Origins of Ancient Greece

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  • Carlin
    Senior Member
    • Dec 2011
    • 3332


    • Carlin
      Senior Member
      • Dec 2011
      • 3332

      Archaeologists in Greece find 3,500-year-old royal tombs

      US archaeologists have discovered two monumental royal tombs dating from about 3,500 years ago near a major Mycenaean-era palace in Greece's southern Peloponnese region, the Greek culture ministry said Tuesday.

      US archaeologists have discovered two monumental royal tombs dating from about 3,500 years ago near a major Mycenaean-era palace in Greece's southern Peloponnese region, the Greek culture ministry said Tuesday.

      A ministry statement said the dome-shaped roofs of both tombs near the Bronze Age palace of Pylos had collapsed during antiquity, filling them with so much earth and rubble that grave robbers couldn't get in to plunder them.

      Nevertheless, they had been disturbed during the period of their use over several generations unlike another Mycenaean grave found nearby in 2015 that yielded a stunning hoard of gold and silver treasure, jewelry and bronze arms buried with a man presumed to have been an early ruler of Pylos.

      Recovered grave goods from the two tombs included a golden seal ring and a golden amulet of an ancient Egyptian goddess, highlighting Bronze Age trade and cultural links. The ministry said the discovery was particularly important as it shed light on the early phases of Greece's Mycenaean civilization.

      The Mycenaean era, between roughly 1650-1100 B.C. provided the material for many of the myths and legends of ancient Greece including that of the Trojan War.

      The larger of the two tombs had a diameter of 12 meters (36 feet) at floor level and its stone walls survived to a height of 4.5 meters (15 feet) less than half its original height.

      The other was about two-thirds of that size and its walls now stand two meters high. Both belong to the tholos type of tomb, massive domed underground constructions reserved for Mycenaean royalty that could reach roughly 15 meters (45 feet) in height.

      They were excavated over the past two years by University of Cincinnati archaeologists, who also discovered the nearby rich burial that is known as the Griffin Warrior grave, after some of the ornaments found in it.

      All three graves, together with another tholos tomb found nearby decades ago, were built earlier than the sprawling palace whose ruins lie close by, and which features in Homer's Odyssey as the seat of the wise King Nestor.


      • Carlin
        Senior Member
        • Dec 2011
        • 3332

        The Pelasgian Problem.


        "...The most significant among Hellenes are Athenians and Lacaedemonians. The first come from Ionic tribe, the second - from Doric tribe. And, Ionians are of Pelasgian origin, and Dorians - of Hellenic." (I, 56.)

        This message belongs to Herodot, who wrote his "Historia" in the 5th century B.C. Pelasgians are so often met in different Ancient Greek manuscripts that we do not practically doubt they lived in Greece. The most widespread theory in ancient times was that Pelasgians were the Pre-Greek population of Southern Balkans and the Aegean Islands. Greek authors placed their native land in Thessalia, in Northern and Middle Greece, and on the majority of islands in the Aegean Sea.

        According to Greeks, in the 5th and in the 4th century B.C. Pelasgians still lived in some regions of Greece, on several islands, and spoke a language Hellenes could not understand. Later they were assimilated completely, leaving practically no inscriptions, no books, no signs of their language in Greece, just some descriptions Greeks made themselves after them.

        But were they Indo-Europeans?

        It is well known that the first wave of Indo-European migrants who came to settle to Crete, the Aegean Islands and to Continental Greece from Asia Minor were Achaeans, the so-called "first wave of Greek migrants". It is they who created the Minoan on Crete and Mycenaean in Peloponnese civilizations. Then Doric tribes invaded Greece, but could easily understand the language of Achaeans, and nowadays Dorians and Achaeans are considered to have been just the two varieties of Greek population, with dialectal peculiarities in their common language.

        But Pelasgian language was not understood by Achaeans. Herodot was Achaean himself (he was born in the Ionic city of Halicarnassus), but he wrote: "...We can conclude that Pelasgians spoke a barbarian language... Even now the citizens of Creston and Plakia speak another language, different from their neighbours'... But what about Hellenic tribes, to my mind, they always spoke one language." (I, 57-58.) That means Herodot could not understand Pelasgian and considered Pelasgian to be barbarian language, together with Lydian, Phoenician or Thracian.

