The Ancient Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) were an ancient tribe which inhabited the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axius, north of the Mount Olympus in Greece. Historians generally agree that the ancient Macedonians, whether they originally spoke a Greek dialect or a distinct language, came to belong to the Koine Greek speaking population in Hellenistic times. Whether the ancient Macedonians were of ultimately Greek origin themselves or were later Hellenised continues to be debated by Slavs scholars. The Macedonian Royal family known as the Argead dynasty claimed ultimate Greek descent from Argos and Macedonians since Alexander I, were admitted in the Ancient Olympic Games, an athletic event in which only people of Greek origin participated. It should, however, be noted that no matter their ultimate origin, Macedonian acceptance into the Greek world was a gradual but eventual process (the concept of "ethnicity" itself being quite fluid).
Vergina is best known as the site of ancient Aigai (Αἰγαί, Aegae), the first capital of Macedon. It was here in 336 BC that Philip II was assassinated in the theater and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. Aegae/ Aigai has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status as "an exceptional testimony to a significant development in European civilization, at the transition from classical city-state to the imperial structure of the Hellenistic and Roman periods".
The site was discovered in 1976, and excavated during the 1977/8 season in a campaign led by Manolis Andronikos, which unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great which unlike so many other tombs had not been disturbed or looted. It is also the site of an extensive royal palace and of many rich ancient tombs. The objects and paintings found in the tombs at Vergina are of extraordinarily high quality and historical importance. A museum now contains Philip's tomb and a new museum is being constructed for the palace and other finds.
Vergina (in Greek Βεργίνα) is a small town in northern Greece, located in the prefecture of Imathia, Central Macedonia. Vergina is about 13km south-east of the district center of Veroia and about 80km south-west of Thessaloníki, the capital of Greek Macedonia. The town has a population of about two thousand people and stands on the foothills of Mount Pieria, at an elevation of 120m (360 ft) above sea level. A highly important ancient city, certainly to be identified with Aegae, the first ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedonia, spreads over the low hills on the northern slopes of' the Pierian range, between the modern villages of Palatitsia and Vergina. This city was the most important urban center in the region until the 4th c. BC.
Here were to be found the ancestral sanctuaries of the Macedonians, and the palaces and the tombs (with their famous treasures) of the Argead dynasty, which traced its origins to the mythical hero Heracles and gave Greek history its most captivating figure, Alexander the Great. In ancient pole of royal authority, Aegae retained the prestige of the sacred city of the dynasty even after the administrative capital was transferred to Pella in the 4th c, BC. The site was the headquarters and the scene of the activities of kings such as Alexander I (495-452 BC) and Archelaos (413-399 BC), who made his court a centre of literature and arts, attracting to it the most famous artists and intellectuals of his age; and it was here
At the beginning of the 4th century BC, Archelaus transferred the Macedonian capital north-east to Pella on the central Macedonian plain. Nevertheless, Aegae retained its role as the sacred city of the Macedonian kingdom, the site of the traditional cult centers, a royal palace and the royal tombs. For this reason it was here that Philip II was attending the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to King Alexander of Epirus when he was murdered by his bodyguard in the theater. His was the most lavish funeral ceremony of historic times held in Greece. Laid on an elaborate gold and ivory deathbed wearing his precious golden oak wreath, the king was surrendered, like a new Hercules, to the funeral pyre.
Pella 50 km west from Thessaloniki. It was built as the capital of the kingdom by Archelaus I, replacing the older palace-city of Aigai although there appears to be some possibility that it may have been created by Amyntas. Archelaus invited the painter Zeuxis, the greatest painter of the time, to decorate his palace. He also later hosted the poet Timotheus of Miletus and the Athenian playwright Euripides who finished his days there writing and producing Archelaus. Euripides Bacchae was first staged here, about 408 BC. According to Xenophon, in the beginning of the 4th century BC Pella was the largest Macedonian city. It was the birthplace and seats of Philip II, in 382 BC and of Alexander the Great, his son, in 356 BC.
It became the largest and richest city in Macedonia and flourished particularly under Cassander's rule. The reign of Antigonus most likely represented the height of the city's prosperity, as this is the period which has left us most archaeological remains. The famous poet Aratus died in Pella c. 240 BC.
Pella is further mentioned by Polybius and Livy as the capital of Philip V and of Perseus during the Macedonian Wars fought against the Roman Republic. In 168 BC, it was sacked by the Romans, and its treasury transported to Rome, and Livy reported how the city looked in 167 BC to Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus, the Roman who defeated Perseus at the battle of Pydna:
Language: The question of what language was spoken in ancient Macedonia has been debated by Greek, Slav, and other scholars. The discovery of the Pella curse tablet in 1986, found in Pella, plus the signs in monuments, grave stones, at the ancient capital of Macedon, has given us a text written in a distinct Doric Greek idiom.The tablet contains a curse or magic spell inscribed on a lead scroll, dated to the first half of the 4th century BC (c. 375–350 BC).
It was published in the Hellenic Dialectical Journal in 1993. It is one of four texts found until today that might represent a local dialectal form of ancient Greek in Macedonia, all of them identifiable as Doric. These confirm that a Doric Greek dialect was spoken in Macedonia, as was previously expected from the West Greek forms of names found in Macedonia. As a result, the Pella curse tablet has been forwarded as a strong argument that the Ancient Macedonian language was a dialect of North-Western Greek, part of the Doric dialects
The new museum in Pella was built in 2006-2009.
