The Real (Greek) Dark Ages The Greek Dark Ages are the period between the Mycenaean Period and the Archaic Period, and they range from about 1100–800 BC. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. was marked by the disappearances of the Hittites, Minoans and Mycenaean Greeks. Thus, our understanding of the Greek Dark Age relies largely on archaeological research. Some scholars have proposed a date between c. 1200 BCE and c. 800 BCE for the Greek Dark Age. Single burials and cremations were seen as an "intrusive" new element in the archaeological record, usually associated with the Dorians: these were understood as new funerary practices alien to the Mycenaean world and introduced by the invading tribes. In Crete, although urban life continued in some coastal towns (e.g. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. During the LH IIIA-B period (see Table 1), a fortification was built at Mycenae, protecting the palace and part of the residential space; some of the houses outside the citadel were destroyed during the LH IIIB period (accidental destruction cannot be ruled out), and after this incident, the fortification was extended and the water supply secured. Figure 1 - Decline in the number of recorded sites and cemeteries in Greeceby Cristian Violatti (CC BY-NC-SA). This picture was mainly supported by ancient accounts on the Dorian invaders, a Greek tribe that migrated into Greece, that was largely responsible for the Mycenaean collapse. Geometric Pottery Designsby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA), Several decades ago, scholars had a rather different view on the Greek Dark Age compared with our current understanding. This period lasted from around 1100 BC to 800 BC. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Early Protogeometric styles in Lefkandi and Crete). Late Mycenaean and Submycenaean styles coexisted until c. 1050 BCE, when the Protogeometric style replaced both and also appeared in the Argolid, Corinthos, Thessaly, South & Central Cyclades, and West Asia Minor. The succeeding period (1100-750 B.C.) Lefkandi and Athens). The collapse of the Mycenaean civilization was the cause of the Greek Dark Ages. As exciting as all these may sound, Lefkandi also reflects the material decline of Greece: in terms of building standards, Lefkandi ranks well below the level of sophistication of Mycenaean architecture. The city was sacked, its occupants put to the sword, and the barbarian tribes moved in. Read More Thucydides, the great ancient historian of the 5th century bce, wrote a sketch of Greek history from the Trojan War to his own day, in which…. Which came first: the Iliad or the Odyssey? With the mysterious end of the Mycenaean civilization and the so-called Bronze Age Collapse in the ancient Aegean and wider Mediterranean, there came the ‘Dark Ages’ (another extreme label for a period which was perhaps not as dark as all that) and, although some sites began to revive from the 10th century BCE, it would take several more centuries before Greek culture would finally … All that was preserved were stories of gods and men, passed along by poets, that dimly reflected Mycenaean values and events. Submycenaean style in general is below the standards of the Late Mycenaean style in terms of materials and painting quality. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Metalworking methods during the Dark Age show signs of technical deficiencies in warlike items at several sites compared to earlier Bronze Age practices. From 1960s CE onwards, the archaeological work on the Greek Dark Age has been increasing significantly, and many of the old assumptions have been challenged. Table 1 offers a simplified chronology of the Greek Dark Age. More than a hundred sites like this have been recorded in Crete alone. Iron-working is the one technological innovation that stands out during this period, so the Greek Dark Age is also known as the Early Iron Age. The Greek Dark Ages began as a result of the decline of the Mycenaean civilization in the twelfth and eleventh centuries. By 110 B.C.E., the Mycenaean civilization had crumbled. [...] The surviving Achaeans fled [...] every man, feeling unsafe, carried arms: increasing violence disrupted agriculture and trade on land, and commerce on the seas. Specifically, when The Dorians conquered the Minoans and Mycenaean civilizations, The Dark Age emerged. No, definitely not. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Despite these new objections on the term "Dark Age", the overall picture suggested by archaeological data for this period fits the general features of system collapse with no identifiable central administration, population decline, and impoverishment of material culture. Inspired by the rich lessons of history, Cristian's goal is to stimulate ideas and to spark the intellectual curiosity of his audience. It seems unlikely that the people of Karphi freely chose to settle in a spot so difficult to access, so it is safe to assume that this choice was conditioned by a set of circumstances, probably linked to defensive and other strategic reasons. Single burials, for example, have been identified throughout the Mycenaean period at Argos. A Dark Age is a time when there are no historical records (writing) and also a time of fear, uncertainty, and violence. After the fall of the