2.5.1.12 Iron Age

 0 Contents 2 Background 2.5 Societal 2.5.1 Europe

Etruscans 2.5.1.14

2.5.1.13 Minoans and Mycenaens

Introduction

The literate and cultured Minoans were more sophisticated than the ancestors of the Hellenes in the Early Bronze Age, but eventually found themselves under new management - the warrior elite of Mycenae. There is more than one twist to this tale. The Minoans seem to have arrived in Greece not much earlier than the Mycenaens. Or perhaps we should say that there was an influx of new blood from Anatolia to Crete around 2,500 BC, bringing new styles and technology to the agricultural community there, as it appears from archaeological1B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp.185-200. and genetic traces. Since Crete had been first settled by farmers from the Near East via Cyprus long before, it is vital to distinguish between new and old settlers carrying the same haplogroups. Refining by subclades can clarify the picture. Crete and Anatolia proved high in Y-DNA haplogroup J2a (M410), in contrast to Thessaly and Greek Macedonia, where J2b (M12) was common. Two younger subclades of J2a - J2a1h (M319) and J2a1b1 (M92) - suggested Bronze Age expansion in Crete.2R. J. King et al, Differential Y-chromosome Anatolian Influences on the Greek and Cretan Neolithic, Annals of Human Genetics, vol.72, no. 2, (2008), pp. 205-214.

Fresco from the Bronze Age in the Minoan town Akrotiri, Santorini, Greece. Click to enlarge in pop-up window.

It was a time of vigorous change which ultimately gave rise to the Minoan civilization. There was increasing trade by ship across the Aegean. The Cyclades, which had been by-passed by early farmers, were gradually settled from around 4300 BC. These islands form stepping stones across the Agean between Anatolia and the Greek mainland. It seems that their first settlers came from both directions. Then around 2500 BC a new culture arrived from Western Anatolia and swept onwards to the eastern seaboard of central Greece around 2200 BC.3B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp. 174-5, 185-6. Were these the ancestors of the Mycenaen Greeks?

We can expect modern Greeks to be a genetic mixture from waves of settlement, including both earlier and later than 2500 BC. Yet someone must have brought an Indo-European language to Greece, which developed into Greek. The problem is that no consensus exists about either the time that Proto-Greeks arrived or the direction whence they came.4J. P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture(1997), pp. 243-4. It can only be a theory that Proto-Greek was nurtured on the western flanks of the Black Sea alongside Proto-Armenian and Proto-Phrygian and, like those languages, moved to Anatolia, but unlike them, eventually moved on to Greece.

In Greece as in Anatolia there was a lengthy period in which the Indo-European-speakers seem subordinate. The Minoans developed a sophisticated culture around 1900 BC. Monumental architectural ensembles (which archaeologists have labelled palaces), were the hubs of small states ruled by governing élites. Minoan power spread over the Cyclades, leaving remarkable Minoan remains on Santorini, such as the mural shown above. Early Greek historians declared that the Minoans had triumphed in these islands over Carians,5Herodotus, The History(written 440 B.C), book 1; Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War (written 431 B.C.), book 1, chapter 1. rather than Greeks. This is possible, since the Carians were an Indo-European people of Western Anatolia,6Ignacio-Javier Adiego Lajara,The Carian language (2006). who could have settled on some of these islands. Either way the Minoans were the major power in the Aegean before the Mycenaeans moved to seize hegemony of Crete around 1,400 BC.

Ancient Greek and phoenician colonies. Click to enlarge in pop-up window.

Again the new ruling class adapted the script of the old one for their language - an early form of Greek.7G. Horrocks:Greek: a History of the Language and its Speakers(1997). Then came the Dark Ages of Greece, before the Greeks burst into history as a civilization that has influenced all subsequent ones in Europe.

The expansion of the Greek world from about 800 BC to southern Italy, Sicily, Corsica, Provence and the European coast of the Black Sea seems to have left genetic traces in the spread of Y-DNA E-V13 and J2a1b1. Roy King's team stress the importance of the Greek input in Southern France, which they link toviniculture spreading from the Greek colony of Massalia.8F. di Giacomo et al, Y chromosomal haplogroup J as a signature of the post-neolithic colonization of Europe,Human Genetics, vol. 11, no. 5 (2004), pp. 357-71; O. Semino et al., Origin, Diffusion, and Differentiation of Y-Chromosome Haplogroups E and J: Inferences on the Neolithization of Europe and Later Migratory Events in the Mediterranean Area, American Journal of Human Genetics vol. 74 (2004), pp. 1023–1034; C. Di Gaetano, Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome, European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 17 (2009), pp. 91–99; R. J. King et al., The coming of the Greeks to Provence and Corsica: Y-chromosome models of archaic Greek colonization of the western Mediterranean, BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 11 (2011), no. 69..

Notes

  1. B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp.185-200.
  2. R. J. King et al, Differential Y-chromosome Anatolian Influences on the Greek and Cretan Neolithic, Annals of Human Genetics, vol.72, no. 2, (2008), pp. 205-214.
  3. B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans (2008), pp. 174-5, 185-6.
  4. J. P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997), pp. 243-4.
  5. Herodotus, The History (written 440 B.C), book 1;Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War (written 431B.C.), book 1, chapter 1.
  6. Ignacio-Javier Adiego Lajara, The Carian language (2006).
  7. G. Horrocks: Greek: a History of the Language and its Speakers (1997).
  8. F. di Giacomo et al, Y chromosomal haplogroup J as a signature of the post-neolithic colonization of Europe, Human Genetics, vol. 11, no. 5 (2004), pp. 357-71; O. Semino et al., Origin, Diffusion, and Differentiation of Y-Chromosome Haplogroups E and J: Inferences on the Neolithization of Europe and Later Migratory Events in the Mediterranean Area, American Journal of Human Genetics vol. 74 (2004), pp. 1023–1034; C. Di Gaetano, Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome, European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 17 (2009), pp. 91–99; R. J. King et al., The coming of the Greeks to Provence and Corsica: Y-chromosome models of archaic Greek colonization of the western Mediterranean, BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 11 (2011), no. 69.

Page created by Jean Manco 29 November 2010 (by extract from Peopling of Europe main page). Last revised 16-03-2011 XHTML:CSS

Hit Counter

Counter