Prehistoric Macedonia, occupied continuously from early neolithic times, possessed a uniform culture in the bronze age, little influenced by Mycenae, and was invaded c.1150 BC by a northern people, of whom a western offshoot may have provoked the Dorian invasion.

Hesiod first mentioned 'Makedon', the eponym of the people and the country, as a son of Zeus, a grandson of Deukalion, and so a first cousin of Aeolus, Dorus, and Xuthus; in other words he considered the 'Makedones' to be an outlying branch of the Greek-speaking tribes, with a distinctive dialect of their own, 'Macedonian'.

He gave their habitat as 'Pieria and Olympus'. In northern Pieria an early iron age cemetery of 300 tumuli, partly excavated, has revealed the rulers there as probably Phrygians and then Illyrii until c.650 BC, when it went out of use.

At that time a new dynasty, the Temenidae, ruling the Macedonians, founded their early capital at Aegae (mod. Vergina), situated above the cemetery, and thereafter gained control of the coastal plain as far as the Axius.

The Persian occupation of Macedonia 512-479 BC was beneficial. Xerxes gave to Alexander I the rule over western Upper Macedonia, which was peopled by Epirotic tribes with their own dialect of Greek; and after Xerxes' flight Alexander gained territory west of the Strymon.

His claim to be a Temenid, descended from Heracles and related to the royal house of Argos in the Peloponnese, was recognized at Olympia; he issued a fine royal coinage and profited from the export of ship-timber.

The potentiality of the Macedonian kingdom was realised by Philip II. By defeating the northern barbarians and incorporating the Greek-speaking Upper Macedonians he created a superb army, which was supported economically by other peoples who were brought by conquest into the enlarged kingdom: Illyrii, Paeones, and Thracians -with their own non-Greek languages- and Chalkidians and Bottiaeans, both predominantly Greek-speaking. 'He created a united kingdom from many tribes and nations' (Just. Epit.8.6.2) by a policy of tolerance and assimilation.

His son Alexander the Great, inheriting the strongest state in eastern Europe, carried his conquests to the borders of Afganistan and Pakistan.

Later the conquered territories split up into kingdoms ruled by mainly Macedonian families, who fought against one another and contended for the original Macedonian kingdom.

In 167 BC Rome defeated Macedonia and split it into four republics; and in 146 BC it was constituted a Roman province. Thereafter its history merged with that of the Roman empire.

From Philip II onwards the Macedonian court was a leading centre of Greek culture, and the policies of Alexander and his Successors (Diadochi) spread the Greek-based 'Hellenistic' culture in the east, which continued to flourish for centuries after the collapse of Macedonian power.



Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (1996), pp.904,905