Paeonia-An Ancient Slavic Kingdom?

Arnold Toynbee offers the suggestion that the Paeones, a numerous and powerful group spread widely in Macedonia, were Slavic or Illyrian peoples.18

He notes that there were Paeones in the Axios basin, but says that the major¬ity of the Paeonian peoples were to be found in the Strymon Basin. Toynbee says also that place names acknowledged in various Greek states indicate that "bands of Paiones had once reached southern continental European Greece, but they are not evidence that the Paiones were a Greek-speaking people."

At least some Paeonian groups were in Macedonia before the Macedonians achieved political significance, and were still there more than a thousand years later when the new wave of Slavic peoples arrived.

Toynbee says "the headwa¬ters of the Strymon were held by the Agrianes —a Paeonian people according to all our authorities — at the time of Megabazos' campaign circa 511 B.C., at the time of Sitalkes' campaign in 429 B.C., and at the time of Alexander's campaign in 335 B.C., and both they and their neighbors and kinsmen, the Dentheletai, seem to have held their ground in this region until they were swamped, at last, by the Slav Volkerwanderung in the sixth and seventh centuries of the Christian era."
Accordingly, it is of some interest to the present debate to ask whether these people might have been Slavic.

Toynbee explores the issue of the ancestral language and the nationality of the Paeones.
He uses the study of geographical names, ethnika and personal names.
After analysis of this material, Toynbee finds that these words are a combination of Greek, Illyrian, Thracian and either Slavonic or Slavonic-influenced Illyrian/Thracian and unspecified non-Greek elements.

With regard to specifically Slavonic elements, Toynbee notes a number of non-Greek sounding names, including Domerus and Doberos and ua set of names ending in -azoros or -azora: Azoros in the Perrhacbian Tripolis; Gazoros in Edonike; Hypsizorus, a mountain on or near the Pallene Peninsula; Byla-zora on the upper Axios."
He notes that some of these names have a distinctly Slavonic flavor: "'Astraios' calls to mind 'Ostrov' and 'Ostrva'; 'Doberos' calls to mind 'Dobro”; “-azor” calls to mind both 'izvor” and 'gora'; the 'Byl-' in Bylazora calls to mind the Slavonic word for 'white.'"

These Slavonic-like sounds do not prove that the language was something other than Illyrian or Thracian since they might have appeared in Paionian through borrowings from neighboring peoples.
Toynbee says that the Illyrian, Thracian and Slavonic speakers are likely to have been each other's next-door neighbors at some stages in the differentiation and diffusion of the Indo-European languages.

However, he says, “'It is also conceivable that the Paeones may actually have been a Slavonic-speaking people that had been caught up in the Thracian and Illyr¬ian Volkerwanderung into south-eastern Europe some 1,700 or 1,800 years before the massive Volkerwanderung of the Slavs in the sixth and seventh cen¬turies of the Christian Era."
Toynbee concludes that, on the whole, the evidence seems to point to the Paeones' ancestral language having been Illyrian, or possibly Slavonic, rather than Greek, though he acknowledges that the evidence is not very clear.

Some of the Paeones tribes were deported by Megabazos to Phyrygia around 511 B.C.
However, this does not seem to have had a major impact on Paeonian numbers.
Before being conquered by King Antigonus II of Macedonia in the third century B.C., the territory of the present Republic of Macedo¬nia was occupied by a Paeonian kingdom centered around Bylazora (Veles) and nearby Stobi.
There was a major depopulation of Paeonia in 182 B.C. when Philip V of Macedon deported a large mass of the original population and filled the area with Thracians and other barbarians."19

Some modern historians with Illyrian sympathies have taken the view that the Slavs who captured most of Macedonia from the East Romans in the sixth and seventh centuries were Paeonians returning to their ancestral homelands.20

Macedonia and Greece: the struggle to define a new Balkan nation By John Shea

Some more on Arnold Toynbee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_J._Toynbee