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Greek Civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 3, 2013

Little is known about the arrival of Proto-Greek speakers. The Mycenaean culture commenced circa 1650 BCE and is clearly an imported steppe culture. The close relationship between Mycenaean and Proto-Indo-Iranian languages suggest that they split fairly late, some time between 2500 and 2000 BCE.

Archeologically, Mycenaean chariots, spearheads, daggers and other bronze objects show striking similarities with the Seima-Turbino culture (c. 1900-1600 BCE), of the northern Russian forest-steppes, known for the great mobility of its nomadic warriors (Seima-Turbino sites were found as far away as Mongolia). It is therefore likely that the Mycenaean descended from Russia to Greece between 1900 and 1650 BCE, where they intermingled with the locals to create a new unique Greek culture.

Seima-Turbino refers to burial sites dating around 1500 BC found across northern Eurasia, from Finland to Mongolia. The buried were nomadic warriors and metal-workers, travelling on horseback or two-wheeled chariots. These nomads originated from the Altai Mountains. The culture spread from these mountains to the west. Although they were the precursor to the much later Mongol invasions, these groups were not yet strong enough to attack the important social sites of the Bronze Age.

These cultures are noted for being nomadic forest and steppe societies with metal working, sometimes without having first developed agricultural methods. The development of this metalworking ability appears to have taken place quite quickly.

Mycenae is an ancient Greek city located in the north-eastern Peloponnese. What started off as a small fringe settlement grew to groups of villages on the slopes of hills to, eventually, the dominating culture of Ancient Greece.

Mycenaeans rose in prominence ca. 1600 BC and stayed in control of Greece until about 1100 BC. Evidence shows that they spoke an early form of Greek. They took control of Crete ca. 1450 BC. An abundance of Mycenaean pottery is found in Italy and Sicily, suggesting that they were in contact and traded with the Mycenaeans. Due to the influence of Minoan Crete the further south the site, the more the pottery is influenced by Minoan styles.

Mycenaean Greek, named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece, is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, spoken on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in the 16th to 12th centuries BC, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion which was often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece.

The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century BC. Most instances of these inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos in central Crete, and in Pylos in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania in Western Crete.

The tablets remained long undeciphered, and every conceivable language was suggested for them, until Michael Ventris deciphered the script in 1952 and by a preponderance of evidence proved the language to be an early form of Greek.

Compared with later Ancient Greek, Mycenaean preserves a number of archaic features of its Indo-European heritage. It also preserves PIE forms. This means that determining the actual pronunciation of written words is often difficult, and makes use of a combination of the PIE etymology of a word, its form in later Greek, and inconsistent spelling. Even so, for some words the pronunciation is not known exactly, esp. when the meaning is unclear from context or the word has no descendants in the later dialects.

The Dorian invasion is a concept devised by historians of Ancient Greece to explain the replacement of pre-classical dialects and traditions in southern Greece by the ones that prevailed in Classical Greece. The latter were named Dorian by the ancient Greek writers after the historical population that owned them, the Dorians.

Despite nearly 200 years of investigation, the historicity of the Dorian invasion has never been established. The meaning of the concept has become to some degree amorphous. The work done on it has mainly served to rule out various speculations. The possibility of a real Dorian invasion remains open.

Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization from the Early Bronze Age. The Cyclades converge with the mainland during the Early Helladic (“Minyan”) period and with Crete in the Middle Minoan period. From ca. 1450 BC (Late Helladic, Late Minoan), the Greek Mycenaean civilization spreads to Crete.

According to Greek mythology and legendary prehistory of the Aegean region, the Minyans were an autochthonous group inhabiting the Aegean region. However, the extent to which the prehistory of the Aegean world is reflected in literary accounts of legendary peoples, and the degree to which material culture can be securely linked to language-based ethnicity have been subjected to repeated revision.

Greeks did not always clearly distinguish the Minyans from the Pelasgian cultures that had preceded them. Greek mythographers gave the Minyans an eponymous founder, Minyas, perhaps as legendary as Pelasgus (the founding father of the Pelasgians), which was a broader category of pre-Greek Aegean peoples. These Minyans were associated with Boeotian Orchomenus, as when Pausanias relates that “Teos used to be inhabited by Minyans of Orchomenus, who came to it with Athamas” and may have represented a ruling dynasty or a tribe later located in Boeotia.

Herodotus asserts several times that Pelasgians dwelt in the distant past with the Athenians in Attica, and that those Pelasgians driven from Attica in turn drove the Minyans out of Lemnos. The same historian also states that Minyans from Amyklai settled on the island of Thera in 800 BC.

Minyan ware is a broad archaeological term describing varieties of a particular style of Aegean pottery associated with the Middle Helladic period.

In the history of Aegean prehistoric archaeology, Heinrich Schliemann was the first person to coin the term “Minyan” after he discovered a distinct variety of dark-burnished pottery at Orchomenos (the mythical home of King Minyas).

Some of his contemporaries referred to the pottery as “Orchomenos Ware”. However, the term “Minyan Ware” ultimately prevailed since it romantically recalled the glorious (though tenuous) Minyans of Greek mythology.

At first, Alan Wace and Carl Blegen did not yet associate Minyan Ware with the “advent of the Greeks”. Both archaeologists regarded the sudden appearance of Minyan Ware as one of two interruptions in the unbroken evolution of Greek pottery from the Neolithic up until the Mycenean era. Ultimately, they concluded that “Minyan Ware indicates the introduction of a new cultural strain.”

Prior to 1960, Minyan Ware was often associated with northern invaders having destroyed Early Helladic culture (1900 BC) and introducing Middle Helladic culture into the Greek peninsula. However, John L. Caskey conducted excavations in Greece (i.e. Lerna) and definitively stated that Minyan Ware was in fact the direct descendant of the fine gray burnished pottery of Early Helladic III Tiryns culture.

Caskey also found that the Black or Argive variety of Minyan Ware was an evolved version of the Early Helladic III “Dark slipped and burnished” pottery class. Therefore, Minyan Ware was present in Greece since between 2200 and 2150 BC.

There is nothing particularly “northern” regarding the ceramic progenitors of Minyan Ware. The exception, however, entails the spread of Minyan Ware from central Greece to northeastern Peloponnese, which can be seen as “coming from the north” with respect to the Peloponnese. Currently, there is uncertainty as to how Minyan Ware arrived in Greece or how it was indigenously developed.

The Late Helladic phase may be associated with the arrival of Indo-European speakers as overlords; Greek technical terms for pottery are not Indo-European, suggesting a continuity of potters and their techniques from earlier times.

Pottery very similar to Grey Minyan ware is known in Anatolia, dated around 14th–13th centuries BC. It has been suggested that “North-West Anatolian Grey Ware” should be used for this type of pottery. Around 2002, the term “Anatolian Grey Ware” became utilized by scholars.

Multivariate analyses of craniometric data derived from Helladic skeletal material indicate a strong morphological homogeneity in the Bronze Age osteological record, disproving the influx of foreign populations between the Early Helladic and Middle Helladic periods; ultimately, the Bronze Age inhabitants of mainland Greece represent a single and homogeneous population of Mediterranean provenance.

Mycenaean civilization originated and evolved from the society and culture of the Early and Middle Helladic periods in mainland Greece. It emerged at ca. 1600 BC, when Helladic culture in mainland Greece was transformed under influences from Minoan Crete.

Mycenaean Greece was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece (ca. 1600–1100 BC). It takes its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in Argolis, Peloponnese, southern Greece. Other major sites included Tiryns in Argolis, Pylos in Messenia, Athens in Attica, Thebes and Orchomenus in Boeotia, and Iolkos in Thessaly, while Crete and the site of Knossos also became a part of the Mycenaean world. Mycenaean settlement sites also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Asia Minor, the Levant, Cyprus, and Italy.

Mycenaean civilization perished with the collapse of Bronze-Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean, which is commonly attributed to the Dorian invasion, although alternative theories propose also natural disasters and climatic changes. This period of Greek history is the historical setting of much ancient Greek literature and myth, including the epics of Homer.

Mycenae is an ancient Greek city located in the north-eastern Peloponnese. What started off as a small fringe settlement grew to groups of villages on the slopes of hills to, eventually, the dominating culture of Ancient Greece.

Mycenaeans rose in prominence ca. 1600 BC and stayed in control of Greece until about 1100 BC. Evidence shows that they spoke an early form of Greek. They took control of Crete ca. 1450 BC. An abundance of Mycenaean pottery is found in Italy and Sicily, suggesting that they were in contact and traded with the Mycenaeans.

Mycenaean Greece was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece (ca. 1600–1100 BC). It takes its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in Argolis, Peloponnese, southern Greece. Other major sites included Tiryns in Argolis, Pylos in Messenia, Athens in Attica, Thebes and Orchomenus in Boeotia, and Iolkos in Thessaly, while Crete and the site of Knossos also became a part of the Mycenaean world. Mycenaean settlement sites also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Asia Minor, the Levant, Cyprus, and Italy.

Mycenaean civilization perished with the collapse of Bronze-Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean, which is commonly attributed to the Dorian invasion, although alternative theories propose also natural disasters and climatic changes. This period of Greek history is the historical setting of much ancient Greek literature and myth, including the epics of Homer.

Mycenaean civilization originated and evolved from the society and culture of the Early and Middle Helladic periods in mainland Greece. It emerged at ca. 1600 BC, when Helladic culture in mainland Greece was transformed under influences from Minoan Crete.

The Mycenaean Greeks reached Crete as early as 1450 BCE. Greek presence on the mainland, however, dates to 1600 BCE as shown in the latest shaft graves. Other aspects of the “Minyan” period appear to arrive from northern Greece and the Balkans, in particular tumulus graves and perforated stone axes. John L. Caskey’s interpretation of his archaeological excavations conducted in the 1950s linked the ethno-linguistic “Proto-Greeks” to the bearers of the “Minyan” (or Middle Helladic) culture. More recent scholars have questioned or emended his dating and doubted the linking of material culture to linguistic ethnicity.

Mycenaean artifacts have been found well outside the limits of the Mycenaean world: namely Mycenaean swords are known from as far away as Georgia in the Caucasus, an amber object inscribed with Linear B symbols has been found in Bavaria, Germany and Mycenaean bronze double axes and other objects dating from 13th century BC have been found in Ireland and in Wessex and Cornwall in England.

Quite unlike the Minoans, whose society benefited from trade, the Mycenaeans advanced through conquest. Mycenaean civilization was dominated by a warrior aristocracy. Around 1400 BC, the Mycenaeans extended their control to Crete, center of the Minoan civilization (which had been crippled by the eruption of Santorini), and adopted a form of the Minoan script (called Linear A) to write their early form of Greek in Linear B.

Not only did the Mycenaeans defeat the Minoans, but according to later Hellenic legend they defeated Troy, presented in epic as a city-state that rivaled Mycenae in power. Because the only evidence for the conquests is Homer’s Iliad and other texts steeped in mythology, the existence of Troy and the historicity of the Trojan War is uncertain. In 1876, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann uncovered ruins at Hissarlik in western Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) that he claimed were those of Troy. Some sources claim these ruins do not match well with Homer’s account of Troy, but others disagree.

The Mycenaeans buried their nobles in beehive tombs (tholos tombs), large circular burial chambers with a high vaulted roof and a straight entry passage lined with stone. They often buried daggers or some other form of military equipment with the deceased. The nobility were frequently buried with gold masks, tiaras, armor, and jeweled weapons. Mycenaeans were buried in a sitting position, and some of the nobility underwent mummification, whereas Homer’s Achilles and Patroclus were not buried but cremated, in Iron-Age fashion, and honoured with a gold urn, instead of gold masks.

From a chronological perspective, the Late Helladic period (LH, 1550–1060 BC) is the time when Mycenaean Greece flourished under new influences from Minoan Crete and the Cyclades. Those who made LH pottery sometimes inscribed their work in Linear B, a syllabic script recognizable as a form of Greek. LH is divided into I, II, and III; of which I and II overlap Late Minoan ware and III overtakes it. LH III is further subdivided into IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.

