This page is on the Internet at

Readings for Ancient Greece I Unit 3 - Helladic and Mycenaean

1  Helladic Period
2  Heinrich Schliemann
3  Dendra Panoply
4  Early Bronze Age
5  Middle Bronze Age
6  Pelasgians
7  Dorian "Invasion"
8  Mycenaean Language
9  Early Thebes
10 Mycenae
11 Mycenae Grave Circle A
12 Mycenae Grave Circle B
13 Mycenae Shafr Grave
14 Mycenae Religion
15 Treasury of Atreus
16 Mycenae Megaron
17 Helladic Bronze Age Pottery
18 Mycenaean Frescoes
19 Mycenaean Weapons Manufacture
20 Lefkandi
21 Illiad - Greek Bronze Age
22 Some External Internet Links

1.  Helladic period – Greek Mainland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Bronze Age Europe


circa 3,200 B.C.E. — circa 1,050 B.C.E.

Major sites

Thebes, Tiryns

Preceded by

Neolithic Greece

Followed by

Greek Dark Ages


Helladic is a modern archaeological term meant to identify a sequence of periods characterizing the culture of mainland ancient Greece during the Bronze Age. The term is commonly used in archaeology and art history. It was intended to complement two parallel terms, "Cycladic", identifying approximately the same sequence with reference to the Aegean Bronze Age, and "Minoan", with reference to the civilization of Crete.

The scheme applies primarily to pottery and is a relative dating system. The pottery at any given site typically can be ordered into "Early", "Middle" and "Late" on the basis of style and technique. The total time window allowed for the site is then divided into these periods proportionately. As it turns out, there is a correspondence between "Early" over all Greece, etc. Also, some "absolute dates", or dates obtained by non-comparative methods, can be used to date the periods and are preferable whenever they can be obtained. However, the relative structure was devised before the age of carbon-dating (most of the excavations were performed then as well). Typically, only relative dates are obtainable and form a structure for the characterization of Greek prehistory. Objects are generally dated by the pottery of the site found in associative contexts. Other objects can be arranged into early, middle and late as well, but pottery is used as a marker.

Helladic society and culture have antecedents in the Neolithic period in Greece with many innovations being developed and manifesting during the second and third phases of the Early Helladic period (2650–2050/2000 BC) such as bronze metallurgy, monumental architecture and fortifications, a hierarchical social organization, and vigorous contacts with other areas of the Aegean. These innovations would undergo further changes during the Middle Helladic period (2000/1900–1550 BC), marked by the spread of Minyan ware, and the Late Helladic period (1550–1050 BC), which was the time when Mycenaean Greece flourished.



         1 Etymology

            2 Periodization

            3 Settlements of the Helladic period

            4 Early Helladic (EH)

                        4.1 Early Helladic I (EHI)

                        4.2 Early Helladic II (EHII)

                        4.3 Early Helladic III (EHIII)

            5 Middle Helladic (MH)

            6 Late Helladic (LH)

                        6.1 Late Helladic I (LHI)

                        6.2 Late Helladic II (LHII)

                        6.3 Late Helladic III (LHIII)

            7 Fortified settlements

            8 Population

            9 See also

            10 References

                        10.1 Citations

                        10.2 Sources

            11 Further reading

            12 External links



The three terms "Helladic", "Cycladic", and "Minoan" refer to location of origin. Thus "Middle Minoan" objects might be found in the Cyclades, but they are not on that account Middle Cycladic. The scheme tends to be less applicable in areas on the periphery of the Aegean, such as the Levant. Pottery there might imitate Helladic or Minoan cultural models and yet be locally manufactured.



The "Early", "Middle" and "Late" scheme can be applied at different levels. Rather than use such cumbersome terms as "Early Early", archaeologists by convention use I, II, III for the second level, A, B, C for the third level, 1, 2, 3 for the fourth level and A, B, C for the fifth. Not all levels are present at every site. If additional levels are required, another "Early", "Middle" or "Late" can be appended. The Helladic period is subdivided as:



Approximate Date

Early Helladic I

3200/3100–2650 BC[1]

Early Helladic II

2650–2200/2150 BC[2]

Early Helladic III

2200/2150–2050/2000 BC[3]

Middle Helladic

2000/1900–1550 BC[3][4]

Late Helladic I

1550–1500 BC

Late Helladic II

1500–1400 BC

Late Helladic III

1400–1050 BC


Settlements of the Helladic period

These are the estimated populations of hamlets, villages, and towns of the Helladic period over time. Note that there are several problems with estimating the sizes of individual settlements, and the highest estimates for a given settlements, in a given period, may be several times the lowest.

Table 1: 3700–2600 BCE


3700 BCE

3400 BCE

3100 BCE

2800 BCE

2600 BCE

Agios Dimitrios[5]
















































Early Helladic (EH)

Further information: Aegean civilization and Proto-Greek

The Early Helladic period (or EH) of Bronze Age Greece is generally characterized by the Neolithic agricultural population importing bronze and copper, as well as using rudimentary bronze-working techniques first developed in Anatolia with which they had cultural contacts.[7] The EH period corresponds in time to the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Important EH sites are clustered on the Aegean shores of the mainland in Boeotia and Argolid (Manika, Lerna, Pefkakia, Thebes, Tiryns) or coastal islands such as Aegina (Kolonna) and Euboea (Lefkandi) and are marked by pottery showing influences from western Anatolia and the introduction of the fast-spinning version of the potter's wheel. The large "longhouse" called a megaron is introduced in EH II. The infiltration of Anatolian cultural models (i.e. "Lefkandi I") was not accompanied by widespread site destruction.


Early Helladic I (EHI)

The Early Helladic I period (or EHI), also known as the "Eutresis culture", is characterized by the presence of unslipped and burnished or red slipped and burnished pottery at Korakou and other sites (metal objects, however, were extremely rare during this period).[8] In terms of ceramics and settlement patterns, there is considerable continuity between the EHI period and the preceding Final Neolithic period (or FN); changes in settlement location during the EHI period are attributed to alterations in economic practices.[8]


Early Helladic II (EHII)

The transition from Early Helladic I to the Early Helladic II period (or EHII) occurred rapidly and without disruption where multiple socio-cultural innovations were developed such as metallurgy (i.e. bronze-working), a hierarchical social organization, and monumental architecture and fortifications.[9] Changes in settlement during the EHII period were accompanied with alterations in agricultural practices (i.e. oxen-driven plow).[10]


Early Helladic III (EHIII)

The Early Helladic II period came to an end at Lerna with the destruction of the "House of Tiles", a corridor house.[11] The nature of the destruction of EHII sites was at first attributed to an invasion of Greeks and/or Indo-Europeans during the Early Helladic III period (or EHIII);[12] however, this is no longer maintained given the lack of uniformity in the destruction of EHII sites and the presence of EHII–EHIII/MH continuity in settlements such as Lithares, Phlius, Manika, etc.[13] Furthermore, the presence of "new/intrusive" cultural elements such as apsidal houses, terracotta anchors, shaft-hole hammer-axes, ritual tumuli, and intramural burials precede the EHIII period in Greece and are in actuality attributed to indigenous developments (i.e. terracotta anchors from Boeotia; ritual tumuli from Ayia Sophia in Neolithic Thessaly), as well as continuous contacts during the EHII–MH period between mainland Greece and various areas such as western Asia Minor, the Cyclades, Albania, and Dalmatia.[14] Changes in climate also appear to have contributed to the significant cultural transformations that occurred in Greece between the EHII period and the EHIII period (ca. 2200 BCE).[15]


Middle Helladic (MH)

Further information: Minyans and Minyan ware

In Greece, the Middle Helladic period (or MH) was a period of cultural retrogression, which first manifested in the preceding EHIII period.[3][4] The MH period is characterized by the wide-scale emergence of Minyan ware, which may be directly related to the people whom ancient Greek historians called Minyans; a group of monochrome burnished pottery from Middle Helladic sites was conventionally dubbed "Minyan" ware by Troy's discoverer Heinrich Schliemann.


Gray Minyan ware was first identified as the pottery introduced by a Middle Bronze Age migration;[16] the theory, however, is outdated as excavations at Lerna in the 1950s revealed the development of pottery styles to have been continuous (i.e. the fine gray burnished pottery of the EHIII Tiryns culture was the direct progenitor of Minyan ware).[17] In general, painted pottery decors are rectilinear and abstract until Middle Helladic III, when Cycladic and Minoan influences inspired a variety of curvilinear and even representational motifs.


The Middle Helladic period corresponds in time to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Settlements draw more closely together and tend to be sited on hilltops. Middle Helladic sites are located throughout the Peloponnese and central Greece (including sites in the interior of Aetolia such as Thermon) as far north as the Spercheios River valley. Malthi in Messenia and Lerna V are the only Middle Helladic sites to have been thoroughly excavated.


Late Helladic (LH)

Further information: Mycenaean Greece

The Late Helladic period (or LH) is the time when Mycenaean Greece flourished, under new influences from Minoan Crete and the Cyclades. Those who made LH pottery sometimes inscribed their work with a syllabic script, Linear B, which has been deciphered as Greek. LH is divided into LHI, LHII, and LHIII; of which LHI and LHII overlap Late Minoan ware and LHIII overtakes it. LHIII is further subdivided into LHIIIA, LHIIIB, and LHIIIC. The table below provides the approximate dates of the Late Helladic phases (LH) on the Greek mainland.



Approximate Date


1550–1500 BC


1500–1450 BC


1450–1400 BC


1400–1350 BC


1350–1300 BC


1300–1230 BC


1230–1190 BC

LHIIIC (Early)

1190–1130 BC

LHIIIC (Middle)

1130–1090 BC


1090–1060 BC


1060–1000 BC


1000 BC

Late Helladic I (LHI)

The LHI pottery is known from the fill of the Shaft Graves of Lerna and the settlements of Voroulia and Nichoria (Messenia), Ayios Stephanos, (Laconia) and Korakou. Furumark divided the LH in phases A and B, but Furumark's LHIB has been reassigned to LHIIA by Oliver Dickinson. Some recent C-14 dates from the Tsoungiza site north of Mycenae indicate LHI there was dated to between 1675/1650 and 1600/1550 BCE, which is earlier than the assigned pottery dates by about 100 years. The Thera eruption also occurred during LHI (and LCI and LMIA), variously dated within the 1650–1625 BCE span.


Not found at Thera, but extant in late LHI from Messenia, and therefore likely commencing after the eruption, is a material culture known as "Peloponnesian LHI".[18] This is characterised by "tall funnel-like Keftiu cups of Type III"; "small closed shapes such as squat jugs decorated with hatched loops ('rackets') or simplified spirals"; "dark-on-light lustrous-painted motifs", which "include small neat types of simple linked spiral such as varieties of hook-spiral or wave-spiral (with or without small dots in the field), forms of the hatched loop and double-axe, and accessorial rows of small dots and single or double wavy lines"; also, the "ripple pattern" on "Keftiu" cups. These local innovations continued into the LHIIA styles throughout the mainland.


Late Helladic II (LHII)

The description of the LHIIA is mainly based on the material from Kourakou East Alley. Domestic and Palatial shapes are distinguished. There are strong links between LHIIA and LMIB. LHIIB began before the end of LMIB, and sees a lessening of Cretan influences. Pure LHIIB assemblages are rare and originate from Tiryns, Asine and Korakou. C-14 dates from Tsoungiza indicate LHII was dated to between 1600/1550 and 1435/1405 BCE, the start of which is earlier than the assigned pottery date by about 100 years, but the end of which nearly corresponds to the pottery phase. In Egypt, both periods of LHII correspond with the beginning of its "Imperial" period, from Hatshepsut to Tuthmosis III (r. 1479–1425 BCE).


