Reconstructing the early period of Greek history upon new chronological lines, the reader will get to the bottom of a prolonged and rancorous debate among classical scholars about how various archeological finds should be dated. Based on physical evidence, the majority of classicists and Hellenic scholars were convinced that Schliemann s discoveries at Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns belonged primarily in the eighth century BC. The Egyptologists, however, won out, and the Mycenaean period was placed firmly in the second millennium. The immediate consequence of this was the insertion of a Dark Age into the Greek past: for little or no material remains existed which could fill the gap of many centuries between the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty and the beginning of Greek history in the eighth and seventh centuries.
We shall then proceed to examine how the adoption of Egyptian dating caused problems in every area of Greek history. One of the most pressing of these related to the nature and interpretation of pottery sequences. Along with Mycenaean pottery, the early excavators found large quantities of a type they named Geometric. It was clear right from the beginning that Geometric culture was the direct ancestor of that of the Greeks of the Classical Age, and the sequence from Late Geometric to Archaic art in the seventh century could be easily traced. Yet everywhere, in almost every site of southern Greece, Geometric pottery was found inextricably mixed with Mycenaean. Indeed, on occasion it was found underneath Mycenaean ware.
Eratosthenes and other ancient authors generally agreed that history, properly speaking, started with the foundation of the Olympic Games. Everything before that was mythikon, the age of myths. Yet the Olympiads, we have seen, were established long before the war against Troy and apparently before the great majority of the events normally described as Greek Myth. It is true that events surrounding the Trojan War and the lives of many of the characters who participated in it, have a distinctly mythic quality. Yet we have seen that characters who are undoubtedly historical and belong in the eighth and seventh centuries, such as Midas, have the same mythic qualities. Thus Midas met deities and had a Golden Touch and ass s ears.
The generation which fought at Troy, as well as its immediate predecessors, belonged in the eighth century BC and was undoubtedly historical. Names of individuals known from Greek legend, including Agamemnon himself, even occur on the Boghaz-koi documents, documents we have identified as being the state archives of the Lydian kingdom.
Greek history thus begins with the cosmic event which marked the establishment of the Olympiads, an event which, for a great variety of reasons, we place in the middle of the ninth century, probably within a decade of 850 BC.
Much of Greek myth, in short, is about the natural events of 850 BC, and natural events which preceded them. This being the case, it seems reasonable to assume that the inhabitants of the region at the time were most probably at least in part ancestral Greeks. The culture of these Early Helladic folk was maritime and warlike. They raised great fortifications around many of their settlements settlements which tended to lie along the coast. They were already familiar with tin-bronze, which speaks of trading relations with Atlantic Europe; ...
When considering the source of the military threat against which the Early Hellads raised their huge coastal fortifications, we need to think of Atlantic Europe and Atlantic North Africa, where a mighty seafaring culture, contemporary with Early Bronze Age Greece, is also attested. And this of course brings us into altogether deeper water, in more ways than one.
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