Late Helladic pottery typically stored such goods as olive oil and wine. LHI ware had reached Santorini just before the Thera eruption. LHIIB began during LMIB, and has been found in Egypt during the reign of Tuthmosis III. LHIIB spanned the LMIB/LMII destruction on Crete, which is associated with the Greek takeover of the island.

During the end of the 3rd millennium BC (circa 2200 BC), the indigenous inhabitants of mainland Greece underwent a cultural transformation attributed to climate change, local events and developments (i.e. destruction of the “House of Tiles”), as well as to continuous contacts with various areas such as western Asia Minor, the Cyclades, Albania, and Dalmatia.

These Bronze Age people were equipped with horses, surrounded themselves with luxury goods, and constructed elaborate shaft graves. The acropolis of Mycenae, one of the main centers of Mycenaean culture, located in Argolis, northeast Peloponnese, was built on a defensive hill at an elevation of 128 m (420 ft) and covers an area of 30,000 m2 (320,000 sq ft).

The Shaft Graves found in Mycenae signified the elevation of a native Greek-speaking royal dynasty whose economic power depended on long-distance sea trade. Grave Circles A and B, the latter found outside the walls of Mycenae, represent one of the major characteristics of the early phase of the Mycenaean civilization.

Mycenaean shaft graves are essentially an Argive variant of the rudimentary Middle Helladic funerary tradition with features derived from Early Bronze Age traditions developed locally in mainland Greece. Grave Circle A, formed circa 1600 BC as a new elite burial place, was probably first restricted to men and seems to be a continuation of the earlier Grave Circle B and correlates with the general social trend of higher burial investment taking place throughout entire Greece that time.

The Grave Circle A site was part of a larger funeral place from the Middle Helladic period. At the time it was built, during the Late Helladic I (1600 BC),[2] there was probably a small unfortified palace on Mycenae, while the graves of the Mycenaean ruling family remained outside of the city walls. There is no evidence of a circular wall around the site during the period of the burials. The last interment took place circa 1500 BC.

Grave Circle A in Mycenae is a 16th-century BC royal cemetery situated to the south of the Lion Gate, the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, southern Greece. This burial complex was initially constructed outside the fortification walls of Mycenae, but was ultimately enclosed in the acropolis when the fortifications were extended during the 13th century BC. Grave Circle A and Grave Circle B, the latter found outside the walls of Mycenae, represent one of the major characteristics of the early phase of the Mycenaean civilization.

The circle has a diameter of 27.5 m (90 ft) and contains six shaft graves, where a total of nineteen bodies were buried. It has been suggested that a mound was constructed over each grave, and funeral stelae were erected. Among the objects found were a series of gold death masks, additionally beside the deceased were full sets of weapons, ornate staffs as well as gold and silver cups. The site was excavated by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1876, following the descriptions of Homer and Pausanias. One of the gold masks he unearthed became known as the “The Death Mask of Agamemnon”, ruler of Mycenae according to Greek mythology. However, it has been proved that the burials date circa three centuries earlier, before Agamemnon is supposed to have lived.

Immediately after the last interment, the local rulers abandoned the shaft graves in favour of a new and more imposing form of tomb already developing in Messenia, south Peloponessus, the tholos.

Around 1250 BC, when the fortifications of Mycenae were extended, the Grave Circle was included inside the new wall. A double ring peribolos wall was also built around the area. It appears that the site became a temenos (sacred precinct), while a circular construction, possibly an altar was found above one grave.

The burial site had been replanned as a monument, an attempt by the 13th century BC Mycenean rulers to appropriate the possible heroic past of the older ruling dynasty. Under this context, the land surface was built up to make a level precinct for ceremonies, with the stelae over the graves being re-erected. A new entrance, the Lion Gate, was constructed near the site.

The Mask of Agamemnon is an artifact discovered at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann. The artifact is a funeral mask crafted in gold, and was found over the face of a body located in a burial shaft, designated Grave V, at the site “Grave Circle A, Mycenae”. Schliemann believed that he had discovered the body of the legendary Greek leader Agamemnon, but modern archaeological research suggests that the mask is from 1550–1500 BC, earlier than the life of Agamemnon, as tradition regards it. The mask is currently displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

A shaft tomb or shaft grave is a type of burial structure formed from a deep and narrow shaft sunk into natural rock. Burials were then placed at the bottom. A related group of shaft and chamber tombs also incorporate a small room or rooms cut laterally at the base of the shaft for the placing of the dead.

The practice of digging shaft tombs was widespread but the most famous examples are those at Mycenae in Greece which date to between 1650 BC and 1500 BC, associated with the arrival of the Greeks in the Aegean (in some scenarios, with a second wave of Greek arrivals, assuming a Proto-Greek migration in the 23rd to 22nd centuries at the beginning of the Early Helladic III horizon). These shaft tombs were around 4m deep with the dead placed in cists at the bottom along with rich grave goods. The position of the shaft was sometimes marked by a stone stele.

Mycean-Greek language

The Proto-Greek language is the assumed last common ancestor of all known varieties of Greek, including Mycenaean, the classical Greek dialects (Attic-Ionic, Aeolic, Doric and Arcado-Cypriot), and ultimately Koine, Byzantine and modern Greek. Some scholars would include the fragmentary ancient Macedonian language, either as descended from an earlier “Proto-Hellenic” language, or by definition including it among the descendants of Proto-Greek as a Hellenic language and/or a Greek dialect.

Proto-Greek would have been spoken in the late 3rd millennium BC, most probably in the Balkans. The unity of Proto-Greek would have ended as Hellenic migrants, speaking the predecessor of the Mycenaean language, entered the Greek peninsula either around the 21st century BC, or in the 17th century BC at the latest.

The evolution of Proto-Greek should be considered with the background of an early Palaeo-Balkan sprachbund that makes it difficult to delineate exact boundaries between individual languages. The characteristically Greek representation of word-initial laryngeals by prothetic vowels is shared by the Armenian language, which also shares other phonological and morphological peculiarities of Greek. The close relatedness of Armenian and Greek sheds light on the paraphyletic nature of the Centum-Satem isogloss.

Greek is a Centum language, which would place a possible Graeco-Aryan protolanguage before Satemization, making it identical to late PIE. Proto-Greek does appear to have been affected by the general trend of palatalization characteristic of the Satem group, evidenced for example by the (post-Mycenaean) change of labiovelars into dentals before e (e.g. kʷe > te “and”), but the Satemizing influence appears to have reached Greek only after Greek had lost the palatovelars (i.e. after it had already become a Centum language).

Proto-Greek inherited the augment, a prefix é- to verbal forms expressing past tense. This feature it shares only with Indo-Iranian and Phrygian (and to some extent, Armenian), lending some support to a “Graeco-Aryan” or “Inner PIE” proto-dialect. However, the augment down to the time of Homer remained optional, and was probably little more than a free sentence particle meaning “previously” in the proto-language, that may easily have been lost by most other branches.

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC. The Phrygian language would also be included. Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. (Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage. Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.)

Close similarities between Ancient Greek and Vedic Sanskrit suggest that both Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian were still quite similar to either late Proto-Indo-European, which would place the latter somewhere in the late 4th millennium BC, or a post-PIE Graeco-Aryan proto-language. Graeco-Aryan has little support among linguists, since both geographical and temporal distribution of Greek and Indo-Iranian fit well with the Kurgan hypothesis of Proto-Indo-European.

Helladic civilization

Helladic is a modern archaeological term meant to identify a sequence of periods characterizing the culture of mainland ancient Greece during the Bronze Age. The term is commonly used in archaeology and art history. It was intended to complement two parallel terms, Cycladic, identifying approximately the same sequence with reference to the Aegean Bronze Age, and Minoan, with reference to the civilization of Crete.

The scheme applies primarily to pottery and is a relative dating system. The pottery at any given site typically can be ordered into early, middle and late on the basis of style and technique. The total time window allowed for the site is then divided into these periods proportionately. As it turns out, there is a correspondence between “early” over all Greece, etc. Also some “absolute dates” or dates obtained by non-comparative methods can be used to date the periods.

Absolute dates are preferable whenever they can be obtained. However, the relative structure was devised before the age of carbon dating. Most of the excavation was performed then as well. Typically only relative dates are obtainable. They form a structure for the characterization of Greek prehistory. Objects are generally dated by the pottery of the site found in associative contexts. Other objects can be arranged into early, middle and late as well, but pottery is used as a marker.

The three terms Helladic, Cycladic, and Minoan refer to location of origin. Thus Middle Minoan objects might be found in the Cyclades, but they are not on that account Middle Cycladic. The scheme tends to be less applicable in areas on the periphery of the Aegean, such as the Levant. Pottery there might imitate Helladic or Minoan and yet be locally manufactured.

The “early”, “middle” and “late” scheme can be applied at different levels. Rather than use such cumbersome terms as “early early”, archaeologists by convention use I, II, III for the second level, A, B, C for the third level, 1, 2, 3 for the fourth level and a, b, c for the fifth. Not all levels are present at every site. If additional levels are required, another “early”, “middle” or “late” can be appended. The Helladic period is subdivided as:

Period – Era

Early Helladic I: 2800–2500

Early Helladic II: 2500–2300

Early Helladic III: 2300–2100

Middle Helladic: 2100–1550

Late Helladic I: 1550–1500

Late Helladic II: 1500–1400

Late Helladic III: 1400–1060

The Early Helladic period (or EH) is generally characterized by an agricultural population using basic techniques of bronze-working first developed in Anatolia with which they had cultural contacts. Their emergence from a pre-existing Neolithic population is the beginning of the Bronze Age in Greece.

The EH period corresponds in time to the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Important EH sites are clustered on the Aegean shores of the mainland in Boeotia and Argolid (Lerna, Pefkakia, Thebes, Tiryns) or coastal islands such as Aegina (Kolonna) and Euboea (Lefkandi, Manika) and are marked by pottery (i.e. “Lefkandi I”) showing influences from western Anatolia and the introduction of the fast-spinning version of the potter’s wheel. The large “longhouse” called a megaron is introduced in EH II. The infiltration of Anatolian cultural models was not accompanied by widespread site destruction.

The Early Helladic I period (or EHI), also known as the “Eutresis culture”, is characterized by the presence of unslipped and burnished or red slipped and burnished pottery at Korakou and other sites (metal objects, however, were extremely rare during this period). In terms of ceramics and settlement patterns, there is considerable continuity between the EHI period and the preceding Final Neolithic period (or FN); changes in settlement location during the EHI period are attributed to alterations in economic practices.

The transition from Early Helladic I to the Early Helladic II period (or EHII) occurred rapidly and without disruption where multiple socio-cultural innovations were developed such as metallurgy (i.e. bronze-working), fortifications, and monumental architecture. Changes in settlement during the EHII period were accompanied with alterations in agricultural practices (i.e. oxen-driven plow).

The Early Helladic II period came to an end at Lerna with the destruction of the “House of Tiles”, a corridor house. The nature of the destruction of EHII sites was at first attributed to an invasion of Greeks and/or Indo-Europeans during the Early Helladic III period (or EHIII); however, this is no longer maintained given the lack of uniformity in the destruction of EHII sites and the presence of EHII–EHIII/MH continuity in settlements such as Lithares, Phlius, Manika, etc.

Furthermore, the presence of “new/intrusive” cultural elements such as apsidal houses, terracotta anchors, shaft-hole hammer-axes, ritual tumuli, and intramural burials precede the EHIII period in Greece and are in actuality attributed to indigenous developments (i.e. terracotta anchors from Boeotia; ritual tumuli from Ayia Sophia in Neolithic Thessaly), as well as continuous contacts during the EHII–MH period between mainland Greece and various areas such as western Asia Minor, the Cyclades, Albania, and Dalmatia.

Changes in climate also appear to have contributed to the significant cultural transformations that occurred in Greece between the EHII period and the EHIII period (ca. 2200 BCE).

In Greece, the Middle Helladic period (or MH) begins with the wide-scale emergence of Minyan ware, which may be directly related to the people whom ancient Greek historians called Minyans; a group of monochrome burnished pottery from Middle Helladic sites was conventionally dubbed “Minyan” ware by Troy’s discoverer Heinrich Schliemann.