Late Helladic III (LHIII)

LHIII and LMIII are contemporary. Toward LMIIIB, non-Helladic ware from the Aegean ceases to be homogeneous; insofar as LMIIIB differs from Helladic, it should at most be considered a "sub-Minoan" variant of LHIIIB.


The uniform and widely spread LHIIIA:1 pottery was originally defined by the material from the Ramp house at Mycenae, the palace at Thebes (now dated to LHIIIA:2 or LHIIIB by most researchers) and Triada at Rhodes. There is material from Asine, Athens (wells), Sparta (Menelaion), Nichoria and the 'Atreus Bothros', rubbish sealed under the Dromos of the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae as well. C-14 dates from Tsoungiza indicate LHIIIA:1 should be more nearly 1435/1406 to 1390/1370 BCE, slightly earlier than the pottery phase, but by less than 50 years. LHIIIA:1 ware has also been found in Maşat Höyük in Hittite Anatolia.[19]


The LHIIIA:2 pottery marks a Mycenaean expansion covering most of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are many new shapes. The motifs of the painted pottery continue from LHIIIA:1 but show a great deal of standardization. In Egypt, the Amarna site contains LHIIIA:1 ware during the reign of Amenhotep III and LHIIIA:2 ware during that of his son Akhenaten; it also has the barest beginnings of LHIIIB. LHIIIA:2 ware is in the Uluburun shipwreck, which sank in the 14th century BCE. Again, Tsoungiza dates are earlier, 1390/1370 to 1360/1325 BCE; but LHIIIA:2 ware also exists in a burn layer of Miletus which likely occurred early in the reign of Mursili II and therefore some years prior to Mursili's eclipse in 1312 BCE. The transition period between IIIA and IIIB begins after 1320 BCE, but not long after (Cemal Pulak thinks before 1295 BCE).


The definition of the LHIIIB by Furumark was mainly based on grave finds and the settlement material from Zygouries. It has been divided into two sub-phases by Elizabeth B. French, based on the finds from Mycenae and the West wall at Tiryns. LHIIIB:2 assemblages are sparse, as painted pottery is rare in tombs and many settlements of this period ended by destruction, leaving few complete pots behind.


LHIIIB pottery is associated in the Greek mainland palaces with the Linear B archives. (Linear B had been in use in Crete since Late Minoan II.) Pulak's proposed LHIIIA/B boundary would make LHIIIB contemporary in Anatolia with the resurgent Hittites following Mursili's eclipse; in Egypt with the 19th Dynasty, also known as the Ramessides; and in northern Mesopotamia with Assyria's ascendancy over Mitanni. The end of LHIIIB is associated with the destruction of Ugarit, whose ruins contain the last of that pottery. The Tsoungiza date for the end of LHIIIB is 1200/1190 BCE. The beginning of LHIIIC, therefore, is now commonly set into the reign of Queen Twosret. The LHIIIC has been divided into LHIIIC:1 and LHIIIC:2 by Furumark, based on materials from tombs in Mycenae, Asine, Kephalonia, and Rhodes. In the 1960s, the excavations of the citadel at Mycenae and of Lefkandi in Euboea yielded stratified material revealing significant regional variation in LHIIIC, especially in the later phases. Late LHIIIC pottery is found in Troy VIIa and a few pieces in Tarsus. It was also made locally in the Philistine settlements of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza.


Fortified settlements

During the Helladic period, a number of major advances were developed including fortified urban settlements with monumental buildings such as corridor houses, which may prove the existence of complex societies organized by an elite or at least achieving corporate, proto-city state form.[20][21] One of these settlements was Manika, located in Euboea, dated to the Early Helladic period II (2800–2200 BC). The settlement covered an area of 70-80 hectares, was inhabited by 6,000–13,500 people, and was one of the largest settlements of the Bronze Age in Greece.[20][5]


Another settlement was Lerna in the Argolid region, which was perhaps the most important and wealthiest of Early Helladic sites.[22] The settlement has a monumental building known as the House of the Tiles, a "corridor house",[23] notable for several architectural features that were advanced for its time, such as its roof being covered by baked tiles, which gave the building its name.[24] The structure dates to the Early Helladic II period (2500–2300 BC) and is sometimes interpreted as the dwelling of an elite member of the community, a proto-palace, or an administrative center. Alternatively, it has also been considered to be a communal structure or the common property of the townspeople.[25] The exact functions of the building remain unknown due to a lack of small finds indicating the specific uses of the building.[25] The house had a stairway leading to a second story, and was protected by a tiled roof.[26] Debris found at the site contained thousands of terracotta tiles having fallen from the roof.[27] Although such roofs were also found in the Early Helladic site of Akovitika,[28] and later in the Mycenaean towns of Gla and Midea,[29] they only became common in Greek architecture in the 7th century BC.[30] The walls of the House of the Tiles were constructed with sun-dried bricks on stone socles.[24]


Other fortified settlements include Tiryns, which covered an area of 5.9 hectares sustaining 1,180–1,770 people,[5] and had an large tiled two-storeyed "round house" (or Rundbau) with a diameter of 28 m on the upper citadel. It may have served as a palace or temple or perhaps it was a communal granary.[31][32] Other sites include Ayia Irini, which covered an area of 1 hectare and had a population of perhaps up to 1,250,[33] Eutresis covering 8 hectares with an estimated population of 1,600–2,400, Thebes covering 20 hectares with a population of 4,000–6,000,[5] Lefkandi (unknown in size and population), and Kolonna (or Aegina), a densely populated settlement with impressive fortifications, monumental stone buildings and sophisticated town planning.


Already before 2500–2400 BC, Kolonna experienced remarkable economic growth and had its own administrative "Corridor House", the so-called "Haus am Felsrand".[34] During the phase Aegina III 2400–2300 BC, which corresponds to the transition phase Lefkandi I-Kastri, the evidence of the economic structure and administrative and social organization of the community become more clear.[34] The "White House" (Weisses Haus; 165 square metres) constitutes the monumental community building that succeeds the "Haus am Felsrand", which had the same function.[34] Kolonna may constitute the Aegean's first state as it appears to be the earliest ranked society in the area outside Minoan Crete and perhaps a political center in the Middle Helladic period where it achieved state-level after the Minoans but before the Mycenaeans.[35]



Multivariate analyses of craniometric data derived from Helladic skeletal material indicate a strong morphological homogeneity in the Bronze Age osteological record, disproving the influx of foreign populations between the Early Helladic and Middle Helladic periods; ultimately, the Bronze Age inhabitants of mainland Greece (including the Mycenaeans) represent a single and homogeneous population of Mediterranean provenance.[36]


See also

·      Aegean civilization

·      Cyclades

·      History of Greece

·      Linear B

·      Minoan civilization

·      Mycenaean Greece

·      Mycenaean language

·      Pelasgians




^ "The Bronze Age on the Greek Mainland: Early Bronze Age – Early Helladic I". Athens: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 1999–2000.

^ "The Bronze Age on the Greek Mainland: Early Bronze Age – Early Helladic II". Athens: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 1999–2000.

3.    ^   a b c "The Bronze Age on the Greek Mainland: Early Bronze Age – Early Helladic III". Athens: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 1999–2000.

4.    ^   a b "The Bronze Age on the Greek Mainland: Middle Bronze Age – Introduction". Athens: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 1999–2000.

5.    ^   a b c d e f g h i j k MacSweeney 2004, Table 1. Population estimates for Aegean sites in EB II, p. 57; MacSweeney dates the Early Bronze II period (or EB II) to circa 2800–2200 BC (see p. 53).

^ Sampson 1987, p. 19.

^ Pullen 2008, p. 20; van Andels & Runnels 1988, "The transition to the Early Bronze Age", pp. 238–240; French 1973, p. 53.

8.    ^   a b Pullen 2008, pp. 21–22.

^ Pullen 2008, pp. 24–26; Whittaker 2014, p. 49: "The second half of the Early Helladic period is characterized by monumental architecture and fortifications, a hierarchical social organization, widespread metallurgy and lively contacts with other parts of the Aegean."

^ Pullen 2008, pp. 27–28.

^ Pullen 2008, pp. 36, 43 (Endnote #22): "A corridor house is a large, two-story building consisting of two or more large rooms flanked by narrow corridors on the sides. Some of those corridors held staircases; others were used for storage."

^ Caskey 1960, pp. 285–303.

^ Pullen 2008, p. 36; Forsén 1992, pp. 251–253.

^ Pullen 2008, p. 36; Forsén 1992, pp. 253–257.

^ Pullen 2008, p. 36.

^ Mellaart 1958, pp. 9–33.

^ Pullen 2008, p. 40; French 1973, pp. 51–57; Caskey 1960, pp. 285–303.

^ Lolos 1990, pp. 51–56.

^ Kuniholm 1998, pp. 3–4.

20. ^   a b Sampson 1987, p. 19.

^ Bintliff 2012, p. 107: "Taken together, the Mainland Early Helladic Corridor Houses, Anatolian Troy, the Northeast Aegean fortified villages, and perhaps also Manika, may well evidence complex societies, either organized by an elite, or at least achieving corporate, proto-city state form."

^ Bryce 2006, p. 47: "Lerna in the Argolid region was probably the most important and the wealthiest of all Early Helladic II sites. Founded originally in the Neolithic period (represented by Levels I and II on the site), it was abandoned at the end of this period and was subsequently reoccupied at the beginning of Early Helldaic II (Level III)."

^ Shaw 1987, pp. 59–79.

24. ^   a b Overbeck 1963, p. 5.

25. ^   a b Overbeck 1963, p. 6.

^ Overbeck 1963, p. 5; Shaw 1987, p. 59.

^ Caskey 1968, p. 314.

^ Shaw 1987, p. 72.

^ Shear 2000, pp. 133–134.

^ Wikander 1990, p. 285.

^ Chapman 2005, p. 92; Hornblower, Spawforth & Eidinow 2012, "Tiryns", p. 1486.

^ Tiryns. Reconstructed Groundplan of the Circular Building (Rundbau). Early Helladic II.

^ Weisman, Stefanie (2008). "An Analysis of the Late Bronze Age Site of Ayia Irini, Keos" (PDF). Institute of Fine Arts.

34. ^   a b c "The Bronze Age on the Greek Mainland: Early Bronze Age – Aegina". Athens: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 1999–2000.

^ Chapman 2005, p. 93.

^ Forsén 1992, p. 247; Xirotiris 1980, p. 209; Musgrave & Evans 1981, pp. 75, 80.



·      Bintliff, John (2012). The Complete Archaeology of Greece: From Hunter-Gatherers to the 20th Century A.D. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-40-515419-2.

·      Bryce, Trevor (2006). The Trojans and their Neighbours. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41-534955-0.

·      Caskey, John L. (July–September 1960). "The Early Helladic Period in the Argolid". Hesperia (The American School of Classical Studies at Athens) 29 (3): 285–303. doi:10.2307/147199.

·      Caskey, John L. (1968). "Lerna in the Early Bronze Age". American Journal of Archaeology 72: 313–316. doi:10.2307/503823.

·      Chapman, Robert (2005). "Changing Social Relations in the Mediterranean Copper and Bronze Ages". In Blake, Emma; Knapp, A. Bernard. The Archaeology of Mediterranean Prehistory. Oxford and Malden: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 77–101. ISBN 978-1-40-513724-9.

·      Forsén, Jeannette (1992). The Twilight of the Early Helladics. Partille, Sweden: Paul Aströms Förlag. ISBN 91-7081-031-1.

·      French, D.M. (1973). "Migrations and 'Minyan' pottery in western Anatolia and the Aegean". In Crossland, R.A.; Birchall, Ann. Bronze Age Migrations in the Aegean. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press. pp. 51–57.

·      Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (2012) [1949]. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-954556-8.

·      Kuniholm, Peter Ian (1998). "Aegean Dendrochronology Project December 1996 Progress Report" (PDF). Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University): 1–7.

