Sarakatsani - History and Cultural Relations

Linguistic, cultural, and historical evidence indicates that the Sarakatsani descend from pre-Classical pastoralists Indigenous to the region in which they are found today. However, this evidence is by no means conclusive. There is a dearth of references to any peoples called Sarakatsani in any chronicles, even up to the eighteenth century. Scholarly interest in the Sarakatsani only arose around the time of the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). Competition for the territory on which they grazed their sheep was played out by larger political interests: the Turks and Greeks have long vied for control over the region, and the Ottomans only ceded the last portion of the territory to Greece in 1913. Throughout these struggles Between the larger political units, the Sarakatsani maintained their identity as Christians and preserved their pastoral lifestyle, although not without a few concessions to the administrative demands of the national units under which they lived. Since the early part of this century, the Sarakatsani have been subject to Greek administration, which has had both positive and negative effects upon their way of life.

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