Former toponyms in Greece

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The hellenization of toponyms in Greece started soon after Greek independence, as part of the process of shaping Greek national identity. Many placenames in Greece of non-Greek origin were replaced by "ancient or pseudo ancient names that were supposed (sometimes erroneously) to have some connection to the area".[1] For example, the ancient name of Piraeus was revived in the 19th century, after it had been called Drakos in Greek, Porto Leone in Venetian, and Aslan Limanı in Turkish for centuries, after the Piraeus Lion which stood there.[1]

The process was accelerated by the enlargement of the national territory after the Balkan Wars and then the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923.

As Greece transformed rapidly from a multi-ethnic to a mono-ethnic state[2] the Greek government renamed many places with revived ancient names, local Greek-language names, or translations of the non-Greek names.[3] The non-Greek names were officially removed.[4] Although the bulk of the population was Greek[5][6][7] the renaming was considered a way to establish a collective ethnic consciousness.[8] A lot of historical Greek names from Asia Minor were also introduced in the region mainly by the resettled refugees. Many Demotic Greek names were also replaced by a Katharevousa Greek form, usually different only morphologically. This process started in 1926 and continued into the 1960s.[4]

Many settlements in the Macedonia region in Northern Greece had Greek and non-Greek forms. Most of those names were in use during the multinational environment of the Ottoman Empire. Some of the forms were identifiably of Greek origin, others of Slavic Macedonian, yet others of Turkish, Vlach or Albanian origin. Following the First World War and the Graeco-Turkish War which followed, an exchange of population took place between Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey (Treaty of Neuilly, between Greece and Bulgaria and Treaty of Lausanne, between Greece and Turkey). The villages of the exchanged populations (Bulgarians and Muslims) in Greece were resettled with Greeks from Asia Minor, and the Balkans (mainly from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia).

According to ongoing research being carried out at the Institute of Neohellenic Research in Athens, between 1913 and 1996, the names of 4,413 settlements were legally changed in Greece. In each case, the renamings were recorded in the official Government Gazette.

The regional breakdown in renamings is: Macedonia: 1,805 renamings; Peloponnese: 827 renamings; Central Greece: 519 renamings; Thessaly: 487 renamings; Epirus: 454 renamings; Thrace: 98 renamings; Crete: 97 renamings; Aegean Islands: 79 renamings; Ionian Islands: 47 renamings.[9]

The toponyms are divided by Greek prefecture:

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Peter Mackridge, Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766-1976, Oxford, 2009, p. 21
  2. ^ Elisabeth Kontogiorgi, Population Exchange in Greek Macedonia: The Forced Settlement of Refugees, Oxford University Press, 2006, “The influx of Greek refugees coupled, with the departure of Muslims and pro-Bulgarian Slav Macedonians, produced a radical ethnological impact: whereas Macedonia was 42 per cent Greek in 1912, it was 89 per cent in 1926.”
  3. ^ Todor Hristov Simovski, The Inhabited Places of the Aegean Macedonia (Skopje 1998), ISBN 9989-9819-4-9, pp. XXXVIII-XLII.
  4. ^ a b Bintliff, "The Ethnoarchaeology of a 'Passive' Ethnicity", in K.S. Brown and Yannis Hamilakis, The Usable Past: Greek Metahistories, Lexington Books, 2003, p. 138 “This denial of the multiethnic composition of the rural landscape has been helped by state-imposed systematic place-name changes throughout this century, many as late as the 1960s, through which a wonderful scatter of traditional Greek, Slav, Albanian, and sometimes Italian village names has been suppressed—wherever conceivable—in favor of the name of any ancient Greek toponym remotely connected to the neighborhood.
  5. ^ Anastasia Karakasidou's paper on "Politicizing Culture: Negating Ethnic Identity in Greek Macedonia", Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 11 (1993), 22-23 notes 2-3. "the bulk of the population in Greek Macedonia is nothing less than Greek"
  6. ^ Vlassis Vlasidis - Veniamin Karakostanoglou. "Recycling Propaganda: Remarks on Recent Reports on Greece's "Slav-Macedonian Minority"". 
  7. ^ Elisabeth Kontogiorgi, Population Exchange in Greek Macedonia: The Forced Settlement of Refugees, Oxford University Press, 2006, “The influx of Greek refugees coupled, with the departure of Muslims and pro-Bulgarian Slavs, produced a radical ethnological impact: whereas Macedonia was 42 per cent Greek in 1912, it was 89 per cent in 1926.”
  8. ^ Elisabeth Kontogiorgi, Population Exchange in Greek Macedonia: The Forced Settlement of Refugees, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 292-294. “The policy of Hellenizing toponyms was fundamental to the more comprehensive process of establishing a collective ethnic consciousness and a sense of national identity rooted deeply in the profundity of time and history.”
  9. ^ "Pandektis: Name Changes of Settlements in Greece". Retrieved 2009-04-27.  List compiled by the Institute for Neohellenic Research. Click on [ + ] to reveal general information about the site.