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Macedonian Empire

The history of human habitation in Macedon dates back to 5000 BC. The kingdom that emerged in Macedon, or Macedonia as it was known by the Greeks themselves in the eighth century BC, was bound by the kingdoms of Paeonia and Epirus to the north and west respectively, and by the civilizations of Thessaly and Thrace to the south and east. From its start as a minor kingdom, one of the many city-states that emerged in Greece, Macedon grew into a mighty and powerful empire during the reigns of King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great. Alexander assimilated most of Persia, Europe, and parts of Asia under Macedonian rule.

Origins of Macedon
Greek myths and legends name Mount Olympus in Macedonia as the home of the twelve Greek gods. Legend has it that that Macedonia was the land of King Midas (of golden touch fame), but was seized by Caranus and the Greeks. According to some records, the archaic kingdom of Upper Macedonia, Elimiotis, with its capital at Aiani, was founded by King Aianos. At about the same time in Lower Macedonia, King Elimeus founded his kingdom. The two royal dynasties shared cordial relations and were linked by marriage.

The records of Herodotus suggest that by the eighth century BC, the fertile kingdom of Lower Macedonia was ruled by the Argead Dynasty. The kingdom was prosperous and agrarian. King Alexander I (495 BC – 450 BC) started to expand his kingdom to Upper Macedonia.

Philip II
By 393 BC, King Amyntas III ascended the throne of Macedon and succeeded in unifying all of Macedon. The language spoken throughout the land was a dialect of Greek, but for a long time, the kingdom of Macedon was considered primitive. In about 359 BC, Philip II was made the de facto ruler of Macedon to administer the kingdom for his young nephew Amyntas IV. Philip II deposed his nephew and claimed the throne. Philip II was a very ambitious ruler and set out to expand the boundaries of Macedon, annexing Thrace and Thessaly. In his attempt to conquer Thrace, Philip II became a threat to the mighty Athens. Philip’s conquest of Byzantium and the Bosphorus Strait gave him access to the Black Sea trade route, traditionally controlled by Athens. Athens and many other Greek states waged war against Macedon, but Philip II won the battle for his kingdom, paving the way for Macedonian supremacy. In 338 BC, Philip II established the League of Corinth and united all of Greece (except Sparta).

Alexander the Great
In 336 BC, Philip II was assassinated and his son Alexander the Great took over the Macedonian Empire. In the next two years, Alexander launched military campaigns against the Persian kingdom in Anatolia. In a series of victories, Alexander captured almost all of the Persian Empire (including Egypt), and defeated Darius II. His empire had reached the Indus Valley to the north of India by the time of his death in 323 BC. The outreach of the Macedonian Empire was the sole most important factor in the spread of the Hellenistic culture across the globe.