Mycenaeans, Greece went into a Dark Age. Before approximately 1200 BC, people in Greece and much of the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean world were living at the height of development. The Dark Age era begins with a catastrophic event: the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, when all major Mycenaean regional centres fell out of use after suffering a combination of destruction and abandonment. In the Dark Ages, Greek states were considerably smaller and less wealthy than in Mycenaean times, though the basic unit is already the walled polis or city-state. This style has also been recorded in other regions, but it shows significant variations; in Lefkandi, for example, it displays a poorer quality when compared to Attica. Like burials, pottery styles throughout Greece during the Dark Age saw the emergence of regional variations, unlike during Mycenaean times when pottery displayed a stylistic unit. Social organization was tribal: Ionians, for example, were grouped into four tribes. Table 2 - Overview of the Greek Dark Age pottery stylesby Cristian Violatti (Copyright). What happened to the Mycenaean civilization during the Dark Age? This growth is recorded in mainland Greece in general, the Aegean islands, and it is also reflected in the growth of the number of Greek settlements outside Greece (Western Mediterranean and the Black Sea). The Dark Age. The collapse of the Mycenaean civilization was the cause of the Greek Dark Ages. In many regions, the Mycenaean custom of burial in family vaults was suddenly replaced by a new single burial practice, while cremation was adopted in some areas. They thrived during the Bronze Age and succeeded the Minoan civilization. Because writing disappeared along with Mycenaean civilization, no written evidence exists for … With Rome gone, a chain of unstoppable events was unleashed. © copyright 2003-2021 Study.com. Books Vincent Desborough has estimated a sharp population decline by c. 1100 "about one-tenth of what it had been little over a century ago". Regional variation of pottery can be interpreted as a loss or reduction in the level of contact between the different groups: styles of decoration are typically borrowed and exchanged during interaction between groups. Rome fell into chaos and ruin, into the hands of the various tribes. It was a time period that fascinated the classical Greeks and prompted many stories of Trojan wars and meddling gods. Abstract decoration dominated the Dark Age pottery styles. Figurative art, largely absent during the Greek Dark Age and fairly common during Mycenaean times, returned during the late stage of the Geometric style, including battles, chariot processions, and funerary scenes. Bronze was harder and more durable than copper, which made bronze a better metal for tools and weapons.Archaeological evidence suggests the transition from copper to bronze took place around 3300 B.C. First, let’s clarify some terms. Ancient History Encyclopedia. During some time after the destruction of the palaces, the pottery industry continued during the LH IIIC period, but it eventually decreased its quality, followed by the emergence of new regional pottery styles. The Mycenaean civilization, it was believed, fell after several waves of invasions by different groups who brought violence and chaos to the sophisticated Mycenaeans. which we know very little about, apart from archaeology. James Whitley has stated that the term Dark Age is a "rather loaded term". Libraries fell into disrepair. Although c. 1200 BCE is the accepted date of the destruction and abandonment of several of the major Mycenaean centres, the archaeological record does not show significant changes until at least a century or so later; that is, Mycenaean culture persisted after the destruction of the palace centres for about a century, and its cultural traits are still identifiable. One of these groups was a Greek-speaking people … Around the year 1200 BCE the Mycenaean civilization shows signs of decline. Violatti, Cristian. Around this time, similar initiatives were undertaken in Athens, Tiryns, and Gla (Boeotia), and it is possible that a wall closing off the Isthmus of Corinth was built, presumably to control the only access by land to the Peloponnese. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Society During the Greek Dark Ages Greece was most likely divided into independent regions according to kinship groups and the oikoi, or households. A number of scholars have raised concerns about the term "Dark Age". One of the seemingly curious aspects of accounts by later, Classical Greek historians of events betweenthe Age of the Heroes (a legendary era essentially rooted in memories of the Minoan-Mycenaean Bronze Age) and their own historic era is that they did not envisage this Dark Age at all. Others believe that it begins in c. 1100 BCE and ends in 776 BCE, the date of the first Olympian Games (according to Hippias of Elis). The invention of bronze brought an end to the Stone Age, the prehistoric period dominated by the use of stone tools and weaponry.