·      Lolos, Y.G. (1990). "On the Late Helladic I of Akrotiri, Thera". In Hardy, D.A.; Renfrew, A.C. Thera and the Aegean World III. Volume Three: Chronology – Proceedings of the Third International Congress, Santorini, Greece, 3–9 September 1989. London: Thera Foundation. pp. 51–56.

·      MacSweeney, Naoise (2004). "Social Complexity and Population: A Study in the Early Bronze Age Aegean". Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 15: 52–65. doi:10.5334/256.

·      Mellaart, James (January 1958). "The End of the Early Bronze Age in Anatolia and the Aegean". American Journal of Archaeology (Archaeological Institute of America) 62 (1): 9–33. doi:10.2307/500459.

·      Musgrave, Jonathan H.; Evans, Suzanne P. (1981). "By Strangers Honor’d: A Statistical Study of Ancient Crania from Crete, Mainland Crete, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt". Journal of Mediterranean Anthropology and Archaeology 1: 50–107.

·      Overbeck, John Clarence (1963). A Study of Early Helladic Architecture. University of Cincinnati.

·      Pullen, Daniel (2008). "The Early Bronze Age in Greece". In Shelmerdine, Cynthia W. The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 19–46. ISBN 978-0-521-81444-7.

·      Sampson, Adamantios (1987). "The Early Helladic Graves of Manika: Contribution to the Socioeconomic Conditions of the Early Bronze Age" (PDF). Aegaeum 1: 19–28.

·      Shaw, Joseph W. (1987). "The Early Helladic II Corridor House: Development and Form". American Journal of Archaeology (Archaeological Institute of America) 91 (1): 59–79. doi:10.2307/505457.

·      Shear, Ione Mylonas (January 2000). "Excavations on the Acropolis of Midea: Results of the Greek–Swedish Excavations under the Direction of Katie Demakopoulou and Paul Åström". American Journal of Archaeology 104 (1): 133–134.

·      van Andels, Tjeerd H.; Runnels, Curtis N. (1988). "An Essay on the 'Emergence of Civilization' in the Aegean World". Antiquity (Antiquity Publications Limited) 62 (235): 234–247.

·      Whittaker, Helène (2014). Religion and Society in Middle Bronze Age Greece. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-10-704987-1.

·      Wikander, Örjan (January–March 1990). "Archaic Roof Tiles the First Generations". Hesperia 59 (1): 285–290. doi:10.2307/148143.

·      Xirotiris, Nicholas I. (Spring–Summer 1980). "The Indo-Europeans in Greece: An Anthropological Approach to the Population of Bronze Age Greece". Journal of Indo-European Studies 8 (1–2): 201–210.


Further reading

    Weiberg, Erika (2007). Thinking the Bronze Age: Life and Death in Early Helladic Greece (Boreas: Uppsala Studies in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Civilizations 29) (PDF). Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. ISBN 978-91-554-6782-1.


External links

·      "The Bronze Age on the Greek Mainland". Athens: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 1999–2000.

·      Horejs, Barbara; Pavúk, Peter, eds. (2007). "The Aegeo-Balkan Prehistory Project". The Aegeo-Balkan Prehistory Team.

·      Rutter, Jeremy B. "Prehistoric Archeology of the Aegean". Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College


2. Heinrich Schliemann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Heinrich Schliemann (German: [ˈʃliːman]; 6 January 1822 – 26 December 1890) was a German businessman and a pioneer of field archaeology. He was an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Hissarlik, now presumed to be the site of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. His work lent weight to the idea that Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid reflect actual historical events. Schliemann's excavation of nine levels of archaeological remains with dynamite has been criticized as destructive of significant historical artifacts, including the level that is believed to be the historical Troy.[1]


Along with Arthur Evans, Schliemann was a pioneer in the study of Aegean civilization in the Bronze Age. The two men knew of each other, Evans having visited Schliemann's sites. Schliemann had planned to excavate at Knossos, but died before fulfilling that dream. Evans bought the site and stepped in to take charge of the project, which was then still in its infancy.



         1 Childhood and youth

         2 Career and family

         3 Life as an archaeologist

                  3.1 Priam's Treasure

         4 Death

         5 Criticisms

         6 Bibliography

         7 In popular culture

         8 See also

         9 References

         10 External links


Childhood and youth

Schliemann was born in Neubukow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1822. His father, Ernst Schliemann, was a Protestant minister. The family moved to Ankershagen in 1823 (today in their house is the museum of Heinrich Schliemann).[2] Heinrich's mother, Luise Therese Sophie, died in 1831, when Heinrich was nine years old. After his mother's death, his father sent Heinrich to live with his uncle. When he was eleven years old, his father paid for him to enroll in the Gymnasium (grammar school) at Neustrelitz. Heinrich's later interest in history was initially encouraged by his father, who had schooled him in the tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey and had given him a copy of Ludwig Jerrer's Illustrated History of the World for Christmas in 1829. Schliemann later claimed that at the age of 8, he had declared he would one day excavate the city of Troy.


However, Heinrich had to transfer to the Realschule (vocational school) after his father was accused of embezzling church funds[3] and had to leave that institution in 1836 when his father was no longer able to pay for it. His family's poverty made a university education impossible, so it was Schliemann's early academic experiences that influenced the course of his education as an adult. In his archaeological career, however, there was often a division between Schliemann and the educated professionals.


At age 14, after leaving Realschule, Heinrich became an apprentice at Herr Holtz's grocery in Fürstenberg. He later told that his passion for Homer was born when he heard a drunkard reciting it at the grocer's.[4] He laboured for five years, until he was forced to leave because he burst a blood vessel lifting a heavy barrel.[5] In 1841, Schliemann moved to Hamburg and became a cabin boy on the Dorothea, a steamer bound for Venezuela. After twelve days at sea, the ship foundered in a gale. The survivors washed up on the shores of the Netherlands.[6] Schliemann became a messenger, office attendant, and later, a bookkeeper in Amsterdam.


Career and family

On March 1, 1844, 22-year old Schliemann took a position with B. H. Schröder & Co., an import/export firm. In 1846, the firm sent him as a General Agent to St. Petersburg. In time, Schliemann represented a number of companies. He learned Russian and Greek, employing a system that he used his entire life to learn languages—Schliemann claimed that it took him six weeks to learn a language[7] and wrote his diary in the language of whatever country he happened to be in. By the end of his life, he could converse in English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Arabic, and Turkish as well as German.


Schliemann's ability with languages was an important part of his career as a businessman in the importing trade. In 1850, Heinrich learned of the death of his brother, Ludwig, who had become wealthy as a speculator in the California gold fields. Schliemann went to California in early 1851 and started a bank in Sacramento buying and reselling over a million dollars' worth of gold dust in just six months. When the local Rothschild agent complained about short-weight consignments he left California, pretending it was because of illness.[8] While he was there, California became the 31st state in September 1850 and Schliemann acquired United States citizenship.


According to his memoirs, before arriving in California he dined in Washington with President Millard Fillmore and his family,[9] but Eric Cline says that he didn't attend but simply read about it in the papers. He also published what he said was an eyewitness account of the San Francisco fire of 1851 which he said was in June although it took place in May. At the time he was actually in Sacramento and used the report of the fire in the Sacramento Daily Journal to write his report.


On April 7, 1852, he sold his business and returned to Russia. There he attempted to live the life of a gentleman, which brought him into contact with Ekaterina Lyschin, the niece of one of his wealthy friends. Schliemann had previously learned that his childhood sweetheart, Minna, had married.


Heinrich and Ekaterina married on October 12, 1852. The marriage was troubled from the start. Schliemann next cornered the market in indigo dye and then went into the indigo business itself, turning a good profit. Ekaterina and Heinrich had a son, Sergey, and two daughters, Natalya and Nadezhda, born in 1855, 1858 and 1861 respectively.[10] Schliemann made yet another quick fortune as a military contractor in the Crimean War, 1854-1856. He cornered the market in saltpeter, sulfur, and lead, constituents of ammunition, which he resold to the Russian government.


By 1858, Schliemann was wealthy enough to retire. In his memoirs, he claimed that he wished to dedicate himself to the pursuit of Troy.


As a consequence of his many travels, Schliemann was often separated from his wife and small children. He spent a month studying at the Sorbonne in 1866, while moving his assets from St. Petersburg to Paris to invest in real estate. He asked his wife to join him, but she refused.[10] Schliemann threatened to divorce Ekaterina twice before actually doing so. In 1869, he bought property and settled in Indianapolis for about three months to take advantage of the liberal divorce laws of Indiana, although he obtained the divorce by lying about his residency in the U.S. and his intention to remain in the state.[11] He moved to Athens as soon as an Indiana court granted him the divorce and married again three months later.


Life as an archaeologist

Schliemann's first interest of a classical nature seems to have been the location of Troy.


At the time Schliemann began excavating in Turkey, the site commonly believed to be Troy was at Pınarbaşı, a hilltop at the south end of the Trojan Plain.[12] The site had been previously excavated by archaeologist and local expert, Frank Calvert. Schliemann performed soundings at Pınarbaşı, but was disappointed by his findings.[12] It was Calvert who identified Hissarlik as Troy and suggested Schliemann dig there on land owned by Calvert's family.[13] In 1868, Schliemann visited sites in the Greek world, published Ithaka, der Peloponnesus und Troja in which he asserted that Hissarlik was the site of Troy, and submitted a dissertation in Ancient Greek proposing the same thesis to the University of Rostock. In 1869, he was awarded a PhD in absentia[14] from the university of Rostock for that submission.[10] David Traill wrote that the examiners gave him his PhD on the basis of his topographical analysis of Ithaca, which were in part simply translations of another author's work or drawn from poetic descriptions by the same author.[15]


Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hissarlik with Troy but was persuaded by Calvert[16] and took over Calvert's excavations on the eastern half of the Hissarlik site. The Turkish government owned the western half. Calvert became Schliemann's collaborator and partner.


Schliemann needed an assistant who was knowledgeable in matters pertaining to Greek culture. As he had divorced Ekaterina in 1869, he advertised for a wife in a newspaper in Athens. A friend, the Archbishop of Athens, suggested a relative of his, seventeen-year-old Sophia Engastromenos (1852–1932). Schliemann, age 47, married her in October 1869, despite the 30 year difference in age. They later had two children, Andromache and Agamemnon Schliemann; he reluctantly allowed them to be baptized, but solemnized the ceremony in his own way by placing a copy of the Iliad on the children's heads and reciting one hundred hexameters.


Schliemann began work on Troy in 1871. His excavations began before archaeology had developed as a professional field. Thinking that Homeric Troy must be in the lowest level, Schliemann and his workers dug hastily through the upper levels, reaching fortifications that he took to be his target. In 1872, he and Calvert fell out over this method. Schliemann was angry when Calvert published an article stating that the Trojan War period was missing from the site's archaeological record.


Priam's Treasure

A cache of gold and other objects appeared on or around May 27, 1873; Schliemann named it "Priam's Treasure". He later wrote that he had seen the gold glinting in the dirt and dismissed the workmen so that he and Sophia could excavate it themselves, removing it in her shawl. However, Schliemann's oft-repeated story of the treasure being carried by Sophia in her shawl was untrue. Schliemann later admitted fabricating it; at the time of the discovery Sophia was in fact with her family in Athens, following the death of her father.[17] Sophia later wore "the Jewels of Helen" for the public. Those jewels, taken from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin by the Soviet Army (Red Army) in 1945, are now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

Schliemann published his findings in 1874, in Trojanische Altertümer ("Trojan Antiquities").

This publicity backfired when the Turkish government revoked Schliemann's permission to dig and sued him for a share of the gold. Collaborating with Calvert, Schliemann smuggled the treasure out of Turkey. He defended his "smuggling" in Turkey as an attempt to protect the items from corrupt local officials. Priam's Treasure today remains a subject of international dispute.


