Greek Dark Ages

The Greek Dark Ages, Homeric Age (named for the fabled poet, Homer) or Geometric period (so called after the characteristic Geometric art of the time),[1] is the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization around 1100 BC to the first signs of the Greek poleis (city states) in the 9th century BC.

The archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned. At about the same time, the Hittite civilization suffered serious disruption and cities from Troy to Gaza were destroyed and in Egypt the New Kingdom fell into disarray that led to the Third Intermediate Period.

Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece, the Linear B writing of the Greek language used by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceased. The decoration on Greek pottery after about 1100 BC lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles (1000–700 BC).

It was previously thought that all contact was lost between mainland Hellenes and foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth, but artifacts from excavations at Lefkandi on the Lelantine Plain in Euboea show that significant cultural and trade links with the east, particularly the Levant coast, developed from c. 900 BC onwards. Additionally, evidence has emerged of the new presence of Hellenes in sub-Mycenaean Cyprus and on the Syrian coast at Al-Mina.

Greek Dark Ages
PeriodAncient Greece
Datesc. 1100 – c. 800 BC
Preceded byMycenaean Greece
Followed byArchaic Greece

Fall of Mycenaeans

The Mycenaean civilization started to collapse from 1200 BC. Archaeology suggests that, around 1100 BC, the palace centres and outlying settlements of the Mycenaeans' highly organized culture began to be abandoned or destroyed, and by 1050 BC, the recognizable features of Mycenaean culture had disappeared, and the population had decreased significantly.[2] Many explanations attribute the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the Bronze Age collapse to climatic or environmental catastrophe, combined with an invasion by Dorians or by the Sea Peoples, or to the widespread availability of edged weapons of iron, but no single explanation fits the available archaeological evidence.

Mediterranean warfare and Sea Peoples

A map of the Bronze Age collapse

Around this time large-scale revolts took place in several parts of the eastern Mediterranean, and attempts to overthrow existing kingdoms were made as a result of economic and political instability by surrounding people, who were already plagued with famine and hardship. Part of the Hittite kingdom was invaded and conquered by the so-called Sea Peoples, whose origins, perhaps from different parts of the Mediterranean such as the Black Sea, the Aegean and Anatolian regions, remain obscured. The 13th- and 12th-century inscriptions and carvings at Karnak and Luxor are the only sources for "Sea Peoples", a term invented by the Egyptians themselves and recorded in boastful accounts of Egyptian military successes.[3] For these so-called "Sea Peoples", there is little more evidence than these inscriptions.

The foreign countries... made a conspiracy in their islands. All at once the lands were on the move, scattered in war. No country could stand before their arms…. Their league was Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen and Weshesh.[4]

A similar assemblage of peoples may have attempted to invade Egypt twice, once during the reign of Merneptah, about 1208 BC, and again during the reign of Ramesses III, about 1178 BC.


3141 - Athens - Stoà of Attalus Museum - Model granaries - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 9 2009
Geometric-style box in the shape of a barn. On display in the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, housed in the Stoa of Attalus. From early geometric cremation burial of a pregnant wealthy woman, 850 BC.

With the collapse of the palatial centres, no more monumental stone buildings were built and the practice of wall painting may have ceased; writing in the Linear B script ceased, vital trade links were lost, and towns and villages were abandoned. Writing in the Linear B script ceased particularly because the redistributive economy had crashed, and there was no longer a need to keep records in Linear B script.[5] The population of Greece was reduced,[6] and the world of organized state armies, kings, officials, and redistributive systems disappeared. Most of the information about the period comes from burial sites and the grave goods contained within them.

