The Greek Dark Ages

The late Bronze age collapse, or period of Calamities, was a change in the Aegean Region, eastern Mediterranean, and also Southwestern Asia that took place from the late Bronze period to the early on Iron Age. Historians think this duration was violent, sudden, and culturally disruptive. The palace economy of the Aegean region that had identified the late Bronze Age, to be replaced, after ~ a hiatus, through the isolated village cultures that the Greek Dark periods — a duration that it is long for an ext than 400 years. Cities choose Athens ongoing to be occupied, but with a much more local ball of influence, restricted evidence that trade, and an impoverished culture, which took centuries to recover.

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Many chroniclers attribute the fall of the Mycenaeans, and overall Bronze age collapse, come climatic or environmental catastrophe, linked with an intrusion by the Dorians or Sea peoples — a team of world who possibly originated from various parts that the Mediterranean favor the black Sea, though their beginnings remain obscure. Chroniclers also point to the widespread availability of edged iron tools as one exasperating factor. In spite of this, no solitary explanation fits all easily accessible archaeological evidence in explaining the autumn of the Mycenaean culture.

Many massive revolts took place in several components of the eastern Mediterranean during this time, and attempts to overthrow existing kingdoms to be made as a result of economic and also political instability through peoples currently plagued with famine and also hardship. Some regions in Greece, such as Attica, Euboea, and main Crete, recovered economically quicker native these events than other regions, however life because that the poorest Greeks would have actually remained fairly unchanged. Farming, weaving, metalworking, and potting ongoing at lower levels of output and for neighborhood use. Some technical technologies were introduced roughly 1050 BCE through the start of the Proto-geometric style. However, the in its entirety trend was toward simpler, less intricate pieces with fewer sources being dedicated to the production of art.

None that the Mycenaean palaces of the late Bronze period survived, v the possible exception the the Cyclopean fortifications top top the Acropolis the Athens. The archaeological record mirrors that devastation was heaviest in ~ palaces and fortified sites. Up to 90% of little sites in the Peloponnese were abandoned, suggesting major depopulation. The direct B composing of the Greek language supplied by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceased, and also decorations top top Greek pottery after about 1100 BCE lacks the figurative decorate of the Mycenaeans, and was restricted to less complicated geometric styles. (45)

The archaic Period

The Archaic duration of Greek background lasted indigenous the 8 th century BCE to the 2nd Persian invasion of greek in 480 BCE. The duration began v a enormous increase in the Greek population and a structural transformation that created the Greek city-states, or polis . The Archaic period saw breakthroughs in Greek politics, economics, global relations, warfare, and also culture. It also laid the groundwork because that the classic period, both politically and culturally. Throughout this time, the Greek alphabet developed, and the earliest making it through Greek literature was composed. Huge sculpture and also red-figure pottery likewise developed in Greece, and in Athens, the earliest organizations of democracy to be implemented.

Some created accounts the life exist native this time duration in the type of poetry, law codes, inscriptions on votive offerings, and also epigrams enrolled on tombs. However, thorough written histories, such together those that exist indigenous the Greek classical period, room lacking. Historians do have access to rich archaeological evidence native this period, however, that educates our expertise of Greek life during the antiquated period. (46)

Development of the Polis

The Archaic period saw far-ranging urbanization and the advance of the concept of the polis as it was offered in classical Greece. However, the polis did not become the dominant form of sociopolitical organization throughout Greece throughout the antiquated period, and in the north and west of the country it go not come to be dominant until later in the classic period. The process of urbanization recognized as “synoecism” (or the amalgamation the several small settlements into a single urban center), took ar in lot of Greece throughout the 8 th century. Both Athens and Argos, because that example, coalesced into solitary settlements near the end of the century. In part settlements, physical unification was marked by the construction of protective city walls. The rise in population, and evolution the thepolis as a sociopolitical structure, necessitated a new form of political organization. (46)

Age the Tyranny

Archaic greece from the mid-7 th century onward has actually been referred to as an “age of tyrants.” various explanations have actually been provided for the increase of tyranny in the 7 th century. The most well-known explanation dates back to Aristotle , who said that tyrants were set up by the civilization in an answer to the nobility coming to be less tolerable. Due to the fact that there is no proof from this time duration demonstrating this to it is in the case, historians have actually looked for alternate explanations. Part argue the tyrannies were set up by people who managed private armies, and that at an early stage tyrants did not require the support of the world at all. Others indicate that tyrannies were created as a repercussion of in-fighting in between rival oligarchs, fairly than together a an outcome of fighting between oligarchs and also the people.