Schliemann published Troja und seine Ruinen (Troy and Its Ruins) in 1875 and excavated the Treasury of Minyas at Orchomenus. In 1876, he began digging at Mycenae. Upon discovering the Shaft Graves, with their skeletons and more regal gold (including the so-called Mask of Agamemnon), Schliemann cabled the king of Greece. The results were published in Mykenai in 1878.


Although he had received permission in 1876 to continue excavation, Schliemann did not reopen the dig site at Troy until 1878–1879, after another excavation in Ithaca designed to locate an actual site mentioned in the Odyssey. This was his second excavation at Troy. Emile Burnouf and Rudolf Virchow joined him there in 1879. Schliemann made a third excavation at Troy in 1882–1883, an excavation of Tiryns with Wilhelm Dörpfeld in 1884, a fourth excavation at Troy, also with Dörpfeld (who emphasized the importance of strata), in 1888–1890.



On August 1, 1890, Schliemann returned reluctantly to Athens, and in November travelled to Halle, where his chronic ear infection was operated upon, on November 13. The doctors deemed the operation a success, but his inner ear became painfully inflamed. Ignoring his doctors' advice, he left the hospital and travelled to Leipzig, Berlin, and Paris. From the latter, he planned to return to Athens in time for Christmas, but his ear condition became even worse. Too sick to make the boat ride from Naples to Greece, Schliemann remained in Naples, but managed to make a journey to the ruins of Pompeii. On Christmas Day he collapsed into a coma and died in a Naples hotel room on December 26, 1890. The cause of death was cholesteatoma. His corpse was then transported by friends to the First Cemetery in Athens. It was interred in a mausoleum shaped like a temple erected in ancient Greek style designed by Ernst Ziller in the form of a pedimental sculpture. The frieze circling the outside of the mausoleum shows Schliemann conducting the excavations at Mycenae and other sites. His magnificent residence in the city centre of Athens, the Iliou Melathron (Ιλίου Μέλαθρον, "Palace of Ilium") houses today the Numismatic Museum of Athens.



Further excavation of the Troy site by others indicated that the level he named the Troy of the Iliad was inaccurate, although they retain the names given by Schliemann. In an article for The Classical World, D. F. Easton writes that Schliemann "was not very good at separating fact from interpretation." [18] He goes on to claim that "Even in 1872 Frank Calvert could see from the pottery that Troy II had to be hundreds of years too early to be the Troy of the Trojan War, a point finally proved by the discovery of Mycenaean pottery in Troy VI in 1890." [18] "King Priam's Treasure" was found in the Troy II level, that of the Early Bronze Age, long before Priam's city of Troy VI or Troy VIIa in the prosperous and elaborate Mycenaean Age. Moreover, the finds were unique. The elaborate gold artifacts do not appear to belong to the Early Bronze Age.


His excavations were condemned by later archaeologists as having destroyed the main layers of the real Troy. Kenneth W. Harl in the Teaching Company's Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor lecture series sarcastically claims that Schliemann's excavations were carried out with such rough methods that he did to Troy what the Greeks couldn't do in their times, destroying and levelling down the entire city walls to the ground.[19]

In 1972, Professor William Calder of the University of Colorado, speaking at a commemoration of Schliemann's birthday, claimed that he had uncovered several possible problems in Schliemann's work. Other investigators followed, such as Professor David Traill of the University of California.


An article published by the National Geographic Society called into question Schliemann's qualifications, his motives, and his methods:

In northwestern Turkey, Heinrich Schliemann excavated the site believed to be Troy in 1870. Schliemann was a German adventurer and con man who took sole credit for the discovery, even though he was digging at the site, called Hisarlik, at the behest of British archaeologist Frank Calvert. ... Eager to find the legendary treasures of Troy, Schliemann blasted his way down to the second city, where he found what he believed were the jewels that once belonged to Helen. As it turns out, the jewels were a thousand years older than the time described in Homer's epic.[1]


Another article presented similar criticisms when reporting on a speech by University of Pennsylvania scholar C. Brian Rose:

German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann was the first to explore the Mound of Troy in the 1870s. Unfortunately, he had had no formal education in archaeology, and dug an enormous trench “which we still call the Schliemann Trench,” according to Rose, because in the process Schliemann “destroyed a phenomenal amount of material.” ... Only much later in his career would he accept the fact that the treasure had been found at a layer one thousand years removed from the battle between the Greeks and Trojans, and thus that it could not have been the treasure of King Priam. Schliemann may not have discovered the truth, but the publicity stunt worked, making Schliemann and the site famous and igniting the field of Homeric studies in the late 19th century.[20]


Schliemann's methods have been described as "savage and brutal. He plowed through layers of soil and everything in them without proper record keeping—no mapping of finds, few descriptions of discoveries." Carl Blegen forgave his recklessness, saying "Although there were some regrettable blunders, those criticisms are largely colored by a comparison with modern techniques of digging; but it is only fair to remember that before 1876 very few persons, if anyone, yet really knew how excavations should properly be conducted. There was no science of archaeological investigation, and there was probably no other digger who was better than Schliemann in actual field work."[21]



·      La Chine et le Japon au temps présent' (1867)

·      Ithaka, der Peloponnesus und Troja' (1868) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01682-7)

·      Trojanische Altertümer: Bericht über die Ausgrabungen in. Troja (1874) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01703-9)

·      Troja und seine Ruinen' (1875). Translated into EnglishTroy and its Remains (1875) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01717-6)

·      Mykena (1878). Translated into English Mycenae: A Narrative of Researches and Discoveries at Mycenae and Tiryns (1878) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01692-6)

·      Ilios, City and Country of the Trojans (1880) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01679-7)

·      Orchomenos: Bericht über meine Ausgrabungen in Böotischen Orchomenos (1881) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01718-3)

·      Tiryns: Der prähistorische Palast der Könige von Tiryns (1885) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01720-6). Translated into English Tiryns: The Prehistoric Palace of the Kings of Tiryns (1885)

·      Bericht über de Ausgrabungen in Troja im Jahre 1890 (1891) (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-108-01719-0).


In popular culture

·      Schliemann is the subject of Irving Stone's novel The Greek Treasure (1975).

·      Stone's book is the basis for the German television production Der geheimnisvolle Schatz von Troja (Hunt for Troy) from 2007.

·      He is also the subject of the novel The Lost Throne by American author Chris Kuzneski.

·      The novel The Fall of Troy by Peter Ackroyd (2006) is based on Schliemann's excavation of Troy. Schliemann is portrayed as "Heinrich Obermann".





1.    ^  a b Stefan Lovgren. "National Geographic News". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2012-12-18.

^ Cornelia Maué, "website of schliemann-museum Ankershagen". Retrieved 2012-08-10.

^ Robert Payne, The Gold of Troy: The Story of Heinrich Schliemann and the Buried Cities of Ancient Greece, 1959, repr. New York: Dorset, 1990, p. 15.

^ Payne, p. 70.

^ "Schliemann, Heinrich" in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, at de.wikisource. (German)

^ Payne, p. 25.

^ Payne, p. 30.

^ Allen, Susan Heuck (1999). Finding the walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlík. University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-520-20868-1.

^ Leo Deuel, Memoirs of Heinrich Schliemann: A Documentary Portrait Drawn from his Autobiographical Writings, Letters, and Excavation Reports, New York: Harper, 1977, ISBN 0-06-011106-2, p. 67; he also mentions meeting President Andrew Johnson, p. 126.

10. ^  a b c Allen, Susan Heuck (1999). Finding the walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlík. University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-520-20868-1.


12. ^  a b Easton, D.F. (May–June 1998). "Heinrich Schliemann: Hero or Fraud?". The Classical World 91 (5): 339. doi:10.2307/4352102.

^ Allen, Susan Heuck (1999). Finding the walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlík. University of California Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-520-20868-1.

^ Bernard, Wolfgang. Homer-Forschung zu Schliemanns Zeit und heute at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2007) (in German).

^ Allen, Susan Heuck (1999). Finding the walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlík. University of California Press. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-520-20868-1.

^ Bryce, Trevor (2005). The Trojans and their neighbours. Taylor & Francis. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-415-34959-8.

^ Moorehead, Caroline, The Lost Treasures of Troy (1994) page 133, ISBN 0-297-81500-8

18. ^  a b Easton, D.F. (May–June 1998). "Heinrich Schliemann: Hero or Fraud?". The Classical World 91 (5): 341. doi:10.2307/4352102.

^ Kenneth W. Harl. "Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor". Retrieved November 23, 2012.

^ Lauren Stokes. "Trojan wars and tourism: a lecture by C. Brian Rose". Swarthmore College Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-18.

^ Rubalcaba, Jill; Cline, Eric. Digging for Troy. Charlesworth. pp. 30, 41. ISBN 978-1-58089-326-8.


Further reading

·      Boorstin, Daniel (1983). The Discoverers. Random House. ISBN 0-394-40229-4.

·      Durant, Will (1939). The Life of Greece: Being a history of Greek civilization from the beginnings, and of civilization in the Near East from the death of Alexander, to the Roman conquest. Simon & Schuster. OCLC 355696346.

·      Easton, D.F. (May–June 1998). "Heinrich Schliemann: Hero or Fraud?". The Classical World 91 (5): 335. doi:10.2307/4352102.

·      Poole, Lynn; Poole, Gray (1966). One Passion, Two Loves. Crowell. OCLC 284890..

·      Silberman, Neil Asher (1990). Between Past and Present: Archaeology, Ideology, and Nationalism in the Modern Middle East. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-41610-5.

·      Tolstikov, Vladimir; Treister, Mikhail (1996). The Gold of Troy. Searching for Homer's Fabled City. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3394-2.

·      Traill, David A. (1995). Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-14042-8.

·      Wood, Michael (1987). In Search of the Trojan War. New American Library. ISBN 0-452-25960-6.


External links

·      Media related to Heinrich Schliemann at Wikimedia Commons

·      Works written by or about Heinrich Schliemann at Wikisource

·      Works by Heinrich Schliemann at Project Gutenberg

·      Works by or about Heinrich Schliemann at Internet Archive

·      American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Heinrich Schliemann and Family Papers at the Wayback Machine (archived October 5, 2007).

·      Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Schliemann, Heinrich". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

·      "Schliemann, Heinrich". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.


3Dendra Panoply – LH III (1400 BC)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Dendra panoply or Dendra armour is an example of Mycenean-era full-body armour ("panoply") made of bronze plates uncovered in the village of Dendra in the Argolid, Greece.



Several elements of body armour (body cuirass, shoulder guards, breast plates and lower protection plates) from the late Mycenaean period have been found at Thebes, some bronze bands have been also found at Mycenae and Phaistos.[1] Bronze scales were found at Mycenae and Troy; scale armour, the oldest form of metal body armour, was used widely throughout the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. In May 1960[2] Swedish archaeologists discovered the earliest example of a beaten bronze cuirass at Dendra, dated to the end of the fifteenth century BC.[3] It forms part of the Late Helladic (LHIIIa) Dendra Panoply, which consists of fifteen separate pieces of bronze sheet, held together with leather thongs, that encased the wearer from neck to knees.[4] The panoply includes both greaves and lower arm-guards. The arm-guard is unique but greaves, probably made of linen, are often depicted in late Mycenaean art. The few bronze examples that have been found only covered the shins and may have been worn over linen ones, as much for show of status Diane Fortenberry has suggested,[5] as for protection. Although we have only this one complete panoply to date, armor of similar type appears as an ideogram on Linear B tablets from Knossos (Sc series), Pylos (Sh series) and Tiryns (Si series).[6]


The panoply’s cuirass consists of two pieces, for the chest and back. These are joined on the left side by a hinge. There is a bronze loop on the right side of the front-plate and a similar loop on each shoulder. Large shoulder-guards fit over the cuirass. Two triangular plates are attached to the shoulder-guards and gave protection to the wearer’s armpits when his arms were in the raised position. There is also a deep neck-guard. The Linear B ideogram depicting armour of this type makes the neck-guard clearly discernible, and protection by a high bronze collar was a typical feature of Near Eastern body armour. Three pairs of curved plates hang from the waist to protect the groin and the thighs. All these pieces are made of beaten bronze sheet and are backed with leather and loosely fastened by ox-hide thongs to allow some degree of movement. The complete panoply thus forms a cumbersome tubular suit of armour, which fully protects the neck and torso, and extends down to the knees. It appears that lower arm-guards and a set of greaves further protected the warrior, all made of bronze, as fragments of these were also found in the grave at Dendra. Slivers of boars’ tusks were also discovered, which once made up a boars’-tusk helmet.


