Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Ages (ca. 1200 BC&ndash800 BC) refers to the period of Greek prehistory from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean civilization in the 11th century BC to the rise of the first Greek city-states in the 9th century BC and the epics of Homer and earliest writings in alphabetic Greek in the 8th century BC.
The collapse of the Mycenaean coordinated with the fall of several other large empires in the near east, most notably the Hittite and the Egyptian. The cause may be attributed to an invasion of the sea people wielding iron weapons. When the Dorians came down into Greece they also were equipped with superior iron weapons, easily dispersing the already weakened Mycenaeans. The period that follows these events is collectively known as the Greek Dark Ages.
Archaeology shows a collapse of civilization in the Greek world in this period. The great palaces and cities of the Myceneans were destroyed or abandoned. The Greek language ceased to be written. Greek dark age pottery has simple geometric designs and lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenean ware. The Greeks of the dark age lived in fewer and smaller settlements, suggesting famine and depopulation, and foreign goods are not found, suggesting little international trade. Contact was also lost between foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth of any sort.
Kings are said to rule over this period of time. However, eventually they were replaced with an aristocracy, and later, in some areas, an aristocracy in a aristocracy the elites of the elite. The weight of war changed from cavalry to infantry called hoplites. Iron became into use due to its cheapness to produce and mine. Slowly equality grew among the different sects of people, leading to the dethronement of the various Kings and the rise of the family.
Families began to reconstruct their past in the attempt at linking their blood line with heroes from the Trojan War, but most precisely Heracles. Most of this was a jumble of legend and hubris, but some were sorted by poets of the school of Hesiod. Most of these poems are lost, though, but some famous "storywriters", as they were called, were Hecataeus of Miletus and Acusilaus of Argos.
It is thought that the epics by Homer contain a certain amount of tradition preserved orally during the Dark Ages period. Exavtly how much of Homer can be considered historical is vigorously disputed see the article on Troy for a discussion.
At the end of this period of stagnation the Greek civilization was engulfed in a renaissance that spread the Greek world as far as the Black Sea and Spain. Writing was relearned from the Phoenicians, eventually spreading north into Italy and the Gauls.
Greek Dark Age Timeline - HistoryThe Age of Homer, or the Dark Ages (12th-9th century)
Found in Tomb V in Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. Gold death-mask known as the “Mask of Agamemnon”. This mask depicts the imposing face of a bearded nobleman. It is made of a gold sheet with repoussé details. Two holes near the ears indicate that the mask was held in place of the deceased’s face with twine.
The Lion Gate, the main entrance of the citadel of Mycenae, 13th century BC
Homer and His Guide (1874) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
- West, M. L. (1999). “The Invention of Homer”. The Classical Quarterly. 49 (2): 364–382
- Whitley, James (2003) Style and Society in Dark Age Greece: The Changing Face of a Pre-literate Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
More on the Bronze Age Collapse, if possible!
The author does not mention the great Bronze Age MINOAN civilization centered on the largest of the Greek islands,Crete. The Minoans used a form of hieroglyphs from which I understood the LINEAR A writing evolved, which then evolved into the Linear B writing used by the Mycenaeans. I thought that the Minoans were considered to probably be the first major European civilization, but some experts do not consider them to be the first Greek civilization as they likely did not speak Greek, which was spoken by the Mycenaeans. The Phaestos Disc is an interesting Minoan artifact, which defied early attempts to translate it, but could have a bearing on early “Greek” writing systems. Although their civilization was later largely destroyed by the massive Volcanic eruption on Thera ( Santorini ), they did trade with and influence the Mainland Greeks cultural development, so I thought they were worthy of mention in this article.
Iron age begins
But some good things also happened during this time. Knowledge of how to make tools and weapons out of iron spread from the Hittites around the Mediterranean Sea, and so the Greeks also learned how to work iron. Iron is stronger than bronze and cheaper to get, because you can mine it in Greece itself instead of bringing tin from far away.
Iron and blacksmithing Invention of the bellows Who were the Hittites?
Because iron was cheaper than bronze, more people could use it, even poor people. And without the kings and the palaces, people were generally more equal. The rich people weren’t as rich, so the differences between people weren’t so big. More people owned their own land, instead of being slaves or sharecroppers.
