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Notes and Summaries from:
"The Dark Age of Greece"
by Immanuel Velikovsky (published posthumously on the Internet)
The Setting of the Stage
Arthur Evans dug at Knossos on Crete and brought to light the Minoan civilization. The Minoan civilization could be traced to various stages separated by definite interruptions Early Minoan, Middle Minoan, and Late Minoan and it was the Late Minoan age that ran parallel with the Mycenaean age. If anything, the Minoan civilization appeared as the dominant of the two. It was Evans excavations on Crete that established the contemporaneity of Mycenaean ware with that of the Late Minoan period. On Crete Evans also found tablets with incised signs of two scripts, called by him Linear A and Linear B. Later tablets with the Linear B script were found in large numbers at Pylos and at other ruined cities on the Greek mainland, and still later they were deciphered.
The Dark Age in Asia Minor
Like Greece and the Aegean, Asia Minor has no history for a period of close to five centuries. Certain scholars disagree with this verdict, but it comes from the pen of one of the foremost authorities on archaeology and art of Asia Minor, Professor Ekrem Akurgal of the University of Ankara.1
" . . Today , despite all industrious archaeological exploration of the last decades, the period from 1200 to 750 for most parts of the Anatolian region lies still in complete darkness. The old nations of Asia Minor, like the Lycians and the Carians, the names of which are mentioned in the documents of the second half of the second millennium, are archaeologically, i.e., with their material heritage, first noticeable about 700 or later . . . Hence the cultural remains of the time between 1200 and 750 in central Anatolia, especially on the plateau, seem to be quite irretrievably lost for us."
The huge land of Asia Minor for almost five centuries is historically and archaeologically void. The cause of the interruption in the flow of history about -1200 is assumed to lie in some military conquest; but the Phrygians, who are supposed to have been these conquerors, did not themselves leave any sign of their occupation of the country from before -750.
Thus the explanation that the end of the Anatolian civilization about 1200 was due to the incursion of the Phrygians is not supported by archaeological finds. According to Akurgal, the repeatedly undertaken efforts to close the hiatus by relics of Phrygian art "cannot be harmonized with the results of archaeological study. None of the Phrygian finds and none of the oriental ones found with them can be dated earlier than the eighth century." "Such results compel us to exclude from the study of Asia Minor between 1200 and 750 any Phrygian presence and heritage."
"It is startling," writes Akurgal, "that until now in Central Anatolia not only no Phrygian, but altogether no cultural remains of any people, came to light that could be dated in time between 1200 and 750.? Nothing was left by any possible survivors of previous occupants, namely by Hittites, and nothing by any people or tribe that could have supplanted them. Also on the rim of Asia Minor the darkness of the Dark Age is complete: "In the south of the peninsula, in Mersin, Tarsus and Karatepe, in recent years important archaeological work was done . . . here, too, the early Iron Age, i.e., the period between 1200 and 750, is enwrapped in darkness."2
Even after only a few decades of settlement a town should leave discernible relics for archaeologists; usually under such circumstances potsherds or a few beads, or a clay figurine, are found. Ash and kitchen refuse are ubiquitous finds wherever there was human habitation. But that on an area over 250,000 square miles in extent there should, as Akurgal claims, be found nothing, not even tombs, from a period counted not just by decades but by centuries, actually a period of almost five hundred years, is hardly less than miraculous.
The Homeric Question
No Greek historian, philosopher, or poet used the term Dark Age or dark centuries or any substitute for such a concept; nor did Roman writers, much occupied with the Greek past, have a concept of a Dark Age for the period following the Trojan War and preceding the historical age in Greece. The term, and the concept as well, are a creation of modern scholarship in Hellenic studies for the period from which we have neither history, nor literary remains.
The blending of elements testifying to the Mycenaean Age together with elements the age of which could not precede the seventh and certainly not the eighth century is a characteristic feature of the Iliad.
