Archaeology. Homeric epics, Iliad and Odyssey (ca. 750 BCE). Refer to Mycenaean times, but cannot be used as a good source for Mycaean period. Actually reflect the values of Homer’s audience; good source for the Late Dark Ages or Early Archaic period.
Ca. 1200 BCE – All of the Eastern Mediterranean, Near East, and Egypt in decline. Greece: Palace complexes abandoned or destroyed. Depopulation (size of towns shrinks; decrease in graves). Formerly active farmland no longer cultivated (pollen analysis; field surveys). Decrease in trade (foreign goods in Greece and Greek goods abroad less common). Decrease in over all wealth (large, rich tombs disappear; graves more “impoverished”). Loss of writing. Greece in a “Dark Age.”
Based on pottery types. 1125-1050 BCE – Submycenaean. 1050-900 BCE – Protogeometric. 900-850 BCE – Early Geometric. 850-750 BCE – Middle Geometric. Two phases of the Dark Age: 1. Early Dark Age (1100- 900 BCE. 2. Late Dark Age (900-750 BCE).
Greece is in a “Dark Age” because of a loss of useful historical evidence. Should not underestimate the degree of continuity between the late Mycenaean Greeks and the Greeks of the Dark Age. Many places maintained continuous habitation (i.e. Athens, Sparta, Lefkandi). Life goes on! Growth in a sense of shared Greek identity.
Widespread depopulation (ca. 340 inhabited sites reduced to ca. 40). Migrant populations emigrating to the coasts of Asia Minor, esp. from Attica (i.e. Miletus, ca. 1050 BCE; Hittite & Egyptian Docs.). Change in burial practices (shift from burial to cremation). Decrease in agriculture and increase in pastoralism. Loss of artistic sophistication (protogeometric pottery). Minimal evidence of social stratification (Grave evidence; buildings). Discovery of iron-working.
Located on Euboea. Significant archaeological site for Dark Age civilization. Occupied since the Early Bronze Age down to ca. 700 BCE. Site indicates an important center uniting Thessaly, Euboea, and Scyros (i.e. traded goods deposited in graves). Evidence of trade contact with Cyprus and Phoenicia. Earliest example of the recovery of “monumental architecture.”
Large 50 x 14 m building. Sloped roof supported by collonades (prefiguring later Greek architecture). Several graves inside: 1. Male warrior (cremated). 2. Richly adorned woman (buried). 3. Four horses (buried). Later demolished and covered with a stone tumulus (i.e. a mound). Residence, Temple, or Tomb? Example of social stratification (i.e. Princely burial; grander than other structures in the area etc.). Suggestion of “head-man” system (if taken with other evidence); The Mycenaean “qa-si-re-u” and the Archaic “basileus.”
Population increase (villages expand, grave evidence). Increase in agriculture (pollen analysis; field surveys). Recovery of long-distance trade (i.e. Al Mina, ca. 800 BCE). Recovery of writing (ca. 800 BCE). Growing artistic sophistication. Colonization The Greek Renaissance.
ΝΕΣΤΟΡΟΣ:...:ΕΥΠΟΤΟΝ:Π ΟΤΕΡΙΟΝ ΗΟΣΔΑΤΟΔΕΠΙΕΣΙ:ΠΟΤΕΡΙ..:ΗΥΤΙΚΑΚΕΝΟΝ ΗΙΜΕΡΟΣΗΑΙΡΕΣΕΙ:ΚΑΛΛΙ ΣΤΕΦΑΝΟ:ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΕΣ I am Nestor’s cup, good to drink from. Whoever drinks this cup empty, straightaway desire for beautiful- crowned Aphrodite will seize him.
Evidence for Greek presence in Italy (or trade with Italy) from at least ca. 750 BCE. Evidence for the recovery of writing from at least 750 BCE. Evidence for the wide circulation of the Trojan Saga (Homeric epics?) since at least 750 BCE.
Archaeology, epigraphy, Homeric epics Iliad and Odyssey = primary sources (note: dating of Homeric epics controversial). Greece not a unified whole; population divided according to: 1. Ethnicity, 2. Local community. Communities separated into: 1. Aristocratic class. 2. Commoners. 3. Slaves; highly patriarchal. The household (oikos) at the center of all social and economic life. Certain continuity between Late Bronze Age and later Archaic and Classical periods.