Other historians question the presence of a 7 th century “age of tyrants” altogether. In the antiquated period, the Greek word tyrannos did not have the an adverse connotations it had actually later in the classical period. Often the word might be offered as synonymous with “king.” as a result, countless historians argue the Greek tyrants to be not thought about illegitimate rulers, and also cannot be differentiated from any type of other rulers throughout the exact same period. (46)

The Homeric Question

Figure 4-6: manuscript the Homer’s Iliad by an unknown writer from Wikimedia is licensed under Public Domain

The Homeric Question comes to the doubts and consequent controversy over the identification of Homer, the author of theIliad and the Odyssey ; it also questions the historicity the the two books. Countless scholars agree the regardless of who authored Homer’s works, it is very likely that the poems attributed come him were component of a generations-old dental tradition, with plenty of scholars believing the works to be transcribed at some time in the 6 th century BCE or earlier. Countless estimates place the occasions of Homer’s Trojan war as preceding the Greek Dark Ages, of approximately 1250 come 750 BCE. The Iliad , however, has actually been placed immediately following the Greek Dark age period. (46)

Archaic Greek Sculpture

The earliest big stone figures (kouroi — nude male youths and kore — clothed woman figures) were rigid together in Egyptian huge statues through the arms organized straight in ~ the sides, the feet are nearly together and the eyes rigid blankly ahead there is no any particular facial expression. These fairly static numbers slowly progressed though and with ever before greater details included to hair and muscles, the figures began to come to life. Slowly, arms come to be slightly bent providing them muscular tension and one leg (usually the right) is placed slightly an ext forward, giving a feeling of dynamic motion to the statue. Excellent examples of this style of figure are the kouroi the Argos, dedicated at Delphi (c. 580 BCE).

Around 480 BCE, the critical kouroi become ever more life-like, the weight is carried on the left leg, the ideal hip is lower, the buttocks and also shoulders an ext relaxed, the head is not quite so rigid, and also there is a note of a smile. Woman kore followed a comparable evolution, specifically in the sculpting of their clothing that were rendered in an ever-more reality and facility way. A more natural ratio of the figure was additionally established whereby the head became 1:7 v the body, irrespective of the actual size of the statue. (47)

Figure 4-7: Kouroi the Argos by note Cartwright is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Classical Greece

Classical Greece was a 200-year period in Greek society lasting native the 5 th to the 4 th centuries BCE. This duration saw the annexation of lot of modern Greece by the Persian Empire, as well as its subsequent independence. Classic Greece additionally had a powerful influence on the roman inn Empire, and greatly influenced the foundations of western civilization. Much of modern-day Western politics, artistic and also scientific thought, literature, and philosophy derives indigenous this period of Greek history. The classical period was came before by the antiquated period, and was prospered by the Hellenistic period. (48)

Rise of the City-States

The term “city-state,” i beg your pardon is English in origin, does not totally translate the Greek term because that these exact same entities, polis. Poleis were various from old city-states in that they to be ruled by body of the citizens who lived there. Countless were initially established, together in Sparta, via a network of villages, through a governance facility being created in a central urban center. As notions that citizenship increased to prominence among landowners, polis involved embody whole body that citizens and also the term can be supplied to define the populace that a place, fairly than the physical ar itself.