...The following evaluation is from the pen of M. P. Nilsson:
"To sum up. There is considerable evidence in Homer which without any doubt refers to the Mycenaean Age. . . The Homeric poems contain elements from widely differing ages..." Nilsson continued: "The Mycenaean and the orientalizing elements differ in age by more than half a millennium. They are inextricably blended. How is it credible that the former elements were preserved through the centuries and incorporated in poems whose composition may be about half a millennium later?"3
The Allies of Priam
Phrygians are named as allies of Priam [King of Troy];3 also Ethiopians are counted among his allies.
Phrygians were not present till after ca. 750 BCE.
Tradition has it that the first king in their new domicile was Gordias, and the story of his selecting the site for his capital Gordion is a well known legend.5
The son of Gordias, Midas, is even more than his father an object of legendary motifs "whatever he touched turned to gold, he had the ears of an ass" yet he was a historical figure as well who, according to the chronicle of Hieronymus, reigned from -742 to -696.6
Soon the Phrygians came into conflict with the Assyrians who opposed the penetration of newcomers into central Asia Minor; and Sargon II (-726 to -705), the conqueror of Samaria and of the Israelite tribes, moved westward to stop the penetration of the Phrygians.7 Altogether the Phrygian kingdom in Asia Minor had a short duration.8 Already the K?te brothers, the early excavators of Gordion, noted that of the royal mounds (kurgans) only three could be dated before the Cimmerian invasion of the early seventh century which put an end to the Phrygian kingdom, and probably the number of royal successions did not exceed this number.9 Little is known of its history besides the fact that ca. -687 Gordion was overrun by the Cimmerians.
While the displaced Phrygians may have continued to live for a time in the western confines of Asia Minor, the year -687 saw the end of their kingdom.
Phrygians as allies of Priam, in the hinterland of the Troad, in conflict with the Cimmerians, themselves pursued by the Scythians, would limit the period of the Trojan War to the years between -720 and -687.
After the passing of the Cimmerians, Phrygia was exposed to the occupation and influence of neighboring states, in particular to that of the Lydian Kingdom to the west, with its capital at Sardis. Lydia was ruled by Gyges, a great king who played a conspicuous role in the politics of the Near East. He was on friendly terms with Assurbanipal, grandson of Sennacherib, king of Assyria; then, feeling the threat of the growing Assyrian empire, he supported Egypt?s rise to independence: he sent Ionian and Carian detachments to Psammetichus, king of Egypt, which enabled that country to free itself from the supremacy of Assyria.
The Homeric epics were created on the Asia shore of Asia Minor; it is most probable that Homer was a contemporary of Gyges, king of Lydia.12
This view was also offered and supported with arguments by Emile Mireaux; moreover, Mireaux ascribed also the very events of the poems to the time of Gyges.13
Aeneas, son of Priam, fled Troy and founded Rome. Virgil wrote of Aeneas basing himself on older traditions..
Before reaching Rome Aeneas went to Carthage where Queen Dido the founder of Carthage fell in love with him.
Aeneas? further wanderings brought him finally to Latium in Italy, the land of the Latini. According to the Roman legendary tradition, he became the progenitor of the Romans through his son Ascanios, the first king to reign in the new capital of Latium, Alba Longa, of which Rome was a dependent city; or, in another version, through Numitos in direct descent from Ascanios. But a more popular tradition had Aeneas himself as the founder of Rome; the Greek historian Timaios (ca. -346 to ca. -250) followed this tradition. A still better known legend has Romulus for the founder of Rome; sometimes Romulus is made a descendant of Aeneas and Ascanios.
Rome was founded, according to Varro, in -753.1
[Fabius Pictor gave -747 as the date of Rome's founding. ]
As to Carthage, the generally accepted view is that it was founded in the second half of the ninth century; Timaios placed its foundation in the year -814. Timaios was the first to fix the chronology of the Olympiads.2
Philistos, a Greek author, born in -435, placed Carthage's foundation "a man's life length" before the Trojan War; ..
Olympic Games in the Iliad
Homer knew of the Olympic games and had Nestor refer to them as an event that began to be celebrated several decades before the drama that is the subject of the Iliad. However, it is beyond dispute that the beginning of time reckoning by Olympiads was in the eighth century, more precisely in -776.