… What flourished during the Greek Dark Ages? Palaikastro), many major Bronze Age settlements were abandoned and a new pattern emerged: the location of new sites on remote and easily defensible areas. Timothy Darvill believes that the term "Dark Age" is "not very helpful" because it implies that very little is known about the period despite the fact that the archaeology has advanced our knowledge of the Greek Dark Age. In ancient Greek civilization: The post-Mycenaean period and Lefkandi … bce is often called a Dark Age. Our experts can answer your tough homework and study questions. It also is conceiv… "Greek Dark Age." A date between c. 1000 and 750 BCE has also been favoured. The lack of an overall unifying artistic tradition, linked to the absence of a dominant political unit in Greece, could also be a factor to consider when trying to explain these regional differences. Archaeologists have found a layer of burnt remains at exactly the same date. The material culture of the 8th-century BCE Greece is much varied and innovative compared with the previous centuries. Mycenaean Civilization: Culture & History, Minoan Civilization: Facts, Map & Timeline, The Civil War and Reconstruction: Help and Review, Major Events in World History Study Guide, DSST History of the Soviet Union: Study Guide & Test Prep, History 311: The Holocaust & World War II, SAT Subject Test US History: Practice and Study Guide, TExES History 7-12 (233): Practice & Study Guide, NY Regents Exam - Global History and Geography: Test Prep & Practice, High School World History: Help and Review, Biological and Biomedical Ancient Sumer may have been the first civilization to start adding tin to copper to make bronze. At Mycenae, the uppermost terraces were abandoned, but part of the citadel was reoccupied; at Dhimini, activities at the destroyed large palatial complex were partly restored but abandoned soon after. It may be the case that Dorian tribes migrated into Greece around the time of the Mycenaean collapse, and it might also be possible that they played a role in the collapse itself, but the point is that the evidence for it is far from conclusive, and it has no solid archaeological basis. The Mycenaean culture of Greece had spread throughout much of the Aegean, most famously to the city of Troy. The unif… The islands were known for their white marble, mined during the Greek Bronze Age and throughout Classical history. In fact, it would be Cristian is a public speaker and independent author with a strong passion for the human past. The Bronze Age of ancient Greece, which lasted from about 3000 to 1200 BCE, is the historical backdrop for much of Greek mythology as well as the Homeric epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. Greek Dark Age. The Greek Dark Age chronology does not have any single "fixed point", which means that, since literacy was lost, we do not have any historical event that could be linked to world chronology. Archaeology suggests that around 1100 BC, the palace centres and outlying settlements of the Mycenaeans' highly organized culture began to be abandoned or destroyed, and by 1050 BC, the recognizable features of Mycenaean culture had disappeared, and the population had decreased significantly. At least some of these events might be connected with the Egyptian and Hittite documents recording land and sea raiding activities around the same time. Some of these areas were not occupied prior to 1200 BCE. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Dark_Age/. The great Roman Empire had been falling apart for hundreds of years, but that was the final straw. Written by Cristian Violatti, published on 30 January 2015 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Lion's Gate at Mycenaeby Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de (CC BY-SA). All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. This is reflected by the reduction in the number of settlements in Greece that can be identified around 1100 BCE: the number of recorded sites and cemeteries of Greece during the LH IIIB and LH IIIC period clearly show this tendency (see figure 1). This is consistent with the figures proposed by Anthony Snodgrass for the number of occupied sites in Greece identified based on different pottery styles: In some areas of Greece, such as Laconia and the southern Argolid, very few archaeological finds have been identified for the c. 1100-1000 period and the few sites that were found are small compared to previous times. Greek states during the so called Greek Dark Ages. Around 725 BCE, the Pro-Corinthian style emerged in Corinth, and shortly after other fully figurative styles were also detected in Crete. No one knows what caused this collapse. By about 1100 BCE, a number of changes can be identified in the archaeological record affecting burial practices, settlements, and pottery styles. The study of settlements suggests a dramatic population decline in Greece during the Dark Age. The world of the legendary leaders, associated with major palace centers, such as Thebes or Mycenae, certainly is portrayed in its final phase as riven by warfare, assassination, and internal migrations. Regional variations in burial practices have been identified and also different practices coexisting within the same community. No one knows what caused this collapse. The site of Karphi is a good example: most of it lies over 1,000 metres above sea level. In mainland Greece and some of the Cyclades islands, Mycenaean pottery and Mycenaean burials persisted. Web. Recorded sites and cemeteries in Greece. 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