German museum man says Alexander the Great was mainly Greek

Skopje may continue the already two- decades-long battle over the right to use the name Macedonia, but history is clearly on the side of Athens, a scholar said Friday. At the core of the strife is the national identity of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian conqueror from the 4th century BC.
“Alexander was basically a Greek and in no case a forefather of today’s Slavic Macedonians,” the director of Reiss-Engelhorn Museum, Alfred Wieczorek, told the German Press Agency dpa. “Macedonians and Greeks understood each others, as they spoke the same language.”
The exhibition “Alexander the Great and the Opening of the World” opened on Friday at the museum. It offers impressive insight into the short life of one among the ancient world’s greatest leaders.
Before he died in 323 BC, aged just 32, Alexander stormed the southeastern Mediterranean and sliced through the Persian empire, leaving a massive cultural and historical legacy in his wake.
The exhibition in Mannheim, in southern Germany, follows his course to Central Asia and demonstrates the cultural, economical and social upheavals caused by his conquests.
Two and a half millenia later, Greece is blocking Macedonia, which emerged as a sovereign state from the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in 1991, from using that name. Athens insists that only its northern province, Alexander’s homeland, has the right to it.
Slavs began arriving from Asia in the 6th century, a millenium after Alexander died. These were the predecessors of Slavic Macedonians, who represent a three-quarter majority in the former Yugoslav republic, which has a significant, 25-per cent Albanian minority.
Yet contemporary Macedonians claim the heritage of the great king, putting his Star of Vergina on the national flag and naming major buildings and projects, such as the Skopje airport and the key highway, after Alexander.
The latest effort aimed at proving relation with Alexander is a plan to put multi-million-dollar statue of him on a prancing horse on the sprawling central square in the capital. All that does not impress Wieczorek.
“The latest discoveries clearly prove that Macedonians and Greeks of the Alexander era were closely related,” he said.
The row over the name has so far cost Macedonia membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Greece vetoed last year. It is also hindering the country’s closer ties to the EU.
(source: Earth Times)