The fragmented, localized and autonomous cultures of reduced complexity are noted for such diversity of their material cultures in pottery styles (conservative in Athens, eclectic at Knossos), burial practices and settlement structures. The pottery style, Protogeometric style signaled the loss of previous designs that were more complex. These newer designs were simpler, including only lines and curves, signaling a simplified society. Generalizations about the "Dark Age Society" are generally considered false, because the various cultures throughout Greece cannot be grouped into a large "Dark Age Society" category.[7] Tholos tombs are found in early Iron Age Thessaly and in Crete but not in general elsewhere, and cremation is the dominant rite in Attica but nearby in the Argolid, it was inhumation.[8] Some former sites of Mycenaean palaces, such as Argos or Knossos, continued to be occupied; the fact that other sites experienced an expansive "boom time" of a generation or two before they were abandoned has been associated by James Whitley with the "big-man social organization", which is based on personal charisma and is inherently unstable: he interprets Lefkandi in this light.[9]

Some regions in Greece, such as Attica, Euboea and central Crete, recovered economically from these events faster than others, but life for the poorest Greeks would have remained relatively unchanged as it had done for centuries. There was still farming, weaving, metalworking and pottery but at a lower level of output and for local use in local styles. Some technical innovations were introduced around 1050 BC with the start of the Protogeometric style (1050–900 BC), such as the superior pottery technology that included a faster potter's wheel for superior vase shapes and the use of a compass to draw perfect circles and semicircles for decoration. Better glazes were achieved by higher temperature firing of clay. However, the overall trend was toward simpler, less intricate pieces and fewer resources being devoted to the creation of beautiful art.

The smelting of iron was learned from Cyprus and the Levant and was exploited and improved upon by using local deposits of iron ore previously ignored by the Mycenaeans: edged weapons were now within reach of less elite warriors. Though the universal use of iron was one shared feature among Dark Age settlements,[10] it is still uncertain when the forged iron weapons and armour achieved superior strength to those that had been previously cast and hammered from bronze. From 1050, many small local iron industries appeared, and by 900, almost all weapons in grave goods were made of iron.

The distribution of the Ionic Greek dialect in historic times indicates early movement from the mainland of Greece to the Anatolian coast to such sites as Miletus, Ephesus, and Colophon, perhaps as early as 1000, but the contemporaneous evidence is scant. In Cyprus, some archaeological sites begin to show identifiably Greek ceramics,[11] a colony of Euboean Greeks was established at Al Mina on the Syrian coast, and a reviving Aegean Greek network of exchange can be detected from 10th-century Attic Protogeometric pottery found in Crete and at Samos, off the coast of Asia Minor.[12]

Post-Mycenaean Cyprus

Early Geometric Jewelry from the Aeropagus of Athens. Ancient Agora Museum of Athens
Finds from an early geometric Cremation Burial of a pregnant wealthy woman, from the N.W. of the Areopagus, about 850 BC, Ancient Agora Museum (Athens); exhibit 14-16: broad gold finger rings; exhibit 17-19: gold finger rings; 20: pair of gold earrings with trapezoid endings

Cyprus was inhabited by a mix of "Pelasgians" and Phoenicians, joined during this period by the first Greek settlements. Potters in Cyprus initiated the most elegant new pottery style of the 10th and 9th centuries, the "Cypro-Phoenician" "black on red" style[13] of small flasks and jugs that held precious contents, probably scented oil. Together with distinctively Greek Euboean ceramic wares, it was widely exported and is found in Levantine sites, including Tyre and far inland in the late 11th and 10th centuries. Cypriot metalwork was exchanged in Crete.


It is likely that Greece during this period was divided into independent regions organized by kinship groups and the oikoi or households, the origins of the later poleis. Excavations of Dark Age communities such as Nichoria in the Peloponnese have shown how a Bronze Age town was abandoned in 1150 BC but then reemerged as a small village cluster by 1075 BC. At this time there were only around forty families living there with plenty of good farming land and grazing for cattle. The remains of a 10th century building, including a megaron, on the top of the ridge have led to speculation that this was the chieftain's house. This was a larger structure than those surrounding it but it was still made from the same materials (mud brick and thatched roof). It was perhaps also a place of religious significance and of communal storage of food. High status individuals did in fact exist in the Dark Age, but their standard of living was not significantly higher than others of their village.[14] Most Greeks did not live in isolated farmsteads but in small settlements. It is likely that, as at the dawn of the historical period two or three hundred years later, the main economic resource for each family was the ancestral plot of land of the oikos, the kleros or allotment; without this a man could not marry.[15]

