lecture 8b: dark ages

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Dark age and rise of 8 th century

Ancient Greece

Dark age

>1100bc – 700bc<

Devastation at fall of Bronze Age reduced the

Mycenaean civilization and its palatial economy

The terminus ad quem for the dark age is the

Archaic period, marked by the rise of the citystate (polis)

Dark age

Some locations continued (e.g. Athens)

Communities on Aegean recover within a couple generations

Technological innovation: ~1050

Pottery (protogeometric period 1050-900)

IRON

Population shifts to the east; Aegean is the

“Greek sea”

Dark age

Iron age reflection on the Bronze: an age of heroes

Basileus: the chieftain of a house or village (cf.

Wanax)

Chieftain’s house (Lefkandi)

Protogeometric period

(1150-900) gives way to …

Geometric period

(900-700)

Dark age

Dark age

Poetry

Oral: Homer and the cycles

Instrumental accompaniment

16000 lines of Iliad; 12000 lines of Odyssey

Details of poetics: formulaic orality

Advent of writing fossilizes formulae

Plots and major themes

What the epics can tell us about Bronze Age Greece

What the epics can tell us about Dark Age Greece

Dark age

“Homeric” society

Demos: space and people

Basileus

Farm and village

Demos and polis (=main town of demos)

Oikos (household): smallest unit of Dark Age society

Men and women and oikos

Marriage and paternal anxieties

Labor

Thetes

Dark age

“Homeric” society

Governmental institutions

Boule (council that met in megaron)

Ecclesia (assembly that met in agora)

Basileus’ role confirmed by Zeus

Foreign relations

Xenia

Social values

Agathos vs. Kakos

Time

Aristos (cf. Hesiod’s Eris – Strife)

Dark age

“Homeric” society

Women

Strong women in Homeric epic

Nevertheless dependent on males

Contributed to public opinion, but no political rights

Enjoy protection as members of oikos

Gods and mortals

Pantheon set by Homer and Hesiod

Theogony; Naturism; Anthropomorphism

Divine attributes; Belief; Sin and punishment; afterlife

Cultus

Dark age

End of the Dark age: 8 th century

A Greek “renaissance”:

Rise of landowning aristocracy

Colonization

Alphabet and writing

Art and architecture

Panhellenism

Dark age

End of the Dark age: 8 th century

Rise of landowning aristocracy

Population growth affects relative size of kleros

Another option is colonization

Colonization

Accompanied by growth of trade abroad

Alphabet and writing

Contact with the east: the (Phoenician) phonetic alphabet

Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω

α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω

End of the Dark age: 8 th century

Art and architecture

Late geometric period (750-700)

Images burst onto the scene

Orientalizing elements

Monumental temples

Dark age

Dark age

Panhellenism

Religious sanctuaries = festivals = athletics

Zeus & Hera at Olympia

Apollo & Artemis at Delos

Zeus at Dodona

Apollo at Delphi

776: first Olympic Games

Greek sense of identity: heritage, language, religion

Cult heroes

Dark age

Panhellenic Games

Olympic: near Elis (Zeus: olive)

Pythian: near Delphi (Apollo: laurel)

Nemean: near Nemea (Zeus: celery)

Isthmian: near Corinth (Poseidon: pine)

Events

-- Glory for the competitor; glory for the polis

Dark age

Legacy of the Dark age

A literature that starts a tradition

A population that grows a polis

A world around the Aegean that is common in language and religion

A civilization about to grow into the Archaic Period

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