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Macedonia – Empire, map and Greece

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Where is Macedonia?

Macedonia was a small kingdom centered along the Aegean Sea in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula.

Greek political power was concentrated in southern city-states like Athens, Sparta and Thebes, until the Macedonian king Philip II conquered these regions during the first half of the 4th century BC.

Philip II

Philip II created a federation of Greek states called the Corinthian League or Hellenic League to strengthen his military forces. It was the first time in history that most of the Greek states united into a single political entity.

Ancient Macedonia was renowned for its military power. Philip II introduced a new type of infantry known as the Macedonian phalanx, in which each soldier carried a long spear (called a sarissa) approximately 13 to 20 feet long. The tight formation of the Macedonian phalanx formed a wall of spears considered almost impenetrable.

Philip II dreamed of conquering the Persian Empire, the largest in the world at the time. He was assassinated in 336 BC, in Aigai, the capital of Macedonia, before he could realize his vision. His son, Alexander The Greatone of the greatest military minds in history, rose to power and finished the job his father started.

Historical lists: builders of the ancient Empire

Alexander The Great

Alexander the Great was known for being charismatic, ruthless, brilliant and bloodthirsty. His thirteen-year reign as king of Macedonia changed the course of European and Asian history.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle mentored the teenage Alexander during the reign of Philip II. Scholars have attributed Alexander’s diplomatic skills and his habit of carrying books about his military campaigns with him to the influence of Aristotle.

Alexander ascended the throne at age 20 after the assassination of his father. He quickly mobilized the military forces of the Hellenic League, amassing an army of over 43,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry.

In 334 BC, he led the Macedonian army across the narrow straits of the Hellespont (today called Dardanelles) to northwestern Turkey. During a long military campaign that lasted 11 years, he conquered the The Persian Empiremaking Macedonia the largest and most powerful empire in the world.

Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Empire stretched from Greece to India. He died of unknown causes in 323 BC in the ancient city of Babylon, in present-day Iraq. He was only 32 years old.

Alexander the Great had no direct heirs and the Macedonian Empire quickly collapsed after his death. Military generals divided Macedonian territory between them in a series of civil wars.

Ancient Greek biographers of the period, including Plutarchassumed that Alexander was poisoned, although modern medical historians suggest that he may have died of natural causes, which could have included malaria or abdominal infection (caused by heavy drinking).

Macedonian arts and sciences

Ancient Macedonia was a culture rich in artistic achievements and scientific advances. Aristotle, considered by some to be the father of Western philosophy, composed perhaps some of his most important works during the reign of Alexander the Great, including treatises on physics and metaphysics (a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality).

The period following Alexander’s death, known as the Hellenistic period, was a time of extravagance and wealth throughout much of the Greek world. Entertainment and leisure venues, such as parks and theaters, are increasing.

A style of Greek drama called New Comedy became popular. Unlike earlier Greek comedies, which parodied public figures and events, the New Comedy focused on the fictional trials of average citizens.

Alexandria, an ancient Egyptian city believed to have been founded by Alexander the Great, also became a major scientific center during this period. The Greek mathematician Euclid, who taught in Alexandria, founded the study of geometry with his mathematical treatise. The elements.

In one of Aigai’s tombs, called Persephone’s Tomb, archaeologists discovered a wall painting showing Persephone’s abduction by Hades to the underworld. It is one of the few existing depictions of mystical views of the afterlife from this period of Greek history.

Archaeological discoveries

Archaeologists began exploring the ancient kingdom of Macedonia in the late 19th century, when the region was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

Soldiers fighting on the Macedonian front along the Greek border during First World War discovered ancient Macedonian artifacts while digging trenches. British and French forces on the Macedonian front employed archaeologists to work alongside troops in the trenches, occasionally using Bulgarian prisoners of war as laborers for their excavations. They have unearthed dozens of prehistoric objects, Bronze Age tumulus.

The town of Vergina, in northern Greece, is home to the most important ancient Macedonian archaeological site: the ruins of Aigai. The monumental palace discovered there is considered one of the largest and most lavish buildings of ancient Greece with colorful mosaics and elaborate stucco ornaments.

The site contains more than 500 burial mounds dating from the 11th to 2nd centuries BC.

In 1977, researchers discovered the tombs of four Macedonian kings, including Philip II, beneath a mound called the Great Mound. Scientists compared a massive hole in one of the leg bones discovered there to a crippling spear wound that Phillip suffered during one of his early military campaigns.

HISTORY Safe: Ancient History

From Egypt to Greece, explore fascinating documentaries about the ancient world.


The rise of Macedonia and the conquests of Alexander the Great; The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Archaeological site of Aigai; UNESCO.
Imagining Macedonia in prehistory, ca. 1900 – 1930; Journal of Mediterranean Archeology.
The death of Alexander the Great – a twist of fate that proves crucial; Journal of History of Neurosciences.
Why Macedonia still has a second name; The Economist.

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