The History Book Club discussion
This thread covers the discussion and account of the collapse of the Mycenaean World and discusses the aftermath of how the Greeks were poised to start their civilization.
The Greek Dark Age or Ages (ca. 1200–800 BCE) are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BCE, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th century BCE. These terms are gradually going out of use, since the former lack of archaeological evidence in a period that was mute in its lack of inscriptions (thus "dark") has been shown to be an accident of discovery rather than a fact of history.
The archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned.
Around this time, the Hittite civilization suffered serious disruption and cities from Troy to Gaza were destroyed. Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece the Linear B writing of the Greek language used by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceases.
The decoration on Greek pottery after c. 1100 BCE lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles. It was previously thought that all contact was lost between mainland Hellenes and foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth however, artifacts from excavations at Lefkandi on the Lelantine Plain in Euboea show that significant cultural and trade links with the east, particularly the Levant coast, developed from c. 900 BCE onwards, and evidence has emerged of the new presence of Hellenes in sub-Mycenaean Cyprus and on the Syrian coast at Al Mina.
Please feel free to add books, images pertaining to Ancient History of the Greek Dark Ages, and/or urls, etc that pertain to this subject area. No self promotion please.
Here is the lecture outline for Donald Hagan's course at Yale. It outlines quite a few terms and outline questions which are the focal point of his lecture on the Dark Ages:
Here is the transcript for Lecture Two:
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan explores the earliest history of Greek civilization. He demonstrates how small agricultural enclaves eventually turned into great cities of power and wealth in the Bronze Age, taking as his examples first Minoan Crete and then Mycenaean Greece. He also argues that these civilizations were closely related to the great monarchies of the ancient Near East. He points out that the Mycenaean age eventually came to an abrupt end probably through a process of warfare and migration. Reconstructing the Mycenaean age is possible through archaeological evidence and through epic poetry (Homer). Finally, he provides an account of the collapse of the Mycenaean world, and explains how in its aftermath, the Greeks were poised to start their civilization over on a new slate.
Excerpts from Donald Hagan's transcripts:
1. I'm going to talk to you today about the beginnings of the Greek experience as far as we know it, and I should warn you at once that the further back in history you go the less secure is your knowledge, especially at the beginning of our talk today when you are in a truly prehistoric period. That is before there is any written evidence from the period in which you are interested. So what we think we know derives chiefly from archeological evidence, which is before writing--mute evidence that has to be interpreted and is very complicated, and is far from secure. Even a question such as a date which is so critical for historians, is really quite approximate, and subject to controversy, as is just about every single thing I will tell you for the next few days. These will be even more than usual subject to controversy even the most fundamental things. So what you'll be hearing are approximations as best we can make them of what's going on.
2. This is Donald Hagan's definition of civilization and when it began:
And what we find, the first example of a Bronze Age--and I use the word civilization now for the first time, because before the Bronze Age--there is nothing that we would define as civilization. Civilization involves the establishment of permanent dwelling areas that we call cities, as opposed to villages. Agricultural villages will have existed all over the place in the late Stone Age, in the Neolithic Period, as it is known. But there is a difference and the critical difference is that a city contains a number of people who do not provide for their own support. That is to say, they don't produce food. They need to acquire it from somebody else. Instead, they do various things like govern and are priests, and are bureaucrats, and are engaged in other non-productive activities that depend upon others to feed them. That's the narrowest definition of cities.
3. Bronze Age - either 3000 BC or approximately 2900 BC
Other excerpts from Donald Hagan:
1. That civilization was uncovered by the archaeologists right at the beginning of the twentieth century. Sir Arthur Evans, an Englishman, was responsible for the major work that has revealed that civilization. He was captivated by it, he--at one point I think he convinced himself that he was a descendant of the kings of that civilization. But in any case, he named it. He named it after the legendary King of Crete who appears in Greek mythology by the name of Minos. So he referred to that civilization as the Minoan civilization. When we use the word Minoan we mean the civilization whose home is Crete. It spread out beyond Crete because the Minoans established what we might want to call an empire in various parts of the Mediterranean, and it starts with Crete. It is a Bronze Age culture, and it is the first civilization we know in the area.