The Phrygian Gate of Gordion
[The Phrygian Gate of Gordion was uncovered in 1953 by a team from the University of Pennsylvania led by Rodney Young. It was in the form of a large double gateway with a central courtyard. Since it belonged to the Phrygian period, its date, like that of most of the Phrygian constructions at Gordion, was put sometime in the eighth century.]
The style and construction of this gate was that of Troy vi said to have existed 500 years previously.
The Lion Gate of Mycenae
The Lion Gate of Mycenae [in Greece] was the entrance to the city. Atop the gate, two lions rampant are carved in stone relief. Similar bas-reliefs of two lions rampant facing each other are found in a number of places in Phrygia in Asia Minor.1
This gate and the lions are copies of Phrygian prototypes.
. . . The end of the Phrygian kingdom is a fixed date, about 675 B.C.?6 when the invasion of Asia Minor by the Cimmerians put an end to the Phrygian culture and art.
Oriental influences found in the remains of Mycenae are ?precisely what we should expect in a kingdom like the Argos of the eighth century,? when this kingdom had intercourse with Asia Minor, Phoenicia and Egypt.
"The Scandal of Enkomi"
Velikovsky disputes Egyptian dating which was used to date contemporary Mycenean Greece and Minoan Crete. In these summaries of and extracts from Velikovsky we are attempting to capture the essence of his argument without dwelling on the subject of Egypt.]
In 1896 the British Museum conducted excavations at the village of Enkomi, the site of an ancient capital of Cyprus, not far from Famagusta, with A. S. Murray in charge.1
A group of tombs were excavated where the difference between them could not have been more than a 100 years.
"From first to last there was no question that this whole burying-ground belonged to what is called the Mycenaean Age, the characteristics of which are already abundantly known from the tombs of Mycenae . . . and many other places in the Greek islands and in Egypt."
Ivories, and porcelain, are similar to those ascribed to the Syrians Phoenicians and dated to ca. 800-700 BCE.
Bronze greaves are dated to ca. 700 BCE.
An oblong box for the game of draughts, found in Enkomi, ?must date from a period when the art of Assyria was approaching its decline,? five or six centuries after the reputed end of the Mycenaean age.
Evans had to admit that "nothing is clearer than that Ionian art in many respects represents the continuity of Mycenaean tradition,"
The Mycenaean Age started at the same time as the Late Minoan Age.
We learn from this case the fact which both sides admitted: the Greek culture of the seventh century has many interrelations with Mycenaean culture.
...Tiryns, south-east of Mycenae.
On the acropolis, foundations of a palace were discovered. Together with Mycenaean ware, and mixed with it,1 geometric ware of the eighth century and archaic ware of the sixth century were found, among them many little flasks in which libations had been brought to the sacred place.2
According to Schliemann, Tiryns was destroyed simultaneously with Mycenae and the palace was burned down.
From Greek literature it is known that in early Greek times, in the eighth or seventh century and until the first part of the fifth century, there was a temple of Hera in Tiryns which was deserted when the Argives vanquished the city in -460. In later times Tiryns was occasionally visited by travelers coming to pay homage to the sacred place of bygone days.4
The critic (C. W. Blegen) agreed that the temple had been built immediately after the palace was destroyed, but he could not agree that the temple was a building of the seventh century.
The Etruscans are thought to have arrived in northern Italy sometime before the end of the eighth century before the present era. In Etruria, between the rivers Arno and Tiber, are found vaulted structures erected by the Etruscans: they are of the type known as "false vaulting." O. W. von Vacano in his Etruscans in the Ancient World (1960) comments with wondering:
. . .The Mycenaean corridor design and tholos [circular domed tomb] structures are related to the vaulted buildings which make their appearance in the orientalizing period in Etruria, and here it is even more difficult to solve, even though the connection itself is undisputed.1
The Etruscan vaulted chambers impress one by their similarity to Mycenaean architecture. Other Etruscan structures of the seventh-sixth centuries also show such similarity.
