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View Poll Results: What is the origin of Ancient Epirotes?
They were Greeks 32 57.14%
They were Illyrians 11 19.64%
I don't know 13 23.21%
Voters: 56. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 14th, 2012, 07:08 AM   #1
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Ancient Epirotes: Greeks or Illyrians/Albanians?


I would like to ask you your opinion about the origin of ancient Epirotes, because there is a debate between Greeks and Albanians about this issue, and I have confused. I have read the arguments of Greeks and Albanians about the origin of ancient Epirotes.

The arguments of Greeks
1. Herodotus, the father of History, wrote that ancient Epirotes were Greek Dorians.
2. Archeologists have found ancient transcripts in Epirus written in Greek Dorian. So ancient Epirotes were Greek and their language was Greek.
3. Ancient Epirotes worshiped in ancient Greek gods.
4. Ancient Epirotes had Greek names.
5. The coins of ancient Epirotes were Greek.
6. All the modern historians, linguists and archeologists accept that ancient Epirotes were Greeks.
7. The majority of the population of Epirus in 19th century AD were Greeks, and these people were descendants of ancient Greek Epirotes.
8. Greeks lived and still live in north Epirus, but Albanians have eliminated them now.

The arguments of Albanians
1. The ancient Greek historian Thoucydides wrote that Epirotes were barbarians. The term barbarian means that they didn't speak Greek and they were not Greeks.
2. The ancient geographer Strabo did not consider Epirus as a part of Greece.
3. Other ancient Greek geographer wrote that the first Greek city was Acarnania, and that this city located after Epirus.
4. An ancient geopgrapher wrote "After Illirians and Epirotes, Greeks exist''. So Epirotes were not Greeks.
5. The Greek transcripts in Epirus does not prove that Epirotes were Greeks. Epirotes were Illyrians/Albanians and they were influenced from the Greek Corinthians, a Dorian tribe of south Greece, who colonized Epirus. So Epirotes learnt Greek and adopted to ancient Greek religion.
6. If Epirus was a Greek land, why ancient Greeks made colonies in Epirus?
7. Descendants of Illyrians are Chams Albanians, who lived in south Epirus. Chams were the majority of the population in south Epirus, and especially in Chameria. Modern Greeks expelled them, they brought Greeks in these territories and in this way Epirus became Greek.

What do you think? Who is right?
In Wikipedia it says that ancient Epirotes were Greeks.
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Old December 14th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #2

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First of all it is irrelevant what Greeks and Albanians say in forums. Modern politics have nothing to do with archaeology and linguistics. You just stick to what the mainstream academia and logic says.

Now, lets start with the basics:

1) Greece was not originally a place of Greek-speakers

There were language(s) of the neolithic era that were spoken in Greece such as Minoan or whatever is rendered in Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphics. North Western Greece has now documented findings of such a culture.

2) Proto-Indoeuropean ancestors of the Greek, Phrygian and Armenian speakers settled in the Balkans (Northern Greece, South-East Albania, South FYRO Macedonia) between 2400-2200 B.C. Illyrians didn't reach the current Greek borders before 900 B.C. If Epirus had other ethinicities except from Greek-speakers, there are other hotter candidates than the Illyrians.

3) There's a dialect group of Greek called North-Western Greek which is undecided whether it is a subgroup of Doric or a separate group. The dialects that are included in North-Western Greek are: Epirotan,Acarnanian,Aetolian,Locrian,Phocian,Elean. All of those dialect are well documented nowadays and date from archaic years. There's no doubt they are Greek.

4) Initially V. Georgiev placed proto-Greek mainly in Epirus. This is the common accepted view today amongst linguists. Minor modifications on the original model have been made in relation to the total area proto-Greek spread initially.

Click the image to open in full size.

5) Eleans were named barbarians most of the times by other Greeks, nevertheless, they spoke a vulgar Greek dialect and they were the ones to decide if your ass was Greek enough to participate in the Olympics. Foreign mother? Sorry dude, you're not Greek enough according to the Eleians.

6) It is highly improbable that such a religious sanctuary as Dodone, would be placed outside the Greek world.

7) The placename Ήπειρος - ɛːpeiros and the ethnic Ἠπειρῶται - ɛːpeirɔːtae are an exact match in Greek and mean "mainland" - "inhabitants of the mainland".