Lefkandi burial

Protogeometric building
The Protogeometric building and the cemetery at Toumba Lefkandi

Lefkandi on the island of Euboea was a prosperous settlement in the Late Bronze Age,[16] possibly to be identified with old Eretria.[17] It recovered quickly from the collapse of Mycenaean culture, and in 1981 excavators of a burial ground found the largest 10th-century building yet known from Greece.[18] Sometimes called "the heroon", this long narrow building, 50 metres by 10 metres, or about 150 feet by 30 feet, contained two burial shafts. In one were placed four horses and the other contained a cremated male buried with his iron weapons and an inhumed woman, heavily adorned with gold jewellery.[19] The man's bones were placed in a bronze jar from Cyprus, with hunting scenes on the cast rim. The woman was clad with gold coils in her hair, rings, gold breast plates, an heirloom necklace (an elaborate Cypriot or Near Eastern necklace made some 200–300 years before her burial) and an ivory-handled dagger at her head. The horses appeared to have been sacrificed, some appearing to have iron bits in their mouths. No evidence survives to show whether the building was erected to house the burial, or whether the "hero" or local chieftain in the grave was cremated and then buried in his grand house; whichever is true, the house was soon demolished and the debris used to form a roughly circular mound over the wall stumps.

Within the next few years and down to about 820 BC, rich members of the community were cremated and buried close to the eastern end of the building, in much the same way as Christians might seek to be buried close to a saint's grave; the presence of imported objects, notable throughout more than eighty further burials, contrast with other nearby cemeteries at Lefkandi and attest to a lasting elite tradition.


AGM Ancient Greek Pair of Terracotta Boots
Ancient Greek pair of terracotta boots. Early geometric period cremation burial of a woman, 900 BC. Ancient Agora Museum in Athens.

The archaeological record of many sites demonstrates that the economic recovery of Greece was well advanced by the beginning of the 8th century BC. Both cemeteries such as the Kerameikos in Athens or Lefkandi and sanctuaries such as Olympia, recently founded Delphi or the Heraion of Samos, first of the colossal free-standing temples, are richly provided with offerings, including items from the Near East, from Egypt and from Italy made of exotic materials such as amber or ivory. Also, exports of Greek pottery demonstrate contact with the Levant coast at such sites as Al Mina and with the region of the Villanovan culture to the north of Rome. The decoration of pottery becomes more and more elaborate and includes figured scenes that parallel the stories of Homeric Epic. Iron tools and weapons become better in quality, while renewed Mediterranean trade must have brought new supplies of copper and tin to make a wide range of elaborate bronze objects, such as tripod stands like those offered as prizes in the funeral games celebrated by Achilles for Patroclus.[20] Other coastal regions of Greece besides Euboea were once again full participants in the commercial and cultural exchanges of the eastern and central Mediterranean, while communities developed which were governed by an elite group of aristocrats rather than by the single basileus or chieftain of earlier periods.[21]

New writing system

By the mid- to late-8th century BC, a new alphabet system was adopted from the Phoenicians by a Greek with first-hand experience of it. The Greeks adapted the abjad used to write Phoenician, notably introducing characters for vowel sounds and thereby creating the first truly alphabetic writing system. The new alphabet quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean and was used to write not only the Greek language, but also Phrygian and other languages in the eastern Mediterranean. As Greece sent out colonies west towards Sicily and Italy (Pithekoussae, Cumae), the influence of their new alphabet extended further. The ceramic Euboean artifact inscribed with a few lines written in the Greek alphabet referring to "Nestor's cup", discovered in a grave at Pithekoussae (Ischia) dates from c. 730 BC; it seems to be the oldest written reference to the Iliad. The Etruscans benefited from the innovation: Old Italic variants spread throughout Italy from the 8th century. Other variants of the alphabet appear on the Lemnos Stele and in the alphabets of Asia Minor. The previous Linear scripts were not completely abandoned: the Cypriot syllabary, descended from Linear A, remained in use on Cyprus in Arcadocypriot Greek and Eteocypriot inscriptions until the Hellenistic era.