Ibid., p. 82; cf. Cles-Reden, The Buried People, p. 122. [Numerous other Etruscan cultural traits reflect Mycenaean models, something that would be not unexpected if, as the revised timetable postulates, the two cultures were contemporary, yet most difficult to account for if, as the conventional scheme requires, five hundred years of darkness intervened. (a) Columns. The types of columns used in Etruscan buildings derive from columns of Knossos and Mycenae, and have nothing in common with the Doric columns of seventh and sixth-century Greece.(S. von Cles-Redden, The Buried People: A Study of the Etruscan World, transl. by C. M. Woodhouse [New York, 1955], p. 35.) But it is presumed that no Mycenaean or Minoan structures were left standing in Etruscan times. Where, then, did the Etruscans find the models for their wooden columns? (b) Frescoes. The famous Etruscan frescoes, such as those that decorate the tombs near Veii, display an "obvious reminiscence of Crete".."however not of Crete of the Dark Ages, but rather of Minoan Crete" (von Cles-Redden, op. cit., p. 143). But had not the Cretan palaces with their frescoes been destroyed many centuries earlier? (c) Burials. The sepulchral slabs used in some Etruscan tombs, especially those bearing reliefs of men and animals, resemble those found by Schliemann at Mycenae (Dennis, op. cit., p. lxix, n. 9). Also Etruscan burial customs appear to be derived from Mycenaean models (S. von Cles-Redden, op. cit., p. 150.)]
In Mycenean times Sicily had a prosperous civilization that carried on a busy commerce with the Helladic city-state of mainland Greece and the Minoan empire of Crete. This civilization disappears from view about the same time that the chief Mycenean centers were destroyed, and five centuries of darkness are said to descend on the island.1 Not till the beginning of the seventh century is the gloom dispelled by the arrival of the first Greek colonists.
The earliest of the Greek settlements was at Gela on the southern coast, founded by migrants from Crete and Rhodes at a date fixed by the ancient chronographers as -689. Tradition also claimed that Gela?s founder was Antiphemos, one of the Greek heroes returning from Troy: and Virgil has Aeneas, the Trojan hero, sail along the southern coast of the island and admire flourishing Gela and two other Greek settlements which by all accounts did not come into existence till the beginning of the seventh century.2
A little to the north of Agrigento, somewhat west of Gela on Sicily?s southern coast, are found tholos tombs of the Mycenean type.3 Inside of one of the tombs were found gold bowls and seal rings manufactured in a style that derives from Mycenean gold work.4 Yet neither the tombs nor the objects found inside them can be dated before the end of the eighth century. It is a puzzle how "splendid gold rings" with incised animal figures, so reminiscent of Mycenean objects and having nothing in common with contemporary Greek prototypes could have been manufactured by Greek colonists in the seventh century if "a real Dark Age"5 of five hundred years duration did in fact separate them from the latest phase of the Mycenean civilization. In Sicily the time between the end of the Mycenean age and the beginning of Greek colonization is an absolute void, with a total lack of archaeological remains...The decorative motifs used by the Greek colonists are once more under strong Mycenean influence; a detailed comparison of the motifs in use in the seventh century with those on Mycenean ware caused much amazement among art historians, but not even a suggestion of how the motifs could have been transmitted through the Dark Ages.7 Moreover, Minoan influences were identified in the shape and decoration of pottery discovered at Gela, presenting the same problems.
Mycenae and Scythia
The tombs of the Scythian kings in the Crimea were built in a way "surprisingly reminiscent of Mycenaean constructions,"4 the burial chamber consisting of "enormous blocks of dressed stone set to overlap each other so as to meet in the center in an impressive vault."5 To explain the use by the Scythians of the corbelled vault of the type common in the Mycenaean period, it was suggested that there must have been a continuing tradition going back to Mycenaean times, despite the lack of even a single exemplar between the twelfth and seventh centuries.
Gregory Borovka in his Scythian Art writes of "the striking circumstance that the Scytho-Siberian animal style exhibits an inexplicable but far-reaching affinity with the Minoan-Mycenaean. Nearly all its motives recur in Minoan-Mycenaean art."7
Solomon Reinach, long ago, called attention to certain striking resemblances between Scythian and Minoan-Mycenaean art.8
Another example of great similarity in style is in "the Siberian gold and bronze plaques depicting scenes of fighting animals."
