Monday, November 23, 2009
Before and the Arrival of the Proto-Greeks in Macedonia(3000 b.c.-2300 b.c.)
BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE PROTO-GREEKS
For certain areas of the Greek mainland and many of the islands the names of some fifteen pre-Greek peoples are preserved in ancient traditions, together with a number of other references; information of this quantity or importance is wanting in the case of the inhabitants of Macedonia, however, not only for the period prior to the advent of the Proto-Greeks, but even before the end of the Bronze Age. This deficiency can be remedied to some extent by recourse to indirect evidence.
Firstly, it is a safe assumption that during the Stone and Bronze Ages, Macedonia was not settled by people very different from the population of southern Greece and the rest of the Balkan peninsula (or of Asia Minor, Italy and the Iberian peninsula). These regions are known to have been inhabited at an early date by pre-Indo-European (or Mediterranean) peoples and subsequently by Indo-Europeans. South of Olympos, the first Indo-Europeans made their appearance towards the end of the Neolithic and the beginning of the Chalcolithic periods (about 3000 B.C.).
Archaeological evidence may be used to add details to this broad picture; there is, however, no agreement amongst the experts as to its interpretation.
In southern Greece, the traditions concerning the pre-Greek Pelasgians coincide to a remarkable degree with certain innovations in the pottery that had made their ap¬pearance slightly earlier in western Macedonia, central Macedonia, Chalkidike, eastern Macedonia and further to the east and north. This suggests that Macedonia was in¬habited by Pelasgians at the end of the Neolithic period. The Pelasgians were one of the pre-Greek Indo-European peoples, as were the Dryopes, a section of whom remained in the valley of the Erigon (Crna) and survived into the historical period, when they were known by the name Derriopes, or Deuriopes or Douriopes: Dry-, Derr-, Deur- and Dour- are all the evolved form or rendering of the same root, the original meaning of which was 'tree' and which later came to mean oak tree.
The features of the 'Tumulus Culture' that appeared in southern Macedonia towards the end of the Neolithic period and somewhat later in the Chalkidike and eastern Macedonia, suggest the arrival of a number of Indo-European groups that cannot be identified.
THE PROTO-GREEKS IN MACEDONIA (2300/2200-1900 B.C.)
The language and religion of the ancient Greeks contain features derived from a variety of different sources. They are predominantly Indo-European, but the non - Indo-European, or 'Mediterranean' features are by no means in¬significant. The Indo-European elements may in turn be divided into a main and a secondary group; the latter are connected with a variety of Indo-European peoples that had been absorbed by the dominant group, which had also absorbed the remnants of 'Mediterranean' peoples. The main ancestors of the ancient Greeks are usually also described as Greeks. This term, however, obscures the fact that the ancient Greeks also had other forebears, both Indo-European and 'Mediterranean'. In order to dis¬tinguish the historical Greeks from the main group of their prehistoric ancestors, the term Proto-Greeks has recently come to be applied to the latter.
Study of the interrelations between the various Indo-European languages has shown that the Proto-Greek tongue had its closest and longest contact with Proto-Aryan (the forerunner of Indian and Iranian languages); that these two languages took shape in the centre of the area occupied by the Indo-European peoples (from the Ukraine to east of the Caspian); and that they separated out after the dispersal of the Indo-European peoples sur¬rounding the Proto-Greeks and Proto-Aryans. A variety of archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the fragmentation of the main mass of the Indo-Europeans was already completed by the beginning of the fourth phase of the 'Tumulus Culture' of the Eurasian steppes (c. 2500 B.C.). Some features of this culture make their ap¬pearance on the Greek mainland and on adjacent islands, under conditions that suggest they were brought by im¬migrants, at the beginning of Early Helladic III (c. 2100 B.C.), though the main immigration dates to the beginning of the Middle Helladic period (1900 B.C.). From that time to the end of the Late Helladic period (c. 1125 B.C.) there is no trace of any migration to Greece. These con¬siderations, combined with the circumstance that the Greek mainland and adjacent islands were undoubtedly occupied by Greeks during the Late Helladic period, clearly indicate that the immigrants of Early Helladic III and the Middle Helladic period were Proto-Greeks.
The Proto-Greek settlements on the mainland during the Early Helladic period were few in number and were either on coastal sites or a short distance inland. It seems, therefore, that their founders arrived by sea, setting out either from Chalkidike or from the coast of eastern Macedonia. By contrast, the Proto-Greek settlements of the Middle Helladic period were much greater in number and extended over the area from north-east Thessaly to the southern Peloponnese. This suggests that the immigrants of the second wave were significantly more numerous and travelled overland. Their point of departure may be located in north-east Thessaly and western Macedonia. Other evidence indicates that between 2100 (and possibly as early as 2300) and 1900 B.C. the main body of the Proto-Greeks was concentrated in these two areas, and also further west.
- Sakellariou, Peoples, 137-49,246-47,294-306.
- See above
- Ibid., 255-64.
- Ibid., 61-68, for earlier bibliography.
- Ibid., 30-52.