        Now let us refer to historical details. Pelasgians, having lived in Greece before Hellenes came, used to fight with newcomers, but evidently were crushed and lost their lands. In the epic poems of Homer (8th century B.C.), the Pelasgians are mentioned as the inhabitants of several locations in Greece including the ancient city of Dodona in eastern Epirus, southeastern Thrace, Argos, the Peloponnesos (Peloponnesus), and Crete. Herodot three centuries later names just two of their cities. The process of extinction went fast. Naturally, the only place they could survive for some time and avoid assimilation were small islands in the Aegean Sea. And only here we have one (maybe the only) evidence they really had their language.

        Inscriptions were found on the island named Lemnos which proves Pelasgians lived there in their isolated community in the 7th and 6th century B.C. Hesiod, Homer and other Greek authors give us no doubt Lemnos's signs are of Pelasgian language. But they are not Indo-European. The language is completely unknown, and some researches even believe (following ancient legends) that Lemnos Island's inscriptions are close to Etruscan and Rhaetic language. That is how a theory was supported about the ties of Pelasgians and Etruscans: "If we judge for nowadays Pelasgians, who live north from Tyrsenans..." (I, 58). That is how Herodot shows neighbourhood of Etruscans (Tyrsenans) and Pelasgians. Strabo in the 1st century A.D. follows this theory: "Modern Cere [in Etruria] is said to have been founded by Pelasgians who came from Thessalia." (V, II, 3). Euripid in his "Archelaios" says that Pelasgians were the first people to settle on Lemnos and Imbros Islands, then inhabited Greece, and partly went to Italy led by Tirsenos, the ancestor of Etruscans.

        And though Strabo and Hesiod believe Pelasgians used to be Hellenes, Etruscan language which has nothing in common with Greek proves they were not. But still there are too many contradictory sources of information. Greeks, who were sure that every nation had their Hellenic religion with just different names for gods, always called other peoples' divines Greek names: they called Egyptian Amon "Zeus", they called Celtic goddess Boann "Artemis" and so on, the same for every people. That is why Pelasgian gods, who could have their own names, were called "Zeus", "Apollo", "Hermes" by Greeks. Certainly, Pelasgians who lived nearby Greeks, could borrow their gods, myths and beliefs, but that does not prove, for example, that the Temple in Dodona many authors talk about was devoted to Zeus and not to an autochtonic Pelasgian god. Pelasgian might have similar cults, gods for rain, ground, sun and moon. The only description of Pelasgian sculptures, that of Zeus, believed to have been delivered to Larisa from Asia Minor, is described by Pausanius as having three eyes (II, 24) - a feature not common among Greek gods. Pelasgian religion must have been different from Indo-European.

        And nevertheless, no one can be sure. In the 70s this century a Bulgarian linguist Georgiyev published his works where he tried to prove that Pelasgian language was of Indo-European origin. According to him, it was a representative of Paleo-Balkan languages, of their Thraco-Illyrian branch. Georgiyev cites Ancient Greek historians, Hesihios's dictionary and composes the so-called "Pelasgian glossary" - words in Greek borrowed from Pelasgian. Here we are glad to offer the full list of that glossary.

        aleifo - I smear
        asamindos - a bath
        astu - a town
        atembo - I offend
        afnos - wealth
        balios - white
        bretas - a statue
        gaia, ga - a land, a region
        deyo - I irrigate
        dunamai - I can
        eiko - I retreat
        elaion - butter
        derapne - a dwelling
        ide - a forest
        lahe - a pit
        neos - a temple
        pyndax - a bottom of a vase
        pyrgos - a tower

        1) “all Greece was once called Pelasgia”, Herodotus II. 56:

        2) "The Athenians, when the region which is now called Greece was held by the Pelasgi, were Pelasgians, and bore the name of Cranaans; but under their king Cecrops, they were called Cecropidae." Herodotus Urania 8 page 9

        3) "The Aeolians furnished sixty ships, and were equipped in the Grecian fashion. They too were anciently called Pelasgians, as the Greeks declare." Herodotus, Polymnia Book 7
        Last edited by Carlin; 01-27-2020, 01:32 AM.