8) The name Molossos, is a pre-Greek name. It is neither Greek or "Illyrian". Most people called Molossos are attested in Asia Minor. All the -ssos, -ssa, -ssia, -nthos, -arna etc placenames are pre-Indo-European, shared between Greece and Western Anatolia.



These are just some food of thought for you. Don't try to interpret quotes from various ancient authors if you're not confident. Just have a look on the points I gave you and you and verify them with modern academic material.
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Old December 14th, 2012, 01:00 PM   #3

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There was no such thing as Albania then, it was just part of the Greek cultural sphere. If they had Greek names, spoke Greek and worshiped Greek Gods, then they're Greek (IMO).
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Old December 15th, 2012, 01:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midas View Post
First of all it is irrelevant what Greeks and Albanians say in forums. Modern politics have nothing to do with archaeology and linguistics. You just stick to what the mainstream academia and logic says.

Now, lets start with the basics:

1) Greece was not originally a place of Greek-speakers

There were language(s) of the neolithic era that were spoken in Greece such as Minoan or whatever is rendered in Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphics. North Western Greece has now documented findings of such a culture.

2) Proto-Indoeuropean ancestors of the Greek, Phrygian and Armenian speakers settled in the Balkans (Northern Greece, South-East Albania, South FYRO Macedonia) between 2400-2200 B.C. Illyrians didn't reach the current Greek borders before 900 B.C. If Epirus had other ethinicities except from Greek-speakers, there are other hotter candidates than the Illyrians.

3) There's a dialect group of Greek called North-Western Greek which is undecided whether it is a subgroup of Doric or a separate group. The dialects that are included in North-Western Greek are: Epirotan,Acarnanian,Aetolian,Locrian,Phocian,Elean. All of those dialect are well documented nowadays and date from archaic years. There's no doubt they are Greek.

4) Initially V. Georgiev placed proto-Greek mainly in Epirus. This is the common accepted view today amongst linguists. Minor modifications on the original model have been made in relation to the total area proto-Greek spread initially.

Click the image to open in full size.

5) Eleans were named barbarians most of the times by other Greeks, nevertheless, they spoke a vulgar Greek dialect and they were the ones to decide if your ass was Greek enough to participate in the Olympics. Foreign mother? Sorry dude, you're not Greek enough according to the Eleians.

6) It is highly improbable that such a religious sanctuary as Dodone, would be placed outside the Greek world.

7) The placename Ήπειρος - ɛːpeiros and the ethnic Ἠπειρῶται - ɛːpeirɔːtae are an exact match in Greek and mean "mainland" - "inhabitants of the mainland".

8) The name Molossos, is a pre-Greek name. It is neither Greek or "Illyrian". Most people called Molossos are attested in Asia Minor. All the -ssos, -ssa, -ssia, -nthos, -arna etc placenames are pre-Indo-European, shared between Greece and Western Anatolia.



These are just some food of thought for you. Don't try to interpret quotes from various ancient authors if you're not confident. Just have a look on the points I gave you and you and verify them with modern academic material.
Thank you for answering me. Could you give me the link of this map about the reconstruction of proto-Greek?
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Old December 15th, 2012, 09:48 PM   #5

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Originally Posted by EUROPEAN View Post
Thank you for answering me. Could you give me the link of this map about the reconstruction of proto-Greek?
There are two publications of Georgiev I am aware of describing the issue. The map is a wikipedia creation based on what he says.

Vladimir Georgiev - The Genesis of the Balkan Peoples, The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 44, No. 103
The Greeks gradually occupied the Aegean territory from the end
of the third or the beginning of the second millennium B.C. But it is still not clear where they dwelt before this invasion, or, in other words, where the proto-Greek region lay. Study of toponyms shows clearly that this region lay approximately in north-western Greece. The proofs are as follows:

1. Here the typical pre-Greek toponyms are lacking.

2. Almost all toponyms, especially the most important ones from
this region, are of Greek origin and they often show archaic Greek
features. Toponyms: Ήπειρος, Θεσπρωτία, Καμμανία; Άργος, Βουχετός,
Γόννος, Ογχεσμός, Τέκμων, etc. Hydronyms: Αχερών, Κωκυτός, Πηνειός. Oronyms: Κεραυνία, Πίνδος.