Believed all Greeks descended from the eponymous Hellen (Greeks called themselves Hellenes; term not used by Homer) Divided into tribes on the basis of dialect. Ionians (Attica, Cyclades, Coastal Asia Minor). Dorians (Peloponnesus, North-Western Greece, Crete, Southern Anatolia.). Aelioans (Boeotia, Thesaly, Northern Anatolia). Arcadian (interior of the Peloponnesus). Ethnicity not the basis of political organization.
“And at the bidding of Zeus he took up stones and threw them over his head, and the stones which Deucalion threw became men, and the stones which Pyrrha threw became women. Hence people were called metaphorically people (laos) from laas, “a stone.” And Deucalion had children by Pyrrha, first Hellen, whose father some say was Zeus, and second Amphictyon, who reigned over Attica after Cranaus; and third a daughter Protogenia, who became the mother of Aethlius by Zeus. [1.7.3] Hellen had Dorus, Xuthus, and Aeolus by a nymph Orseis. Those who were called Greeks he named Hellenes after himself, and divided the country among his sons. Xuthus received Peloponnese and begat Achaeus and Ion by Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus, and from Achaeus and Ion the Achaeans and Ionians derive their names. Dorus received the country over against Peloponnese and called the settlers Dorians after himself. Aeolus reigned over the regions about Thessaly and named the inhabitants Aeolians.” (Trans. J.G. Frazer, 1921). http://www.theoi.com/Text/Apollodorus1.html
…..evidently before the Trojan War no enterprise was undertaken by Hellas as a whole. It seems to me in fact that at the time the whole country did not yet have its name. Before the time of Hellen the son of Deukalion the name did not exist at all; for the most part the various peoples such as the Pelasgians lent their names to their districts. But after Hellen and his sons had come to power in Phthiotis and had been invited as allies into other poleis, this connection led to the various states changing their name to that of Hellenes. It was a long time though before this name superseded all others. The best witness to this is Homer: although he was born long after the Trojan War he never calls the whole Greek army Hellenes; this term he reserves for the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis – who were indeed the original Hellenes – and speaks otherwise in his poems of Danaans, Argives, and Achaians. He does not even use the word barbaroi…..” (Thucydides, 1.3. Crawford & Whitehead, Doc. 1A).
Careful not to generalize; variation between communities. Homer, Iliad and Odyssey our principal source for political and social structures and relations. Dark Age society was: 1.Aristocratic, 2.Militaristic, 3.Hierarchical. Social and political status rests upon: 1.Lineage, 2. Prowess in battle. 3.Wealth Communities ruled by a Basileus (Chief); attested in Linear B texts (qa-si-re-u). Basileus = Warrior, judge, protector of the people. Anyone with sufficient military prowess and wealth a potential Basileus; Highly competitive society. Social and political cohesion a function of the personal relationships established between heads of aristocratic households (oikos). Warrior class rules over a free commoner population (the Laos or Demos). Exchange produce, labor, loyalty etc. for protection, law and order, public benefaction. Slaves. Agathos and Kakos.
“Seven citadels he will give you, filled with people, Cardamyle, Enope, and the grassy slopes of Hire, Pherae the sacrosanct, Anthea deep in meadows, rolling Aepea and Pedasus green with vineyards. All face the sea at the far edge of sandy Pylos and the men who live within them, rich in sheep-flocks, rich in shambling cattle, will honor you like a god with hoards of gifts and beneath your scepter’s sway live out your laws in sleek and shining peace.” (Trans. R. Fagles, 1990)
Thersites: “The ugliest man of all those who had come to Troy, he was bandy-legged and lame in one foot; his shoulders were so rounded that they practically met across the chest; and above them was a pointed head boasting a sparse covering of hair.” (Homer, Iliad 2.188-277. Crawford & Whitehead, Doc. 6). Agamemnon: “Here, come closer, tell me the name of that tremendous fighter. Look, who’s that Achaean there, so stark and grand? Many others afield are much taller, true, but I have never set eyes on one so regal, so majestic….That man must be a king!” (Homer, Iliad 3.201-209. R. Fagles, 1990) Odysseus: “And sighting Odysseus next the old king questioned Helen, ‘Come, dear child, tell me of that one too – now who is he? Shorter than Atreus’ son Agamemnon, clearly, but broader across the shoulders, through the chest. There, you see? His armour’s heaped on the green field but the man keeps ranging the ranks of fighters like a ram – yes, he looks like a thick-fleeced bellwether ram making his way through a big mass of sheep-flocks, shining silver-gray.” (Homer, Iliad 3.231-239, R. Fagles, 1990) Ajax: “Catching sight of a third fighter, Ajax, the old king asker her next, ‘Who’s that other Achaean, so powerful, so well-built? He towers over the Argives, his head, his massive shoulders.” (Homer, Iliad 3.270-272. R. Fagles, 1990)
