Material sources for greek history archaeological evidence inscriptions
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Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: inscriptions. Epigraphy: inscriptions on stone, metal, terracotta – durable materials typically contemporary often fragmentary nearly useless if not dated Genres poetry, laws, decrees, votes treaties, dedications, honors.

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Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: inscriptions

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Material sources for Greek history:archaeological evidence: inscriptions

  • Epigraphy: inscriptions on stone,

    metal, terracotta – durable materials

    • typically contemporary

    • often fragmentary

    • nearly useless if not dated

  • Genres

    • poetry, laws, decrees, votes

    • treaties, dedications, honors


Material sources for Greek history:archaeological evidence: papyri

  • Primary medium for …

    day-to-day activities

    • correspondence

    • petitions

    • edicts

    • receipts

  • Limited survival of texts

    • Aristotle’s Athenian Constitution

    • Oxyrhynchos Historian

    • many fragments of (un)known works


Material sources for Greek history:other archaeological evidence: coins

  • Field of numismatics (<νομίζειν, to use according to νόμος – “law” or “custom”)

    • post 550 BCE, so not applicable earlier

    • limited use as propaganda, so little internal evidence

    • long periods of usage, so broad range of dates


Material sources for Greek history:other archaeological evidence: architecture, sculpture, vase painting

  • Architecture

    • often can be dated

    • internal ideologies

    • evidence of wealth

    • evidence of skill

  • Sculpture, vase painting

    • -can be dated stylistically

    • reveals social customs

    • high level of sophistication


Material sources for Greek history:other archaeological evidence: field data

  • Pollen analysis, petrology, animal bones

    • trade

    • economics

    • social customs

    • settlement patterns

    • public vs. private space

    • diet

    • environmental conditions


All sources for Greek history:literary and material

  • Context is key

  • Congruence is rare

  • Historians must draw upon all sources to complete the picture

  • Next: datingschemes, climatetopography and demography


Dating schemes: caveat emptor

  • Each polis used different systems (& calendars)

    • Athens: eponymous archon lists: 683/2, reliable p.425/4

  • Panhellenic festivals

    • Olympiads: 766

    • reliable post 600

  • Religious offices

    • priestess of Hera at Argos


Dating schemes: putting it all together

  • Synchronisms between

    • Olympiads and Biblicalevents

    • Olympiads and Romanemperors

    • Squaring with the Gregorian calendar

  • Archaeological evidence

    • pottery, architecture, sculpture

      • often based on stylistics – development varies widely

    • Thucydides’ colonial foundations in Sicily, southern Italy

      • dates are relative; are they reliable?

    • destruction level of 480 in Athens: all material predates 480

    • confirmation from other cultures: Near Eastern destruction levels, Egyptian Pharoaonic dates


Periodization of Greek history


Greece: topography & resources


Pontus =

Black Sea

Asia Minor

Propontis

Pontus

Thrace

Chalkidike

Macedonia

PindosMtns

Thrace

Macedonia

P

I

N

D

O

S

Propontis

Chalkidike

Thessaly

Epirus

Altitude

High

Low

Asia Minor

Boeotia

Attica

Peloponnese

Epirus

Thessaly

Boeotia

Attica

Peloponnese

Cyclades

Crete

(Arcadia, Laconia,Messenia, Argolid, Corinthia)

Cyclades

Crete


Blackboard questions

  • Matt, Ian, Lucy, Emily: What impact did the natural environment (e.g., climate and agriculture) have on Greek history?

    • unpredictability & inconsistency diversification

    • self-sufficiency & autonomy hard collaboration

  • Alex, Teddy, Sarah N.: What role did the demographic profile of ancient Greece play in its history?

    • demography affects & is affected by environment

    • mortality rate limited growth, fostering need for slaves

    • population growth slow & steady, averting epidemics


Greece: topography & resources

Topography

  • mountains, rocky soil, jagged coasts, few large fluvial plains; Aegean Sea; islands. Result regarding communities and communication?

  • result: relative isolation; communication by sea

    Climate

  • hot, dry summers; mild, rainy winters. Result regarding agriculture?

  • result: agriculture difficult, unpredictable, necessitating diversification

    Resources: food

  • flocks: goats, sheep, pigs; cattle rare, horses (expensive, used for warfare, travel)

  • crop diversification: oil (cooking), grapes (wine), some vegetables, barley (primary foodstuff). Result regarding diet?

  • result: proteins: fish; beans; other goods (e.g., wheat) imported

    Resources: minerals, timber

  • durable: bronze: copper (plentiful), tin (non-existent); iron (plentiful)

  • luxury: gold (rare), silver (mines in Attica south of Athens)

  • stone: limestone (plentiful), marble (Paros, Attica)

  • timber: northern Aegean / Thrace (structures, shipbuilding)

  • obsidian (volcanic glass): islands – e.g., Melos. Result regarding access?

  • result: control of sea for food, travel, commerce


Natural resources in archaic Greece


Earliest occupation, 200,000 BCE to Franchthi Cave, 18,000 & beyond

  • Hunters / gatherers

  • Subsistence level

  • Self-sufficiency until interest in other goods

  • Embryonic trade

  • Franchthi in Argolid, Peloponnese


Neolithic Greece, 6000-3000 BCEEarly Bronze Age, 3000-2200 BCE

Sesklo(6000-4400)

Dimini

(4800-3000)

Lerna(2600-2200)

FranchthiCave

(18,000-3000)


Sesklo, 6000-4400 BCEDimini, 4800-3000 BCE


Lerna, House of Tiles, ca. 2500 BCE


Lerna, House of Tiles, ca. 2500 BCE


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