninsular began, affecting some parts of Macedonia

Situation and characteristics

Macedonia forms the connecting link between the Balkans and the Greek peninsula. Three important routes converge on the Macedonian plain: from the Danube via the Moravia and Axios ( Vardar ) valleys, from the Adriatic via Lake Ochris , and from Thrace via Mygdonia. Contact with the south is made by sea or by the narrow Vale of Tempe into Thessaly . On smaller scale, looking at the landscape in detail, Macedonia does not appear to be favoured. The route along the Moravia and the Axios valleys is frequently no more than a narrow corridor, and not a brad river valley, but a succession of basins and gorges.

The jugged relief of the countryside of the Moravia and the Axios valleys is typical of all Macedonia , divided into very fragmentary relief in which certain characteristics constantly repeat, the characteristics being the mountains and basins. The mountains are not very high, never reaching 3000 m. though the summits are always almost consistently above 2000 m. The basins are at altitudes ranging from sea level to close on 1000 m. Always surrounded by mountains, these basins have never easily served as lines of communication.

There are only two littoral plains not so enclosed: that of Katerini, the more southerly, is also the smaller, while the larger, that of central Macedonia , borders the western coast of the Thermaic Gulf .

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