Basic elements of a polis often contained the following:Self-governance, autonomy, and also independenceA social hub and financial marketplace, called an agoraUrban planning and architectureTemples, altars, and other sacred precincts, many of which would be committed to the patron deity of the cityPublic spaces, such together gymnasia and theatersDefensive wall surfaces to protect against invasionCoinage minted by the city

Polis to be established and also expanded by synoecism, or the absorb of nearby villages and also tribes. Most cities were written of several tribes the were in turn composed of groups sharing usual ancestry, and also their prolonged families. Are was a less helpful means of thinking around the shape of a polis than areas of shared religious and political associations.

Dwellers of a polis were frequently divided into 4 separate society classes, with an individual’s status usually being determined at birth. Totally free adult males born of legit citizens were taken into consideration citizens with complete legal and also political rights, consisting of the appropriate to vote, be chosen into office, and also bear arms, through the duty to offer in the army during wartime. The female relatives and underage youngsters of full citizens were additionally considered citizens, but they had no formal politics rights. They were frequently represented within society by your adult male relatives. Citizens of various other poleis who determined to reside in a various polis possessed complete rights in their ar of origin, yet had no political legal rights in their new place that residence. Otherwise, such citizens had actually full an individual and residential or commercial property rights subject to taxation. Finally, servants were thought about possessions of your owner and had no legal rights or privileges various other than those granted by their owner. (48)

Greco-Persian Wars

The Greco-Persian Wars, additionally referred to together the Persian Wars, to be a collection of disputes that began in 499 BCE and lasted until 449 BCE, between the Achaemenid realm of Persia (modern-day Iran) and also Greek city-states. The conflict began when Cyrus the good conquered the Greek-inhabited region of Ionia in 547 BCE. ~ struggling to manage the cities of Ionia, the Persians appointed tyrants to preeminence each of them. As soon as the tyrant the Miletus embarked on an unsuccessful exploration to overcome the island that Naxos through Persian support, however, a rebellion was incited transparent Hellenic Asia Minor against the Persians. This rebellion, recognized as the Ionian Revolt, lasted until 493 BCE, and also drew increasingly an ext regions transparent Asia Minor right into the conflict.

Eventually the Ionians endured a decisive defeat and the rebellion collapsed. Subsequently, Darius the Great, the Persian ruler, sought come secure his realm from further revolts and interference indigenous the mainland Greeks, and also embarked upon a scheme to conquer all of Greece. The an initial Persian intrusion of Greece began in 492 BCE, and was effective in dominating Macedon and also re-subjugating Thrace. In 490 BCE, a 2nd force was sent to Greece throughout the Aegean Sea, effectively subjugating the Cyclades. However, the Persians were beat by the Athenians in ~ the fight of Marathon, putting a halt to Darius’s arrangement until his death in 486 BCE.

In 480 BCE, Darius’s son, Xerxes, personally led the 2nd Persian intrusion of greek with one of the largest ancient armies ever assembled. His intrusion was successful and Athens was burned. However, the complying with year, the allied Greek says went on the offensive, defeating the Persian army at the battle of Plataea and also ending the invasion of Greece. The Greeks ongoing to expel Persian pressures from Greece and surrounding areas, yet the action of Spartan general Pausanias at the siege of byzantine alienated plenty of of the Greek states from the Spartans, bring about the anti-Persian alliance to it is in reconstituted roughly Athenian leadership in what ended up being known together the Delian League. The Delian League continued the campaign versus the Persians because that the following three decades. Some historic sources indicate the finish of hostilities in between the Greeks and the Persians was significant by a peace treaty in between Athens and Persia, referred to as the tranquility of Callias. (48)

Athenian Democracy

Athenian democracy developed approximately the 5 th century BCE, in the Greek city-state the Athens. The is the very first known democracy in the world. Other Greek cities collection up democracies, most complying with the Athenian model, yet none are also documented as Athens. Athenian democracy was a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills. Participation was open up to adult, land-owning men, which chroniclers estimate numbered in between 30,000 and also 50,000 individuals, the end of a total population of around 250,000 come 300,000.