2.The Minoans are not Greeks. Strictly speaking, what do we mean when we say somebody is Greek? We mean that his native language, not one that he's acquired subsequently, but the one that he learned as a child, was Greek, some version of the Greek language. These are linguistic terms. But of course, the people who spoke them, especially in the early years, tended to be part of a relatively narrow collection of people, who intermarried with each other chiefly, and therefore developed common cultural characteristics. So of course, the language is only a clue. When you speak about Greeks you will be speaking about something more than merely the fact that they spoke a certain language.
2. Well, the way we can reason things out from the evidence we have suggests that Greek-speaking peoples came down into the area around the Aegean Sea, perhaps around 2000 B.C., about a thousand years later than the emergence of the Minoan civilization at Crete. And again, I think these days they tend to down date it by another century or so, so it might be around 1900 B.C. We really don't know very much about these early Greek settlers. We begin to know more about three or four hundred years down the road, when there appear buildings and settlements in the world later inhabited by the Greeks, as we know, to which we give the name Mycenaean.
This is the pdf file for this open course: The Dark Ages - terms and questions
This is the synopsis for Lecture Three - a continuation of the Dark Ages lecture with Donald Kagan of Yale.
I have already cited the books mentioned in post two:
Lecture 3 - The Dark Ages (cont.)
In this lecture, Professor Kagan addresses what scholars call the Homeric question. He asks: what society do Homer's poems describe? He argues that in view of the long oral transmission of the poems, the poems of Homer probably reflect various ages from the Mycenaean world to the Dark Ages. More importantly, close scrutiny of the poems will yield historical information for the historian. In this way, one is able to reconstruct through the poems, to a certain extent, the post-Mycenaean world. Finally, Professor Kagan says a few words on the heroic ethic of the Greek world.
Pomeroy, Burstein, Donlan and Roberts. Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press: New York, 1999, pp. 40-71.
Kagan, Donald. "Problems in Ancient History." In The Ancient Near East and Greece. 2nd ed., vol. 1. Prentice-Hall: New York, 1975, chapter 1.
Note: the above books were cited by me in post two for the first half of the lecture on the Greek Dark Ages.
Ancient.Greece.org (The Dark Ages)
Here is the link for Lecture Three - The Dark Ages continued:
Chakara, they are still out there on iTunes etc.
/> Who exactly were Hittites? Origin, evolution and descendants?
The Hittites were an Ancient Anatolian people who established an empire at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around the 18th century BC.
This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Suppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia.
After c. 1180 BC, the empire came to an end during the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until the 8th century BC.
The Hittite language was a member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. They referred to their native land as Hatti, and to their language as Nesili (the language of Nesa). The conventional name "Hittites" is due to their initial identification with the Biblical Hittites in 19th century archaeology.
Despite the use of Hatti for their core territory, the Hittites should be distinguished from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the same region (until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC) and spoke a language possibly in the Northwest Caucasian languages group known as Hattic.
The Hittite military made successful use of chariots. Although belonging to the Bronze Age, they were the forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the 14th century BC, when letters to foreign rulers reveal the latter's demand for iron goods.
After 1180 BC, amid general turmoil in the Levant associated with the sudden arrival of the Sea Peoples, the kingdom disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BC.
The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their kingdom, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Egypt and the Middle East.
The Hittite Empire was the section in blue
Descendants probably in modern day Turkey and Syria and their empire had extended to include Egypt at one time. Who knows there may be descendants of this ancient race in Egypt or in other parts of the Middle East.
"The Hittites were a people who once lived in what is modern Turkey and northern Syria. Most of what we know about them today comes from ancient texts that have been recovered. It would seem that the first indication of their existence occurred in about 1900 BC, in the region that was to become Hatti. There, they established the town of Nesa. Over the next three hundred years, their influence grew until in about 1680 BC, a true empire was born.
Bentley, thanks for the interesting write up on the Hittites. I've always been fascinated with Ancient Near East history.
You are welcome Phillip - Pradeep Jayatunga from Sri Lanka had a question and I wanted to help him.
