The Greek Dark Ages

When the Mycenaean Civilization fell, the palaces were burned and abandoned. The Dorian Greeks lived a simple life. They were ruled by village chieftains. After 1100 B.C.E. the Greeks of the Peloponnese and the Mainland could do little more than try to feed themselves and run local blacksmith shops. It would take centuries before the population would begin to grow again. The skill of reading and writing was forgotten. For that reason, we have no written records from this period of time, 1100 B.C.E. to approximately 750 B.C.E.

The Greek dark ages are a time of doom and gloom mostly lost to us as history. We know more about what the Greeks did not have than we do about what the Greeks actually did have.

These Greeks did not build any important or great buildings. These Greeks could neither read nor write, so they did not leave any records. These Greeks did not engage in trade, because they stayed withtheir local villages. These Greeks did not produce fine pictures or ornaments as the Greeks had done in Mycenaean days. Finally, these Greeks did not organize themselves in cities but rather stayed in their villages

It would take hundreds of years for the Dorian Greeks to work themselves out of these Dark Ages. Improvement was slow. It depended upon producing enough food for people to begin living without the threat of starvation. Only then could the Dorian Greeks begin to rebuild Greek culture.

The Dorians do agriculture differently. The Mycenaeans had huge farming estates owned by the rich. The Mycenaean farmers worked the estates in return for enough food to keep themselves alive.

Not so in Dorian society. Each farmer owned his own land. Each farmer grows his own food. These independent farmers live in villages near their fields.

The Dorians also changed up what they grew. More land was used to raise crops. Less land was used to graze cattle. These Greeks ate less meat. Instead, they grew many different crops. They still grew wheat. Now they started fruit orchards. They also started raising grapes in large vineyards. Finally, the Dorians began serious cultivation of olives. This meant that more land than ever was used for agriculture. However, the new lands had much poorer soil.

Only when you are able to eat without fear of starvation can you begin to think about and work on other things than growing food. With abundant food, you can work on things like making beautiful pots, art, putting up public buildings, reading and writing.

With the food supply increasing, we will begin to see the Greeks thinking and working on more than survival.

Created By
Robert Brady
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