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Bronze Age Greece - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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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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Chronology l.jpg

  • 2200-1500 BC: Height of Minoan civilization

  • 1600-1100: Height of Mycenaean civilization

  • 1100-750: Greek Dark Age

  • 750: Homer

Minoan civilization l.jpg
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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Mycenaean tholos tomb 1500-1400


“Treasury of Atreus”

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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