Geometric Greece: 900-700 BC

By J. N. Coldstream | Go to book overview

Epilogue

On two important topics, recent discoveries and research have greatly enhanced our understanding of Geometric Greece: one external, the other internal.

In some mainland areas, especially those where full publications have been rare, 'dark' may still be appropriate for their archaeological record before the middle of the eighth century; but detailed ceramic study in Messenia and new finds reported from Macedonia have helped to cast light on areas where the record was previously in deep obscurity. By contrast, archaeologists who have been working in Crete and, especially, Euboea have become impatient of a supposed Dark Age, citing fresh evidence of exchanges with the Near East, almost unbroken since the end of the Bronze Age. These exchanges must in part be related to the gradual expansion of Phoenician commerce throughout the Mediterranean, of which much new knowledge has been acquired; but, on the Greek side, the positive initiative of the Euboeans has received much emphasis. It may be thought that the miraculous discovery at Lefkandi of several rich and unplundered cemeteries, with their copious orientalia, may have caused us to exaggerate the Euboean achievement at the expense of other Greek regions where conditions of recovery have been much less favourable. Athens, for example, was the source of the most admired and influential school of pottery, and has produced a few impressively rich graves with Levantine imports (pp. 55-61) contemporary with the latest from Lefkandi; but these are lucky finds in their context, from areas much despoiled and damaged under later structures in a city which, unlike Lefkandi, was to enjoy a glorious future. Even so, discoveries in Euboea did bring to light the regional ceramic style that is by far the most frequent among exports to Cyprus, Tyre and the north Levant.

For the rise of the Greek city state, one need no longer lament that 'the material record may never shed much light on this topic' (p. 369). An inaugural lecture delivered in 1977 49 encouraged a more optimistic approach. Since then, virtually all the developments treated here in Part III have been associated in various ways with the emergent polis: as a prime cause, the rapid growth of population in an age of increasing prosperity; as significant symptoms, the building of urban temples, the rise of rural sanctuaries, the institution of state cults for local heroes and, of course, the revival of writing, essential in the administration of a polis for communication beyond word of mouth and earshot. But let us not lose sight of the central definition implied by Aristotle-the union of disparate villages to form a coherent city-for which the patient archaeological fieldwork of many

-414-

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Geometric Greece: 900-700 BC
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Preface to the Second Edition 3
  • Preface to the First Edition 4
  • Contents 5
  • Contents 8
  • Acknowledgements 9
  • Abbreviations 12
  • Introduction 17
  • I - The Passing of the Dark Ages C. 900-770 B.C. 23
  • 1 - Isolation: the Early Ninth Century 25
  • 2 - The Awakening in the Mid-Ninth Century 55
  • 3 - Consolidation: Late Ninth to Early Eighth Century 73
  • II - The Greek Renaissance C. 770-700 B.C. Regional Survey 107
  • 4 - Athens and Attica 109
  • 5 - The Argolid, Arcadia, Laconia, and Messenia 140
  • 6 - Corinth and West Greece 167
  • 7 - Euboea, Boeotia, Thessaly, and the Cyclades 191
  • 8 - Italy and Sicily: Trade and Colonies 221
  • 9 - Eastern Greece and Anatolia 246
  • 10 - Crete 271
  • III - Life in Eighth-Century Greece 293
  • 11 - The Recovery of Literacy 295
  • 12 - Towns and Villages 303
  • 13 - Sanctuaries, Gods, and Votives 317
  • 14 - Recollection of a Heroic Past 341
  • 15 - Oriental Influences 358
  • 16 - Epilogue 367
  • Supplement 371
  • Epilogue 414
  • Glossary 416
  • Bibliography and Site Index 418
  • Index 443
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