Gray Minyan ware was first identified as the pottery introduced by a Middle Bronze Age migration; the theory, however, is outdated as excavations at Lerna in the 1950’s revealed the development of pottery styles to have been continuous (i.e. the fine gray burnished pottery of the EHIII Tiryns culture was the direct progenitor of Minyan ware). In general, painted pottery decors are rectilinear and abstract until Middle Helladic III, when Cycladic and Minoan influences inspired a variety of curvilinear and even representational motifs.

The Middle Helladic period corresponds in time to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Settlements draw more closely together and tend to be sited on hilltops. Middle Helladic sites are located throughout the Peloponnese and central Greece (including sites in the interior of Aetolia such as Thermon) as far north as the Spercheios River valley. Malthi in Messenia and Lerna V are the only Middle Helladic sites to have been thoroughly excavated.

The Late Helladic period (or LH) is the time when Mycenaean Greece flourished, under new influences from Minoan Crete and the Cyclades. Those who made LH pottery sometimes inscribed their work with a syllabic script, Linear B, which has been deciphered as Greek. LH is divided into I, II, and III; of which I and II overlap Late Minoan ware and III overtakes it. LH III is further subdivided into IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC. The table below provides the approximate dates of the Late Helladic phases (LH) on the Greek mainland.

The LHI pottery is known from the fill of the Shaft Graves of Lerna and the settlements of Voroulia and Nichoria (Messenia), Ayios Stephanos, (Laconia) and Korakou. Furumark divided the LH in phases A and B, but Furumark’s LHIB has been reassigned to LHIIA by Dickinson. Some recent C-14 dates from the Tsoungiza site north of Mycenae indicate LHI there was dated to between 1675/1650 and 1600/1550 BCE, which is earlier than the assigned pottery dates by about 100 years. The Thera eruption also occurred during LHI (and LCI and LMIA), variously dated within the 1650–1625 BCE span.

Not found at Thera, but extant in late LHI from Messenia, and therefore likely commencing after the eruption, is a material culture known as “Peloponnesian LHI”. This is characterised by “tall funnel-like Keftiu cups of Type III”; “small closed shapes such as squat jugs decorated with hatched loops (‘rackets’) or simplified spirals”; “dark-on-light lustrous-painted motifs”, which “include small neat types of simple linked spiral such as varieties of hook-spiral or wave-spiral (with or without small dots in the field), forms of the hatched loop and double-axe, and accessorial rows of small dots and single or double wavy lines”; also, the “ripple pattern” on “Keftiu” cups. These local innovations continued into the LHIIA styles throughout the mainland.

The description of the LHIIA is mainly based on the material from Kourakou East Alley. Domestic and Palatial shapes are distinguished. There are strong links between LHIIA and LMIB. LHIIB began before the end of LMIB, and sees a lessening of Cretan influences. Pure LHIIB assemblages are rare and originate from Tiryns, Asine and Korakou. C-14 dates from Tsoungiza indicate LHII was dated to between 1600/1550 and 1435/1405 BCE, the start of which is earlier than the assigned pottery date by about 100 years, but the end of which nearly corresponds to the pottery phase. In Egypt, both periods of LHII correspond with the beginning of its “Imperial” period, from Hatshepsut to Tuthmosis III.

LHIII and LMIII are contemporary. Toward LMIIIB, non-Helladic ware from the Aegean ceases to be homogeneous; insofar as LMIIIB differs from Helladic, it should at most be considered a “sub-Minoan” variant of LHIIIB.

The uniform and widely spread LHIIIA:1 pottery was originally defined by the material from the Ramp house at Mycenae, the palace at Thebes (now dated to LHIIIA:2 or LHIIIB by most researchers) and Triada at Rhodes. There is material from Asine, Athens (wells), Sparta (Menelaion), Nichoria and the ‘Atreus Bothros’, rubbish sealed under the Dromos of the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae as well. C-14 dates from Tsoungiza indicate LHIIIA:1 should be more nearly 1435/1406 to 1390/1370 BCE, slightly earlier than the pottery phase, but by less than 50 years. LHIIIA:1 ware has also been found in Maşat Höyük in Hittite Anatolia.

The LHIIIA:2 pottery marks a Mycenaean expansion covering most of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are many new shapes. The motifs of the painted pottery continue from LHIIIA:1 but show a great deal of standardization. In Egypt, the Amarna site contains LHIIIA:1 ware during the reign of Amenhotep III and LHIIIA:2 ware during that of his son Akhenaten; it also has the barest beginnings of LHIIIB. LHIIIA:2 ware is in the Uluburun shipwreck, which sank in the 14th century BCE. Again, Tsoungiza dates are earlier, 1390/1370 to 1360/1325 BCE; but LHIIIA:2 ware also exists in a burn layer of Miletus which likely occurred early in Mursilis II’s reign and therefore some years prior to Mursili’s eclipse in 1312 BCE. The transition period between IIIA and IIIB begins after 1320 BCE, but not long after (Cemal Pulak thinks before 1295 BCE).

The definition of the LHIIIB by Furumark was mainly based on grave finds and the settlement material from Zygouries. It has been divided into two sub-phases by Elizabeth B. French, based on the finds from Mycenae and the West wall at Tiryns. LHIIIB:2 assemblages are sparse, as painted pottery is rare in tombs and many settlements of this period ended by destruction, leaving few complete pots behind.

LHIIIB pottery is associated in the Greek mainland palaces with the Linear B archives. (Linear B had been in use in Crete since Late Minoan II.) Pulak’s proposed LHIIIA/B boundary would make LHIIIB contemporary in Anatolia with the resurgent Hittites following Mursili’s eclipse; in Egypt with the 19th Dynasty, also known as the Ramessides; and in northern Mesopotamia with Assyria’s ascendancy over Mitanni. The end of LHIIIB is associated with the destruction of Ugarit, whose ruins contain the last of that pottery. The Tsoungiza date for the end of LHIIIB is 1200/1190 BCE. The beginning of LHIIIC, therefore, is now commonly set into the reign of Queen Twosret.

The LHIIIC has been divided into LHIIIC:1 and LHIIIC:2 by Furumark, based on materials from tombs in Mycenae, Asine, Kephalonia, and Rhodes. In the 1960’s, the excavations of the citadel at Mycenae and of Lefkandi in Euboea yielded stratified material revealing significant regional variation in LHIIIC, especially in the later phases. Late LHIIIC pottery is found in Troy VIIa and a few pieces in Tarsus. It was also made locally in the Philistine settlements of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza.

History of Greece

Pelasgians

Aegean civilization

Minoan civilization

Mycenaean Greece

Cyclades

Proto-Greek

Mycenaean language

Linear B

Minyans

Minyan ware

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Los Millares and Los Silillos – Andalucía

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 2, 2013

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Los Millares is the name of a Chalcolithic occupation site 17 km north of Almería, in the municipality of Santa Fe de Mondújar, Andalusia, Spain. The complex was in use from the end of the fourth millennium to the end of the second millennium BC and probably supported somewhere around 1000 people. It was discovered in 1891 during the course of the construction of a railway and was first excavated by Luis Siret in the succeeding years. Further excavation work continues today.

The site covers 2 hectares (4.9 acres) and consists of three concentric lines of stone walls, the outer ring the largest, running more than 650 feet with nineteen ‘bastions’ and a gate guarded by foreworks. The road to the site is guarded by four smaller outlying stone forts. There is an extensive cemetery of eighty passage grave tombs. Radiocarbon dating has established that one wall collapsed and was rebuilt around 3025 BC.

A cluster of simple dwellings lay inside the walls as well as one large building containing evidence of copper smelting. Pottery excavated from the site included plain and decorated wares including symbolkeramik bowls bearing oculus motifs. Similar designs appear on various carved stone idols found at the site.

Although primarily farmers, the inhabitants of Los Millares had crucially also learned metal working, especially the smelting and forming of copper, and the site is considered highly important in understanding the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The Los Millares culture eventually came to dominate the Iberian peninsula, and to develop into the Bell Beaker culture.

The population of Los Millares has been estimated at approximately 1000 in the timeframe 3200–2300 BC. The labor involved in its construction, The large volume of stones used, its geometric characteristics and sophisticated design all indicate multiple functionality, including defense and power.

Los Millares participated in the continental trends of Megalithism and the Beaker culture. Analysis of occupation material and grave goods from the Los Millares cemetery of 70 tholos tombs with port-hole slabs has led archaeologists to suggest that the people who lived at Los Millares were part of a stratified, unequal society which was often at war with its neighbours.

The Los Millares civilisation was replaced circa 1800 BC, with the arrival of Bronze by the El Argar civilisation, whose successor culture is embodied in the contemporary culture of Vila Nova de São Pedro in nearby Portugal.

Similarities between Los Millares architecture and the step pyramid at Monte d’Accoddi in Sardinia have been noticed. Other Iberian settlements in this region of a similar age to Los Millares include the settlement of Los Silillos and Neolithic finds at Cabrera.

Los Silillos is the site of a Bronze Age prehistoric settlement covering an area of 180,000 square metres. The discovery was made in 2007 during excavation work in constructing the A-45 Motorway on Spain’s Iberian Peninsula. (EFE, 2007)

The site is located approximately nine kilomtres north of the town of Antequera. The discovery includes architectural elements of 52 subterranean structures, which are only a portion of the numerous circular dwellings built by prehistoric peoples here. Farming implements and copper tools found at Los Silillos have been dated to 2500 BC by researchers at Malaga University. It is thought that some of the tools found at Los Silillos may have been employed in constructing dolmen burial mounds at nearby Antequera.

Manuel Romero, the Antequera municipal archaeologist, indicated that only about two percent of the total Los Silillos site has been excavated as of October, 2007. Romero further stated that ongoing research is occurring for the site, including more precise radiocarbon dating in Switzerland. Animal relics retrieved on the site include fossilised ram horns and deer antlers. The Los Silillos site at an elevation of approximately 435 metres is situated in an agricultural valley between Antequera and Cordoba.

REGIONAL PREHISTORY. There is extensive prehistoric settlement in this region of southern Spain, probably linked to the mild climate, rich mineral resources of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Leistel, 1997) and proximity of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to Neanderthal presence and the Magdelanian paleolithic era cave painters, other Iberian settlements of the approximate age of Los Silillos in this region include the Chalcolithic settlement of Los Millares and Neolithic finds at Cabrera.

Somewhat to the east of Los Silillos, scientists have recently conducted core drilling to reconstruct the natural history of 1900 BC Argaric settlements. They found that rich deciduous forests once covered much of the region; however, the thriving Bronze Age Argaric peoples stripped the trees to such an extent that the ecology was transformed to an agriculturally unproductive, arid Mediterranean scrub. While climate change may have played a subordinate role, the Argaric civilisation itself appears to have caused its own demise by unwise resource management. The resulting degradation of soils and appears to have “caused the collapse of agriculture and pastoralism, the foundation of the Argaric economy”, and hence a “massive depopulation”. (BBC, 2007)

Los Silillos – Ancient Village or Settlement in Spain in Andalucía

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Tidlig minoiske koloniseringen av Spania

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 31, 2013

Forfatteren diskuterer arkeologiske bevis for en Aegean minoiske maritime kolonisering Sørøst Iberia. Den primære kausale faktoren for dette var utviklingen av sveiseavsettet teknologi arsenical kobber. Legeringens hardhet og castability gjort Trebearbeiding verktøy av sagen, bue drill og dreiebenk mulig. Disse verktøy sett scenen for oppfinnelsen av først effektivt produsert planked tre skip med kjøl i Egeerhavet som fastsatt på reiser leting tidlig i fjerde årtusener BC søk prestisje metaller av gull og sølv som resulterer i Los Millares kulturen i det sørøstlige Spania.

Tidlig minoiske koloniseringen av Spania

Posted in Europa, Mediterrean, Megalithic | Leave a Comment »

Haplogroup G2a – Cardium Pottery culture, Ozieri culture, Bell-Beaker culture and Bonnanaro culture

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 31, 2013

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Cardium Pottery Culture or Cardial Culture, or Impressed Ware Culture

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Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware

Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware is a Neolithic decorative style that gets its name from the imprinting of the clay with the shell of the cockle, an edible marine mollusk, formerly Cardium edulis, now Cerastoderma edule. These forms of pottery are in turn used to define the Neolithic culture which produced and spread them, mostly commonly called the “Cardial Culture”.

