Albanians in Greece: Part II

Author: Jakov Milaj

The Albanians in Greece are divided in two categories: Albanians who live on Albanianterritory but who have remained outside of the unjust borders which were drawn up by the Ambassadorial Conference of London (1913), and those Albanians who departed Albanianterritory during the first diaspora in the 14th & 15th centuries.


Before WWI (1914-1918), Greece annexed certain Albanian regions with a population of 115,000 people, of which 35,000 belonged to the regions of Kosturi and Follorine and 80,000 to Çameria. After the conflict between Greece and Turkey, the governments of Athens and Ankara decided to exchange the expatriate population. The Albanians of the regions cited above, since they were of the Muslim religion, were considered Turks and expelled by the Greeks to several parts of Anatolia (a small number of them reached Albania). In the regions of Kosturi and Follorine there are no Albanians left, meanwhile, only 25,000 Çamerians in the south struggled to remain there. They spread out around the towns of Gumenice, Margellec, Filat and Prage. If we add the number of Orthodox Albanians (Albanophone) for whom statistics are unavailable, the number of representatives of the Albanian race reaches about 40,000 people. There is no need to go into anthropological analysis: they are Albanians by language and blood, without any particular characteristics to distinguish them from their ethnic kin.

The Albanians who went to Greece in the 14th and 15th centuries later moved again inside Greek lands and their number increased as new Albanians arrived. However, most of them have been hellenized so the exact number of people of Albanian descent in Greece is unknown. Their number must have been larger in the 15th century when, according to Gergj Franxes, there were in Morea alone more than 290,000 Albanians. One hundred years earlier, George von Hahn said that of one million Greeks, 173,000 spoke only Albanian and “since then, it would seem that no important event had happened to change their proportions.”Taking into consideration official statistics, Finlay said the number of Albanians was 200,000.

Deniker divides Greece into two halves according to the meridian that passes 20 degrees longitudinal from Paris. People who live west of this line are without doubt of Adriatic-Albanian type, tall and with small head (brachycephalic) like all Albanians of Dinaric race, while east of this meridian, the Greeks of Thessaly“and perhaps a part of them that live in Attica” are of another type quite different, shorter and with smaller cephalic distinguishing characteristics.

Eugene Pittard corrects the meridian of the French scientist; he substitutes the meridian with the line of the Pindus Mountains (Greece) which ”divides two populations with origins quite different from each other.” The Greeks of the east are almost dolichocephalic. It is obvious that Albanians who were established in Thessaly, before and during the invasions of Stefan Dusan and who were called Arhonder, were small in number, that’ s why ”they have left very little trace of their blood.” In the west, all of Epirus, Aetolia, Acarnania and all of Peloponnesus are inhabited by brachycephalic people with very often aquiline noses. The archipelagos of the Ionic and Aegean seas and Euboea also are inhabited by people of the Dinaric race. Pittard writes “there isn’t any difficulty in accepting that the Ionian islands are inhabited by brachycephalic people.” We can’t say the same for Euboea because people that live east of the Greek peninsula are more dolichocephalic or mesocephalic. But we must not forget that a large group of Albanians emigrated to Euboea during the battles of Scanderbeg against the Turks (15th century), and it’s evident that these groups were of the true Albanian race. Detailed linguistic papers show that the populations of these regions speak Albanian. The ethnographic data show the somatological characteristics of these populations.

Battaglia thinks the same as the two anthropologists cited above. He says that “in the population of the Peloponnesus, those of the islands of the Ionian and Aegean seas, the average is about 81-82.”

In the areas with strong brachymorphy, such as Leka and Argolida, the median is around 84.4 and 85. Epirus has the highest median in the Balkans at 88.1. The cephalic indicator of the Tosks is 87.03, almost the same as the Epirots. Pittard calls the Hellenic Peninsula “an anthropologic ‘ bottom of the bag’ ” where one can find what remains of the ethnic groups that invaded the Peninsula, and the Greek people ” a composite photo of the Balkan people.” From these notes it is understood that half of this “bottom of the bag” and the half of this “composite photo” is of the Albanian race. The Fallmerayer thesis is completely proved by anthropologists.

PP116-119, “RACA SHQIPTARE, Botimi i Dyte” by Jakov Milaj, Tirana, 1995. Translated into English by Migen Hasanaj

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