Professor: Christopher Wallace - firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: Thursday 2-4, LMB B06a
Question: What do we mean by Greek History? What are the boundaries of Ancient
oWe can't use modern Greece because, for example, inhabitants of Crete
weren't actually Greek.
oWe can't define it as places where the Greeks colonized because that's a lot
oWe can't define it as a place where Greek culture was influential, or where
Alexander the Great's empire extended to.
Types of History
There are three ways (generally) to study history:
•Leopold Van Ranke believed that history was the act of inquiring
and understanding how government came into power through "Great
•Focuses on normal people and the social forces that shape events -
families, economics, and every-day life
•Considered to be a "scientific history" - where you gather numbers
and show what the numbers are.
•combines linguistic theory with the point that a writer has no
control over the meaning of his writing after he has written it.
•made the practice of history pointless. At the same time, it made
history more relevant than ever before, especially with ancient history.
Michel Foucalt's theory is that knowledge is a discourse of power. This made history a powerful
tool because you could write history however you felt like it, using it to your power. For example,
"African Americans should be in charge because the US's government is based on Greek history
and that Greek History is based off the Egyptians of Africa." This didn't work too well because it
could be used to state that the Holocaust never happened.
The project of history is a genre of literature. It does involve "Fiction". History is fictional - "take
a fairly loose bag of data and shape it into something recognizable and understandable" <- this is
what historians do.
So to understand Greek history we need to make use of political, cultural, and social history.
Progression of the Greeks
oThe first evidence for human habitation in the area we call Greece is a
pointed rock in 300,000-200,00 years BCE.
The different eras of the evolution of civilization in Ancient Greece are:
oPaleolithic (55000-8300) - Old Stone Age - hunting, gathering, fishing
•Nomadic, but set frequently returned to places like caves and used
them as a "permanent" temporary residence.
oMesolithic (8300-6000) - Middle Stone Age - same as above, but with
addition of large fish (tuna), and obsidian
oNeolithic (6000-3000) - New Stone Age - introduction of domesticated
sheep/goat, pig, barley, etc
oEarly Bronze Age (3000-2300)
oMiddle Bronze Age (2300-1800)
oLate Bronze Age (1800-1200)
All years above BC.
The Neolothic Revolution
oThe evolution from hunters/gatherers to farmers.
oBetter stone tools are being developed.
oNo longer nomadic, they are now more settled.
o In this period there is the first evidence of people living outside of caves.
oThere is also evidence of pottery (labour specialization)
•Steatopygian Venus is a stone age figurine of a women who is
larger than usual with exaggerated breasts and pubic triangles.
•These types of pottery had no utility, and may be evidence of
Early Bronze Age
oBronze: Alloy of Copper and Tin; can be made at a lower temperature than
oMaking bronze required a lot of resources - this implies some form of
hierarchy or authority in Greek society.
•Miners to gather copper ore
•Assets to trade for tin (tin was not plentiful in greece)
Lerna - The House of the Tiles
oLerna was a walled village
oInside the village was a monumental building called the House of the Tiles
•Two-story structure, much more rugged than a simple hut
•Early sign of architecture
•Supported a large number of people (more than the size of a regular
•Its construction required more than a single man or family
Different tradesmen were required to make the structure possible
•Evidence of a hierarchy in Greek society - authority to organize
labour and gather materials
•Found inside were clay seals with "stamps" on them
Most likely used to seal containers (considered a sophisticated
•Destroyed in 2300 BC but not rebuilt
Instead of rebuilding, dirt was placed on top of it and the area was
sealed off with stones
Not rebuilt because of religion?
The Cyclades Civilization
oAll we have of the civilization of the Cycladic islands are the figurines.
•The figurines all came from graves (deposited with dead people) -
sometimes intentionally broken.
•The Cycladic figurines are female - they have breasts and a "pubic
•In the 60s people were purchasing these figurines as they were very
popular. This caused a problem because some people started making their
own during the 60, or others started digging up graves to find them. So
now maybe up to 80% of Cycladic figurines are fake.
oUnlike the mainland, these islands had a significant amount of copper.
Crete - The Minoans
oCrete is the largest of the Greek Islands.
oBetween 3000 and 2000 BC Crete was enjoying some prosperity but not
as impressive as Lerna.
oThere were numerous, but fairly small, settlements on Crete.
•The population around that time is estimated to be 75,000.
oCrete's advantage is that it was an island and far off.
•It was not part of the Early Bronze Age recession - Crete undergoes
a major change during the recession and its small settlements evolve into
larger ones, and they construct Palaces.