Continuity thesis

Some scholars have argued against the concept of a Greek Dark Age, on grounds that the former lack of archaeological evidence in a period that was mute in its lack of inscriptions (thus "dark") has been shown to be an accident of discovery rather than a fact of history.[22]

See also


  1. ^ "The History of Greece". Retrieved 2016-01-04.
  2. ^ "Greek Dark Age". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  3. ^ Sandars (1978).
  4. ^ Edgerton and Wilson (1936), pl 46, p. 53; and J. Wilson, "Egyptian Historical Texts" in Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3rd ed., 1969).
  5. ^ The Early Greek Dark Age and Revival in the Near East. Retrieved 2016-12-4
  6. ^ Snodgrass 1971:360-68.
  7. ^ "The most striking feature of the Dark Ages is its regionalism, its material diversity" (James Whitley, "Social Diversity in Dark Age Greece", The Annual of the British School at Athens 86 [1991:341–365]) p. 342, 344ff.
  8. ^ Snodgrass 1971:140–212.
  9. ^ Whitley 1991.
  10. ^ Whitley 1991:343, notes regional differences in iron-working in A.N. Snodgrass, The Dark Age of Greece (1971:213–95), and I.M. Morris, "Circulation, deposition and the formation of the Greek Iron Age," Man, n.s. 23(1989:502–19)
  11. ^ V. Karageorghis, Early Cyprus, 2002.
  12. ^ R.W.V. Catling, "Exports of Attic protogeometric pottery and their identification by non-analytical means", Annual of the British School at Athens 93 (1998:365-78), noted in Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2008:48; Fox provides the cultural background to his study of Euboean cultural contacts in the Mediterranean in the 8th century.
  13. ^ N. Schreiber, The Cypro-Phoenician Pottery of the iron Age, 2003
  14. ^ Snodgrass (1971).
  15. ^ Hurwitt (1985).
  16. ^ "Excavations at Lefkandi: Publications". Retrieved 2016-01-04.
  17. ^ The candidates and their opponents are noted in Fox 2008:51 note 23.
  18. ^ M. R. Popham, P. G. Calligas, and L. H. Sackett, (eds.), Lefkandi II: the Protogeometric Building at Toumba, Part 2. The Excavation, Architecture and Finds, BSA Suppl. vol. 23, Oxford 1993.
  19. ^ Edward Bispham, Thomas Harrisom, Brian A. Sparkes, Ancient Greece and Rome, page 89, The Edinburgh Companion, Ed 2006.
  20. ^ Homer, Iliad XXIII
  21. ^ J.N. Coldstream, Geometric Greece: 900–700 BC, 1979.
  22. ^ O.T.P.K. Dickinson: The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age: continuity and change between the twelfth and eighth centuries B.C. (2006)


  • Chew, Sing C., World Ecological Degradation: Accumulation, Urbanization and Deforestation 3000 BC ‒ AD 2000, 2001, ISBN 0-7591-0031-4 Chapter 3, The second-millennium Bronze Age: Crete and Mycenaean Greece 1700 BC – 1200 BC.
  • Desborough, V.R.d'A. (1972). The Greek Dark Ages.
  • Faucounau, Jean, Les Peuples de la Mer et leur histoire, Paris : L'Harmattan, 2003.
  • Hurwitt, Jeffrey M., The Art and Culture of Early Greece 1100–480 BC, Cornell University Press, 1985, Chapters 1–3.
  • Langdon, Susan, Art and Identity in Dark Age Greece, 1100–700 BC, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Latacz, J. '"Between Troy and Homer : The so-called Dark Ages in Greece", in: Storia, Poesia e Pensiero nel Mondo antico. Studi in Onore di M. Gigante, Rome, 1994.
  • Rohl, David "The Lords Of Avaris", Arrow Books, 2008
  • Snodgrass, Anthony M. (c. 2000). The dark age of Greece : an archaeological survey of the eleventh to the eighth centuries BC. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93635-7.
  • Sandars, N.K. (c. 1978). The Sea Peoples: Warriors of the ancient Mediterranean 1250–1150 BC. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-02085-X.
  • Whitley, James, Style and Society in Dark Age Greece: The Changing Face of a Pre-literate Society, 1100–700 BC, Cambridge University Press, 2003, Series : New Studies in Archaeology.
10th century BC