The alternative name Impressed Ware is given by some archaeologists to define this culture, because impressions can be with sharp objects other than cockle shell, such as a nail or comb. Impressed pottery is much more widespread than the Cardial. Impressed Ware is found in the zone “covering Italy to the Ligurian coast” as distinct from the more western Cardial extending from Provence to western Portugal. The sequence in Western Europe has traditionally been supposed to start with widespread Cardial Ware, and then to develop other methods of impression locally, termed “epi-Cardial”. However the widespread Cardial and Impressa pattern types overlap and are now considered more likely to be contemporary.

This pottery style gives its name to the main culture of the Mediterranean Neolithic: Cardium Pottery Culture or Cardial Culture, or Impressed Ware Culture, which eventually extended from the Adriatic sea to the Atlantic coasts of Portugal and south to Morocco.

The earliest Impressed Ware sites, dating to 6400-6200 BC, are in Epirus and Corfu. Settlements then appear in Albania and Dalmatia on the eastern Adriatic coast dating to between 6100 and 5900 BC. The earliest date in Italy comes from Coppa Nevigata on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy, perhaps as early as 6000 cal B.C. Also during Su Carroppu civilization in Sardinia, already in its early stages (low strata into Su Coloru cave, c. 6000 BC) early examples of cardial pottery appear. Northward and westward all secure radiocarbon dates are identical to those for Iberia c. 5500 cal B.C., which indicates a rapid spread of Cardial and related cultures: 2,000 km from the gulf of Genoa to the estuary of the Mondego in probably no more than 100–200 years. This suggests a seafaring expansion by planting colonies along the coast.

Older Neolithic cultures existed already at this time in eastern Greece and Crete, apparently having arrived from the Levant, but they appear distinct from the Cardial or Impressed Ware culture. The ceramic tradition in the central Balkans also remained distinct from that along the Adriatic coastline in both style and manufacturing techniques for almost 1,000 years from the 6th millennium BC. Early Neolithic impressed pottery is found in the Levant, and certain parts of Anatolia, including Mezraa-Teleilat, and in North Africa at Tunus-Redeyef, Tunisia. So the first Cardial settlers in the Adriatic may have come directly from the Levant. Of course it might equally well have come directly from North Africa, and impressed-pottery also appears in Egypt. Along the East Mediterranean coast Impressed Ware has been found in North Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.

LBK

The Linear Pottery culture is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing ca. 5500–4500 BC. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe.

The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe. The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases and necks. They were obviously designed as kitchen dishes, or for the immediate or local transport of food and liquids.

Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe.

Excavations at Oslonki in Poland revealed a large fortified settlement (dating to 4300 BC, i. e., Late LBK), covering an area of 4,000 m². Nearly thirty trapezoidal longhouses and over eighty graves make it one of the richest such settlements in archaeological finds from all of central Europe. The rectangular longhouses were between 7 and 45 meters long and between 5 and 7 meters wide. They were built of massive timber posts chinked with wattle and daub mortar.[2][3]

Two variants of the early Linear Pottery culture are recognized:

  • The Early or Western Linear Pottery Culture developed on the middle Danube, including western Hungary, and was carried down the Rhine, Elbe, Oder and Vistula.
  • The Eastern Linear Pottery Culture flourished in eastern Hungary.

Middle and late phases are also defined. In the middle phase, the Early Linear Pottery Culture intruded upon the Bug-Dniester culture and began to manufacture Musical note pottery. In the late phase, the Stroked Pottery Culture moved down the Vistula and Elbe.

A number of cultures ultimately replaced the Linear Pottery culture over its range, but there is no one-to-one correspondence between its variants and the replacing cultures. The culture map instead is complex. Some of the successor cultures are the Hinkelstein, Großgartach, Rössen, Lengyel, Cucuteni-Trypillian, and Boian-Maritza.

The Ozieri culture

From the earliest period, Sardinia has been in contact with extra-insular communities in Corsica, Liguria, Lombardy, and Provence. Towards the end of the fifth millennium BC an increased exportation of obsidian extended the cultural interaction to the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. From the third millennium BC on, comb-impressed Beaker ware, as well as other Beaker material in Ozieri or sub-Ozieri contexts, has been found, demonstrating continuing relationships with the western Mediterranean; it appears likely that Sardinia was the intermediary that brought Beaker materials to Tuscany and Sicily.

The Ozieri culture (or San Michele culture) was a prehistoric pre-Nuragic culture that lived in Sardinia from c. 3200 to 2800 BC. It takes its name from the locality where the main findings connected with it have been found, the grotto of San Michele near Ozieri, in northern Sardinia. The influence of the culture extended also to the nearby Corsica.

The archaeological excavation held there in 1914 and 1949 found fine worked vases with geometrical motifs carved in the clay and colored with red ochre. The oldest ones were still rather crude, while the more recent examples were more refined and slender.

Such ceramics were a novelty for prehistoric Sardinia, since up to that point they had been considered typical of the Cyclades and Crete. The development of the Ozieri culture, therefore, probably stemmed from contacts with other eastern Mediterranean civilizations, in particular from the Neolithic Greece area.

Villages of the Ozieri culture which have been identified amount to some 200, located both in plain and mountain areas. They were formed by small stone huts, with a circular (rarely rectangular) wall supporting a wooden frame with a ceiling of boughs. One, near Mogoro, included 267 huts, perhaps also erected on poles driven into the ground. The pavements were composed of limestone slabs, of basalt cobbles or clay.

The villages had no walls, and findings of weapons in the tombs are scarce: the Ozieri civilization was thus perhaps a peaceful one, far different from the later Nuragic civilization. The tombs were grouped in the hypogeous structures that later became known as domus de janas, or, as more frequent in Gallura (regarding what is sometimes defined as Arzachena culture), in Megalithic circles. Some tombs, of more monumental appearance, belonged perhaps to chiefs, in the fashion of those in Crete.

Religion included the adoration of the Neolithic Mother goddess and of a Bull god, perhaps connected to fertility. Female statuettes similar to those of the Ozieri culture have been found in Malta.

The Ozieri culture (3500-2700 BC) developed mighty megalithic walls that are limited to the northern area, suggesting unknown defensive demands that are the sign of the warlike state that can be noticed at the same time in the Mediterranean. The successing chalcolithic (aneolithic) Filigosa-Abealzu culture (2700-2500 BC) followed the collapse of the great megalithic civilizations. A significant impulse given to metallurgy accompanied vascular production characterized by a disappearance of earlier St. Micheal (Ozieri) fanciful decoration in favor of blank soberly scribbled surfaces. The Monte Claro culture (2500-2000 BC) reveals scratched ceramics and fortified enclosures that seem to anticipate a strategic conception of territory control which reached a highlight in the Nuragic Age (1600-900 BC). This tradition came to an end only around 900 BC by destruction and fire.

In some sites, material of the megalithic Monte Claro culture has been found in association with true Bell Beaker materials; elsewhere, Beaker material has been found stratigraphically above Monte Claro and at the end of the Chalcolithic period in association with the related Bronze Age Bonnanaro culture (1800-1600 BC), for which C-14 dates calibrate to ca. 2250 BC. Like elsewhere in Europe and in the Mediterranean area, the Bell Beaker culture in Sardinia (2000-1800) is characterized by the typical ceramics decorated with overlaid horizontal bands and associated finds (brassards, V-pierced buttons etc.) There is virtually no evidence in Sardinia of external contacts in the late third and early second millennia, apart from late Beakers and close parallels between Bonnannaro pottery and that of the North Italian Polada culture.

The Bell-Beaker culture

The Bell-Beaker culture (sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk; German: Glockenbecherkultur), ca. 2800 – 1800 BC, is the term for a widely scattered ‘archaeological culture’ of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic and running into the early Bronze Age. The term was coined by John Abercromby, based on the culture’s distinctive pottery drinking vessels.

The Bell Beaker culture is understood not only as a particular pottery type, but as a complete and complex cultural phenomenon involving other artefact styles such as weaponry and ornamentation, as well as shared ideological, cultural and religious ideas.

The Bell Beaker period marks a period of unprecedented cultural contact in Atlantic and Western Europe on a scale not seen previously, nor again seen in succeeding periods. This contrasted the situation in Central and Eastern Europe where the slightly earlier Corded Ware Culture had already established wide-ranging contacts within those regions.

Its appearance is marked from 2900 BC, lasting until 1800 BC, when the incipient Bronze Age dissolved the beaker phenomenon.

It is important to note that underlying the Bell beaker superstratum existed a wide diversity in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than inhumation), housing styles, economic profile and local coarse ceramic wares which continued to persist.

There are two main Bell Beaker styles: the cord-impressed types, such as the “All Over Corded” (AOC) or “All Over Ornamented” (AOO), and the “Maritime” type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, characteristic regional styles developed.

It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the consumption of alcohol, and that the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fuelled the beakers’ spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples. However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. They were used as status display amongst disparate elites.

There have been numerous proposals by archaeologists as to the origins of the Bell Beaker culture, and debates continued on for decades. Several regions of origin have been postulated, notably the Iberian peninsula, the Netherlands and Central Europe. Similarly, scholars have postulated various mechanisms of spread, including migrations of populations (“folk migrations”), smaller warrior groups, individuals (craftsmen), or a diffusion of ideas and object exchange.

Recent analyses have made significant inroads to understanding the Beaker phenomenon, mostly by analysing each of its components separately. They have concluded that the Bell Beaker phenomenon was a synthesis of elements, representing “an idea and style uniting different regions with different cultural traditions and background.”

Radiocarbon dating seems to support that the earliest “Maritime” Bell Beaker design style is encountered in Iberia, specifically in the vibrant copper-using communities of the Tagus estuary in Portugal around 2800-2700 BC and spread from there to many parts of western Europe. An overview of all available sources from southern Germany concluded that Bell Beaker was a new and independent culture in that area, contemporary with the Corded Ware culture.

The inspiration for the Maritime Bell Beaker is argued to have been the small and earlier Copoz beakers that have impressed decoration and which are found widely around the Tagus estuary in Portugal. Turek sees late Neolithic precursors in northern Africa, arguing the Maritime style emerged as a result of seaborne contacts between Iberia and Morocco in the first half of the third millennium BCE. However, radiocarbon dating from North African sites is lacking for the most part.

AOO and AOC Beakers appear to have evolved continually from pre-Beaker period in the lower Rhine and North Sea regions, at least for Northern and Central Europe.

Furthermore, the burial ritual which typified Bell Beaker sites was intrusive into Western Europe. Individual burials, often under tumuli burials, with the inclusion of weapons contrast markedly to the preceding Neolithic traditions of often collective, weaponless burials in Atlantic/Western Europe. Such an arrangement is rather derivative of Corded Ware traditions, although instead of ‘battle-axes’, Bell Beaker individuals used copper daggers.

Overall, all these elements (Iberian-derived maritime ceramic styles, AOC and AOO ceramic styles, and ‘eastern’ burial ritual symbolism) appear to have first fused in the Lower Rhine region.

It is doubtful that the Bell Beaker culture (2800-1900 BCE) in Western Europe was already Indo-European because its attributes are in perfect continuity with the native Megalithic cultures. The Beaker phenomenon started during the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic in Portugal and propagated to the north-east towards Germany. During the same period Bronze Age steppe cultures spread from Germany in the opposite direction towards Iberia, France and Britain. It is more likely that the beakers and horses found across Western Europe during that period were the result of trade with neighbouring Indo-European cultures, including the first wave of R1b into Central Europe.

