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Language in Antiquity

From the Archaic period to Alexander III

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Silver stater of Amyntas III
Silver stater of Amyntas III, with Greek lettering according to the practice of Macedonian kings, 394/3-370 BC, London, British Museum.

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Silver stater of Amyntas III
London, British Museum
394/3-370 BC

For a long time the Greek dialect of the Macedonians coexisted with the languages of their precursors in the region, but it eventually supplanted them. Although little is known about these earlier languages, it is supposed that some technical terms and proper nouns (and possibly a peculiar pronunciation of certain consonants) survived in the Macedonians' dialect.

By late Archaic times, as the Persians spread across Europe, the influence of the Ionic colonies on the Macedonian coast was reinforced, and the eastern Ionic alphabet was introduced to Macedonia.

From the early Classical period moreover the language and culture of Athens, which also had a strong presence on the Macedonian coast, was of decisive effect.

In the 4th century BC local dialects were adapted to Attic speech forming the common language known as 'koine', which was adopted by Philip II as the official language of his country.

See Also
Civilization - Letters in Antiquity

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.