The 10th century BC started the first day of 1000 BC and ended the last day of 901 BC. This period followed the Late Bronze Age collapse in the Near East, and the century saw the Early Iron Age take hold there. The Greek Dark Ages which had come about in 1200 BC continued. The Neo-Assyrian Empire is established towards the end of the 10th century BC. In the Iron Age in India, the Vedic period is ongoing. In China, the Zhou dynasty is in power. Bronze Age Europe continued with Urnfield culture. Japan was inhabited by an evolving hunter-gatherer society during the Jōmon period.

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece (Greek: Ἑλλάς, romanized: Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (c. AD 600). Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe. For this reason, Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered the cradle of Western civilization.Classical Greek culture gave great importance to knowledge. Science and religion were not separate and getting closer to the truth meant getting closer to the gods. In this context, they understood the importance of mathematics as an instrument for obtaining more reliable ("divine") knowledge. Greek culture, in a few centuries and with a limited population, managed to explore and make progress in many fields of science, mathematics, philosophy and knowledge in general.

Archaic Greece

Archaic Greece was the period in Greek history lasting from the eighth century BC to the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC, following the Greek Dark Ages and succeeded by the Classical period. The period began with a massive increase in the Greek population and a series of significant changes which rendered the Greek world at the end of the eighth century entirely unrecognisable compared to its beginning.

According to Anthony Snodgrass, the Archaic period in ancient Greece was bounded by two revolutions in the Greek world. It began with a "structural revolution" which "drew the political map of the Greek world" and established the poleis, the distinctively Greek city-states, and ended with the intellectual revolution of the Classical period.The Archaic period saw developments in Greek politics, economics, international relations, warfare, and culture. It laid the groundwork for the Classical period, both politically and culturally. It was in the Archaic period that the Greek alphabet developed, that the earliest surviving Greek literature was composed, that monumental sculpture and red-figure pottery began in Greece, and that the hoplite became the core of Greek armies. In Athens, the earliest institutions of the democracy were implemented under Solon, and the reforms of Cleisthenes at the end of the Archaic period brought in Athenian democracy as it was during the Classical period. In Sparta, many of the institutions credited to the reforms of Lycurgus were introduced during the period, the region of Messenia was brought under Spartan control, helotage was introduced, and the Peloponnesian League was founded, making Sparta a dominant power in Greece.


In ancient Greece, a genos (Greek: γένος, "race, stock, kin", plural γένη genē) was a social group claiming common descent, referred to by a single name (see also Sanskrit "Gana"). Most gene seem to have been composed of noble families—Herodotus uses the term to denote noble families—and much of early Greek politics seems to have involved struggles between gene. Gene are best attested in Athens, where writers from Herodotus to Aristotle dealt with them.

Early modern historians postulated that gene had been the basic organizational group of the Dorian and Ionian tribes that settled Greece during the Greek Dark Ages, but more recent scholarship has reached the conclusion that gene arose later as certain families staked a claim to noble lineage. In time, some, but not necessarily all, gene came to be associated with hereditary priestly functions.

Geometric art

Geometric art is a phase of Greek art, characterized largely by geometric motifs in vase painting, that flourished towards the end of the Greek Dark Ages, circa 900 BC – 700 BC. Its center was in Athens, and from there the style spread among the trading cities of the Aegean. The Greek Dark Ages are also called the Geometric period in reference to this characteristic pottery style, although the historical period is much longer than the art-historical period, being circa 1100 – 800 BC. The vases had various uses or purposes within Greek society, including, but not limited to, funerary vases and symposium vases.

Greco-Roman mysteries

Mystery religions, sacred mysteries or simply mysteries were religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiates (mystai). The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the ritual practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. The most famous mysteries of Greco-Roman antiquity were the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were of considerable antiquity and predated the Greek Dark Ages. The mystery schools flourished in Late Antiquity; Julian the Apostate in the mid 4th century is known to have been initiated into three distinct mystery schools—most notably the mithraists. Due to the secret nature of the school, and because the mystery religions of Late Antiquity were persecuted by the Christian Roman Empire from the 4th century, the details of these religious practices are derived from descriptions, imagery and cross-cultural studies. "Because of this element of secrecy, we are ill-informed as to the beliefs and practices of the various mystery faiths. We know that they had a general likeness to one another". Much information on the Mysteries come from Marcus Terentius Varro.