Given the unusual form and fabric of Beaker pottery, and its abrupt appearance in the archaeological record, along with a characteristic group of other artefacts, known as the Bell Beaker “package”, the explanation for the Beaker culture until the last decades of the 20th century was to interpret it as a diffusion of one group of people across Europe. However British and American archaeology since the 1960s had been sceptical about prehistoric migration in general, so the idea of “Bell Beaker Folk” lost ground. A theory of cultural contact de-emphasizing population movement was presented by Colin Burgess and Stephen Shennan in the mid-1970s.[24]

It is now common to see the Beaker culture as a ‘package’ of knowledge (including religious beliefs and copper, bronze and gold working) and artefacts (including copper daggers, v-perforated buttons and stone wrist-guards) adopted and adapted by the indigenous peoples of Europe to varying degrees. This new knowledge may have come about by any combination of population movements and cultural contact. An example might be as part of a prestige cult related to the production and consumption of beer, or trading links such as those demonstrated by finds made along the seaways of Atlantic Europe. Palynological studies and analysis of pollen, associated with the spread of beakers, certainly suggests increased growing of barley, which may be associated with beer brewing. Noting the distribution of Beakers was highest in areas of transport routes, including fording sites, river valleys and mountain passes, it was suggested that Beaker ‘folk’ were originally bronze traders, who subsequently settled within local Neolithic or early Chalcolithic cultures creating local styles. Close analysis of the bronze tools associated with beaker use suggests an early Iberian source for the copper, followed subsequently by Central European and Bohemian ores.

Investigations in the Mediterranean and France recently questioned the nature of the phenomenon. Instead of being pictured as a fashion or a simple diffusion of objects and their use, the investigation of over 300 sites showed that human groups actually moved in a process that involved explorations, contacts, settlement, diffusions and acculturation/assimilation. Some elements show the influence from the north and east, and other elements reveal the south-east of France to be an important cross road on an important route of communication and exchange spreading north. A distinctive barbed wire element is thought to have migrated through central Italy first. The pattern of movements was diverse and complicated, along the Atlantic coast and the northern Mediterranean coast, and sometimes also far inland. The prominent central role of Portugal in the region and the quality of the pottery all across Europe are forwarded as arguments for a new interpretation that denies an ideological dimension.

The initial moves from the Tagus estuary were maritime. A southern move led to the Mediterranean where ‘enclaves’ were established in south-western Spain and southern France around the Golfe du Lion and into the Po valley in Italy probably via ancient western Alpine trade routes used to distribute Jadeite axes. A northern move incorporated the southern coast of Armorica with further, less well defined, contacts extending to Ireland and possibly to central southern Britain.

The earliest copper production in Ireland, identified at Ross Island in the period 2400-2200 BC, was associated with early Beaker pottery. Here the local sulpharsenide ores were smelted to produce the first copper axes used in Britain and Ireland. The same technologies were used in the Tagus region and in the west and south of France. The evidence is sufficient to support the suggestion that the initial spread of Maritime Bell Beakers along the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean, using sea routes that had long been in operation, was directly associated with the quest for copper and other rare raw materials.

The enclave established in southern Brittany was linked closely to the riverine and landward route via the Loire and across the Gatinais valley to the Seine valley and thence to the lower Rhine. This was a long-established route reflected in early stone axe distributions and it was via this network that Maritime Bell Beakers first reached the Lower Rhine in about 2700-2500 BC. The Lower Rhine region had, by 3000 BC, adopted a burial rite characterized by single inhumation accompanied by a beaker decorated with cord zone impressions, and frequently by a perforated stone battle-axe. This cultural package was characteristic of belief systems which extended across the North European Plain and into Russia. The arrival of the Maritime Bell Beaker from the west a century or two later initiated a period of borrowing and experimentation in what has been called the Primary Bell Beaker/Corded Ware contact zone and cultural traits developed here, such as single burial and the shaft-hole axe, were transmitted westwards along the exchange networks from the Rhine to the Loire. It was from this fusion zone that the modified Beaker package spread northwards across the Channel to Britain.

The Bonnanaro culture

The altar of Monte d’Accoddi fell out of use starting from c. 2000 BC, when the Beaker culture, which at the time was widespread in almost all western Europe, appeared in the island. The introduction of bronze from the new people arriving from the mainland brought numerous improvements, such as in agriculture, in which more effective tools could be used, but also in war and hunting.

The Bonnanaro culture is the last evolution of the Beaker culture in Sardinia (c. 1800 BC), and shows several similarities with the Bronze-Age Polada culture of northern Italy. These have been connected to link with the Italian prehistoric settlements through Corsica. To this period date the construction of the platformlike so-called proto-nuraghe.

Sardinia is one of the most geologically ancient bodies of land in Europe. The island was populated in waves of emigration from the Paleolithic period until recent times.

The first people to settle in northern Sardinia during the Mesolithic probably came from the Italian mainland via Corsica, particularly from Etruria (present-day Tuscany); however in the Corbeddu Cave of Oliena there are evidences that suggest a previous Paleolithic colonization of the island. In the middle Neolithic period, the Ozieri culture, probably of Aegean origin, flourished in the island.

During the early Bronze Age, the so-called Beaker culture, coming from the Continent, appeared in Sardinia. These new people settled predominantly on the west coast where the most part of the sites attributed to them had been found.

Evidence of trade with Aegean (Eastern Mediterranean) centres is present in the period 1600 BC onwards. As time passed, the different Sardinian peoples appear to have become united in customs, yet remained divided politically as various small, tribal groupings, at times banding together, and at others waging war against each other. Habitations consisted of round thatched stone huts.

From about 1500 BC onwards, villages were built around the round tower-fortresses called nuraghi, which were often reinforced and enlarged with battlements. The boundaries of tribal territories were guarded by smaller lookout nuraghi erected on strategic hills commanding a view of other territories.

Today some 7,000 nuraghi dot the Sardinian landscape. While initially these Nuraghes has a relatively simple structure, with time they became extremely complex and monumental (see for example Su Nuraxi near Barumini or Nuraghe Arrubiu near Orroli). The scale, complexity and territorial spread of these buildings attest to the level of wealth accumulated by the Nuragic people, their advances in technology and the complexity of their society, which was able to coordinate large numbers of people with different roles for the purpose of building the monumental Nuraghes.

The Nuraghes are not the only Nuragic buildings that survive, as there are several sacred wells around Sardinia and other buildings that had religious purposes such as the Giants’ grave (monumental collective tombs) and collections of religious buildings that probably served as destinations for pilgrimage and mass religious rites (e.g. Su Romanzesu near Bitti).

Sardinia was at the time at the centre of several commercial routes and it was an important provider of raw materials such as copper and lead, which were pivotal for the manufacture of the time. By controlling the extraction of these raw materials and by commercing them with other countries, the Nuragic civilisation was able to accumulate wealth and reach a level of sophistication that is not only reflected in the complexity of its surviving buildings, but also in its artworks (e.g. the votive bronze statuettes found across Sardinia).

According to some scholars, the Nuragic peoples are identifiable with the Shardana, a tribe of the “Sea Peoples”.

The Nuragic civilization was linked with other contemporaneous megalithic civilization of the western Mediterranean such as the Talaiotic culture of the Balearic islands and the Torrean civilization of southern Corsica. Several artefacts (e.g. pots) have been found in Nuragic sites which came from as far as Anatolia, Greece as well as from Italy, which testifies the scope of commercial relations between the Nuragic people and other people in Europe and beyond.

Haplogroup G2a

Various estimated dates and locations have been proposed for the origin of Haplogroup G. The National Geographic Society places haplogroup G origins in the Middle East 30,000 years ago and presumes that people carrying the haplogroup took part in the spread of the Neolithic[2] Two scholarly papers have also suggested an origin in the Middle East, while differing on the date. Semino et al. (2000) suggested 17,000 years ago. Cinnioglu et al. (2004) suggested the mutation took place only 9,500 years ago.

Haplogroup G2a(SNP P15+) has been identified in neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000-3000BC. Furthermore, the majority of all the male skeletons from the European Neolithic period have so far yielded Y-DNA belonging to this haplogroup. The oldest skeletons confirmed by ancient DNA testing as carrying haplogroup G2a were five found in the Avellaner cave burial site for farmers in northeastern Spain and were dated by radiocarbon dating to about 7000 years ago.

At the Neolithic cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II, north central Germany, with burial artifacts belonging to the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK). This skeleton could not be dated by radiocarbon dating, but other skeletons there were dated to between 5,100 and 6,100 years old.

The most detailed SNP mutation identified was S126 (L30), which defines G2a3. G2a was found also in 20 out of 22 samples of ancient Y-DNA from Treilles, the type-site of a Late Neolithic group of farmers in the South of France, dated to about 5000 years ago. The fourth site also from the same period is the Ötztal of the Italian Alps where the mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman were discovered. Preliminary word is that the Iceman belongs to haplogroup G2a2b (earlier called G2a4).

Haplogroup G2a2b is a rare group today in Europe. The authors of the Spanish study indicated that the Avellaner men had rare marker values in testing of their short tandem repeat (STR) markers.

Two men found in a high-status burial at Ergolding in present-day Bavaria, southern Germany, of the Merovingian dynasty period (7th century), were found to belong to haplogroup G2a (P15+).

Men who belong to G2a3 but are negative for all its subgroups represent a small number today. This haplogroup was found in a Neolithic skeleton from around 5000 BC, in the cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II, Germany, which forms part of the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK), but was not tested for G2a3 subgroups.

G2a3a and its several subgroups seem most commonly found in Turkey and the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean where it can constitute up to 50% of haplogroup G samples. G2a3a is more common in southern Europe than northern Europe. In Europe—except in Italy—G2a3a constitutes less than 20% of G samples. G2a3a so far has seldom surfaced in northern Africa or southern Asia, but represents a small percentage of the G population in the Caucasus Mountains region and in Iran.

A relatively high percentage of G2a3a persons have a value of 21 at STR marker DYS390. The DYS391 marker has mostly a value of 10, but sometimes 11, in G2a3a persons, and DYS392 is almost always 11. If a sample meets the criteria indicated for these three markers, it is likely the sample is G2a3a.

G2a3a has two known subgroups. Both are relatively common among G2a3a persons.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH). The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum.

However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones. More recently, data and calculations from Myres (2011), Cruciani (2010), Arredi (2007) and Belaresque (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. For example, Early Neolithic Y-DNA from Spain did not reveal any R1b, but rather E-V13 and G2a, whilst a similar study from a French pre-Beaker Neolithic site revealed haplgroup G2a and I-P37. It is only later, from a German Bell Beaker site dated to the third millennium BCE, that the first evidence for R1b is detected. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

Whilst Cruciani, Belaresque and Arredi support a spread of R1b from South-Eastern Europe, Klyosov (2012) postulates that “Western European” R1b-L150 entered Europe from Northern Africa, via Iberia, coincident with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture.

From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, haplogroup H, which has high (~ 40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) purported that it arose 28 – 23,000 years ago (kya), spreading into Europe ~ 20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ~ 15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira (2004). However, a larger study by Roostalu (2006), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe. Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium. This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

Whilst such studies are insightful, even if the dates postulated by authors are correct, they do not necessarily imply that the spread of a particular genetic marker represents a distinct population, ‘tribe’ or language group. Authors often take for granted that the expansion of a lineage is related to real demography rather than other evolutionary events, such as random genetic drift or natural selection. Moreover, they overlook detailed analyses of the archaeological record which demonstrate the genesis of cultural phenomena representing multiple, complex lines of interaction criss-crossing far-flung regions rathern than simple ‘folk migrations’. As such, ‘genetic studies’ have often drawn criticisms not only from archaeologists and cultural anthropologists, but also from fellow population geneticists.

However, studies of the ancient Y-DNA from the earlier Neolithic cave burials of Cardium pottery culture men shows they were mainly haplogroup G2a. These ‘Neolithic lineages’ accounted for 22% of the total European Y chromosome gene pool, and were predominantly found in Mediterranean regions of Europe (Greece, Italy, southeastern Bulgaria, southeastern Iberia).

Good point. While the TRB isn’t exactly the LBK, the TRB origins have to be sought rather in the central European LBK than in the Mediterranean Cardium pottery. And according to a craniometrical cluster analysis by Ilse Schwidetzky, the Swedish neolithic is very similar to the central European middle neolithic Rössen culture, and both are close to LBK. IMO the main difference between the Danubian cultures and the Cardium derived cultures is that the latter seem more strongly dominated by haplogroup G, which in turn seems to imply a stronger presence of the (Southern part of the) Caucasus component, while the former may have had more haplogoup I and Atlantic_Med.