/> Thanks Bentley, it was very helpful.
Pradeep how are you. I am glad that it was helpful to you.
/> Yes, it was. I recently read a book on the history of the war chariot (author's name slips my memory) and got interested in Hittites. BTW I wonder whether there is any connection between Hittites and the Hyksos who invaded and ruled Egypt for a while.
Would it be this book Pradeep:
/> Yes I think so. Thanks Rick
Pradeep wrote: "Yes, it was. I recently read a book on the history of the war chariot (author's name slips my memory) and got interested in Hittites. BTW I wonder whether there is any connection between Hittites a. "
I do not believe that these groups were connected Pradeep. The Hyksos were Semites.
Here is a little write-up on the timeline of the Egyptian conflicts with the Hyksos and the Hittites from The Finer Times:
It is said that around the year 1650 BC the Hyksos of the northern Nile Delta made an invasion into Egypt and with little confrontation was able to take control of the northern Egyptian lands.
This invasion led to the Hyksos holding the Egyptian lands for around a century. While many see this as a negative for Egypt it seems the Hyksos were part of the reason why the Egyptians grew in stature as a military nation as they took the war to the Hyksos Empire.
The Ancient Egyptians under Seqenenre Tao (II) and Apophis waged war with the Hyksos in northern Egypt and Apophis was able to rout the Hyksos forcing them north out of Egypt forever.
Egypt and the Canaanite
Ancient Egyptian warfare started around 1500 BC and were mainly caused by the Egyptians wish to expand their lands and political control in the region. The first known war was one with the Canaanite coalition that occurred along the coastal lands Israel, Lebanon and Syria and into Turkey.
The most well known battle of this war was the Battle of Megiddo where Pharaoh Thutmose III sent 10,000 to 20,000 men to face an army of 10,000 to 15,000 led by the King of Kadesh and the King of Megiddo. This battle happened in 1457 BC.
The Egyptians camped close to the Canaanite forces and as morning broke the Egyptians surprised the Canaanite in attack, the overwhelming strength of the Egyptians broke the will of the Canaanite and they fell into full retreat. The Egyptians killed 83 Canaanite and captured just fewer than 400 as prisoners, the outcome of the battle meant that the Egyptians needed to lay siege to the city, which they did for 7 months before the city fell in surrender. Egypt won the war and its lands grew to encompass the region within its boundaries.
Egypt and the Hittites
The next well known Ancient Egyptian War was against the Hittites in the famous Battle of Kadesh in 1288 BC. Here the Egyptians under Ramesses II faced the Hittite’s led by Muwatalli II at the plains outside the city of Kadesh (present day Syria).
History says that the Egyptians had 20,000 men with only 10,000 engaged in the battle while the Hittites had a massive 50,000 men. This battle was the largest Chariot battle in history with just fewer than 6,000 chariots between the two armies.
The battle in its placement outside Kadesh came as a surprise to the Egyptians as Nomad travellers had told them that the Hittites were some 200 kilometres north from where they actually were. This meant Ramesses thought that he had the chance to take Kadesh unopposed and rushed towards the city, unfortunately this meant his four divisions got scattered as they all moved at different paces.
The Hittites took the initiative and started a massive chariot attack on the Egyptian division named Ri, annihilating them as they went. The Hittites chariot attack then moved onto a second Egyptian division called Anum which was decimated, although some managed to flee. The Hittites thought they had won the battle and started looting whatever they could from the dead Egyptians, this was their big mistake.
The remaining two Egyptian divisions made a counterattack and the two combined divisions routed the Hittite chariot force killing almost all Hittites other than the few who managed to swim over the river back to the rest of the Hittite army.
The final part of battle happened the next day when the Hittite army attacked once more, this attack turned into bloodshed on both sides with many men lost. In the end the Hittite army had to retreat back across the river to where they were positioned the previous day.
Both sides claimed victory in the battle, although it looks to have ended in a stalemate. The true result was that Egypt didn’t claim more ground but the Hittites could not continue the battle because of logistical problems with supplies thus it turned into a Pyrrhic victory to Egypt.
