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Social diversity in Dark Age Greece

Whitley, Anthony James Monins 1991. Social diversity in Dark Age Greece. Annual of the British School at Athens 86 , pp. 341-365. 10.1017/S0068245400014994

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This paper attempts to provide new insights into the nature of Greek society in the Dark Ages (1100–700 B.C.). It re-examines the relationship between the archaeological evidence and the institutions and practices described in the Homeric poems. The archaeological evidence indicates that there were marked regional differences in settlement pattern, burial customs and pottery traditions. This must, it is argued, reflect profound regional differences in social organisation. Ethnographic analogies are used to make sense of some of these regional patterns. Two of the larger and more stable communities in Dark Age Greece, Athens and Knossos, are subjected to detailed scrutiny. A close contextual analysis of the relationship between pot style and mortuary representations in these two sites reveal two patterns which are divergent rather than convergent. In Athens burial customs and later pot style appear to be part of an age and sex linked symbolic system. In Knossos however, there is no clear patterning, either in pot style or mortuary representations. Instead there is a continuum of variation. Such fundamental differences cannot be accomodated within the concept of a uniform ‘Homeric Society’. It is suggested here that the institutions and practices described in Homer only operated at an inter-regional level.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
D History General and Old World > DF Greece
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0068-2454
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:58

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