It is situated at the southeast foot of the hill where the palace of the Macedonian dynasty was, northeast of the archaeological site. The building has a rectangular atrium, as a reference to the central peristyle courtyard of ancient houses in Pella.
In the information section, texts, photographs, maps, drawings a model of the archaeological site and a short video, give the information for Pella to the visitors. In the entrance there are two important exhibits. A head considered a portrait of Alexander the Great and a statuette with the characteristic attributes of the god Pan.
The daily life of Pella is the first thematic group of exhibition. The most important exhibits are the mosaic floors from the Houses of Dionysus, and of the Abduction of Helen from the House of the Wall Plasters. The excavation finds give a lot of information for the daily life (restoration of furniture and models, cloths, etc.)
The second the mating grouping is the public life in Pella. The finds are coming from the excavations in Agora and are connected with the administration (coins, inscriptions, sculpture), the production and commerce (vases for transporting wines terracotta figurines, equipment from pottery).
The third thematic grouping consists of mosaics from Pella ' s sanctuaries (the sanctuaries of Darron, the Mother of Gods and Aphrodite, the Thesmophorion), and other findings as inscriptions, vases, metal objects.
The fourth thematic grouping is the findings from the city's cemeteries. There are burials from the Bronze age, the Iron Age, Geometric and Archaic periods (9th-6th BC centuries), the Classical era (5th-4th BC centuries), and the Hellenistic period (3rd, 2nd BC centuries). The findings give information for the language of the residents (Doric Greek language), the funeral customs etc.
The last grouping is the palace gallery. There are information for the architectural form of the palace, the life and personality of Alexander the Great.
Philippi - History
Philippi was established by Thasian colonists in 360/359 BC with the name Crenides. In 356 BC Philip II of Macedon, conquered the city and renamed it to Philippi. It was sited near the head of the Aegean Sea and at the foot of Mt. Orbelos, now called Mt. Lekani, about 13 km (8.1 mi) north-west of Kavalla.The objective of conquering the town was to take control of the neighbouring gold mines and to establish a garrison at a strategic passage: the site controlled the route between Amphipolis and Neapolis, part of the great royal route which crosses Macedonia from the east to the west and which was reconstructed later by the Roman Empire as the Via Egnatia Odos.
The Roman era
The city reappears in the sources during the Roman civil war that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar. His heirs Mark Antony and Octavian confronted the assassins of Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, at the Battle of Philippi on the plain to the west of the city during October in 42 BC. Antony and Octavian were victorious in this final battle against the partisans of the Republic.
The early Christian era
The New Testament states that in AD 49 or 50, the city was visited by the Apostle Paul. From the Acts of the Apostles and the letter to the Philippians (Philippians 1:1), early Christians concluded that Paul had founded their community. Accompanied by Silas, Timothy and possibly Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is believed to have preached for the first time on European soil in Philippi. According to the New Testament, Paul visited the city on two other occasions, in 56 and 57. The Epistle to the Philippians dates from around 61-62 and is believed to show the immediate effects of Paul's instruction
Aristotle School. Mieza (Greek: Μίεζα), "shrine of the Nymphs", was a village in Ancient Macedonia, where Aristotle taught the boy Alexander the Great between 343 BC and 340 BC. The site where Mieza once stood is the modern Lefkadia, near the modern town Náousa, Imathia, Central Macedonia, Greece, and has been the subject of archeological excavations since 1954.
Mieza was named for Mieza, in ancient Macedonian mythology, the daughter of Beres and sister of Olganos and Beroia. It was the home of Alexander's companion Peucestas. Aristotle was hired by Alexander's father, Philip II of Macedon, to teach his son, and was given the Temple of the Nymphs as a classroom. In return, Philip re-built and freed the citizens of Stagira, Aristotle's hometown, which he had razed in a previous conquest across Greece and Macedonia. Students educated at Mieza include Hephaestion, Ptolemy I Soter, Cassander, and Cleitus the Black.
The School of Aristotle is located in a beautiful landscape, 30 km from Vergina and very close to Naoussa. Mieza was, in antiquity, one of the most important cities in Macedonia. Findings are not enough to determine the exact location, but this is the place where the philosopher Aristotle taught young Alexander in the middle of 4th century B.C. His school was founded there, where earlier the nymphs had been worshiped. An idyllic landscape with caves, rich vegetation and water was the ideal place for the Nymphaion. A porticoed building in the ionic order has been discovered, which was identified as the "peripatos" of the philosophical school. Some terracotta tiles dating from the second half of the 4th century BC can be seen in the Veria museum. Recent excavations revealed the ancient theatre of Mieza (2nd century BC), many graves in organized cemeteries, ancient baths and various buildings have also been brought to light.
Daily: Up to 10 days tour (Macedonia private tour). Please read Touring/Info*
Sites & Museums: Summer: daily, 8.00 to 20.00 pm. Winter: 8.00 to 17.00 approx... Last entry 30 min before closing.
Entrance fees to sites & Museums read TouringInfo
Closed on Holidays: January 1st. , March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. On Good Friday, the sites are open 12.00 - 17.00.
Highlights of Macedonia Tour
Neapolis, Philippi, Amfipolis (overnight)
Thessaloniki Greek Roman Baths-White tower-Old city
Thessaloniki-Byzantine & Archaeological museums (2 overnights)
Aristotels school / Mieza
Pella, Vergina, Veria (overnight)
Mount Olympos- Dion (overnight)
Meteora monasteries (overnight)