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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

008 - The "Dark Age" and Homer

In this episode, we discuss the archaeological evidence for the early "Dark Age" during the 11th and 10th centuries BC, particularly at the site of Nichoria in Messenia and the pottery of the Sub-Mycenaean and Protogeometic periods; the emigration of mainland Greeks to the Aegean islands and the western coast of Anatolia; and the first great author of ancient Greece, a man named Homer, who gives us insight into the society and culture of the early Dark Age through his two great epic poems---the Iliad and the Odyssey

ca. 1200-1000 BC - following the collapse of the Mycenaean palace economy, famine and emigration set the stage for a massive population drop in Greece 
ca. 1125-1050 BC - the period following the Mycenaean Period, is known as Sub-Mycenaean, since the pottery is still recognizably Mycenaean but much inferior in quality
ca. 1050-900 BC - renewed artistic vigor can be seen in the pottery of the Protogeometric style, so called because the designs are simple abstract geometric shapes like horizontal and wavy lines, circles, and semicircles within bands around the neck and belly
ca. 1050-900 BC - Numerous waves of emigration began eastwards into the Aegean islands and the western coast of Anatolia (Aeolia and Ionia)
ca. 900 BC - weapons and tools were beginning to be made with iron (i.e. the Iron Age), foreign trade resumed (at a small scale), small villages began to appear, and populations began to inch upwards at a steady pace
ca. 850-750 BC - composition of Iliad and Odyssey by "Homer"

Greek wordswanax (king in charge of an expedition), basileus (king of a village), demos (village community and people in it), heteroi (companions, i.e. personal followers of basileus), basileutatos (the most kingly), xenia (guest-friendship relationship), xenos (guest-friend), agathos (good), kakos (bad), arete (virtue or excellence), aner (man), aristos (best), aristeia (condition when one is at his/her very best), agon (contest or struggle), time (honor), kleos (glory or renowned fame), klueiv (to hear), aidos (shame)

Primary Sources:

Video/A Long and Difficult Journey, or The Odyssey (Crash Course)

Recommended Podcast Episodes:


  1. Typo: incite -> insight

    Great stuff! Thanks!

  2. I'm researching a book set in this obscure period (around 760-780 BC), and I found this page and your podcast absolutely invaluable as a compilation of evidence and holistic view of this period...well done, thank you!