The name of Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer is not widely known, and I have no wish to promote it from obscurity. Yet some resonance lingers in academic circles. Fallmerayer was the Austrian scholar who in the 1830s published his theory that the demographic composition of Greece underwent substantial ethnic change during the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. On the basis of certain Byzantine chronicles, and his studies of comparative philology, Fallmerayer argued that Slavs and Albanians had effectively overtaken not only the northerly regions of Greece, but also the entire Peloponnese and parts of Attica too. His analysis was stark, and irresistibly quotable: “not the slightest drop of undiluted Hellenic blood flows in the veins of the Christian population of present-day Greece.”

Aside from its racial...


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