- The Mycenaean civilization started to collapse from 1200 BC. 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.  Many explanations attribute the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the Bronze Age collapse to climatic or environmental catastrophe, combined with an invasion by Dorians or by the Sea Peoples, but no single explanation fits the available archaeological evidence.  The idea of systems collapse has gained popularity among some academics. 
- The Mycenaean Civilization was focused on large palatial complexes that were the centers of religion, politics and economics. The disruption of a Mycenaean palace could result to a general disruption of many Mycenaean palaces. In addition, a division among leading figures could have destroyed the Mycenaean order. Lack of attention to religious details or internal warfare could disrupt the vital international trade market and especially the copper trade from Anatolia. Robert Drews in 1993 noted the lack of skeletal remains at numerous sites, this suggests that the destruction was anticipated and the locals abandoned them. 
Around this time large-scale revolts took place in several parts of the eastern Mediterranean and attempts to overthrow existing kingdoms were made as a result of economic and political instability by surrounding people, who were already plagued with famine and hardship. Part of the Hittite kingdom was invaded and conquered by the so-called Sea Peoples, whose origins, perhaps from different parts of the Mediterranean such as the Black Sea, the Aegean and Anatolian regions, remain obscure. The 13th- and 12th-century inscriptions and carvings at Karnak and Luxor are the only sources for "Sea Peoples", a term invented by the Egyptians themselves and recorded in boastful accounts of Egyptian military successes.  For these so-called Sea Peoples, there is little more evidence than these inscriptions.
The foreign countries . made a conspiracy in their islands. All at once the lands were on the move, scattered in war. No country could stand before their arms . Their league was Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen and Weshesh. 
A similar assemblage of peoples may have attempted to invade Egypt twice, once during the reign of Merneptah, about 1208 BC, and again during the reign of Ramesses III, about 1178 BC.
With the collapse of the palatial centres, no more monumental stone buildings were built and the practice of wall painting may have ceased writing in the Linear B script ceased, vital trade links were lost, and towns and villages were abandoned. Writing in the Linear B script ceased particularly because the redistributive economy had crashed, and there was no longer a need to keep records about commerce.  The population of Greece was reduced,  and the world of organized state armies, kings, officials, and redistributive systems disappeared. Most of the information about the period comes from burial sites and the grave goods contained within them.
The fragmented, localized, and autonomous cultures lacked cultural and aesthetic cohesion and are noted for their diversity of material cultures in pottery styles (e.g. conservative in Athens, eclectic in Knossos), burial practices, and settlement structures. The Protogeometric style of pottery was stylistically simpler than earlier designs, characterized by lines and curves. Generalizations about the "Dark Age Society" are considered simplifications, because the range of cultures throughout Greece at the time cannot be grouped into a single "Dark Age Society" category.  Tholos tombs are found in early Iron Age Thessaly and in Crete but not in general elsewhere, and cremation was the dominant rite in Attica but nearby in the Argolid, it was inhumation.  Some former sites of Mycenaean palaces, such as Argos or Knossos, continued to be occupied the fact that other sites experienced an expansive "boom time" of a generation or two before they were abandoned has been associated by James Whitley with the "big-man social organization", which is based on personal charisma and is inherently unstable: he interprets Lefkandi in this light. 
Some regions in Greece, such as Attica, Euboea and central Crete, recovered economically from these events faster than others, but life for common Greeks would have remained relatively unchanged as it had done for centuries. There was still farming, weaving, metalworking and pottery but at a lower level of output and for local use in local styles. Some technical innovations were introduced around 1050 BC with the start of the Protogeometric style (1050–900 BC), such as the superior pottery technology that included a faster potter's wheel for superior vase shapes and the use of a compass to draw perfect circles and semicircles for decoration. Better glazes were achieved by higher temperature firing of clay. However, the overall trend was toward simpler, less intricate pieces and fewer resources being devoted to the creation of beautiful art.
The smelting of iron was learned from Cyprus and the Levant and was exploited and improved upon by using local deposits of iron ore previously ignored by the Mycenaeans: edged weapons were now within reach of less elite warriors. Though the universal use of iron was one shared feature among Dark Age settlements,  it is still uncertain when the forged iron weapons and armour achieved superior strength to those that had been previously cast and hammered from bronze. From 1050, many small local iron industries appeared, and by 900, almost all weapons in grave goods were made of iron.
