The Epirus region is today divided in two – liberated Epirus in Greece and Northern Epirus that falls into the borders of modern Albania and still has a 125,000-strong Greek minority in the region.
For thousands of years Greeks have lived in Epirus and built many ancient cities, some which are inhabited to this day, and some which have become ancient ruins.
However, historical revisionism is strong in Albania as Albanians attempt to link themselves to the ancient Illyrians with quasi-theories that are mostly rejected by the academic and historical world.
As part of this historical revisionism, Albanian historians attempt to claim that many of the Ancient Greek settlements in Northern Epirus, were in fact Illyrian, and therefore Albanian.
This is despite the fact that it is well known many of these settlements were Greek and no strong evidence that today’s Albanians are linked to the ancient Illyrians.
Vittorio Sgarbi, an Italian Member of the Chamber of Deputies (Parliament), cultural commentator and historian with over 70 publications, is the latest of many well-renowned personalities to confirm the Hellenism of some of these ancient ruins in Northern Epirus.
“In the past when I have come to Albania, I have seen amazing places. But I have never been to Byllis (Βύλλις), a Greek city with a big theatre from which we can see Avlonas (Αυλώνας, Albanian: Vlorë),” he was filmed saying just days ago.
Byllis was an ancient Greek city located in the region of ancient Illyria. The remains of Byllis are situated northeast of Vlore, 25 kilometres from the sea.
Byllis being a Greek-speaking city on the borders of Illyria and Epirus, had its own stadium and theatre during the Hellenistic era.
The city had its own coinage which was different from that of the tribe of Bylliones.
Many historians believe that Byllis is the northernmost non-colonial Greek city in the region.
Despite international consensus that Byllis was a Greek city, some quasi-Albanian historians insist that the city was built and inhabited by the ancient Illyrians despite the records, spoken language, institutions, officials, city-planning and fortifications all being in Greek.