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Bronze Age Greece . Mycenaean world. Chronology. 2200-1500 BC : Height of Minoan civilization 1600-1100 : Height of Mycenaean civilization 1100-750 : Greek Dark Age 750 : Homer . Minoan Civilization. Pre-Hellenic (non-Greek, non Indo-European)

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  • 2200-1500 BC: Height of Minoan civilization
  • 1600-1100: Height of Mycenaean civilization
  • 1100-750: Greek Dark Age
  • 750: Homer
minoan civilization
Minoan Civilization
  • Pre-Hellenic (non-Greek, non Indo-European)
  • Most powerful from 1600-1400 BCE
  • Spread influence to Cyclades, Peloponnese, and central Greece
  • Unified by Knossos, where the Minos (King) administered the kingdom
what the palaces suggest
What the palaces suggest:
  • Complex political structure, monarch
  • Had a syllabic script, Linear A
  • Centralized political/economic system
  • The palace was this center
  • Thalassocracy: naval power
  • They were wealthy, cultured, unified, peaceful
  • Minoan art supports these conclusions
new developments 1450 1400 bce
New developments 1450-1400 BCE
  • Closer contact with Mycenae
  • More militaristic scenes in art
  • Presence of Linear B, which is Greek
  • Knossos and other sites on Crete were burned near the end of the 15th century
  • Cretan supremacy ended
mycenaeans 1600 1500 bce
Mycenaeans – 1600-1500 BCE
  • Aegean leadership passed to Greek-speaking people, who called themselves the Achaeans
  • They entered the Greek mainland around 2000 BC, and rose to power on the mainland around the 16th century
  • Their power depended on the horse and chariot
  • They were aggressive both as traders and warriors
  • Extent of their trade: Sicily, Troy, Egypt
what were mycenaeans like
What were Mycenaeans like?
  • Highly skilled in war and administration
  • Had dynastic rulers
  • Wealthy and powerful
  • Early shaft graves held many gold objects, martial objects (1600-1500 BCE)
  • Wealth based on control of trade and agriculture
mycenaean tholos tomb 1500 1400
Mycenaean tholos tomb 1500-1400


“Treasury of Atreus”

mycenae 1400 1200 bce
Mycenae 1400-1200 BCE
  • Mycenaean culture spread through Greece and the Ionian islands
  • Kings of Mycenae held broad hegemony
  • They claimed tribute from subjects
  • Had an efficient bureaucratic service
  • Engaged in overseas trade, especially metals
  • Had a form of writing, Linear B
mycenaean society
Mycenaean society
  • Royal, centralized bureaucracy
  • Artisans and peasants under royal control
  • Class structure:
    • serfs, slaves,
    • lords and councilmen,
    • retainers and agents
    • the great king, the wanax
  • Kings were powerful in war and trade
  • They achieved their power through violence, as artifacts suggest
fall of mycenae 1200 1100
Fall of Mycenae, 1200-1100
  • Citadels were destroyed, kingdoms fell
  • Mycenaean culture, including writing, was lost
  • Transition to the iron age
  • All the Mycenaeans were not destroyed, but life changed drastically
  • Depopulation
  • Dark Ages: 1100-800
8 th century
8th century
  • New developments in trade and colonization
  • Greeks adapt the Phoenician alphabet
  • Writing reappears: Iliad and Odyssey by 750
  • Kingship begins to disappear
  • Aristocracies begin to rise
  • Later Greeks were unaware of most of the important aspects of life they portrayed in heroic poetry
    • Its social organization
    • Its material culture
    • Its writing system
homeric heroic culture
Homeric / Heroic culture
  • Evidence comes mainly from texts
  • Ties were with family, clan, warrior band, and tribe
  • Men lived in small, self-sufficient units; oikos
  • Political ties were personal
  • Basileus or king lived by agriculture, war
  • Wealth was counted in herds, slaves, reserves of treasure, food, metal
  • King was not far above other men in upper classes
  • His reputation rested on his physical might and his sagacity
  • His powers were limited by the unwritten code of themis: what is done
homeric society
“Homeric” Society
  • Aristocratic warriors
    • Had a special standing
    • Were dominated by the need to show bravery
    • Their honor was expressed in material possessions won in battle or awarded by the community
  • Material wealth comes from land, raids, war and gift exchange
  • Trading is disdained
  • Human values mirror divine values
homeric culture is an amalgam
Homeric culture is an amalgam
  • Different poetic accounts from different periods
  • Some mention of specifically Myceanaen objects: tower shield, boar’s tusk helmet, metal inlay, bronze armor
  • Late Mycenaean political geography is known
  • But many references to iron age culture and customs
moses finley s culture of the odyssey
Moses Finley’s culture of the Odyssey
  • Sacrifice, cooked meal
  • Agriculture, cooked food
  • Good host-guest relationships
  • Stable family life
  • Stable political life
  • Strength, intelligence, ability to speak