Aristocratic clans organized into households (oikoi – singular = oikos). Oikos = The house, all out buildings, fields, moveable property, family, serfs, and slaves. Oikos functions so as to: 1.Provide wealth and subsistence to its members. 2.Provide enough wealth to: a. Allow the male head to train for war and b. Provide valuable goods for gift exchange (xenia) and public benefaction (euergetism). Relations between aristocratic oikoi based on marriage and xenia (guest-friendship)
“That was the story he told – and Diomedes, he of the loud battle-cry, was delighted: sticking his spear into the fruitful earth, he spoke warmly to the prince. ‘It is clear that you are my guest-friend, thanks to links established by our forefathers long ago. For once noble Oineus entertained great Bellerophon in his palace for twenty days, and they exchanged fine tokens of their friendship. Oineus gave a belt of bright purple-red, and Bellerophon a gold cup with two handles; I left it in my own house before coming here. Tydeus, I cannot remember, as I was still a baby when he left to join the Achaian force which perished at Thebes. Anyway, now I am your friend and host in the heart of Argos, and you are mine in Lykia, should I ever come to that country. Let us avoid each other’s spears, even in the general throng: there are plenty of the Trojans and their famous allies to be my victims, should the gods give me speed to catch them, and for you there are lots of Achaians to try to overcome. And let us exchange our armor, so that all may see that we are proud to continue the friendship of our forefathers.’ So they spoke, the two of them, and dismounted to clasp hands with one another and pledge their faith….” (Homer, Iliad 4.212- 236. Crawford & Whitehead, Doc. 5B).
Key Pan-Hellenic institutions emerge in the Dark Ages. Pan-Hellenic = “All Greeks.” The Dark Ages see the emergence of the first Pan-Hellenic institutions. The Olympic Games. The Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
First Olympic Games held in 776 BCE. Contests = an offering to the gods. Only Greeks allowed to compete. Held at Olympia every 4 years. Opportunity for aristocratic males to display their arete and so earn time; most important political commodities.
Olympia = remote sanctuary in the North-West Peloponnese Cult sanctuary associated with the city of Elis Facilities were added gradually between 776 BCE and c. 350 BCE when it reached its finished form Not mentioned in Homer – although similar athletic contests are mentioned
“But Achilles held the armies on the spot. He had them sit in a great and growing circle – now for funeral games – and brought from his ships the trophies for the contests: cauldrons and tripods, stallions, mules and cattle with massive heads, women sashed and lovely, and gleaming gray iron. First, for the fastest charioteers he set out glittering prizes….Then Achilles made his way through the crowds of troops and set out prizes next for the bruising boxing match….Quickly Achilles displayed before the troops the prizes set for the third event, the grueling wrestling match….Achilles quickly set out prizes for the footrace….”(Trans. R. Fagles, 1990)
Cult center for the worship of Apollo Pythios (Apollo who slew Python) Evidence for cult activity starting from c. 1000 BCE Evidence of habitation from ca. 860 BCE Seat of an oracle – Eclipsed the oracle of Zeus at Olympia Athletic contests and singing/poetry competition held every 4 years (Pythian Games) Pan-Hellenic oracle – particularly important for colonization Location of the Omphalos (Navel)
“But when they had put from them the desire of food and drink, the Muse moved the minstrel to sing of the glorious deeds of warriors, from that lay the fame whereof had then reached broad heaven,  even the quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles, son of Peleus, how once they strove with furious words at a rich feast of the gods, and Agamemnon, king of men, was glad at heart that the best of the Achaeans were quarrelling; for thus Phoebus Apollo, in giving his response, had told him that it should be,  in sacred Pytho, when he passed over the threshold of stone to enquire of the oracle. For then the beginning of woe was rolling upon Trojans and Danaans through the will of great Zeus.” (A.T. Murray, 1919) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0136%3Abook%3D8%3Acard%3D46
Provide divine sanction for policies (i.e. Colonization; Declaration of war or peace; Major political decisions etc.) Pan-Hellenic Cult (i.e. Expression of Greek unity and cultural identity) Healing/Cleansing/Purification of miasma (i.e. pollution, especially blood guilt)
The Dark Ages do not necessarily constitute a break between the Mycenaean Age and the Archaic Period (ca. 750-480 BCE). Many of the key social, political, and economic features of the Archaic and Classical worlds are a natural evolution of Dark Age/Homeric Society.