The figures on the Warrior Vase (Mycenae, ca 1200 BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens)[7] are wearing body armour. However, this armour is different. It may be either an embossed waist-length leather corslet with a fringed leather apron that reaches to mid-thigh and possible shoulder-guards, very much like that worn by the Peoples of the Sea depicted on the mortuary temple of Ramesses III (died c. 1155 BC) at Medinet Habu, Lower Egypt, or, alternatively, the body armour may be a ‘bell’ corselet of beaten bronze sheet, a type also found in central Europe at that time.




^ One from the Late Geometric Period, found at Argos, is dated to the eighth century BC.

^ Cynthia King, "The Homeric Corslet" American Journal of Archaeology 74.3 1970:294-96

^ Isolated bronze shoulder pieces and apron plates are known from Dendra, Thebes and Phaistos in Crete: they "extend the chronological range of the Dendra type back to 1450 and forward to 1350", according to King 1970.

^ Dendra panoply: illustration; Dendra panoply modern reconstruction; modern recreation

^ Fortenberry, "Single Greaves in the Late Helladic Period" American Journal of Archaeology 95.4 (October 1991:623-627).

^ M. Snodgrass, "The Linear B Arms and Armour Tablets— Again, Kadmos 4 (1965:97-98).



·      Paul Åstrom, The Cuirass Tomb and Other Finds at Dendra Part I: The Chamber Tombs (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, iv) (Göteborg) 1977. The official publication.

·      Nicolas Grguric, The Mycenaeans: c 1650-1100 BC, "the Dendra armour" (Osprey)

·      Anthony Snodgrass, Early Greek Armour and Weapons: From the End of the Bronze Age to 600 B.C. (Edinburgh/Chicago) 1964: 71-73, 76f.


External links

·      Dendra panoply, Nafplion Museum, on YouTube.


4.  EH - Early Bronze Age




The Early Bronze Age in the Helladic region covers roughly the period 3200-2100 BC. The main characteristic of this period is the intensification of the use of metals and particularly the extension of metalworking by the mixing of copper and tin for the manufacture of tools and weapons of durable brass (bronze). This brought about the improvement of the Neolithic agricultural and animal husbandry economy, the increase of production, the creation of surplus of goods and the development of productive activities. The quest for metals and other raw materials as well as the necessity of promoting exchangeable goods led to the intensification of commercial contacts, the development of navigation and the exchange of technological and cultural experience.


The beginning of the use of metals (gold, silver, copper) for the manufacture of jewellery and tools dates to the Final Neolithic Age which is named Chalcolithic (4500-3200 BC) for this reason. The transition from the Neolithic agrarian economy to the Bronze Age is not abrupt and does not occur at the same time in the various geographic areas of the Aegean. In addition every area is ruled by different geomorphological factors and forms its own cultural character.


On mainland Greece, three large cultural groups are distinguished during the Early Bronze Age. These are developed in Thrace and Macedonia, in Thessaly and in the central and southern mainland. The 3rd millenium in central and southern Greece which is known as the Early Helladic period is of particular importance for the Aegean Prehistory. The Early Helladic period is distinguished in the following chronological-cultural phases: Early Helladic I (EH I), Early Helladic II (EH II), the transition phase Lefkandi I-Kastri and the Early Helladic III (EH III) period.


The traits of this period are: the increase of population which is proportional to the increase of settlements in coastal areas or in the inland, the remarkable town planning, the increase of production and surplus of produce, specialization, the technological development (metallurgy, pottery) and industrial production, the control of the goods' distribution (use of seals), the intensification of commercial exchange and the increase of privilege goods.

During the EH II period a particular economic prosperity is observed with direct effect on the social and political organization of the settlements. In Thebes, Manika, Aegina, Tiryns, Lerna and other places, densely populated settlements of an urban character are developed. This trait is apparent in the town planning, the community buildings ("Corridor Houses"), the constructions of public interest (fortifications), the technological specialization, and the particular economic-administrative importance in their greater region (regional hierarchy).


Early Helladic I



The Early Helladic I (EH I) (3200-3100-2650 BC) succeeds the Final Neolithic (4500-3200 BC) and presents a close cultural relation with it. This is apparent in the settlement of Neolithic sites during this period as well (e.g. Eutresis), in agriculture and in the still limited use of metals.


The EH I archaeological remains are very few and are found in few archaeological sites of eastern Central Greece (Eutresis, Lithares, Perachora, Palaia Kokkinia, Zagani) and the Peloponnese (Korakou, Tsoungiza, Talioti, Lerna, Tiryns). The EH I signs were first indicated in 1915-1916 in the Korakou settlement in Corinthia. The correct stratigraphic integration of Eutresis of Boeotia was defined after the Final Neolithic period and before the EH II. This is the reason for which this period is known as the "Eutresis culture". During this period regional variations in pottery, took place. These were first observed in the ceramic production of the Argolid, which is defined as "Talioti phase".


The settlement architecture of this period is slightly known since intense building activity took place during the subsequent phases of the EH period in the same sites. The hill Zagani constituted the most significant monument of the EH I period. But it was completely levelled for the construction of the new airport of Spata in Attica. In the brief research which preceded its construction, remains of houses, EH I pottery and a stone wall which enclosed the settlement were recovered. This wall is the earliest to have been unearthed to date in any EH settlement and it precedes those of Raphina and Lerna.


Until today, there is no evidence on the burial customs of this period. The handmade pottery with the intense red burnished surface is a diagnostic element of the period. Finally, it is worth mentioning the limited practice of metalworking, in comparison with the remarkable development it experiences from the beginning of the 3rd millenium in settlements of the northeastern Aegean (Troy, Poliochni, Thermi).



Early Heladic II


The EH II period (2650-2200/2150 BC) is the best substantiated phase of the EH period as far as excavations are concerned. The rich settlement and burial remains, pottery, artifacts made of clay, stone and metal from the Spercheios valley upto the south Peloponnese indicate that it is the first phase of cultural flourishing of south Greece before the glorious Mycenaean period (1550-1050 BC).


During the EH II period the increase of population is followed by the development of densely populated settlements and the very significant economic thriving which brings about innovations in the administrative organization and social composition of the EH communities. During this period settlements of an urban character are developed. They are distinguished for their town planning community works (e.g. fortifications, community buildings), the technological specialization and further manufacturing development (metalworking), and the intense practice of trade. In settlements of Boeotia, the Peloponnese and on Aegina buildings of the same type dominate. These are known as the "Corridor Houses" and are considered community-administrative and economic centres of the communities. Certain settlements, such as Lerna, seem to have particular economic and administrative importance in the greater region and lead to the development of regional hierarchies. Similar phenomena are not observed in settlements of the Early Bronze Age in Thessaly, Macedonia and Thrace.


The exhaustive study of stratigraphy (Korakou, Eutresis, Lerna, Tiryns) and in general of the EH II archaeological remains (architecture, pottery) render the distinction in two cultural sub-phases clear. The earliest is known as the "Korakou culture" (2650-2450 BC) and corresponds to the ( Lerna ΙΙΙA-B architectural phases. The late one (2450/2350-2200/2150 π.Χ.) corresponds to the Lerna IIIC-D architectural phases and is characterized of the strong presence of elements of the Lefkandi I-Kastri phase.


During the EH II period as well as the EH III some settlements present marks of partial or total destruction by fire. These traces in combination with the appearance of new elements in architecture (apsidal buildings), the burial customs (tumuli), pottery (Lefkandi I, Gray wheelmade, incised/impressed), tool manufacture (stone and bronze axes with a hole for fixing a handle) and the use of clay anchor shaped objects, led the researchers to the observation of many opposing theories about the time of penetration of new populations of Indo-European origin in the Greek mainland. The overall consideration of the evidence renders clear that at the end of the EH II and the beginning of the EH III the south Helladic region is influenced by two different cultural regions: western Asia Minor and the islands of the northeastern Aegean, and the south Balkans (Adriatic coast). These influences are indicated on the eastern coast of Central and south Greece (Lefkandi I-Kastri phase), and on the Ionian islands and the northwestern Peloponnese respectively.



Transitional Phase Lefkandi I - Kastri


Toward the end of the EH II (2450/2350-2200/2150 BC) certain elements in the architecture, pottery and metalworking of the central and southern mainland appear for the first time and present similarities with settlements of the north and eastern Aegean (late phase of Troy II, Red-Yellow Poliochni) and the Cyclades (Kastri on Syros, Skarkos on Ios). A group of researchers associate these similarities with population movement from the north Aegean and western Asia Minor toward the Cyclades and the coastal mainland. Nevertheless, according to the prevalent opinion these similarities result from the intensive commercial contacts which began much earlier than the 3rd millenium BC and led to the formation of a common culture in the Aegean, described by the term "international spirit".


Evidence of this phase exist on the coast of Thessaly (Pefkakia), Boeotia (Lithares), in coastal settlements and cemeteries of eastern Attica (Agios Kosmas), western Euboea (Lefkandi, Manika) and the Argolid (Lerna, Tiryns), and on Aegina. In the west and south Peloponnese these signs do not occur. Conversely, there is evidence verifying the contacts of these regions with the Adriatic and the south Balkans.


Typical examples of the "easternlike" phase are the handmade red and black burnished ceramics and the use of the potter's wheel for the first time. The first ceramic category includes cups with one or two handles, depata amphikypella, beak spouted and wide-mouthed jugs with round bodies. The potter's wheel is used in the manufacture of open bowls. Finally, archaeometric study on the bronze objects from sites of the islands and the Greek mainland verifies the use of alloys of brass with tin of the same origin.






Early Helladic III


The EH III (2200/2150-2050/2000 BC) succeeds the glorious EH II period and is characterized of the decrease of the number and size of settlements and of the decrease of population. The abandonment of EH II settlements due to various destructions is not a general phenomenon. Powerful settlements such as Tiryns and Lerna in the Argolid are still occupied. The widespread use of apsidal and pottery, which were initially considered sparse, are discerned in their remains. The exhaustive study of the evidence shows respectively that these were either already known or that they constitute new expressions of elements known from the EH II period. In addition, the preservation in Lerna IV ruins of the administrative centre, the "House of the Tiles" and its forming into a tumulus of a symbolic-ritual character indicates the continuous use of the area from the same population.


The use of tumuli on Lefkas and in Olympia/Pelopeio is notable but it does not occur for the first time. The cemetery of the tumuli R of Lefkas was organized already from the end of the EH II period and included grave types which occurred on the rest Greek mainland as well. The form of the tumulus is a result of trade contacts or even of population penetrations that took place at the end of the EH II period.


Recent studies prove that apart from the apsidal buildings and the burial or ritual tumuli, elements such as the clay anchor-shaped objects, the eastern-Balkan type stone and bronze axes or the use of storage pits which were considered in the past as traits of the EH III period and were associated with the penetration of Indo-European races, existed from the EH II and were simply established during the EH III period.


