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Human Activities in the basin - SOER 3

Human Activities in the basin - SOER 3

writings. In the 14 th and 15 th century, the expanding Ottoman Empire overpowered the Balkan Peninsula. Although Skenderbeq united the Albanian tribes to hold off the Turks for more than two decades, the Ottoman Empire eventually overcame the tribes and divided the nation along religious, regional and tribal lines. In the early 17 th century, Albanians converted to Islam in great numbers. By the 19 th century, nationalists, rallying under Skenderbeq’s red banner with the two-headed eagle, gained strength and eventually won their freedom in 1913. The earliest know inhabitants in the Ohrid area in Macedonia lived near today’s airport, about 12 km north of the present town. Golden masks, bracelets and sandals are part of the rich archaeological finds discovered there. In 358 BC, Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, defeated the Illyrians in Macedonia and assumed control of the Illyrian territory in Macedonia as far west as Lake Ohrid, including the ancient town of Lychinodos, which developed on the present site of Ohrid. The ancient theater, near the center of old Ohrid, was constructed in the last century BC (Figure 3.1). The names of influential citizens of Ohrid, probably those who held season tickets to the performances in the theater, are engraved on the seats of this auditorium. During the early centuries after Christ, Lychinodos continued to develop. The first Christian missionary, Erasmus of Antioch, arrived in the fifth century AD. Some of the cave church near the town, as well as ten or more other early Christian basilica and preserved floor mosaics with biblical motifs are also associated with St. Erasmus. The name Ohrid is first mentioned in a protocol issued by the Assembly of Constantinople in 879. The name is thought to come from the old Slavonic word vo hrid, “on a hill.” Figure 3.1. The ancient theater in the center of the town of Ohrid. The famous missionaries, St. Clement and St. Naum, made Ohrid their home after being banished from Moravia. They arrived in Ohrid in the late 800s, and with their arrival, Ohrid became the cultural center of Macedonia, and indeed, the greater Slavonic region. St. Clement and St. Naum were literary and religious scholars. Building on what they had learned as disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodious in Moravia, St. Clement developed the Cyrillic alphabet that gradually replaced the Glagolithic alphabet. St. Clement spent 30 years in Ohrid and founded a thriving university, at one time the largest in Europe, at his monastery. This university educated more than 3500 students to spread Christianity, science and culture throughout the realm, and as far east as Kiev. St. Naum built his monastery at the southern end of the lake, near the present day border with Albania. In legends and myths, St. Clement is associated with fruit trees grafts. St Naum is associated 27

with psychology. These two scholars and missionaries made Ohrid the Jerusalem of the Balkans, at least among the Slavs. They are also responsible for the beginnings of the national culture, linked tightly to the church. During the subsequent centuries, when the Macedonian people had no state of their own, the church protected them from being assimilated into other cultures. Around the middle of the tenth century Samuel established his empire, extending throughout the greater Slavic region. Samuel and his successors Gavrilo Radomir and Jovan Vladislav, ruled from 976-1018, first from Prespa and then from Ohrid. Samuel built one of the largest mediaeval fortresses in Macedonia on the hill in Ohrid. He built his fortress on the site of an older, much smaller fortress constructed in Lychinodos, on the top of the hill. The fortress enclosed the entire hilltop on all sides except the south side, which faces the lake. Entrance to the town was through three gates, of which only the upper gate has been preserved (Figure 3.2). Within the wall of the fortress were numerous streets with a large number o multi-story buildings and wooden houses. During these years, and the centuries that followed, numerous churches and the famous frescoes and icons were created. Figure 3.2. The upper gate into Samuel’s fortress on the hill in the town of Ohrid. Up until the late 14 th and early 15 th centuries, most of the inhabited town was within the walls of the fortress. As the town expanded into the 15 th century, the Turks settled the lower parts of town on the level stretches of Ohrid. Wishing to retain their good influence over the Slavs, the Court of Constantinople appointed as the head of the Ohrid Archbishopric only the most influential and capable church dignitaries, including writers, philosophers, theologians and poets. Ohrid developed into a prosperous town that also attracted some of the best-known painters and architects of the period. The Ottoman Turks ruled in Ohrid from the end of the 14 th century to 1912. Some of the noblemen of Ohrid assisted Skenderbeq, the Albanian national hero, against the Turks, and as a result, many local churchmen and wealthy local citizens were taken into custody and died in prison. Despite this, Ohrid continued to thrive. At the turn of the 19 th century, Ohrid was a thriving economic as well as cultural center. Its famous leather workshops exported goods to Europe and the east. Revolutionary activity first against the Greek spiritual and cultural influence in the 19 th century, and then against Ottoman rule in the Ilinden Rebellion in 1903 led to heavy reprisals by the Turks, and many men, women and children were killed. In the past six decades since World War II, Ohrid has again prospered. Today its colorful history is a key aspect of local pride and the tourism industry. Throughout the history of the Ohrid region, water was treated as a sacred gift from God, especially in the vicinity of the churches and monasteries. Water has also always been 28

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