Figure 4-8: Illustration the Solon by serious Wallis et al is licensed under Public Domain

Before the first attempt at democratic government, Athens was ruled by a collection of archons, or chef magistrates, and also the Areopagus, i beg your pardon was made up of ex-archons. Archons were frequently aristocrats that ruled to their very own advantage. Additionally, a collection of regulations codified through Draco in 621 BCE reinforced the power of the aristocracy end all various other citizens. A mediator referred to as Solon reshaped the city-state through restructuring the method citizenship was defined in order to absorb the timeless aristocracy in ~ it, and also established the best of every Athenian to get involved in meetings of governing assemblies. The Areopagus, however, preserved ultimate lawmaking authorities.(48)


In 510 BCE, Spartan troops aided the Athenians overthrow your king, the tyrant Hippias, son of Peisistratos. Cleomenes I, king the Sparta, placed in location a pro-Spartan oligarchy top by Isagoras. Yet his rival, Cleisthenes, through the support of the center class and aided by democrats, regulated to take it over. Cleomenes intervened in 508 and also 506 BCE, yet could not prevent Cleisthenes, that was then sustained by the Athenians. With his reforms, the civilization endowed their city with organizations furnished v equal civil liberties (i.e., isonomic institutions), and also established ostracism, a procedure by which any kind of citizen might be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. (48)

Figure 4-9: Cleisthenes with permission by The Ohio Channel is license is granted under CC BY-SA 3.0

The isonomic and also isegoric democracy was an initial organized into about 130 demes — political subdivisions produced throughout Attica. Ten thousands citizens exercised their strength via an assembly (the ekklesia, in Greek), of which they every were a part, that was top by a board of directors of 500 citizens preferred at random. The city’s governmental geography was reworked, the goal being to have mixed political groups — no federated by regional interests connected to the sea, the city, or farming — who decisions (declaration of war, etc.) would count on your geographical situations. The are of the city was subsequently separated into 30 trittyes. It to be this body of reforms that would allow the emergence of a broader democracy in the 460s and 450s BCE. (48)

The rise of Athens (508-448 BCE)

Figure 4-10: Greek-Persian duel by nationwide Museums Scotland is licensed under Public Domain

In 514 BCE, the dictator Hippias developed stability and also prosperity with his dominion of Athens, yet remained an extremely unpopular together a ruler. Through the help of an army from Sparta in 511/510 BCE, that was toppled by Cleisthenes, a radical politician of aristocratic elevator who developed democracy in Athens.

Prior come the rise of Athens, Sparta, a city-state through a militaristic culture, considered itself the leader that the Greeks, and enforced a hegemony. In 499 BCE, Athens sent out troops to assist the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, that were rebelling versus the Persian Empire during the Ionian Revolt. This provoked two Persian intrusions of Greece, both of which were repelled under the management of the soldier-statesmen Miltiades and Themistocles, during the Persian Wars. In the decades that followed, the Athenians, with the help of the Spartans and other allied Greek city-states, managed to rout the Persians. This victories permitted Athens to carry most that the Aegean, and also many various other parts that Greece, with each other in the Delian League, developing an Athenian-dominated alliance from which Sparta and also its allies withdrew. (49)


The 5 th century BCE was a duration of Athenian politics hegemony, financial growth, and social flourishing the is occasionally referred to together the golden e of Athens. The latter component of this time duration is often referred to as The age of Pericles. After tranquility was made v Persia in the 5 th century BCE, what began as an alliance of independent city-states ended up being an Athenian empire. Athens moved to abandon the pretense the parity among its allies, and relocated the Delian league treasury from Delos to Athens, wherein it sponsor the structure of the Athenian Acropolis, put half its population on the general public payroll, and maintained the dominant naval power in the Greek world.

With the empire’s funds, army dominance, and also its politics fortunes as guided by statesman and orator Pericles, Athens produced some that the most influential and also enduring social artifacts of western tradition, throughout what ended up being known as the golden age of Athenian democracy, or the age of Pericles. The playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, and also Euripides all lived and worked in Athens during this time, together did historians Herodotus and also Thucydides, the doctor Hippocrates, and also the philosopher Socrates.