The architecture, the burial customs and pottery show that during the EH III various regional cultural variations occur. For example, although the form of the settlements changes in the Argolid with the apsidal buildings, Aegina maintains the fortified settlements with the organized EH II town planning. The pottery of this period is the painted style in two variations: light-on-dark (Agia Marina style) and the dark-on-light (Tiryns style). The wheelmade fine gray burnished ware is a new ware deriving from Asia Minor which reaches the eastern mainland country. It is the precursor of the typical MH ceramics, the Minyan pottery. Finally, a basic trait of the ceramic production of the Ionian islands and the northwestern Peloponnese is the handmade pottery with fine incised or impressed decoration which comes from the Adriatic.


The cultural retrogression which begins at the end of the EH III and characterizes the MH period (2000/1900-1550 BC) is interrupted by the beginning of the glorious Mycenaean period (1550-1050 BC).




Social stratification

Indicative elements for the composition of the society of the Early Bronze Age on the mainland are drawn from the settlement and funerary architecture and from mobile finds, particularly from their distribution in the settlements and cemeteries. According the the archaeological remains, during the EH II period particular economic prosperity was achieved. This prosperity is characterized of the increase of the surplus of agricultural produce, specialization in handicraft production (pottery, metalworking, stone carving) and the expansion of commercial exchange and cultural contacts. These changes have a direct impact on the social composition of the communities of south Greece.


The existence of "Corridor Houses", such as the " House of the Tiles" in Lerna III and the "White House" at Kolonna of Aegina make clear the presence of a powerful family which has political-administrative power and partly controls production. This family coordinates the construction of community works (fortifications, the Tirynthian "Rundbau", roads, etc.) and the trading of goods (use of seals) and possesses part of the wealth of the community.


The craftsmen, such as the metal workers and stone carvers have a particular economic and therefore social position in the community. In the framework of ensuring the necessary raw materials they are also involved in trading activities. The discovery, for example, of objects imported from the Cyclades in the specialized workshops of Aegina and Manika verifies the existence of a class of craftsmen-tradesmen in the EH communities. The imported objects are prestige goods and prove the economic and social status of their possessors. The Balkan type single or double axes with a hole for fixing a handle from Sitagroi and Lerna respectively as well as the so-called "treasures" of bronze implements and weapons found in Thebes and Petralona of Chalkidike are also considered as prestige goods.


Finally, the coexistence of simple graves with poor grave goods and rich, simple or family ones in the cemeteries of Attica (Agios Kosmas, Tsepi), in Manika, Thebes, Lithares and in the cemetery of the tumuli R of Lefkas reflects the unequal distribution of wealth and by extension the social multiformity of the members of the EH communities.



Information on the organization and social composition of the communities of the Early Bronze Age on mainland Greece is drawn from the settlement and burial architecture, from the kind of mobile finds and especially from the way these are distributed in the settlements and cemeteries.


The communities are organized in small and large settlements which number 300 to 1000 people on average. The settlements of south Greece present town planning, economic and social features that conform to their definition as "early urban settlements".


The archaeological remains of the EH II-III provide clear indications on the social composition and structure. The EH II society and that of the transition phases Lefkandi II-III include a political- administrative-economic authority of a coordinating role which is attributed to a family. The families of specialized workers-merchants which concentrate the most "privilege goods" have a special position in the society of this period. The degree of distribution of the community wealth to those occupied exclusively in agriculture cannot be diagnosed with certainty. The above mentioned social categories are not so discernible in the archaeological remains of the EH III which is characterized of economic decline.


The burial customs include child burials in the settlement and adult and children burials in cemeteries outside the settlement. The cemeteries, known mainly from the EH II period, include simple or built pits, cist graves or chamber tombs hewn into rock and pithos burials. Graves are made for one person or families. During the EH III period tumuli inhumations occur. The examination of the anthropological material from cemeteries and isolated graves provides information on the anthropological type, the nutrition and diseases of the people of that time.


Finally, the elements that reveal the religious beliefs and the practice of some kind of cult are few and partially unreliable. The burial customs ascertain the respect to human life and the belief of life after death.




The evidence from the excavations of a restricted scale in settlements and cemeteries of the Early Bronze Age, as well as the observations from surface surveys, mainly in the Peloponnese (Nemea, Argolid, Messenia, Laconia) and Central Greece (Oropos, Perachora, Phocis) allow a first indicative, but not global, approach of the demographic evidence of that period. According to the evidence that results from the study of the settlements we can say that the EH communities are organized in small settlements, (0,64 hectares-Aegina) or larger ones (45 hectares-Manika, 3,5-Lithares, 2,5-Lerna) which number an average of 300 to 1000 persons.


The density of the settlements differs from one region to another and from time to time while it depends on the geomorphology of the area and the climatic conditions. Geoarchaeological studies in the Argos plain showed that the area between Argos and Lerna was a large lake of about 5 kilometres diametre during the EH I period. This justifies the small number of settlements of that period in the region. In the EH II the alluvium deposits transformed the lake into a fertile plain. As a result, the number of settlements increased and powerful settlements were developed (Lerna, Tiryns). Moreover, regional hierarchies were created. Sudden floods of streams and rivers at the end of the EH II in the Argolid (Tiryns) and in other regions (Strephi of Elis, Akovitika of Messenia, Rouph of Attica) made these populations abandon the neighbouring settlements.


From the end of this period and during the EH III the number of the settlements decreased thus leading to the decrease of population. This decrease, which is observed during the EH III in south Greece in general is opposed to the theories about penetration of new populations, and to the burial evidence. The comparative study of skulls from graves of the EH II (Agios Kosmas) and MH period (Lerna and Mycenae) verify the homogeneity of the populations of Attica and the Argolid during these periods and disproves the opinion of the penetration of new populations. In addition, none of the excavated cemeteries to date presents sudden increase of dead bodies. Moreover, possible diseases which could have caused unexpected or mass deaths toward the end of the EH II period were not detected by the examination of the palaeoanthropolical material.


The examination of the anthropological material from cemeteries and isolated graves provides information on the anthropological characteristics, nutrition and the diseases of the people of the EH period. For example, the inhabitants of Agios Kosmas in Attica were of medium height, suffered from osteoporosis and had a short life of 30-40 years. The inhabitants of Manika were also of medium height and had strong teeth, a sign indicating that they followed a balanced diet!








The main feature of the Early Helladic economy is the intensification of the use of metals via the expansion of metalworking by the mixing of copper and tin for the manufacture of tools and weapons from durable bronze. The economy of the 3rd millenium BC is based on three factors: agrarian economy (agriculture and animal husbandry), trade and artisanship.


Agrarian economy includes the cultivation of the cereals and legumes that were known from the Neolithic period (6880-3200 BC). At the same time, the cultivation of the olive tree and vine begin. The climatic conditions and the improved tools (bronze tools, use of the plough) contribute to the increase of the production and agricultural surplus particularly during the EH II period. Animal husbandry includes the breeding of sheep and goat and cattle, the products of which are neccessary for nutrition and the textile manufacture (wool).


The quest of metals and other raw materials (obsidian) and the necessity of promotion of commercial agricultural and handicraft products brings about the intensification of the trade contacts and the exchange of technological and cultural experience in general, thus creating small exchange networks (in the Argosaronikos gulf) or large ones (Argolis-Cyclades-northern Aegean). The need of control of the production and movement of the goods leads to the use of the seals.


The main specialized production activities of the EH settlements are pottery, stone carving, bone carving, textile manufacture and metalworking. These activities may occupy one person, a small group, or one or more families of a community.

The new economic conditions bring changes in the social and political organization of the settlements especially during the EH II period.



Burial Customs

The burial customs of the Early Bronze Age do not differ considerably from the ones of the last phases of the Neolithic Age (4800-3200 BC). These include burials of infants and children within the limits of the settlement and in cemeteries while it was mainly the adults that were buried outside the settlement.

Infants and children were buried in their homes, in vessels or simple pits dug under the floor for this purpose (e.g. Asine, Lerna). The cemeteries, known mainly from the EH II period, were situated far from the settlement and include simple or built pits, cist graves (e.g. Agios Kosmas) or chamber tombs, hewn into rock (e.g. Manika). There were graves for one or more than one person, for both men and women (family graves). Some were used as ossuaries. They contained the bones - mainly the skulls and the long bones - from other graves which were emptied for new burials. During the EH III period, in western Greece the dead are buried in tumuli (e.g. Nidhri on Lefkas, Olympia/Pelopeio).

The dead were placed on the ground or in pithoi, in an intense contracted position. In order to achieve this position, the stiff muscles of the dead were probably cut with obsidian knives. Specific bones from the cemetery of Manika of Euboea bear such traces. As the traces of material on a bone from Manika reveal the dead were buried with their clothes or wrapped in a piece of cloth. Finally, tumuli in Nidhri and Olympia as well as pithos burials found in Macedonia at the mouth of the Strymon river present evidence on incineration of the dead. Ordinary burials in pithoi are also known from the cemetery of the Early Bronze Age in Agios Mamas/Nea Olynthos of Chalkidike.

The grave goods depend on the gender and social status of the dead. These include pottery, marble statuettes, obsidian or bronze tools, cosmetic articles and jewellery of clay, stone, bone, bronze and precious metals.



The archaeological evidence that indicates the religious beliefs and the practice of some kind of cult of the inhabitants of the Helladic region during the Early Bronze Age is inadequate and unreliable. It is restricted to architectural constructions (hearths, benches, pits), to anthropomorph or zoomorph figurines and rhyta and to the burial customs.


Cult function is attributed to a room of 17 square metres which is accessible from the main road of Lithares of Boeotia. Seventeen small bull figurines were found around burnt earth which was most likely a hearth. The mass presence of these figurines led to the definition of this place as the "Sanctuary of the Bulls". Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that the presence of zoomorph figurines in a farming community is normal. However, we must refer ti the theory that claims that this area was the workshop of the maker of these figurines.


In House L of Eutresis (room III), which dates to the EH II period, a stone bench, two bothroi, a zoomorph rhyton, a figurine and a perforated vase were found close to a hearth. The co-existence of these elements, in combination with the practice of a chthonic cult in the area of this settlement (Chasma) during the Mycenaean period, led the excavators to the dating of this cult to the EH period.


A clay hearth with impressed rim and a double axe carving in the centre, found in the "Building BG" of Lerna III, was probably related to rituals that may have taken place in this building. The existence of central clay hearths with cylinder seal decoration in these "Corridor Houses" led to the attribution of another function to these buildings, the religious function.


The particular importance of the "Corridor Houses" becomes clear in the settlement of Lerna IV, when, after the destrution of the "House of the Tiles" caused by fire, its ruins are maintained and defined by a stone circle composing an imposing tumulus (21 diametre) of a symbolic importance. The tumulus in Altis of Olympia seems to be of the same character.


The burial customs provide clear indications on the religious beliefs of the inhabitants of south Greece during the EH period. Inhumations inside the houses, the existence of family graves, the collection of relics, skulls and long bones, to ossuaries, the offering of grave goods, the fires in the tumuli of Lefkas, verify the respect to the value and the miracle of the human life, and the belief in life after death.





5.  MH – Middle Bronze Age



The Middle Bronze Age on Mainland Greece is also known as the Middle Helladic period. The chronological framework of this period extends from the beginnings of the second millenium - roughly 1900 - until 1550 BC, that is until the beginnings of the Mycenaean period. The Middle Helladic period is considered as the dark period of the cultural decline. The remains of the material culture reveal a clear retrogression while the information available on the social stratification and economy are so few and problematic in interpretation that this period is considered as the "Middle Age of Greek Prehistory".


About 1900 BC, the period during which the first palaces of Crete were being built, Mainland Greece was entering a long period of decline during which economic features changed radically. The amount of metals and imported products became particularly rare while composite forms of economic administration, e.g. the administrative buildings and the the sealing of products, were abandoned. The economic decline of the Middle Bronze Age effected the social stratification as well. The changes in social stratification appear in a series of completely new burial customs which show the prevalence of social equality. Conversely, as far as Middle Helladic art is concerned, although it did not reach the high artistic standard of its contemporary Minoan art, it is characterized of significant technological innovations and of the appearance of new serviceable articles. The number of these objects increased and their quality was improved considerably toward the end of this period.