Haplogroup G is believed to have originated around the Middle East during the late Paleolithic, possibly as early as 30,000 years ago. At that time humans would all have been hunter-gatherers, and in most cases living in small nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. Members of this haplogroup appear to have been closely linked to the development of early agriculture in the Levant part of the Fertile Crescent, starting 11,500 years before present. There has so far been ancient Y-DNA analysis from only four Neolithic cultures (LBK in Germany, Remedello in Italy and Cardium Pottery in south-west France and Spain), and all sites yielded G2a individuals, which is the strongest evidence at present that farming originated with and was disseminated by members of haplogroup G (although probably in collaboration with other haplogroups such as E1b1b, J, R1b and T).

So far, the only G2a people negative for subclades downstream of P15 or L149.1 have all been found in the South Caucasus region. The highest genetic diversity within haplogroup G is found between the Levant and the Caucasus, in the Fertile Crescent, which is another good indicator of its region of origin. It is thought that early Neolithic farmers expanded from the Levant and Mesopotamia westwards to Anatolia and Europe, eastwards to South Asia, and southwards to the Arabian peninsula and North and East Africa. The domestication of goats and cows first took place in the mountainous region of eastern Anatolia, including the Caucasus and Zagros. This is probably where the roots of haplogroup G2a (and perhaps of all haplogroup G) are to be found.

It has now been proven by the testing of Neolithic remains in various parts of Europe that haplogroup G2a was one of the lineages of Neolithic farmers and herders who migrated from Anatolia to Europe between 9,000 and 6,000 years ago. In this scenario migrants from the eastern Mediterranean would have brought with them sheep and goats, which were domesticated south of the Caucasus about 12,000 years ago. This would explain why haplogroup G is more common in mountainous areas, be it in Europe or in Asia.

The geographic continuity of G2a from Anatolia to Thessaly to the Italian peninsula, Sardinia, south-central France and Iberia already suggested that G2a could be connected to the Printed-Cardium Pottery culture (5000-1500 BCE). Ancient DNA tests conducted on skeletons from a LBK site in Germany (who were L30+) as well as Printed-Cardium Pottery sites from Languedoc-Roussilon in southern France and from Catalonia in Spain all confirmed that Neolithic farmers in Europe belonged primarily to haplogroup G2a. Other haplogroups found so far in Neolithic Europe include E-V13, F and I2a1 (P37.2).

Ötzi the Iceman (see famous individuals below), who lived in the Italian Alps during the Chalcolithic, belonged to haplogroup G2a2a2 (L91), a relatively rare subclade found nowadays in the Middle East, southern Europe (especially Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica) and North Africa. G2a2 (PF3146) is otherwise found at low frequencies all the way from the Levant to Western Europe. In conclusion, Neolithic farmers in Europe would have belonged to G2a, G2a2 (+ subclades) and G2a3 (and at least the M406 subclade).

Nowadays G2a is found mostly in mountainous regions of Europe, for example, in the Apennine mountains (15 to 25%) and Sardinia (12%) in Italy, Cantabria (10%) and Asturias (8%) in northern Spain, Austria (8%), Auvergne (8%) and Provence (7%) in south-east France, Switzerland (7.5%), the mountainous parts of Bohemia (5 to 10%), Romania (6.5%) and Greece (6.5%). It may be because Caucasian farmers sought hilly terrain similar to their original homeland, perhaps well suited to the raising of goats. But it is more likely that G2a farmers escaped from Bronze-Age invaders, such as the Indo-Europeans and found shelter into the mountains. For example, G2a3a (M406) is found at relatively high frequencies in the southern Balkans, the Apennines and the Alps, in contrast with G2a3b (L141.1), which is found everywhere in Europe.

Nowadays haplogroup G is found all the way from Western Europe and Northwest Africa to Central Asia, India and East Africa, although everywhere at low frequencies (generally between 1 and 10% of the population). The only exceptions are the Caucasus region, central and southern Italy and Sardinia, where frequencies typically range from 15% to 30% of male lineages.

About 42% of the Sardinians belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup I, which is otherwise frequently encountered only in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Serbia area. The second-most common Y-chromosome haplogroup among the Sardinian male population is the haplogroup R1b (22% of the total population) mainly present in the northern part of the island.

Sardinia also has a relatively high distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup G (11%),[44] which is also found mainly in the Caucasus, the Sardinian subtype of the Haplogroup G is closer to that one still present today in the Alps region, in particular the Tyrol area. Ötzi the Iceman, the mummy of a man who lived about 3,300 BC, found on the Alps in 1991 was discovered recently to be closely related genetically to modern Sardinians.

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Sardinia, the history

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 30, 2013

Archaeological evidence of prehistoric human settlement on Sardinia island is present in the form of the nuraghe and others prehistoric monuments which dot the land. The recorded history of Sardinia begins with its contacts with the various people who sought to dominate western Mediterranean trade in Classical Antiquity: Phoenicians, and Romans.

In the Stone Age the island was inhabited by people who had arrived there in the Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages from several parts of Europe and the Mediterranean area.

Modern humans appeared in the island during the Upper Paleolithic, a phalanx dated to 18000 BC had been found in the Corbeddu cave near Oliena. From the earliest period, Sardinia has been in contact with extra-insular communities in Corsica, Liguria, Lombardy, and Provence.

Already in the Stone Age, Monte Arci played an important role. The old volcano was one of the central places where obsidian was found and worked for cutting tools and arrowheads. Towards the end of the fifth millennium BC an increased exportation of obsidian extended the cultural interaction to the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. Even now the volcanic glass can be found on the sides of the mountain.

The first people to settle in northern Sardinia during the Mesolithic probably came from the Italian mainland via Corsica, particularly from Etruria (present-day Tuscany); however in the Corbeddu Cave of Oliena there are evidences that suggest a previous Paleolithic colonization of the island. In the middle Neolithic period, the Ozieri culture, probably of Aegean origin, flourished in the island.

Initially under the political and economic alliance with the Phoenician cities, it was colonised and then conquered by Rome during the First Punic War (238 BC). After the island was included for centuries in the Roman province of Corsica et Sardinia, included in 3rd and 4th centuries in the Italia suburbicaria diocese.

In the Early Middle Ages, through barbarian movements, the waning of the Byzantine Empire influence in the western Mediterranean and the Saracen raids, the island fell out of the sphere of influence of any higher government. This led to the birth of several kingdoms called Giudicati in the 8th through 10th centuries.

Falling under papal influence, Sardinia became the focus of the rivalry of Genoa and Pisa, comuni and Signorie, the Giudicati and the Crown of Aragon, which subsumed the island as the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1324, which was to last until 1718 when it was acquired by the House of Savoy, which later, in 1861, became the Kingdom of Italy and finally in 1946 the Italian Republic.

Archeological cultures of Sardinia in the pre-Nuragic period:

  • Cardium Pottery or Filiestru culture (6000−4000 BC)
  • Bonu Ighinu culture (4000−3400 BC)
  • San Ciriaco culture (3400−3200 BC)
  • Ozieri culture (3200−2700 BC)
  • Abealzu-Filigosa culture (2700−2400 BC)
  • Monte Claro culture (2400−2100 BC)
  • Bell Beaker culture (2100−1800 BC)
  • Bonnanaro culture (A phase) (1800-1600 BC)

During the early Bronze Age, the so-called Beaker culture, coming from the Continent, appeared in Sardinia. These new people settled predominantly on the west coast where the most part of the sites attributed to them had been found.

Evidence of trade with Aegean (Eastern Mediterranean) centres is present in the period 1600 BC onwards. As time passed, the different Sardinian peoples appear to have become united in customs, yet remained divided politically as various small, tribal groupings, at times banding together, and at others waging war against each other. Habitations consisted of round thatched stone huts.

The Neolithic began in Sardinia in the 4th millennium BC with the Cardium Pottery Culture or Cardial Culture, or Impressed Ware Culture, which eventually extended from the Adriatic sea to the Atlantic coasts of Portugal and south to Morocco.

Cardium Pottery or Cardial Ware is a Neolithic decorative style that gets its name from the imprinting of the clay with the shell of the cockle, an edible marine mollusk, formerly Cardium edulis, now Cerastoderma edule. These forms of pottery are in turn used to define the Neolithic culture which produced and spread them, mostly commonly called the “Cardial Culture”.

The alternative name Impressed Ware is given by some archaeologists to define this culture, because impressions can be with sharp objects other than cockle shell, such as a nail or comb.[1] Impressed pottery is much more widespread than the Cardial. Impressed Ware is found in the zone “covering Italy to the Ligurian coast” as distinct from the more western Cardial extending from Provence to western Portugal.

The sequence in Western Europe has traditionally been supposed to start with widespread Cardial Ware, and then to develop other methods of impression locally, termed “epi-Cardial”. However the widespread Cardial and Impressa pattern types overlap and are now considered more likely to be contemporary.

The earliest Impressed Ware sites, dating to 6400-6200 BC, are in Epirus and Corfu. Settlements then appear in Albania and Dalmatia on the eastern Adriatic coast dating to between 6100 and 5900 BC. The earliest date in Italy comes from Coppa Nevigata on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy, perhaps as early as 6000 cal BC.

Also during Su Carroppu civilization in Sardinia, already in its early stages (low strata into Su Coloru cave, c. 6000 BC) early examples of cardial pottery appear. Northward and westward all secure radiocarbon dates are identical to those for Iberia c. 5500 cal B.C., which indicates a rapid spread of Cardial and related cultures: 2,000 km from the gulf of Genoa to the estuary of the Mondego in probably no more than 100–200 years. This suggests a seafaring expansion by planting colonies along the coast.

Older Neolithic cultures existed already at this time in eastern Greece and Crete, apparently having arrived from the Levant, but they appear distinct from the Cardial or Impressed Ware culture. The ceramic tradition in the central Balkans also remained distinct from that along the Adriatic coastline in both style and manufacturing techniques for almost 1,000 years from the 6th millennium BC.

Early Neolithic impressed pottery is found in the Levant, and certain parts of Anatolia, including Mezraa-Teleilat, and in North Africa at Tunus-Redeyef, Tunisia. So the first Cardial settlers in the Adriatic may have come directly from the Levant. Of course it might equally well have come directly from North Africa, and impressed-pottery also appears in Egypt. Along the East Mediterranean coast Impressed Ware has been found in North Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.

Later, important cultures like the Ozieri culture of the late Neolithic and the Abealzu-Filigosa and Monte Claro culture of the Chalcolithic period, developed in the island contemporaneously with the appearance of the megalithic phenomenon.

From the third millennium BC on, comb-impressed Beaker ware, as well as other Beaker material in Ozieri or sub-Ozieri contexts, has been found, demonstrating continuing relationships with the western Mediterranean; it appears likely that Sardinia was the intermediary that brought Beaker materials to Tuscany and Sicily.

The most ancient settlements have been discovered both in Gallura and central Sardinia; later several cultures developed in the island, such as the Ozieri culture, a prehistoric pre-Nuragic culture that lived in Sardinia from c. 3200 to 2800 BC. The economy was based on agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and trading with the mainland.

The Ozieri culture (or San Michele culture, 3500-2700 BC) developed mighty megalithic walls that are limited to the northern area, suggesting unknown defensive demands that are the sign of the warlike state that can be noticed at the same time in the Mediterranean.

The Ozieri culture takes its name from the locality where the main findings connected with it have been found, the grotto of San Michele near Ozieri, in northern Sardinia. The influence of the culture extended also to the nearby Corsica.

The archaeological excavation held there in 1914 and 1949 found fine worked vases with geometrical motifs carved in the clay and colored with red ochre. The oldest ones were still rather crude, while the more recent examples were more refined and slender.

Such ceramics were a novelty for prehistoric Sardinia, since up to that point they had been considered typical of the Cyclades and Crete. The development of the Ozieri culture, therefore, probably stemmed from contacts with other eastern Mediterranean civilizations, in particular from the Neolithic Greece area.

Villages of the Ozieri culture which have been identified amount to some 200, located both in plain and mountain areas. They were formed by small stone huts, with a circular (rarely rectangular) wall supporting a wooden frame with a ceiling of boughs. One, near Mogoro, included 267 huts, perhaps also erected on poles driven into the ground. The pavements were composed of limestone slabs, of basalt cobbles or clay.

