period of the ancient Greek history between the 11th and
8th century. BC is known as Geometric period, and took
it's name from the geometric shapes at the decoration of
the vases. A few years ago was characterized as the
"Dark Ages", because the facts for this period were very
poor, and often was placed in prehistory.
The decline fall and dissolution of the Mycenean
kingdoms after the middle of the 12th century B.C. was followed by a period of
approximately four centuries, during which a new framework was created and a new
era was introduced for Greek culture and history.
The main characteristic of this period was the extensive
drift and migration both to the inland of mainland
Greece, and to the Aegean islands and the coast of Asia
Minor. Greek peoples that previously inhabited
mountainous and barren areas in the periphery of the
Mycenean world now moved toward the formerly prosperous,
productive and fertile Mycenean centers, which they took
over, opening the
way for the creation of the ancient Greek city-states in
the next period.
At the end of the Mycenaean
period, the first peoples were moved from the northwest-
according to Herodotus and Thucydides-, settled in areas which
took their name.
Dorians and Aetolians from Central Greece moved to the Peloponnese, while
Boeotians from Central Thessaly moved southward and settled in the area SE of
Mt. Parnassus. Ionians from the Northern coast of the Peloponnese moved to the
Saronic Gulf and Attica and from there to Euboea. From the mountainous region of
Mt. Pindos, the Thessalians settled in Thessaly and the Magnesians in the area
of Mt. Pelion.
At the same time, the former inhabitants of these areas, which were gradually
pushed back by the new peoples, moved toward the islands, the coast of Asia
Minor and Cyprus. Ionians from Attica and Euboea emigrated to the Cyclades and
Ionia, namely Samos, Chios and the opposite coast, from Phokaia to Miletos.
Aeolian-speaking inhabitants of Thessaly settled in Lesbos, Tenedos and the
opposite coast. Dorians from the Peloponnese emigrated to Crete and the SE coast
of Asia Minor, while Achaeans and Arcadians, also from the Peloponnese, moved to
Crete, Pamphylia and Cyprus.
According to the
main viewpoint, when the Mycenaean states showed signs of
weakness, the Dorians, who lived then in northwestern Greece,
and under the pressure from other people who came from the
north, moved to the south. It was a large-scale military
operation which resulted in Central Greece and Peloponnese.
According to a newer position,
historically proved, the Dorians-a Greek pastoral race which
were resident in mountainous regions of Greece took advantage of
the decline of Mycenae to be moved to lowland areas. Relative
with the Doric settlement in the Peloponnese was a later myth
for the return of Heraklides, the descendents of Herakles who
had been expelled once. The causes of the first migratory period
which led the first large movements in Greece focus on the
population growth which occurred in the Homeric communities at
the end of the 9th century BC.
Certainly, the Homeric
communities while were keeping the character of the closed rural
economy based on limited arable land, due to lack of skills and
resources from other areas, and the concentration of the land in
few hands, were unable to face the new economic needs. Solution
to the crisis offered the imperialistic wars, the establishment
of colonies and a new development model, based in the promotion
of the small industry and trading.
Until the 8th century B.C., the extensive migratory
movement had almost taken on its final form. Thereafter only new cities and
colonies were formed. The growth of commercial activity and the quest for new
lands resulted in the establishment in the 8th century B.C. of the first
colonies in the West by Euboeans, Megarians and Spartans.
All the above movements, which took place gradually, resulted in political
decentralization and led to the formation of a number of small autonomous
phyletic states. In the 8th century the first city-states were formed; the city
state was to become the basic component of Greek society in the historical
period, within which emerged the ideas and notions of the panhellenic
nationalism as well as the national and individual liberty, which later on led
to the birth of Democracy.
The Greek nation developed new, stronger bonds. The worship of several gods
became common for all Greeks, the Olympian Pantheon was created and Homer and
Hesiod shaped Greek mythology. In 776 B.C. the Olympic Games were established,
and became the basis for the dating of all historical events until the end of
In the 8th century B.C., the name Hellenes was established as the common
identifying name of groups which inhabited Greek lands and had common
characteristics, customs and descent. Those groups spoke a common language,
Greek, which now began to be recorded according to a new system of writing that
was borrowed from the Phoenicians and adapted to meet the needs of the Greek
As a nation with cohesion, the Greeks were now ready to rule over the
Mediterranean, establishing important commercial harbors and colonies from the
Black Sea to the Northern coast of Africa and from Asia Minor and Cyprus to the
coast of France and Spain.
The colonists gained prosperity, became great seafarers and, retaining their
close bonds with their mother cities, disseminated Greek civilisation to the
ends of the then known world.