The profound cultural innovations of the Middle Helladic period were initially interpreted as a result of violent population movement and troubles provoked by the coming of the first Indo-European races. However, this matter does no more constitute one of the main objectives of this study since the archaeological evidence does not support the massive transfer of foreign cultural elements.


During the last period of the Middle Bronze Age (1650-1550 BC), despite the fact that the traits of the Middle Helladic culture were maintained, more intense contacts are observed with the Cyclades and Crete, an unexpected concentration of wealth and the creation of a prominent social class. Through these new phenomena, a harmonical and gradual evolution from the Middle Helladic toward the Mycenaean civilization is discerned. Thus, although the Middle Helladic period is considered as a period of economic and social decline it was the time during which the mainland features merged with the insular influence, that is all the Aegean elements which led to the creation of the Mycenaean civilization were mixed in a creative way.


Middle Helladic Society

The image that results from the social evidence of the Middle Helladic period is that destitution and social insecurity prevailed. This was due to economic factors or social changes. The inhabitants of Mainland Greece made great efforts to survive. Via these efforts they managed to create remarkable technological achievements or forms of high art. Apart from certain burial practices which can be considered as examples of cult there are no indications on the religious beliefs of the Middle Helladic society.


Of all the aspects of the Middle Helladic culture the burial customs which are well known from the innumerable burials of that period provide a clearer picture of the Middle Helladic society and reflect the survival conditions of the population. The demographic information which results from the graves as well as the settlement density imply a considerable increase of population comparison to the Early Bronze Age and a slight increase of life expectancy despite the fact that mortality, particularly child mortality, was rather high.


In the Middle Helladic settlements there are no buildings distinguished from the rest because they appear more important while the cemeteries do not provide signs of an apparent social stratification. These elements indicate that the Middle Helladic society was characterized of a relative equality of its members. Nevertheless, the image of this equality changes in the second fourth of the 16th century that is during the transition to the early Mycenaean period. Now all cemeteries of the mainland reveal examples of intense social stratification. The sumptuous grave goods and the grades of luxury according to the social status of the dead reveal an unexpected concentration of wealth and its unequal distribution.




Coming of the Indo-Europeans

The search of evidence on the first Indo-European inhabitants of the European region is centred on the study of Hellenic Prehistory. This is attributed to the fact that the Greek races of the Bronze Age are the only Indo-European races for which adequate and important evidence exists, namely from the traditions which are preserved by Homer and the Greek myths.


From the moment that the Mycenaean language was identified as Greek, the study gained another element which associates the Helladic civilizations of the Bronze Age with the Indo-European question.


The Greek language which belongs to the Indo-European family is considered to have been spoken by races of Indo-European origin which established their language when they entered Mainland Greece, gradually supplanting the prehellenic dialects that were spoken in the region until that time. From the beginning of our century research was considerably concerned with this question, that is the dating of the entrance of the Indo-European races on the Greek peninsula.


The "coming of the Indo-Europeans" is considered to have provoked great disturbance to the autochtone population and must not have been completely pacific. Thus, the period during which violent population movements had to be discovered. Many researchers associate this historic moment with the period around 2000 BC, that is the Middle Helladic period because the subsequent phase presents intense evidence of social reforms. The poor examples of the material culture, the retrogression of social organization and technology and the need for fortification works were considered as phenomena caused by the violent invasion of new races.


Considering this general evidence of the Middle Helladic culture as a starting-point, a series of theories that sought evidence of the coming of the Indo-Europeans in the archaeological remains were created. Some newly imported elements and customs that were considered to have been brought to Mainland Greece by the first Greeks such as the horse, the use of the tumuli or even the appearance of the wheelmade Minyan pottery, are indications that suggest the Indo-European invadors.


However, these theories present many substantiation problems. The place of origin of the Proto-Indo-Europeans has not yet been determined with accuracy. Moreover, it is uncertain whether the people that spoke the Proto-Indo-European language all belonged to a specific race. In addition, the destructions in Mainland Greece took place presumably in different periods and the most significant ones before the last period of the Early Helladic period (about 2300 BC). It is often verified that the elements that had been considered as newly imported constitute in reality the continuation of the domestic Aegean tradition.


The association of the social evidence of the Middle Helladic period with the coming of the first Indo-European races is now considered as an overrating of certain archaeological elements and to their hasty connection to the linguistic and historic elements. Thus, during the last decades the trend that has dominated suggests that the results of the archaeological research must be studied irrespectively to the question of the "coming of the first Greeks".


The demographic and anthropological evidence on the Middle Helladic period result from the rich material of the cemeteries and from the indications of the surface surveys. The population of the Middle Helladic settlements rarely exceeded 500 inhabitants. The density of the population in Messenia is estimated to have been approximately 130 persons per hectare.


Most demographic evidence derives from the cemeteries of two Middle Helladic sites in the Argolid, Lerna and Asine. The statistic surveys of the osteological material of Lerna reveal that child mortality was very high. More than half of the inhabitants of Lerna died under the age of 15. 36% of the children died at infantile age while 21% under the age of five. The average life expectancy was 30 for women and 35 for men. Women gave birth to usually three children - their first at the age of approximately 19 - and they usually died around 30 years old. The anthropological evidence from the cemetery of Asine indicate that most men died around 30 to 40 years old. Nonetheless, in spite of the high mortality that results from the anthropological surveys, the average life expectancy of the Middle Bronze Age seems to be higher than the one of the Early Bronze Age.


The osteological analyses from these cemeteries reveal the types of diseases from which the inhabitants suffered. Thus, we know that during their childhood the inhabitants of Asine had a low caloric intake and their nutrition was inadequate in meat protein. Pathological disfigurements of the shoulders and hands of adults were observed, suggesting a kind of osteoarthritis caused by heavy work. The inhabitants often suffered from different epidemic diseases. Anemia, dysentery, infantile diarrhoea and child diseases were very common while both men and women suffered from tooth diseases. The inhabitants of Lerna often suffered from Mediterranean anemia and malaria which was favoured by the climatic conditions in this swampy area of the valley of Argos.


Apart form the traces of chronic ailments, injuries which may have been caused by accidents during work or violent conflicts were also observed on the skeletons. The trepining of the skulls observed on skeletons from Lerna reveals that the inhabitants possessed technical knowledge of surgical operations.


Archaeological evidence suggesting religious beliefs of the Middle Helladic society is virtually inexistent since this period of Prehistory includes no sign of material culture which usually imply worship. In contradiction to Minoan Crete and the Mycenaean period, the Middle Helladic settlements do not have buildings with the characteristic arrangement and special installations which could be considered as temples. Moreover, there are no cult vessels such as those used during the entire Bronze Age in Minoan Crete and the Mycenaean Greece. The anthropomorphic cult figurines, which were made in Mainland Greece and the Cyclades during the Early Bronze Age disappear in the Middle Bronze Age and do not re-appear until the mature phases of the Mycenaean period.


The absence of all these elements shows that during the Middle Helladic period profound changes in the social and religious customs take place. Despite the various interpretations, the burial customs remain the only aspects of human activities which reveal the radical changes in the beliefs of the society.


The way the dead were deposited in the grave, the orientation of the graves and the offering of the few grave goods may reflect specific practices that may resulted from the principles of a common religious faith.


Burrial Customs

In contradiction to other periods of Prehistory which do not provide sufficient information on the burial customs, the Middle Helladic period presents a great number of burial monuments which are the best witnesses of the burial practices but also of the social and economic conditions of that time. The Middle Helladic burial customs reflect in a most live way the image of social reforms and the economic decline of the Middle Helladic period as well as the gradual concentration of wealth and formation of privileged classes during the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.


The distinction in two basic burial practices which must have been employed at the same time is easy thanks to the great number of Middle Helladic graves. There were the intramural burials and the burials in cemeteries. A special category of cemeteries are the tumuli which were widespread from the south Peloponnese to Epirus and Thessaly. The most common burials were the those in simple pits, in cist graves and the pithos burials where the dead were always placed on their side contracted position. The graves of the adults were generally given greater care and include offerings more frequently than child graves.


The frequent absence of grave goods or the very few finds in the Middle Helladic graves render the chronological classification of the graves and the study of the evolution of the burial customs much more difficult. The earlier burials of this period indicate that the Middle Helladic burial customs were fully developed already from the beginning of the second millenium BC. Sometimes regional different trends and preferences in the types of graves and burial customs are observed. But this variety seems to depend on accidental circumstances since the burial customs sometimes differ in their details even with those of adjacent settlements.


When comparing the Middle Helladic burial customs with other cultures, it is observed that there are completely different influences coming from the Cyclades, Asia Minor or even south Europe. However, the similarities with the burial customs of these regions seem indirect since they have the character of distant influences. Therefore it appears that during the Middle Bronze Age the previous burial traditions were influenced by the customs of different cultures and that their final form crystallized in Mainland Greece. During the end of the Middle Helladic period the use of the tholos tombs was adopted as well. This custom was imported from Crete, completing the picture of the burial customs of the Helladic region during the Mycenaean period.


Positions of the dead

During the Middle Helladic period the dead were deposited in the graves on their side, in a contracted position. The body was leaned on one side, the legs were bent and the hands were brought close to the face. The legs were either slightly bent or completely bent with the knees brought to the chin which presupposes presumably that dead body was placed in a sack or tied with a rope before inhumation. All elements to date indicate that there was no particular orientation of the head.


Many opinions have been stated on the specific deposition of the dead and some of them relate it to social or religious beliefs and practices for the dead. According to one opinion the apparent similarity of the position of the dead with the position of the foetus includes the symbolism of the return of the dead to mother earth. Another more practical opinion suggests that the contracted position indicates merely the effort to fit the dead in the smallest possible graves to gain space and time from digging other graves. This simplicity of the deposition of the dead along with the often absence of grave goods is considered to fit with the general image of lack of the necessary means which characterizes the largest part of the Middle Helladic period.


According to another intermediate version of the contracted and supine position, the dead were placed with the legs bent to the side and the hands crossed on the belly. The explanation of this position is that the dead had been initially placed in a supine position with legs bent, but the legs fell to the side during decomposition. This way of deposition is also identified in the skeletons found with legs bent and open. The dated grave goods that accompanied burials of such kind reveal that the custom of the supine inhumation became generalized during the early Mycenaean period and this is the reason for which this type of deposition now constitutes a criterion for chronological classification of the graves.


Grave goods

Most of the Middle Helladic graves included no grave goods or had very few. The most common offerings to the dead were ceramics while jewellery and tools made of bone occurred more infrequently. The ceramic offerings were usually tableware drinking vessels, such as flasks and kantharoi, and libation vessels, such as jugs and amphoras. The great frequency of spouted and drinking vessels leads to the conclusion that ritual dinners presumably took place during the burial procedure. Some types of vessels as the amphoriskoi which were virtually found only in graves may have been made especially for burial use.


The finds around the graves which were mainly shells, animal bones and broken vessels infer that libations were made occasionally in the area surrounding the graves to honour the dead. The discovery of whole animal skeletons in certain cemeteries indicates that sometimes animals which must have belonged to the dead person, horses, goat and dogs, were buried near by.


The number of the grave goods and their quality increases greatly toward the end of the Middle Helladic period. At the same time, the number of metal offerings - often including jewellery and vases made of gold - as well as the objects made of imported precious materials raises. The graves of the warriors buried with their armament and the so-called shaft graves date to the same period. In addition, the most sumptuous of these shaft graves were found in the Grave Circles at Mycenae.