Pericles to be arguably the many prominent and also influential Greek statesman, orator, and general the Athens throughout its gold Age. Among his most popular reforms when in strength was to permit thetes (Athenians without wealth) to occupy public office. Another success of his administration was the creation of the misthophoria, a one-of-a-kind salary for the citizens the attended the courts together jurors. Together Athens’ ruler, he helped the city come prosper with a resplendent society and democratic institutions. (49)

The Parthenon

Figure 4-11: Architectural elements of the Parthenon by F. Banister is licensed under Public Domain

The holy place was unprecedented in both the quantity and also quality of architectural sculpture provided to decorate it. No previous Greek temple was for this reason richly decorated. The Parthenon had 92 metopes carved in high relief (each to be on average 1.2 m x 1.25 m square v relief that 25 cm in depth), a frieze running roughly all 4 sides that the building, and also both pediments filled with huge sculpture.

The topics of the sculpture reflected the turbulent times the Athens had and also still faced. Defeating the Persians in ~ Marathon in 490 BCE, at Salamis in 480 BCE, and also at Plataea in 479 BCE, the Parthenon to be symbolic that the superiority the Greek culture against ‘barbarian’ international forces. This conflict in between order and chaos to be symbolized in certain by the sculptures top top the metopes running about the exterior that the temple, 32 follow me the long sides and 14 on every of the short. These shown the Olympian god fighting the giants (East metopes – the many important, together this was the side where the primary temple entrance was), Greeks, probably consisting of Theseus, fighting Amazons (West metopes), the fall of trojan (North metopes), and Greeks fighting Centaurs, possibly at the wedding the the king of the Lapiths Perithous (South metopes).

The most crucial sculpture of the Parthenon though was not outside yet inside. There is proof that the temple was constructed to measure up in order to accommodate the chryselephantine statue of Athena by Pheidias. This was a huge statue over 12 m high and made of carved ivory for flesh parts and gold (1140 kilos or 44 talent of it) for everything else, all wrapped about a wooden core. The gold components could also be easily removed if essential in times of gaue won necessity. The statue stand on a pedestal measure 4.09 by 8.04 metres. The statue has actually been lost (it may have been eliminated in the 5 th century CE and also taken come Constantinople), yet smaller Roman copies survive, and they display Athena was standing majestic, completely armed, attract an aegis v the head of Medusa prominent, holding Nike in her right hand and also with a shield in her left hand showing scenes indigenous the war of the Amazons and the Giants. A huge coiled line resided behind the shield. On her helmet was standing a sphinx and also two griffins. In front of the statue was a huge shallow container of water, which no only included the humidity vital for the conservation of the ivory, but also acted together a reflector of light coming through the doorway. The frosting must have actually been nothing much less than awe-inspiring and the richness of that — both artistically and literally — must have sent a very clear article of the wealth and also power of the city that could produce together a tribute to their patron god. (50)

Figure 4-12: Athena Parthenon by mar Harrsch is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

5th Century Athenian political Institutions

The management of the Athenian state was regulated by a team of world referred to as magistrates, who were it is registered to rigorous publicly control and chosen by lot. Just two magistrates were straight elected by the famous Assembly: strategos (or generals), and also magistrates of finance. All magistrates served for a year or less, v the exemption of Pericles, that was elected year after year to public office. At the finish of their service, magistrates were required to provide an account that their administration and use of publicly finances.

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The many elite posts in the Athenian political device belonged come archons. In periods past, they offered as heads of the Athenian state, however in the period of Pericles they lost much of their influence and also power, though they still presided end tribunals. The Assembly the the world was the very first organ of democracy in Athens. In theory, that was composed of every the citizens of Athens. However, it is approximated that the maximum number of participants it witnessed was 6,000. The Assembly met in former of the Acropolis and also decided ~ above laws and decrees. When the Assembly offered its decision in a particular matter, the issue was increased to the Council, or Boule, to administer definitive approval.

The Council consisted of 500 members, 50 from each tribe, and also functioned together an expansion of the Assembly. Board of directors members were chosen by lot in a comparable manner to magistrates and also supervised the work of the magistrates in addition to various other legal projects and administrative details. They additionally oversaw the city-state’s external affairs. (49)