Justin Martyr in the 2nd century explicitly noted and identified them as "demonic imitations" of the true faith, and that "the devils, in imitation of what was said by Moses, asserted that Proserpine was the daughter of Jupiter, and instigated the people to set up an image of her under the name of Kore" (First Apology). Through the 1st to 4th century, Christianity stood in direct competition for adherents with the mystery schools, insofar as the "mystery schools too were an intrinsic element of the non-Jewish horizon of the reception of the Christian message". Beginning in the third century, and especially after Constantine became emperor, components of mystery religions began to be incorporated into mainstream Christian thinking, such as is reflected by the disciplina arcani.


Karfi (also Karphi, Greek: Καρφί) is an archaeological site high up in the Dikti Mountains in eastern Crete, Greece. The ancient name of the site is unknown; "Karfi" ("the nail") is a local toponym for the prominent knob of limestone that marks the peak of the site, especially when viewed from the north. Located approximately 1100 meters above sea level, and overlooking the northern entrance to the Lasithi Plateau, the dramatic situation of Karfi is somewhat akin to that of the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru. While there is some evidence that the site was used during the Middle Minoan period as a peak sanctuary, Karfi is best known as a large and extensively excavated town of the Late Minoan IIIC period (around 1200–1000 BCE) at the beginning of the Greek "Dark Ages."

List of years in Greece

This is a list of years in Greece.


Miletus (; Ancient Greek: Μίλητος, romanized: Milētos; Hittite transcription Millawanda or Milawata (exonyms); Latin: Miletus; Turkish: Milet) was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia, near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria. Its ruins are located near the modern village of Balat in Aydın Province, Turkey. Before the Persian invasion in the middle of the 6th century BC, Miletus was considered the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities.Evidence of first settlement at the site has been made inaccessible by the rise of sea level and deposition of sediments from the Maeander. The first available evidence is of the Neolithic.

In the early and middle Bronze age the settlement came under Minoan influence. Legend has it that an influx of Cretans occurred displacing the indigenous Leleges. The site was renamed Miletus after a place in Crete.

The Late Bronze Age, 13th century BC, saw the arrival of Luwian language speakers from south central Anatolia calling themselves the Carians. Later in that century other Greeks arrived. The city at that time rebelled against the Hittite Empire. After the fall of that empire the city was destroyed in the 12th century BC and starting about 1000 BC was resettled extensively by the Ionian Greeks. Legend offers an Ionian foundation event sponsored by a founder named Neleus from the Peloponnesus.

The Greek Dark Ages were a time of Ionian settlement and consolidation in an alliance called the Ionian League. The Archaic Period of Greece began with a sudden and brilliant flash of art and philosophy on the coast of Anatolia. In the 6th century BC, Miletus was the site of origin of the Greek philosophical (and scientific) tradition, when Thales, followed by Anaximander and Anaximenes (known collectively, to modern scholars, as the Milesian School) began to speculate about the material constitution of the world, and to propose speculative naturalistic (as opposed to traditional, supernatural) explanations for various natural phenomena.

Miletus is the birthplace of the Hagia Sophia's architect (and inventor of the flying buttress) Isidore of Miletus and Thales, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher (and one of the Seven Sages of Greece) in c. 624 BC.

Mycenaean Greek

Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in Mycenaean Greece (16th to 12th centuries BC), before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece. The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century. Most inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos, in central Crete, as well as in Pylos, in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania, in Western Crete. The language is named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece.

The tablets long remained undeciphered, and many languages were suggested for them, until Michael Ventris deciphered the script in 1952.

The texts on the tablets are mostly lists and inventories. No prose narrative survives, much less myth or poetry. Still, much may be glimpsed from these records about the people who produced them and about Mycenaean Greece, the period before the so-called Greek Dark Ages.