Grave Types

The graves of the Middle Helladic period present a wide range of types. The different grave types which were employed at the same time, the simple shaft graves, the cist graves and the pithos burials were imposed by the various traditions and custom practices.


The factors that effected the selection of the type of grave were the features of the area, e.g. the hardness of the soil and the availability of the building materials as well as the facts of each case such as the height of the dead and the degree of luxury imposed by the person's social prestige. In addition, the need for regular access to the grave was also taken into account.


The frequency of the grave types differs slightly from one region to another. Thus, the cist grave was common in Central Greece and Thessaly while in the Peloponnese people were buried in simple pits.


Middle Helladic Economy

The economy of the Middle Helladic period was pre-monetary, which means that all the commercial transactions were made by exchanging agricultural and manufactured products. Compared with the evidence on the Early Bronze Age economy, Middle Helladic economy appears considerably undeveloped. The advanced forms of economic administration, such as the storage system and the sealing of product which were widespread in Minoan Crete and Mainland Greece in the Early Bronze Age are completely absent in Middle Helladic settlements. Economy seems to have reacquired its Neolithic agrarian character. The inhabitants of Mainland Greece with the simple exploitation of natural resources, fishing, hunting and timber lived on animal and agricultural products they produced.


Many everyday household objects such as textiles and simple household ware must have been made by domestic industries. But the manufacture of large quantities of certain objects such as the fine ceramics, proves that these were examples of mass handicraft production. Specifically, the ceramics production presents strong regional features which means that the geographically restricted regions had their own workshops and traded their products in a confined region.


The appearance of certain wares of Middle Helladic pottery of high quality in distant regions reveals that some ceramics were popular commercial articles and that they may have had great commercial value. These products were probably exchanged along with metals which were also undoubtedly available despite the fact that they have not left abundant archaeological remains due to the economic decline of that time.


The relatively confined diffusion of regional pottery indicates the small scale trading activities which were probably performed by the coastal settlements, as the diffusion of the commercial products is more dense in the coastal settlements than in the inland. We do not know whether trade was carried out via a central authority which also possessed political power or whether there was a separate mercantile class. In any case, the needs of marine trade presupposed the specialization of at least one specific group of seamen. The relatively restricted commercial activities of the Middle Helladic period show that a great part of the Middle Bronze Age marine trade was in the hands of the inhabitants of the Cyclades or Minoan Crete.


Agrarian Economy

The development of the towns and the thriving of artisanship production which are observed in this period are not accompanied by the development of agricultural cultivations. The stone tools of this period are similar to the Early Helladic ones, indicating that no remarkable technological progress in the evolution or the type of cultivations took place. But during this period a new type of agricultural tool appears: the saw-toothed blades of sickles mainly made of chert. This innovation may reflect a greater degree of specialization of the agricultural activities.


Certain elements, such as earthworks in swampy areas for more land fit for cultivation, such as that of the Kopais lake, reveal a remarkable technological specialization in land reclamation works which led to the admirable irrigation works of the Mycenaean period. The technological developments in agricultural economy are considered to have resulted from the communication with more advanced regions or countries.


The more general economic changes during the transition to the Late Bronze Age indicate the gradual commercial exploitation of agricultural products, which led to the systematic storage of agricultural surplus ascertained in the perfectly organized storerooms of the Mycenaean citadels.


Trade and Communications

The commercial activities and movement are verified mainly from the diffusion of the Middle Helladic pottery in the Aegean area. The regional ceramic workshops are easily discerned from their typical style of their ceramic production This permits the observation of commercial exchange.


The poor presence of Middle Helladic pottery in distant regions, far from their place of production reveals that the exchange network and the movement of people were geographically restricted whereas there is no indication concerning international contacts similar to those of Minoan Crete. The imported ceramic products are more common in coastal areas which means that the sea routes were an easier way of access to other regions in order to accomplish commercial exchange or even other kinds or movement.


Arts and Crafts

The technological remains provide information on the agrarian economy and the simple social organization of the Middle Helladic period. The development of the arts is characterized by a considerable retrogression in comparison with the Early Helladic period, by the rareness of the raw materials and the lack of high artistic creation such as the artistic expression of Minoan Crete. This general image of retrogression is due to presumably important but still unknown economic and social factors which led the populations of Mainland Greece to incapacity of social and economic administration. Thus, they were unable to ensure the necessary raw materials and to promote the development of the arts at a great extent.


The use of metals appears rather restricted. Metal finds are sparsely unearthed in Middle Helladic settlements and graves. The metal grave goods are rare because metal objects were very few to be offered as grave gifts to the dead. The rareness of metals is the reason metal finds are rarely found in settlements. This shows that the metal tools were not thrown away to no purpose but were almost all recycled to be reused. During the largest part of the Middle Helladic period there is also total absence of rare materials such as semiprecious stones and ivory.


Most information on the artistic creation and technology of the Middle Helladic period derive from the study of pottery, the production of which implies important technological and artistic innovations despite its uniformity and conservatism. The great diffusion of certain Middle Helladic pottery wares in different regions of the Aegean indicates the considerable commercial competitiveness of certain regional workshops.


During the last phase of the Middle Helladic period, particularly during the Shaft Grave period, a larger number of vases of improved quality, bronze tools and weapons,as well as a great number of jewellery made of precious metals and other rare materials are found in the graves. This rich artistic production, the advanced technology and the richness of the grave goods show that apart from articles of everyday usage a constantly increasing reserve of economic resources could now be offered as grave gifts. In addition, a great number of imported articles shows the relation of the Mainlanders with the Minoan culture of Crete as well as the more intense contacts with the Cycladic culture. The technologies of pottery, metalworking and other arts of the Middle Helladic period reached the fine artistic creation of the Mycenaean period through these fruitful interconnections.



Despite the fact that there is no specific evidence from the the Middle Bronze Age on the function of mines it is certain that the mines of Laurion and Siphnos, from which silver and lead were extracted during the Early Helladic period, were still in use.


It is very hard to detect the metallurgical activities in the archaeological remains because the metal works were situated far from inhabited areas to prevent fires. However, kilns, special tools and slag have been found in certain settlements, providing clear indications on metallurgical works.


At Lerna and Pefkakia metallurgical crucibles, were found. At Sesklo stone dies for the manufacture of metal objects as well as a crucible with traces of brass were unearthed while at Nichoria and Midea brass slag has been indicated. At Thorikos, an important Middle Helladic settlement in Acarnania, lead monoxide slag has been detected, a find which suggests silver smithing activities.


Metal Working

There is very little information on the Middle Helladic metallurgical activities and metalworking. The general impression resulting from the metal finds of that time is that a small number of the inhabitants of the Greek Mainland were occupied with the extraction, trade and processing of metals. Metals were rare while most of the metal objects seem to have been recycled to be reused as unprocessed materials. The main types of metals from which mainly jewellery, tools and weapons were made were copper and bronze. Lead was used for making sheets to mend broken vases.


The most common metal objects discovered in the Middle Helladic settlements are copper and bronze wires and metal sheets. The most technologically advanced metal objects were jewellery and copper weapons found in graves. Jewellery were usually made of wire and metal sheets which were given the appropriate shape by bending. This technique was employed in the manufacture of rings, bracelets, earrings, and hair-coils, while pins and beads were made by metal casting. Toward the end of the Middle Helladic period jewellery made of precious metals such as gold, silver and electrum. appear.


The use of the same metal tools which were already known from the Early Bronze Age, such as knives, awls, chisels and tweezers indicates that the typology of the Early Helladic tool manufacture was also preserved during the Middle Bronze Age. Among the Middle Helladic copper tools is a typical type of dagger, the spears and the arrowheads. The daggers are an evolution of Early Helladic daggers and are also related with Minoan dagger types. But the manufacture of the long bronze swords which is confirmed in Middle Minoan Crete and Aegina has not been indicated on the Greek Mainland before the Shaft Grave period. During the Middle Helladic period a new type of bronze spear defined as "Sesklo type" spear appears.


No metal vessels dating from the largest part of the Middle Helladic period have been found. Nevertheless, during Middle Helladic III (1700-1600 BC) a number of silver, gold and electrum metal vessels appear, revealing strong influence from Minoan art. From this period onward, mainland metalworking developed rapidly. In fact, in the early Mycenaean period it reached the point of competing with Minoan metalworking.


Stone working

Although the use of metal tools had begun already from the Early Bronze Age, stone tools made of obsidian and chert had still an important role in the households, agricultural activities and artisanship. Stone tools are distinguished in two basic categories according to the raw material they were made of and the manufacture procedure. Thus, there are tools of chipped stone and tools of polished stone.




Bone working

Very often, objects and mainly tools made of bones are discovered in Middle Helladic settlements. The basic raw material were the bones of domestic animals and fish. Articles made of horns, teeth of wild animals and sea shells are also examined as bone objects.


The manufacture technique of bone articles was simple. Their surface was carved with stone or metal tools. That is why their processing was presumably made in settlements. In Lerna, Eutresis and Asine areas of bone processing were indicated. Many tools and bone remains were concentrated in these areas.


The most common bone tools were the long pins and awls, which were tools for sewing and hide processing, and the bone polishers which were probably used in pottery burnishing. Bone was also used for making spindle whorls for the spinning of thin fibres because of its lightness. Another rather widespread type of bone tool was a kind of tubular tool which is believed to have been used in weaving, as it bears clear traces of use in its inside. Pickaxes were made of antlers while perforated plates of boar's tusks covered the helmets which became one of the most characteristic elements of Mycenaean military equipment.


The bone pins which often had decorated heads present a great variety of shapes and materials. Their large number reveals a specific dressing tradition. Most pins are found in settlements and only a few come from graves, which means that the dead were not buried with their clothes but were most likely wrapped in materials. Simple jewellery made of bone, beads, rings and sea shells which hung on thread were also found in graves.


Ivory is a rare material of this period on Mainland Greece and its possession must have been considered as a symbol of social prestige. The first examples of ivory objects, which were hilts of luxury weapons and tools, derive from the last phase of the Middle Helladic period. Ivory was also used for the manufacture of plaques with incised decoration of circles or spiral jewellery, which were engraved with compasses. These objects were used as inlaid decorative plaques in metal or wooden articles.



The earliest examples of Aegean textiles which were preserved because of favourable environmental conditions belong to the last period of the Middle Bronze Age. The probably most early one was found in a grave of the Grave Circle B at Mycenae. All the textile finds of this period have been woven with the simple weaving technique. Flax is considered to have remained the main raw material for weaving while the wool of sheep and goat was used on a smaller scale.


The weaving devices found in Middle Helladic settlements give an image of the processing steps of weaving materials and methods. The most usual weaving devices are the spindle whorls for the spinning and the loomweights which indicate the use of the vertical loom. The spindle whorls of this period are of a conical, biconical or flat shape and were often decorated with incisions filled with white colour. The loomweights rarely occur in Middle Helladic settlements. These were made of clay or burnished rocks and their spherical or tubular shape represents the mainland loomweight type. At Lerna Minoan loomweights were found; these are easily distinguished by their typical discoid shape.


Very often these weaving devices were supplanted by bases of broken vases which were previously detached from the rest of the vase and perforated in the centre so that the thread could pass through. The perforated or solid spools, which were probably used for the winding of the yarn and for joining different yarns for the extension of the woof are also considered as loom devices. Some of the solid spools may have been used as small pestles for the crushing of fine materials.


There is virtually no information on the use of the woven products and the kinds of dressing except for very few dressing accessories such as buttons and pins. The pins found in some graves indicate that some clothes were not sewn but fixed on the body with different attachments. The Middle Helladic clothes were probably similar to a certain type of Mycenaean clothes which differed greatly from the common Minoan-like costumes of the Mycenaean period. The type of this costume which is a long and large garment with short sleeves is considered representative of a previous dressing tradition of Mainland Greece which was presumably formed during the Middle Helladic period.









6.  Pelasgians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia