Landscape and Early Prehistory

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10 Oct 2011
Monday, September 19/11
Introduction to Greek History
D. Nakassis
Landscape and Early Prehistory
Historical Sources
Reed that grows in Nile
Preserved in dry climates
Used to write literary, judicial, official texts as well as recipes, complaints, contracts and
minutes, etc
Primarily excavation
Our historical evidence (texts) can be a little scrappy, use excavation/archaeology to fill in
blanks or paint a more accurate less biased picture
Problems in Ancient History
Need to be careful about trustworthiness of sources
Writers have a specific audience and purpose and therefore may distort the truth
Climate & Topography
Dry and wet - lots of variation
Under 400 mm of rain to over 1200 mm
Agriculture based on rainfall
No real irrigation
Radical fluctuations in rainfall from year to year
Very rocky
The mountains break Greece into self contained units
Number of small valleys and coastal plans
Small communities
Athens: ca 2500 sq. Km
Kea: 3 cities in 129 sq. Km
Autonomous and competitive
Small farms
A farm of an average ‘middle class Greek was 4.5 ha
Wealthy families had farms about 5 times as big
Farm is spread over many places
Part on hillside, part on plains, etc: diversify crops
Early Prehistory: Francthi Cave
Unbroken archaeological sequence from 3000-2000 BC
Food sources change and expand:
Paleolithic: seasonal, hunting
Mesolithic: start using wild nuts and small fish. Evidence of obsidian - this was traded
as is is only found on Nilos. Deep sea fishing: Tuna. Grinding tools and imported stone
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