The distribution of the Ionic Greek dialect in historic times indicates early movement from the mainland of Greece to the Anatolian coast to such sites as Miletus, Ephesus, and Colophon, perhaps as early as 1000, but the contemporaneous evidence is scant. In Cyprus, some archaeological sites begin to show identifiably Greek ceramics,  a colony of Euboean Greeks was established at Al Mina on the Syrian coast, and a reviving Aegean Greek network of exchange can be detected from 10th-century Attic Protogeometric pottery found in Crete and at Samos, off the coast of Asia Minor. 
Cyprus was inhabited by a mix of "Pelasgians" and Phoenicians, joined during this period by the first Greek settlements. Potters in Cyprus initiated the most elegant new pottery style of the 10th and 9th centuries, the "Cypro-Phoenician" "black on red" style  of small flasks and jugs that held precious contents, probably scented oil. Together with distinctively Greek Euboean ceramic wares, it was widely exported and is found in Levantine sites, including Tyre and far inland in the late 11th and 10th centuries. Cypriot metalwork was exchanged in Crete.
It is likely that Greece during this period was divided into independent regions organized by kinship groups and the oikoi or households, the origins of the later poleis. Excavations of Dark Age communities such as Nichoria in the Peloponnese have shown how a Bronze Age town was abandoned in 1150 BC but then reemerged as a small village cluster by 1075 BC. At this time there were only around forty families living there with plenty of good farming land and grazing for cattle. The remains of a 10th century building, including a megaron, on the top of the ridge have led to speculation that this was the chieftain's house. This was a larger structure than those surrounding it but it was still made from the same materials (mud brick and thatched roof). It was perhaps also a place of religious significance and of communal storage of food. High status individuals did in fact exist in the Dark Age, but their standard of living was not significantly higher than others of their village.  Most Greeks did not live in isolated farmsteads but in small settlements. It is likely that, as at the dawn of the historical period two or three hundred years later, the main economic resource for each family was the ancestral plot of land of the oikos, the kleros or allotment without this a man could not marry. 
Lefkandi on the island of Euboea was a prosperous settlement in the Late Bronze Age,  possibly to be identified with old Eretria.  It recovered quickly from the collapse of Mycenaean culture, and in 1981 excavators of a burial ground found the largest 10th-century building yet known from Greece.  Sometimes called "the heroon", this long narrow building, 50 metres by 10 metres, or about 150 feet by 30 feet, contained two burial shafts. In one were placed four horses and the other contained a cremated male buried with his iron weapons and an inhumed woman, heavily adorned with gold jewellery.  The man's bones were placed in a bronze jar from Cyprus, with hunting scenes on the cast rim. The woman was clad with gold coils in her hair, rings, gold breast plates, an heirloom necklace (an elaborate Cypriot or Near Eastern necklace made some 200 to 300 years before her burial) and an ivory-handled dagger at her head. The horses appeared to have been sacrificed, some appearing to have iron bits in their mouths. No evidence survives to show whether the building was erected to house the burial, or whether the "hero" or local chieftain in the grave was cremated and then buried in his grand house whichever is true, the house was soon demolished and the debris used to form a roughly circular mound over the wall stumps.
Between this period and approximately 820 BC, rich members of the community were cremated and buried close to the eastern end of the building, in much the same way Christians might seek to be buried close to a saint's grave the presence of imported objects, notable throughout more than eighty further burials, contrast with other nearby cemeteries at Lefkandi and attest to a lasting elite tradition.
