Macedonia was an ancient kingdom on the northwest coast of the Aegean Sea, north of central Greece. The center of Macedonia was a fertile plain crossed by rivers and encircled by rugged mountains. The region produced livestock, wine, fruit, iron, gold, silver, and timber.

The people who lived in Macedonia in prehistoric times had little contact with Mycenae, the Mediterranean civilization that flourished in southern Greece before the rise of classical* Greek civilization. Later, however, early Greeks migrated north and mingled with the local inhabitants to form the Macedonian people, who lived along the Haliacmon River. Their language was related to the Greek language, and they worshiped the Greek gods. According to one Greek legend, the Macedonians were descended from a son of the god Zeus.

In the mid-600s B.C., King Perdiccas I of the Macedonians expanded his territory, conquering the fertile central plain. His descendants continued to strengthen and enlarge the kingdom. Philip II conquered Greece and united it with Macedonia. Philip’s son Alexander the Great defeated the Persian Empire and brought Egypt and much of western Asia under his control. After Alexander’s death, however, the empire he had created fell apart. A new dynasty* came to power in Macedonia in 277 B.C. During the next century, the kings of this dynasty maintained their grip on most of Greece, despite many uprisings in Athens, Sparta, and other Greek city-states*.

* classical in Greek history, refers to the period of great political and cultural achievement from about 500 B.C. to 323 B.C.

The rising power of Rome soon challenged Macedonia. King Philip V of Macedonia fought two wars against the Romans. He lost the second in 197 B.C., and the treaty that followed stripped Macedonia of its holdings in Greece. Philip’s son, Perseus, also waged war against Rome, attempting to free Greece from Roman control. Perseus was defeated, and Rome abolished the Macedonian kingdom, creating four new republics in its place. Two decades later, Rome turned Macedonia into a province* of the Roman Empire. Toward the end of the Roman Empire, in the A.D. 400s, Rome divided Macedonia into two provinces.

In the centuries that followed, Macedonia was invaded by Slavic people from the north, belonged to the kingdoms of Bulgaria and Serbia during the Middle Ages, was conquered by the Islamic Ottoman Empire of Turkey, and eventually was divided between Yugoslavia and Greece. In the 1990s, the formerly Yugoslavian portion of Macedonia became an independent nation.

* dynasty succession of rulers from the same family or group

* city-state independent state consisting of a city and its surrounding territory

* province overseas area controlled by Rome

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