3. The two common Greek denominations Έλληνες and Γραικοί
originate from Epirus.

4. The most characteristic toponym here is Άργος which occurs in
this region four times; it means '(the) white town' and is of Greek
origin.


Vladimir Georgiev - Introduction to the history of the Indo-European languages, House of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences 1981
The proto-Greek region included Epirus, approximately up to Aulon in the north including Perabaia, Tymphaia, Athamania, Dolopia, Amphilochia and Acarnania, west and north Thessaly (Hestiaiotis, Perrhaibia, Tripolis and Pierria), i.e more of less the territory of contemporary northwestern Greece.
Btw, Pierria is not in Thessaly, but Macedon. In any case, as far as I know there's no dissagreement between scholars about the geographic spread of proto-Greek. Any language above those areas should fall into proto-Phrygian, proto-Armenian or an extinct related language to all those. Neither Thracian nor Illyrian was present in the region that early.

Last edited by Midas; December 15th, 2012 at 09:55 PM.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 12:51 AM   #6

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It is not even sure that Albanians are descendants of Illirians. In direct sense I mean. Albanian language shows some affinity with Daco-Thracian.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 01:37 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by arras View Post
It is not even sure that Albanians are descendants of Illirians. In direct sense I mean. Albanian language shows some affinity with Daco-Thracian.
There is no Illyrian language. Yet. Scientists have never reconstructed it, since those tribes never actually developed letters. So Albanians might or might be not right to claim Illyrians as their ancestors.

Other question is what are Illyrians?

Common definition of Illyrians is that that is number of tribes, which originated from Eastern Alps, in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, large part of Macedonia, Serbia and Albania. Big question is are for examples Liburnes(Lika in Croatia) the same as Enchelios or Taulantas in today's Albania. Did they really had same customs, language and worshipped same gods? Did they helped each others in times of war? Highly unprobable, and all those large albanians - large illyrians theories are on very weak bases.

Albanians do however have high percentage of "old" genes, as Midas explained many times on different threads, but still that doesn't mean anything.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 01:40 AM   #8

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As far as OP is concerned, IMHO Epirots were simple mix of Illyrians, greeks and maybe pelasgians, but I'm too lazy to explain it right now.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 03:02 AM   #9

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Highly unprobable, and all those large albanians - large illyrians theories are on very weak bases.
Unfortunately, in the early 20th century, some academics got infected by some Illyrian-paranoia. The thing is that amongst them was G. Bonfante (a great IE linguist). Whenever Bonfante spoke about Etruscan and Anatolian languages, gold was comming out from his writtings. When he was touching the Illyrian subject, he got litterarly paranoid. He went so far to claim that Palaestinians were Illyrians. Doing research about Illyrians back then was making you a "special scholar" for some reason. That's why Illyrian studies were filled with baseless claims. Those are usually the ones picked up by Albanian nationalists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucius Vorenus View Post
Albanians do however have high percentage of "old" genes, as Midas explained many times on different threads, but still that doesn't mean anything.
Yes, thank you for bringing this back. That is the only thing certain. Albanians didn't land with an helicopter to the Balkans.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 03:06 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by Lucius Vorenus View Post
As far as OP is concerned, IMHO Epirots were simple mix of Illyrians, greeks and maybe pelasgians, but I'm too lazy to explain it right now.
Illyrians arrived over a millenium later to the region. I am sure they penetrated into Epirus, however, the barbarians mentioned by the ancients were probably other people such as proto-Phrygians, pre-Greeks (see my Molossos example) etc. The Chaones, who were definetely Hellenized people, were supposed to come from Asia Minor. They were a buffer nation between Epirotes and Illyrians.

Generally the proto-Phrygian & Armenian ethnic mix would be a better explanation. Such ethnic groups would produce placenames and personal names that sound Greek and therefore camouflage themselves into the Epirotan body. Mind that both those languages were much closer to Greek in the 2nd millenium B.C, than the time we first encounter them. Especially classical Armenian different a LOT from the proto-Armenian era.

Last edited by Midas; December 16th, 2012 at 03:12 AM.
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