Balkan Egyptian community represent last link of a long chain

Rubin Zemon
7 Min Read

A scientific research about historical and anthropological aspects of Balkan Egyptians is important not only for the members of Balkan Egyptian community, but also for other people in the Balkans, Europe, Mediterranean lands, and of course in Egypt. Such research is important and for the development of scientific thought and to resolve many issues related to them.

The antiquity of the Egyptian community in the Balkans can testify on the number of toponyms, which reveal the presence of people with origins from Egypt. Indeed, in scientific literature a great number of toponyms can be found, which are evidenced in various monographs or archaeological maps, dating back from the Neolithic times through the Iron time, Ancient period, Hellenistic period, Roman period, Byzantium until Ottoman time.

In historical, archaeological and other sources, there is a large number of data and evidence for the presence of this community in the Balkans. With the usage of the cultural-historical method and clarification of historical, archaeological, and other facts, by searching this community in the context of historical and social processes, we came to the conclusion that the reason for Egyptian colonization in the Balkan Peninsula is the exploitation of mineral wealth, especially metal.

For that reason, the Egyptian Pharaoh Sesostris came until to the “Thracians and the Scythians.” The historical continuity we found in several migratory movements of this Egyptian colonist, which can be followed through the legends of Danaus, Aegyptus and Cadmus, as well as from the other myths and legends from the mythological period, which help us to gain some knowledge about the movements and the social positions of Egyptian colonists.

From this period are dated the first temples that respect Egyptian gods in the Balkans. The time of Macedonian imperialism and conquests of Alexander the Great, confirms that relations between Egypt and the Balkans in Ancient and Hellenistic period were very strong, primarily through the legends of Osiris (or Zeus) and his son Macedon, the legend of conception of Alexander’s mother Olympia, Alexander’s declaration as successor of Ammon and decedent of pharaohs, as well as his behaviour afterwards.

From the time of the Roman period, we can find solid archaeological findings related to Egyptians cults in the Balkans, as well as knowledge about the presence of Egyptian population in the Balkans, which “deals with their crafts and knew how to stay isolated in their communities.”

With the establishment of Christianity and the development of the Eastern Roman Kingdom or Byzantium, in a fight for the supremacy of the church, and of course through the church with the empire, the decisions for judgment of Monophysitism in the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, certainly had its negative consequences on the population with Egyptian backgrounds in Balkan areas. In Medieval period data relevant to this community gives us the Archbishop of Ohrid Archdiocese Teophylact in the XII century.

With the development of the so-called “scientific opinion” and the ideology of “progress,” affirmed by the national-romantics of the XIX century, based on the so-called Aryan model, racial prejudices against the Balkans Egyptian took the “scientific” dimension. Bearing in mind that a great number of Balkan intellectuals from the 19th century were educated at universities in Western Europe, sarcastic racial prejudices and stereotypes against Balkan Egyptians not only was not improved, but also “in a scientific way” from the collective memory was deleted, a fact the in the Balkans lives population with origin from Egypt.

Denying the presence of Egyptians and Semite-Hamitic elements in the Balkans and Europe, and their systematization in a group of gipsies/Roma, was and is an epistemological principle of numerous European schools, but and strategic policy of some countries and international organizations until today.

Balkan Egyptians are spread across almost all Balkan Peninsula, in small or large, local or regional communities with the awakened or unawakened ethnic consciousness. The greater part can meet in the southern and southwestern part of the Peninsula. They live in Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. To our knowledge across the Balkan Peninsula Balkan lives over 1 million Balkan Egyptians with awakened or unawakened ethnic consciousness.

Nowadays, Balkans Egyptians do not have their own unique language. They can speak either “native” or “mother tongue” language of the locality where they live or of the district from which they migrated in any closer past. In many cases, members of this community in the Balkans are bilingual or polyglots. This linguistic phenomenon is explained by the fact that they are living as a stationed ethnic minority surrounded by other ethnic majorities, in cities or villages, where ethnic contacts are direct and intensive, and it is causing the linguistic assimilation or the acceptance of the majority language.

The analysis of the ethno-culture in the Balkans and among which the Balkan Egyptians culture, primarily the spiritual culture, shows that two important cultural components are present: one is the so-called Mediterranean, and the other Indo-European. Mainly, they are in a symbolic link and sometimes are very difficult to distinguish, and even more difficult to separate. The deepest and most extensive archaeological, ethnological, and cultural researches are confirming this hypothesis, in a much broader cultural garden, by revealing the Mediterranean lines as older and indigenous, while the Indo-European as younger and incoming. Comparative anthropology of the people from the Mediterranean reveals strong ties between Egypt, the Middle East, and the Balkans, from where according to the opinion of the majority of the scholars’ agriculture and livestock were brought in the Balkans and Europe. It can be said that nowadays members of the Balkan Egyptian community probably represent the last link of a long chain, which stretched from the behind, linking the Balkans with the Near East and Egypt.

Rubin Zemon

Special adviser of Macedonia prime minister for multicultural society and inter-cultural relations

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