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Source: "Dictionary of Misconceptions", pp.113-117


Serious scientific surveys dealing with ethnogeny in the territiories that encompass the present-day Authonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija offer no grounds for assertions that Albanians inhabited this region before the Serbs.
A popular thesis, that the modern Albanian historiography continually tends to demonstrate, affirming that the Albanians (who call themselves Sciptarians) are direct descendents of the Ilirians or Dardarians, can not withstand even the most superficial scientific test, since these ancient nations did not exist at the time when the process leading to the formation of the Albanian nation. Byzantine and other historic sources make no mention of Albanians before the 12th and 13th century. From the period when the Ilirians and the Dardanians disappeared from the scene of history at least 600 years passed. Therefore, one can state with certainity that the Balkans, which started affirming itself on certain ancient-Balkan bases, and the beginning of the Middle ages, after the downfall of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, one must bear in mind the fact that the territory encompassing present-day Kosovo and Metohija was quite distant from the zones where the Albanian national nucleaus was formed at the beginning of Middle ages. However, the Albanian tribes gradually spread and settled the planes and mountain ranges in the Skadar Lake hinterland, thus reaching the neighboring zones of the future Metohija region. After the Turkish conquests in the first half of 15th century, Albanians started appearing in the Serbian agricultural localities in present-day Kosovo and Metohija. Turkish censuses carried out in 1455, indicate that Albanian names are found in only 80 of the 600 villages
listed in the area, and that they did not constitute territorial groups, ruling out any assumptions that zones evenly and continuously inhabited by Albanians existed at the time.

Tha Albanian settlement of present-day Kosovo and Metohija was made easier by the fact that at the time that these migrations started, both these territories and the northern regions of Albania were under Serbian rule. According to Turkish sources, Ottoman conquests encountered almost exclusively Serbian population in these areas. A major Albanian demographic expansion has been recorded only in the 18th century, and it was urged by the Ottoman rulers.

On the other hand, the presence of Slavs in the area, in the Middle ages, has been certified by numerous archaeological findings and toponomy. The fertile planes suited the needs of the Slav farmers, and they consequently settled there permanently. As early as the end of the 12th century, the Kosovo and Metohija area become a political, spititual, economic and demographic center of the medieval Serbian state, primarily due to the fertility of the land and good communications. The town of Prizren was the capital of the Serbian medieval rulers -- Dusan and Uros, whilst the town of Pec become the seat of the Serbian Patriarchy -- which was proclaimed in 1346. These two towns have an important role in Serbian history before and after the Turkish occupation of the Balkans

[Photo of the Pec Patriarshate. Caption reads:

The center of Serbain spirituality since the 13th century: the
Pec Patriarchate (Metohija) ]

In Kosovo and Metohija there are 1,300 monuments testifying the Serbian culture, tradition and spirituality of the period. The most imprtant churches and monasteries in the area are the Ljeviska Bogorodica, built in Prizren in 1307 on foundation of an ancient Bysantine church, Gracanica built near Pristina in 1321, Visoki Decani (14th century) -- the biggest and most beautiful monastery of medieval Serbia with famous frescos, the Banjska Monastery, and many others. The Pec Patriarchy complex is a particularly important monument of the Serbian history and spiritual culture. It comprises the St. Apostles Church (1253), St. Dimitry Church (1324) and several other churches. Along with these temples, a large number of parochial churches existed in Kosovo, for almost every village had one. This confirms the fact that in the Middle ages, the entire territory was densely populated by Orthodox Slavs. [N.J.]

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Last revised: May 31, 2004