The villages had no walls, and findings of weapons in the tombs are scarce: the Ozieri civilization was thus perhaps a peaceful one, far different from the later Nuragic civilization.

The tombs were grouped in the hypogeous structures that later became known as domus de janas (Sardinian: “House of the Fairies” or of the “Witches”), a type of pre-historic chamber tombs found in Sardinia consisting of several chambers quarried out by the Ozieri and Beaker cultures, resembling houses in their layout, or, as more frequent in Gallura (regarding what is sometimes defined as Arzachena culture), in Megalithic circles. Some tombs, of more monumental appearance, belonged perhaps to chiefs, in the fashion of those in Crete.

Remains from this period include more than 2,400 hypogeum, or hypogaeum (plural hypogea), which literally means “underground”, from Greek hypo (under) and gaia (mother earth or goddess of earth), usually refering to an underground temple or tomb, tombs called Domus de Janas, the 4th millennium BC statue menhirs representing warriors or female figures, and the stepped pyramid of Monte d’Accoddi, near Sassari, which has some similarities with the monumental complex of Los Millares (Andalusia) and the later Talaiots in the Balearic Islands, an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsul.

When Christian underground shrines, crypts and tombs that would be hypogea if the rites and burials were pagan, are called catacombs rather than hypogea, a mistaken discontinuity in sepulture practices is implied that is not borne out by the archeology and history. “Like other ambitious Romans, the bishop-saints of the third and fourth centuries were usually buried in hypogea in the cemeteries outside the walls of their cities; often it was only miracles at their tombs that caused their successors to adopt more up-to-date designs. In Dijon the saint and bishop Benignus (d. c. 274) was buried in a large sarcophagus in a chamber tomb in the Roman cemetery. By the sixth century the tomb had long since fallen into disrepair and was regarded as pagan, even by Bishop Gregory of Langres”, Werner Jacobsen has observed.

Hypogea will often contain niches for cremated human remains or loculi for buried remains.

Hypogeum can also simply refer to any antique building or part of building built below ground. There was a series of underground tunnels under the Colosseum where slaves and animals were kept ready to fight for the gladiatorial games. The animals and slaves would be let up through trapdoors under the sand-covered arena at any time during a fight. Occasionally tombs of this type are referred to as built tombs.

An early example of a hypogeum is found at the Minoan Bronze Age site of Knossos on Crete. Hogan notes this underground vault was of a beehive shape and cut into the soft rock. The Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum in Paola, Malta, is the oldest example of a prehistoric hypogeum, the earliest phase dating to 3600–3300 BC; it is a complex of underground chambers, halls and passages covering approximately 500 m2 on three levels, partly carved to imitate temple architecture and containing extensive prehistoric art. In Larnaka, Cyprus – the Lefkaritis Tomb was discovered in 1999. Other excavated structures, not used for ritual purposes, include the Greco-Roman cryptoporticus, and in other cultures the dugout, souterrain, yaodong and fogou.

The talaiots, or talayots, are Bronze Age megaliths on the islands of Minorca and Majorca forming part of the Talaiotic Culture or Talaiotic Period. They date from the late second millennium and early first millennium BC. There are at least 274 of them, in, near, or related to Talaiotic settlements and Talaiotic navetes. While some certainly had a defensive purpose, the purpose of others is not clearly understood. Some believe them to have served the purpose of lookout or signalling towers, as on Minorca, where they form a network. These monuments pre-date the taulas, which are usually found nearby. Similar but not necessarily related are the “nuraghes” of Sardinia, the “torri” of Corsica, and the “sesi” of Pantelleria.

According to some scholars, the similarity between this structure and Mesopotamian ones is due to cultural influxs coming from the Eastern Mediterranean. During this period copper objects and weapons also appeared in the island.

Built between 3400 and 2700 BC, more than 1000 of the rock-cut tombs, or domus de janas, are known on the island. They date to the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age. A necropolis of them at the site of Anghelu Ruju, near Alghero, consists of 38 tombs some carved with bulls’ heads. Another large site is that of Sant’Andrea Priu at Bonorva, including 18 chambers: during the late Roman and Byzantine dominations it was turned into a cave church. Other sites can be found at Pimentel, Sedini, Villaperuccio, Ittiri and Porto Torres.

The shape of grottoes can vary from that of a rounded hut with conical or triangular ceiling. The walls are often decorated with magical reliefs. The corpses, painted with red ochre like the tomb’s walls, were buried together with common life objects, jewels and tools. According to archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, they were buried under shells of molluscs; according to other theories, they were left outside the tomb, being put inside only after they had reduced to a skeleton.

The altar of Monte d’Accoddi, the archaeological site of a megalithic structure, the oldest part are dated to around c. 4,000-3,650 BC., in northern Sardinia, Italy, located in the territory of Sassari near Porto Torres, fell out of use starting from c. 2000 BC, when the Beaker culture, which at the time was widespread in almost all western Europe, appeared in the island.

The Monte Claro culture (2500-2000 BC) reveals scratched ceramics and fortified enclosures that seem to anticipate a strategic conception of territory control which reached a highlight in the Nuragic Age (1600-900 BC). This tradition came to an end only around 900 BC by destruction and fire.

In some sites, material of the megalithic Monte Claro culture has been found in association with true Bell Beaker materials; elsewhere, Beaker material has been found stratigraphically above Monte Claro and at the end of the Chalcolithic period in association with the related Bronze Age Bonnanaro culture (1800-1600 BC), for which C-14 dates calibrate to ca. 2250 BC.

The religion of the Ozieri culture included the adoration of the Neolithic Mother goddess and of a Bull god, perhaps connected to fertility. Female statuettes similar to those of the Ozieri culture have been found in Malta.

The dolmens culture, around the end of the 3rd millennium BC, passed with other typical material aspects of western Europe (e.g. Bell Beaker) through by the Sardinian coast even in Sicily, and from there all over Mediterranean basin.

Pre-historic and Pre-nuragic monuments and constructions that characterise the Sardinian landscapes are the Domus de Janas (Sardinian: House of the Fairies, House of the Witches), the Statue menhir and the dolmens.

Remains from this period include more than 2,400 hypogeum tombs called Domus de Janas, the 4th millennium BC statue menhirs, a type of carved standing stone created during the later European Neolithic, representing warriors or female figures, and the stepped pyramid of Monte d’Accoddi, near Sassari, which has some similarities with the monumental complex of Los Millares (Andalusia) and the later Talaiots in the Balearic Islands. According to some scholars, the similarity between this structure and Mesopotamian ones is due to cultural influxs coming from the Eastern Mediterranean.

A statue menhir is a type of carved standing stone created during the later European Neolithic. The statues consist of a vertical slab or pillar with a stylised design of a human figure cut into it, sometimes with hints of clothing or weapons visible. They are most commonly found in south and west France, Catalonia, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy and the Alps. A group from the Iron Age also is known in Liguria and Lunigiana.

Kurgan stelae, or Balbals (supposedly from a Turkic word balbal meaning “ancestor” or “grandfather” or the Mongolic word “barimal” which means “handmade statue”) are anthropomorphic stone stelae, images cut from stone, installed atop, within or around kurgans (i.e. tumuli), in kurgan cemeteries, or in a double line extending from a kurgan. The stelae are also described as “obelisks” or “statue menhirs”.

Spanning more than three millennia, they are clearly the product of various cultures. The earliest are associated with the Pit Grave culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. There are Iron Age specimens are identified with the Scythians and medieval examples with Turkic peoples. Such stelae are found in large numbers in Southern Russia, Ukraine, Prussia, southern Siberia, Central Asia and Mongolia.

Anthropomorphic stelae were probably memorials to the honoured dead. They are found in the context of burials and funeral sanctuaries from the Eneolithic through to the Middle Ages. When used architecturally, stelae could act as a system of stone fences, frequently surrounded by a moat, with sacrificial hearths, sometimes tiled on the inside.

The earliest anthropomorphic stelae date to the 4th millennium BC, and are associated with the early Bronze Age Yamna Horizon, in particular with the Kemi Oba culture of the Crimea and adjacent steppe region. Those in Ukraine number around three hundred, most of them very crude stone slabs with a simple schematic protruding head and a few features such as eyes or breasts carved into the stone. Some twenty specimens, known as statue menhirs, are more complex, featuring ornaments, weapons, human or animal figures.

The introduction of bronze from the new people arriving from the mainland brought numerous improvements, such as in agriculture, in which more effective tools could be used, but also in war and hunting.

The successing chalcolithic (aneolithic) Filigosa-Abealzu culture (2700-2500 BC) followed the collapse of the great megalithic civilizations. A significant impulse given to metallurgy accompanied vascular production characterized by a disappearance of earlier St. Micheal (Ozieri) fanciful decoration in favor of blank soberly scribbled surfaces.

The Bell-Beaker culture (sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk; German: Glockenbecherkultur), ca. 2800 – 1800 BC, is the term for a widely scattered ‘archaeological culture’ of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic and running into the early Bronze Age. The term was coined by John Abercromby, based on the culture’s distinctive pottery drinking vessels.

The Bell Beaker culture is understood not only as a particular pottery type, but as a complete and complex cultural phenomenon involving other artefact styles such as weaponry and ornamentation, as well as shared ideological, cultural and religious ideas.

The Bell Beaker period marks a period of unprecedented cultural contact in Atlantic and Western Europe on a scale not seen previously, nor again seen in succeeding periods. This contrasted the situation in Central and Eastern Europe where the slightly earlier Corded Ware Culture had already established wide-ranging contacts within those regions.

Its appearance is marked from 2900 BC, lasting until 1800 BC, when the incipient Bronze Age dissolved the beaker phenomenon.

It is important to note that underlying the Bell beaker superstratum existed a wide diversity in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than inhumation), housing styles, economic profile and local coarse ceramic wares which continued to persist.

There are two main Bell Beaker styles: the cord-impressed types, such as the “All Over Corded” (AOC) or “All Over Ornamented” (AOO), and the “Maritime” type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, characteristic regional styles developed.

It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the consumption of alcohol, and that the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fuelled the beakers’ spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples. However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. They were used as status display amongst disparate elites.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH).

The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum. However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones.

More recently, data and calculations from Myres (2011), Cruciani (2010), Arredi (2007) and Belaresque (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. For example, Early Neolithic Y-DNA from Spain did not reveal any R1b, but rather E-V13 and G2a, whilst a similar study from a French pre-Beaker Neolithic site revealed haplgroup G2a and I-P37. It is only later, from a German Bell Beaker site dated to the third millennium BCE, that the first evidence for R1b is detected. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

Whilst Cruciani, Belaresque and Arredi support a spread of R1b from South-Eastern Europe, Klyosov (2012) postulates that “Western European” R1b-L150 entered Europe from Northern Africa, via Iberia, coincident with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture.

From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, haplogroup H, which has high (~ 40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) purported that it arose 28 – 23,000 years ago (kya), spreading into Europe ~ 20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ~ 15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira (2004). However, a larger study by Roostalu (2006), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe. Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium. This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

Whilst such studies are insightful, even if the dates postulated by authors are correct, they do not necessarily imply that the spread of a particular genetic marker represents a distinct population, ‘tribe’ or language group. Authors often take for granted that the expansion of a lineage is related to real demography rather than other evolutionary events, such as random genetic drift or natural selection. Moreover, they overlook detailed analyses of the archaeological record which demonstrate the genesis of cultural phenomena representing multiple, complex lines of interaction criss-crossing far-flung regions rathern than simple ‘folk migrations’. As such, ‘genetic studies’ have often drawn criticisms not only from archaeologists and cultural anthropologists, but also from fellow population geneticists.

Bell Beaker has been suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture; more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic. No evidence of other large-scale immigrations took place, and many scholars deny Celtic speech originated solely from La Tene culture, whose migrations started at about 400 BC. Instead, those scholars propose Celtic languages evolved gradually and simultaneously over a large area by way of a common heritage and close social, political and religious links. Although controversial, the theory fits (according to its proponents) the archeological evidence that provides little support for westward migrations of Celtic people matching the historically known movements south and west.