In Greek mythology the Perseides, "those born of Perseus" and Andromeda, are the members of the House of Perseus, descended, according to Valerius Flaccus through Perse and Perses.After the Greek Dark Ages, tradition recalled that Perseus and his descendants the Perseides had ruled Tiryns in Mycenaean times, while the allied branch descended from Perseus' great-uncle Proetus ruled in Argos.Perseus and Andromeda had seven sons: Perses, Alcaeus, Heleus, Mestor, Sthenelus, Electryon, and Cynurus, and two daughters, Gorgophone, and Autochthe. Perses was left in Aethiopia and was believed to have become an ancestor of the Persians. The other descendants ruled Mycenae from Electryon down to Eurystheus, after whom Atreus got the kingdom. The most renowned of the Perseides was Greece's greatest hero, Heracles son of Zeus and Alcmene, daughter of Electryon.


In ancient Greece, a phratry (phratria, Greek: φ(ρ)ατρία, "brotherhood", "kinfolk", derived from φρατήρ meaning "brother") was a social division of the Greek tribe (phyle). The nature of these phratries is, in the words of one historian, "the darkest problem among the [Greek] social institutions." Little is known about the role they played in Greek social life, but they existed from the Greek Dark Ages until the 2nd century BC; Homer refers to them several times, in passages that appear to describe the social environment of his times.In Athens, enrollment in a phratry seems to have been the basic requirement for citizenship in the state before the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508 BC. From their peak of prominence in the Dark Ages, when they appear to have been a substantial force in Greek social life, phratries gradually declined in significance throughout the classical period as other groups (such as political parties) gained influence at their cost.

Phratries contained smaller kin groups called gene; these appear to have arisen later than phratries, and it appears that not all members of phratries belonged to a genos; membership in these smaller groups may have been limited to elites. On an even smaller level, the basic kinship group of ancient Greek societies was the oikos (household).

Protogeometric style

The Protogeometric style (or "Proto-Geometric") is a style of Ancient Greek pottery led by Athens produced between roughly 1050 and 900 BC, the period of the Greek Dark Ages and the beginning of the Archaic period. After the collapse of the Mycenaean-Minoan Palace culture and the ensuing Greek Dark Ages, the Protogeometric style emerged around the mid 11th century BCE as the first expression of a reviving civilization. Following on from the development of a faster potter's wheel, vases of this period are markedly more technically accomplished than earlier Dark Age examples. The decoration of these pots is restricted to purely abstract elements and very often includes broad horizontal bands about the neck and belly and concentric circles applied with compass and multiple brush. Many other simple motifs can be found, but unlike many pieces in the following Geometric style, typically much of the surface is left plain.Like many pieces, the example illustrated includes a colour change in the main band, arising from a firing fault. Both the red and black colour use the same clay, differently levigated and fired. As the Greeks learnt to control this variation, the path to their distinctive three-phase firing technique opened.

Some of the innovations included some new Mycenean influenced shapes, such as the belly-handled amphora, the neck handled amphora, the krater, and the lekythos. Attic artists redesigned these vessels using the fast wheel to increase the height and therefore the area available for decoration.

From Athens the style spread to several other centres.

Regions of ancient Greece

The regions of ancient Greece were areas identified by the ancient Greeks as geographical sub-divisions of the Hellenic world. These regions are described in the works of ancient historians and geographers, and in the legends and myths of the ancient Greeks.

Conceptually, there is no clear theme to the structure of these regions. Some, particularly in the Peloponnese, can be seen primarily as distinct geo-physical units, defined by physical boundaries such as mountain ranges and rivers. These regions retained their identity, even when the identity of the people living there changed during the Greek Dark Ages (or at least, was conceived by the Greeks to have changed). Conversely, the division of central Greece between Boeotia, Phocis, Doris and the three parts of Locris, cannot be understood as a logical division by physical boundaries, and instead seems to follow ancient tribal divisions. Nevertheless, these regions also survived the upheaval of the Greek Dark Ages, showing that they had acquired less political connotations. Outside the Peloponnese and central Greece, geographical divisions and identities did change over time suggesting a closer connection with tribal identity. Over time however, all the regions also acquired geo-political meanings, and political bodies uniting the cities of a region (such as the Arcadian League) became common in the Classical period.