"Other motives of the [Scythian] animal style, too, reappear in Minoan and Mycenaean art. We may cite the animals with hanging legs and those which are curled almost into a circle. Conversely, the standard motif of the Minoan-Mycenaean lion, often represented in the Aegean with reverted head, reappears again in Scythian and Siberian art."
The similarity first observed by Reinach and elaborated upon by Borovka is very unusual. But what appeared to them most surprising was the fact that two such similar art styles should be separated not only by a vast geographical distance, but also by an enormous gulf in time.
"How are we to explain this far-reaching kinship in aim between the two artistic schools" It remains, on the face of it, a riddle. Immediate relations between Minoan-Mycenaean and Scytho-Siberian civilizations are unthinkable; the two are too widely separated in space and time. An interval of some 500 years separates them. . . Still, the kinship between the two provinces of art remains striking and typical of both of them."10
Borovka, Scythian Art, p. 54 Similar observations were made by Minns (Scythian and Greeks, p. 260), who termed a Scythian depiction of a deer with its head turned around "a Mycenaean survival." He also compared an ibex on a casket from Enkomi, Cyprus to similar Scythian depictions.
Pylos in Messenia, on the western coast of the Peloponnese [Greece], was the capital of Nestor, the elderly statesman in the league headed by Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, against Priam, king of Troy, and his allies.1
Already early during the work of excavation Blegen unearthed scores of tablets written in the Linear B script, and soon there were hundreds of them. Linear B had been first discovered on Crete by Sir Arthur Evans, who found tablets with incised signs of two scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B. The profusion of tablets found in Pylos made the archaeologists question whether the script was Minoan or had its origin on the mainland of Greece; and when subsequently more tablets inscribed with these characters were found in other sites of the Greek mainland, at Mycenae and at Thebes, the name Mycenaean became rather regularly applied to the script.
Blegen placed the destruction not long after the Trojan War, at the close of the Mycenaean Age.7
Linear B Deciphered
...When Blegen discovered the Linear B tablets on the Greek mainland in the ruins of the ancient palace in Pylos, they were ascribed to the Heroic Age of Troy, the final stage of the Mycenaean Age that ended abruptly.
The Mycenaean Age ended in the eighth century and was followed by the Ionic times, with no centuries intervening, the break in culture being but the consequence of natural upheavals of the eighth century and of the subsequent migrations of peoples. Consequently the Ionic culture must show great affinity with the Mycenaean heritage; and therefore I have claimed that the Linear B script would prove to be Greek; but this was not a view that had many supporters.
...the April 9, 1954 front page news of The New York Times made known the exciting performance of decoding Linear B by Michael Ventris. The ancient script ?that for the last half century and longer has baffled archaeologists and linguists has been decoded finally "by an amateur." Ventris, an architect and "leisure-time scholar of pre-classic scripts," served as a cryptographer during World War II. The script that had been tried without avail in a variety of languages "Hittite, Sumerian and Basque among others" was found by Ventris to be Greek.2
The reading of these tablets in the Greek language raised the question: How could a literate people in the fourteenth century become illiterate for almost five centuries, to regain literacy in the eighth century?
The Greek Pantheon
The names of Achaean heroes known from the Homeric epics when found on the Pylos and Knossos [Linear B translated by Ventris] tablets, and a "wealth of Trojan names," too.
Not less amazing are the attributes and adjectives accompanying the names as used by Homer and found on the tablets.
If five hundred years separate Homer from the tablets, is it not a cause for wonder that the poet should know these names and titles and use them for his epics?
Mycenaean City Names in the Iliad
Most notable among the passages in the Iliad traceable to Mycenaean times is the so-called Catalogue of Cities and Ships.1
Much detailed Geographical information that was pertinent only in Mycenean times in given by Homer.
It is not considered logical that such detail would have been transmitted orally for more than 500 years.
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