The archaeological record of many sites demonstrates that the economic recovery of Greece was well underway by the beginning of the 8th century BC. Cemeteries, such as the Kerameikos in Athens or Lefkandi, and sanctuaries, such as Olympia, recently founded in Delphi or the Heraion of Samos, first of the colossal free-standing temples, were richly provided with offerings - including items from the Near East, Egypt, and Italy made of exotic materials including amber and ivory. Exports of Greek pottery demonstrate contact with the Levant coast at sites such as Al-Mina and with the region of the Villanovan culture to the north of Rome. The decoration of pottery became more elaborate and included figured scenes that parallel the stories of Homeric Epic. Iron tools and weapons improved renewed Mediterranean trade brought new supplies of copper and tin to make a wide range of elaborate bronze objects, such as tripod stands like those offered as prizes in the funeral games celebrated by Achilles for Patroclus.  Other coastal regions of Greece besides Euboea were once again full participants in the commercial and cultural exchanges of the eastern and central Mediterranean and communities developed governance by an elite group of aristocrats rather than by the single basileus or chieftain of earlier periods. 
By the mid-to late-8th century BC, a new Greek alphabet system was adopted from the Phoenician alphabet by a Greek with first-hand experience of it. The Greeks adapted the abjad used to write Phoenician (a Semitic language used by the Phoenicians), notably introducing characters for vowel sounds and thereby creating the first truly alphabetic writing system. The new alphabet quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean and was used to write not only the Greek language but also Phrygian and other languages in the eastern Mediterranean. As Greece sent out colonies west towards Sicily and Italy (Pithekoussae, Cumae), the influence of their new alphabet extended further. The ceramic Euboean artifact inscribed with a few lines written in the Greek alphabet referring to "Nestor's Cup", discovered in a grave at Pithekoussae (Ischia), dates from c. 730 BC it seems to be the oldest written reference to the Iliad. The Etruscans benefited from the innovation: Old Italic variants spread throughout Italy from the 8th century. Other variants of the alphabet appear on the Lemnos Stele and in the alphabets of Asia Minor. The previous Linear scripts were not completely abandoned: the Cypriot syllabary, descended from Linear A, remained in use on Cyprus in Arcadocypriot Greek and Eteocypriot inscriptions until the Hellenistic era.
Some scholars have argued against the concept of a Greek Dark Age, on grounds that the former lack of archaeological evidence in a period that was mute in its lack of inscriptions (thus "dark") has been shown to be an accident of discovery rather than a fact of history. 
Greek Dark Age Timeline - History
(All dates are BC)
- Aegean inhabitants gather in permanent farming communities and domesticate plants and animals.
- Hereditary chiefs rule over villages and districts. The use of bronze, developed in the Near East, replaces copper & stone.
- Migrating groups, speaking an early form of Greek, arrive from the north and the east.
- The Minoan civilization, centered on Crete, flourishes. They had huge palaces on Knossos, a writing system (Linear A), large fleets of ships, traded extensively, painted wonderful murals and had lots of leisure time and activities.
- 1646. Massive volcanic eruption had devastating impact on ancient island of Thera (modern-day Santorini).
- The Mycenaean civilization learns from and then conquers the Minoans, taking over their power centers and creating small kingdoms. Ruling class buried in &ldquoshaft graves&rdquo with burial goods ranging from bronze weapons to pottery and jewelry. They also built beehive-shaped, well-engineered &ldquoTholos&rdquo tombs.
- The Mycenaeans developed their own (Greek) system of writing- Linear B- modeled on the Linear A of the Minoans.
- The Trojan War, if it happened, took place between 1250-1225.
- Invaders, volcanoes and earthquakes destroy palaces and bring an end to the Mycenaean civilization. The identity of the invaders remains one of the mysteries of archaeology.
- Iron technology takes over from bronze. The art of writing has become lost. Stone building is small and infrequent. Trade is diminished. Little production by Greek artisans and craftsmen. A dark age descends over Greece.
- Behind the &ldquodark curtain&rdquo things are happening. There is a big increase in population and manufacturing. Borrowing from the Phoenicians, the Greeks develop their own alphabet. Temples are built. 776BC is generally regarded as the date for the first Olympic games.
- The rise of city-states as the largest political unit
- The epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey were composed
- Overseas colonization begins.
- First Greek coins are made
- Black-figure pottery emerges at Corinth, later in Athens
- Tyrants seize power in many cities Athens takes its first steps towards democracy. Draco, Solon, Cleisthenes are key figures
- Beginnings of science and philosophy, advances in medicine
- Athenian red-figure pottery emerges.
- The Battle of Marathon, Salamis and Plataea- defining moments in Greek history as the mighty Persian Empire is defeated.