These traditional sub-divisions of Greece form the basis for the modern system of regional units of Greece. However, there are important differences, with many of the smaller ancient regions not represented in the current system.

Robin Lane Fox

Robin James Lane Fox, FRSL (born 5 October 1946) is an English classicist, ancient historian and gardening writer known for his works on Alexander the Great. Lane Fox is an Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford and Reader in Ancient History, University of Oxford. Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at New College from 1977 to 2014, he serves as Garden Master and as Extraordinary Lecturer in Ancient History for both New and Exeter Colleges. He has also taught Greek and Latin literature and early Islamic history.His major publications, for which he has won literary prizes including the James Tait Black Award, the Duff Cooper Prize, the Heinemann Award and the Runciman Award, include studies of Alexander the Great and Ancient Macedon, Late Antiquity, Christianity and Paganism, the Bible and history, and the Greek Dark Ages. His most recent book in 2015 concerns the patristic author Augustine of Hippo.


Themis (; Ancient Greek: Θέμις) is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is described as "[the Lady] of good counsel", and is the personification of divine order, fairness, law, natural law, and custom. Her symbols are the Scales of Justice, tools used to remain balanced and pragmatic. Themis means "divine law" rather than human ordinance, literally "that which is put in place", from the Greek verb títhēmi (τίθημι), meaning "to put".

To the ancient Greeks she was originally the organizer of the "communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies". Moses Finley remarked of themis, as the word was used by Homer in the 8th century BCE, to evoke the social order of the 10th- and 9th-century Greek Dark Ages:

Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, for example) with little of the idea of right.

Finley adds, "There was themis—custom, tradition, folk-ways, mores, whatever we may call it, the enormous power of 'it is (or is not) done'. The world of Odysseus had a highly developed sense of what was fitting and proper."


Thessaly (Greek: Θεσσαλία, Thessalía; ancient Thessalian: Πετθαλία, Petthalía) is a traditional geographic and modern administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia (Greek: Αἰολία, Aíolía), and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey.

Thessaly became part of the modern Greek state in 1881, after four and a half centuries of Ottoman rule. Since 1987 it has formed one of the country's 13 regions and is further (since the Kallikratis reform of 2010) sub-divided into 5 regional units and 25 municipalities. The capital of the region is Larissa. Thessaly lies in northern Greece and borders the regions of Macedonia on the north, Epirus on the west, Central Greece on the south and the Aegean Sea on the east. The Thessaly region also includes the Sporades islands.

Third Intermediate Period of Egypt

The Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt began with the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC, ending the New Kingdom, and was eventually followed by the Late Period. Various points are offered as the beginning for the latter era, though it is most often regarded as dating from the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian Kushite rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty by the Assyrians under King Assurbanipal.

The period was one of decline and political instability, coinciding with the Late Bronze Age collapse of civilizations in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean (including the Greek Dark Ages). It was marked by division of the state for much of the period and conquest and rule by foreigners.

Troy VII

Troy VII, in the mound at Hisarlik, is an archaeological layer of Troy that chronologically spans from c. 1300 to c. 950 BC. It coincides with the collapse of the Bronze Age. It was a walled city with fortified towers reaching a height of 9 metres (30 ft); the foundations of one of its towers measured 18 metres by 18 metres (59 ft). Manfred Korfmann, who excavated the site in the 1980s, estimated the area of Troy VII at 200,000 square metres (50 acres) or more and put its population at five to ten thousand inhabitants, which makes it "by the standards of its day a large and important city".The city was built following the destruction of Troy VIh, probably by an earthquake c. 1300 BC. A number of layers are distinguished:

Troy VIIa: ca. 13th century BC

Troy VIIb1: 12th century BC

Troy VIIb2: 11th century BC

Troy VIIb3: until c. 950 BCTroy VII was contemporary with the late period of Mycenaean culture and the Greek Dark Ages, as well as with the late Hittite Empire to Neo-Hittite times.

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