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Bronze Age Greece

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Western University
History 2173
Barbara Murison

Sept, 27, 2012 Bronze Age Greece Cycladic Culture: -In a vary mountainous region that has not settled geologically and there are active volcanoes on Thera -Once ships developed the smaller islands were populated but it also led to more challenges from outside people -Around 1700 BC in the late Bronze Age they were swamped with forces from Crete -After 1600 BC Mycenaeans encroached on the Cycladic islands and they occupied Crete and penetrated east to Rhodes, Miletus, and Ephesus (Knossos and Phaestos were important centers on Crete) -By 1250 BC there are Greeks throughout the Aegean and they traded and fought with small kingships along the coast of Asia Minor and they got as far as Troy and they breached the citadel before their culture collapsed -By 1100 BC the Aegean world ceased to be a world leader and it entered into the dark ages (400 years long) -Included the Peloponnesian area and were settled before the Bronze Age and the first inhabitants probably came from Anatolia in Asia Minor in modern day Western Turkey (some may have come from the Syria-Palestine area) -There was trade with Egypt and trade was very important to them and we can prove it by the fact that Egyptian objects have been found in Crete -Main item of trade was obsidian which was a hard glassy volcanic rock and it was found in Milos primarily and it had various uses like irdthe production of bowls but it was also used in war for arrow heads and spear tips -By the middle of the 3 millennium BC we have a lot of evidence of fighting with daggers and bronze swords being used and we also see the development of fortifications like on Syros in the Cycladic chain of islands -They were anticipating raids and boats had a lot to do with this -In the later periods the inhabitants needed to come together for protection and some smaller areas were forgotten as people moved in land to avoid piracy and Milos was the largest surviving settlement -Limited agricultural land and it was hard for them to develop a surplus and thus a military was never developed -Crete and areas in the Peloponnesian were much larger and had more development and this eventually swallowed Cycladic culture -Around 1700 BC their indigenous art works begin to disappear and Cretan influences dominate Thera - c. 1628 BC (cf. Krakatoa AD 1883): -In 1628 BC there was a massive eruption (the best date used radio-carbon dating and dendrochronology) -The eruption came in the Minoan period and has very thick stratigraphy of ash over the sites that is meters thick -This event was devastating to the Aegean and it caused total blackout, poison gas, and tidal waves and to this day this area is quite volatile -Despite the physical instability advanced cultures developed in the area -Wall paintings from Thera from the “house of the sea captain” shows many ships in action with a city in the background and it may show a small expedition being launched -The third fresco shows many bodies along the bottom in a sea born attack and from the look of the people we can judge that the Cycladic people were raiding North Africa -About 2200 BC the number of Cycladic settlements is shrinking Minoan Culture: Early Minoan – c. 3000-2000 BC: -Origins are disputed because they too appear to have been incomers from Asia Minor and possibly from Syria – Palestine and we think the movement into Crete was happening in the Neolithic period -The influx of new people happened between 3000-2600 BC perhaps from Asia Minor but there are other theories that they were refugees from the Nile Delta (Narmer and Menes were causing unrest in Egypt) -There are Libyan elements seen here and Arthur Evans discovered much of this around 1900 -The name Minoan come from the mythical king Minos from Crete and Evens gave the name but some say Minos was not really a king but a title given to the king Middle Minoan – c. 2000-1700 BC: -Culture grows to its peak and the palace of Knossos becomes the main centre and trade became more orientated to the Aegean and the mainland -Palace civilization is a term used for this period and in the area a pictographic form of writing develops and around 1800 BC there was Linear A writing developed Sept, 27, 2012 -Smelting of Bronze developed and rapier swords were being used and they were the centre of the Aegean world -Not a massive amount to say about their warfare in this time and this was very different from other cultures -Snake goddess sculptures are shown holding snakes and they are elaborately dressed and possibly represent priestesses and they are shown with very small waists and with bare breasts -Was a goddess dominated civilization and females were very important in it -Double axes became a symbol they were associated with and they were more votive than for actually battle -Their art tells us a lot about what is important to them and again they were quite different form the other cultures Linear A: -On clay tablets and found on pottery and used on papyrus (Linear B also exists) Knossos and Phaestos: -No fortifications so the people here felt secure and didn’t fear pirates (must have felt they had superior navy) -Have damage to the sites from the early Minoan period so it is odd there were no fortifications and there may have been religious reasons or ritual behaviours relating to this -Knossos was maybe the overlord state that controlled the others and maybe that’s why they need no protection -Maybe they had mutual interests and thus they had no reason to fight -The frescoes from Knossos shows three ladies in blue and this is very different form the other because it is not all about power and violence and there are bird and garden scenes with animals and flowers which are very peaceful Late Minoan – c. 1700-1125 BC: Late Minoan II (Mainland Occupation) – c. 1490-1430: -Were very different from the rest of Greece and their new painting style found at Knossos shows a very pompous culture that is very strict (Linear B comes in at this point through the Mainland mostly) -A new marshal spirit arose in Knossos and warrior graves have been found there dating to this period and in them we found elaborate armour and vast records of weapons and chariots -The theory is that Mycenae came and conquered Crete so the Minoans were swept aside and they ruled from Knossos over the rest of Crete Mycenaean Culture: -Around 2600 BC the ancestors moved down from the far north into Macedonia and into Thessaly and their name was the “battle axe” people -They worshiped male gods and were very warlike and eventually they filled northern Greece and spilled into the south and introduced the horse and these are the people we know as the Greeks -Two types of shields were found here from ox hide and some metal attachments and they were very large -The figure eight shield was found and was the more common but also found were large rectangular shields and they protected the sides as well as the front but they would have been very hard to use without proper handles -Had shoulder straps but this
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