- Foundation of the Delian League. Treasury moved to Athens.
- Construction of the Parthenon. The Age of Pericles.
- Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes and Euripides write literary masterpieces.
- Second Peloponnesian War. Sparta now most powerful state.
- Trial and execution of Socrates. Plato writes his Dialogues.
- Philip II of Macedonia creates superb army, subdues rivals
- Alexander, the Great comes to power. Defeats Greek states, defeats Persians, invades India. Dies in Babylon.
- After Alexander&rsquos death there was a prolonged struggle for control of his Empire. The culture and language of Greece had been spread at least as far as the invasions of his army.
- Research center at Alexandria- the Museum- established.
- Rome destroys Corinth (146BC) and Athens (86BC) and annexes Greece and Macedon. The Battle of Actium and the suicide of Cleopatra ends the era of ancient Greece
- The poet Horace said &ldquo Greece, the captive, took her savage victor captive.&rdquo
YOUR COUNTRY. YOUR HISTORY.
Interactive Timelines of Ancient GreeceFor Kids and Teachers
Early Greek culture began about 6,500 BC (or about 8,500 years ago!) About 900 BC, Greece began to emerge from the Greek Dark Ages. The ancient Greeks started to write things down again, which of course helps us today to better understand their culture. After the Greeks defeated the Dorians and took back the Greek peninsula, they established many Greek city-states, each with their own government. They had learned from the Dorians that they had to work together if they were going to survive an attack from a common enemy. The Greek city-states did work together. They also went to war with each other.
As time went by, the ancient Greeks created marvelous statues, wonderful theater, gorgeous fabrics and vases, incredible myths and legends, and developed into a fascinating civilization. Their culture and the many gifts we received from the Greeks, like our alphabet, roots of democracy, comedy and satire, Greek columns, the Olympics, fables and more, still impacts our culture today.
Here is a timeline of the history and development of the ancient Greek civilization for kids:
4 The Decline of Coinage as a Medium of Exchange
During Roman times, coinage in gold, silver and copper was abundant. Its use as a medium of exchange was a common feature of daily life. Not only did the rich have access to coinage, the poor did so as well. By post-Roman times, the use of coinage had almost totally disappeared in Britain. Excavation of archaeological sites without Roman phases of occupation and settlement rarely uncover evidence of coin usage.
In the western Mediterranean, the decline of coinage was less dramatic. From the fifth to seventh centuries, copper coins were rarely issued and circulated. The main exception to this pattern of decline was the city of Rome itself, where large numbers of copper coins were still in circulation. In the eastern Mediterranean, with the exception of Constantinople and the Levant, the use of coinage had become scarce by the seventh century. 
Greek Dark Age Timeline - History
- 3000 - The Bronze Age begins in Greece.
- 1240 - The beginning of the Trojan War.
- 1130 - Iron is introduced. The Iron Age begins.
- 700s - The city-states of Athens and Sparta emerge and become major powers in the region.
- 324 - Byzantium is founded by Constantine the Great. Greece is part of the Western Roman Empire, also called Byzantium.
The Olympic Athletic Center in Athens
Brief Overview of the History of Greece
Greece is a country steeped with ancient history and civilizations. As far back as 3000 BC the Cycladic civilization inhabited the area of Greece. Over time other civilizations would emerge. The city states of Ancient Greece such as Athens and Sparta created one of the most advanced ancient civilizations in history. Giving birth to many advanced concepts in government and philosophy that are still used today. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great came into power. He would unite the Greek peoples and conquer the Persian Empire. To learn more about Ancient Greece see Ancient Greece for kids.
By 30 BC, all of Greece became part of the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire split, Greece become a part of the Byzantium Empire. Greek culture would have a significant influence on both the Roman and Byzantium cultures. Greece remained part of the Byzantium Empire until the arrival of the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s.
The Greeks broke free of the Ottomans after the Greek War for Independence. Throughout the rest of the 1800s and 1900s, Greece slowly added nearby islands to its territories. In World War II Greece was invaded by Italy and taken over by Germany. Greece joined NATO after Germany was defeated and the war ended. Greece is now a member of the European Union.