Like elsewhere in Europe and in the Mediterranean area, the Bell Beaker culture in Sardinia (2000-1800) is characterized by the typical ceramics decorated with overlaid horizontal bands and associated finds (brassards, V-pierced buttons etc.) There is virtually no evidence in Sardinia of external contacts in the late third and early second millennia, apart from late Beakers and close parallels between Bonnannaro pottery and that of the North Italian Polada culture.

The Bonnanaro culture (1800-1600 BC), named after the comune of Bonnanaro in the province of Sassari, considered as the first stadium of the Nuragic civilization, is a protohistoric culture that flourished in Sardinia during the 2nd millennium BC.

Bonnanaro finds have been unearthed in over 70 sites scattered in all Sardinian territory. The ceramics were smooth and linear with some reminiscences with those of the Beaker period. Metal objects increased and the first swords of arsenicated copper appeared.

It is still uncertain if the first “protonuraghi” or “pseudonuraghi” were built at this time or in the successive Sub-Bonnanaro culture (or Bonnanaro B) of the middle bronze age (1600-1330 BC) .

The Proto-Nuraghi were megalithic edifices which are considered the precursors of the future Nuraghi. The Proto-Nuraghi are horizontal building characterized by a long corridor with rooms and cells ; they represent an attempt to fortify the more traditional huts, in a period were tribal clashes, due to the introduction of the first sophisticated weapons, were becoming increasingly common.

Dating to the 2nd millennium BC, the nuraghe are megalithic towers with a truncated cone shape, which are widespread in the whole of Sardinia, about one nuraghe every three square kilometers. There has long been controversy among scholars. Theories about their utilization have included social, military, religious, astronomical role, as furnaces or sepulture places, but the modern agreement is that they were defensible homesites that included barns and silos.

Around 1500 BC, archaeological studies have proved the increasing size of the settlements built around these structures, which were often located at the summit of hills. Perhaps for protection reasons, new towers were added to the original ones, connected by walls provided with slits.

The imposing stone structures known as nuraghi (singular nuraghe) surely dominated the Bronze Age landscape of Sardinia. Although the remains of some 7,000 nuraghi have been found, up to 30,000 may have been built.

Classic nuraghi are truncated conical towers, about 40 feet in diameter, sloping up to a circular roof some 50 feet above the ground. Several courses of large, minimally dressed, dry-laid stone form the walls and usually an interior stairwell spirals up to the roof or to a second (and sometimes a third) story. A ground-level doorway, spanned by a large lintel, typically serves as an entrance. The ground-level chamber, which is generally less than 20 feet in diameter, contains one to three wall niches. The vaulted ceiling is 20 to 35 feet above the floor, perhaps accommodating raised wooden interior platforms or lofts to make use of the space.

Religion expressed itself around sacred wells, often in association to the megalithic nuraghe, most of them of Beaker signature. The earliest attested water cult site is that at Abini-Teti, where votive offerings dateable to the early Bonnanaro period have been found; votive offerings at the spring of Sos Malavidos-Orani date to later Bonnanaro. This tradition showed local continuity to historic times, as it was at such centers that the Romans found attacking the natives most efficient (Strabo 5.2.7).

The nuraghe (plural Italian nuraghi, Sardinian Logudorese nuraghes / Sardinian Campidanese nuraxis) is the main type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia, developed during the Nuragic Age between 1900-730 BC. Today it has come to be the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, the Nuragic civilization.

The most important complex is Su Nuraxi di Barumini, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The highest and most imposing one is the Nuraghe Santu Antine near the village of Torralba. Other famous nuraghes are near Alghero (Palmavera), Macomer, Abbasanta (see Losa), Orroli (Nuraghe Arrubiu), and Villanovaforru.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the etymology is “uncertain and disputed”: “The word is perhaps related to the Sardinian place names Nurra, Nurri, Nurru, and to Sardinian nurra heap of stones, cavity in earth (although these senses are difficult to reconcile). A connection with the Semitic base of Arabic nūr light, fire … is now generally rejected.” The Latin word “murus” (wall) may be related to it (M. Pittau, philologist), as the old Italian word “mora” (tombal rock mound), as used by Dante in his “Comedy”. The derivation: murus-muraghe-nuraghe is debated.

The typical nuraghe is situated in areas where previous Prehistoric Sardinians Cultures had been distributed, that is not far from alluvial plains (though few nuraghi appear in plains nowadays, as they were destroyed by human activities such as agriculture, dams and others) and has the shape of a truncated conical tower resembling a medieval tower (outside) or a beehive (inside). The structure’s walls consist of three components: an outer layer (tilted inwards and made of many layers of stones whose size diminishes with height: mostly, lower layers consist of rubble masonry, while upper layers tend to ashlar masonry) shaped like a tower, an inner layer, made of smaller stones (to form a bullet shaped dome called “Tholos”: ashlar masonry is used here more frequently), an intermediate layer of very small pieces and dirt, which makes the whole construction very sturdy: it stands only by virtue of the weight of its stones, which may each amount to several tons. Some nuraghes are about 20 metres (60 ft) in height. A spiral stone stair was built within the thick walls, leading to upper floors (if present) and/or to a terrace.

Today, there are little less than 7,000 nuraghes still extant in Sardinia, although their number was somewhat larger, originally. Nuraghes are most prevalent in the northwest and south-central parts of the island.

There is a similar type of structure which has a corridor or a system of corridors. Some authors consider them somewhat older than the typical nuraghe and probably serving different purposes. The nuraghes were built between the middle of the Bronze Age (18th-15th centuries BC) and the Late Bronze Age. This clearly rules out any possible cultural correlation with later towers such as Scottish Brochs and Israelian El Awhat. The only similar buildings related to nuraghes seem to be Corsican Towers.

According to Massimo Pallottino, a scholar of Sardinian prehistory and an Etruscologist, the architecture produced by the Nuragic civilization was the most advanced of any other in the western Mediterranean during this epoch, including those in the regions of Magna Graecia. Of the 7,000 extant nuraghes, only a few have been scientifically excavated. Many Nuragic Cultural traits and values were inherited by the Etruscans and by the Romans.

There is no consensus on the function of the nuraghes: they could have been religious temples, ordinary dwellings, rulers’ residences, military strongholds, meeting halls, or a combination of the former. Some of the nuraghes are, however, located in strategic locations – such as hills – from which important passages could be easily controlled. They might have been something between a “status symbol” and a “passive defence” building, meant to be a deterrent for possible enemies.

Nuraghes could also have been the “national” symbol of the Nuragic peoples. Small-scale models of nuraghe have often been excavated at religious sites (e.g. in the “maze” temple at the Su Romanzesu site near Bitti in central Sardinia). Nuraghes may have just connoted wealth or power, or they may have been an indication that a site had its owners. Recent unconfirmed theories tend to suggest that Sardinian towns were independent entities (such as the city-states, although in a geographical sense they were not cities) that formed federations and that the building of these monuments might have depended on agreed-on distributions of territory among federated unities.

In 2002, Juan Belmonte and Mauro Zedda measured the entrance orientations (declinations and azimuths) of 272 simple nuraghes and of the central towers of 180 complex ones. The data revealed clear peaks corresponding to orientations pointing to the sunrise at winter solstice and to the moon at its southernmost rising position. These alignments remained constant throughout the history of nuraghe. The most common declinations revealed were of around -43° for the earlier nuraghes, shifting to just -45½° for the later. Zedda has suggested that the target is likely a star, quite possibly Alpha Centauri.

It has been suggested that some of the current Sardinian villages trace their origin directly from Nuragic ones, including perhaps those containing the root Nur- in their name (Nurachi, Nuraminis, Nurri, Nurallao, Noragugume). The most famous among the numerous existing nuraghe, which have been included in the UNESCO Heritage List, are the Su Nuraxi at Barumini, Santu Antine at Torralba, Nuraghe Losa at Abbasanta, Palmavera (Alghero), Genna Maria at Villanovaforru, Santa Cristina at Paulilatino.

The Giants of Monte Prama are a group of 32 (or 40) statues with a height of up to 2.5 m, found in 1974 near Cabras, in the province of Oristano. They depict warriors, archers, wrestlers, models of nuraghe and boxers with shield and armed glove. They date to around the 10th-8th centuries BC.

They feature disc-shaped eyes and eastern-like garments. The statues probably depicted mythological heroes, guarding a sepulchre; according to another theory, they could be a sort of Pantheon of the typical Nuragic divinities.

Their finding proved that the Nuragic civilization had maintained its peculiarities, and introduced new ones across the centuries, well into the Phoenician colonization of most of Sardinia.

The Sacred Pits were structures destined to the cult of waters. Though initially assigned to the 8th-6th centuries BC, due to their evoluted buildings techniques, they most likely date to the earlier Bronze Age, when Sardinia had strong relationships with the Mycenaenan kingdoms of Greece and Crete.

The Nuragic Sacred Pits followed the same pattern of the nuraghe, the main part consisting of a circular room with a tholos vault with a hole at the summit. A monumental staircase connected the entrance to this subterranean (hypogeum) room, whose main role is to collect the water of the sacred spring. The exterior walls features stone benches on which were deposed the offers from the faithful and the religious objects. Some sites had also sacrifice altars: some scholars think that these architecture could be dedicated to Sardus, one of the main Nuragic divinities.

A sacred pit who resemble those of Sardinia had been found in western Bulgaria, near the village of Garlo.

The so-called “giant’s graves” were funerary structures whose precise function is still unknown, and which perhaps evolved from elongated dolmens. They date to the whole Nuragic era up to the Iron Age, and are more frequent in the central sector of the island. Their plan was in the shape of the head of a bull.

The Nuragic economy, at least at the origins, was mostly based on agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as on fishing. Navigation had an important role: historian Pierluigi Montalbano mentions the finding of at least 156 bronze naval models, some weighing 100 kg. This has suggested that the Nuragic people used efficient ships, which could perhaps reach lengths up to 15 meters. These allowed them to travel the whole Mediterranean, establishing commercial links with the Mycenaean civilization (attested by the common tholos tomb shape, and the adoration of bulls), Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Lebanon. Items such as Cyprus-type copper ingots have been found in Sardinia, while Nuragic ceramics have been found in Spain (Huelva, Tarragona, Malaga, Teruel and Cadiz) up to the Gibraltar strait, and in Etruscan centers of the Italian peninsula such as Vetulonia, Vulci and Populonia (known in the 9th-6th centuries from Nuragic statues found in their tombs).

Sardinia was rich in metals such as lead and copper. Archaeological findings have proven the good quality of Nuragic metallurgy, including numerous bronze weapons. The so-called “golden age” of the Nuragic civilization (mid-2nd millennium BC) coincided perhaps with the apex of the mining of metals in the island. Sardinian copper ingots have been found in Spain, France, Turkey and Greece. The widespread use of bronze, an alloy which used tin, a metal which however was not present in Sardinia if not in a single deposit, further proves the capability of the Nuragic people to trade in the resources they needed. A recent study (2013) of 71 ancient Swedish bronze objects dated to Nordic Bronze Age , revealed that most of copper utilized at that time in Scandinavia came from Sardinia and the Iberian peninsula.

Nuragic ceramics have been found in the Italian peninsula, in Sicily, Spain and Crete.

The Nuragic civilization was most likely based on clans. They were led by a chief and lived in villages with circular huts with a straw roof, very similar to the modern pinnettas of the Barbagia shepherds. Religion and military had a strong role in the society, which has led scholars to the hypothesis that the Nuragic civilization was a theocracy. An important role was that of mythological heroes such as Norax, Sardus, Iolaos and Aristeus, military leaders considered also as divinities.

The Nuraghe bronzes clearly portrays figures of chief-kings, recognizable from the presence of a staff with bosses and of a mantle. Also depicted are the other classes, including miners and artisans; numerous are the soldiers, which has led to think to a warring society, with a precise military hierarchy (archers, infantry, swordsmen, musicians, wrestlers and boxers, the latter similar to those of the Minoan civilizations). Different uniforms could belong to different cantons or clans, or to different military corps.

The priest role was perhaps fulfilled by women.

The small bronzes also gave clues on personal care and fashion. Women generally had long hair; men sported two long braids on each side of the face, while the head was shaved off, or covered by a leather cap.

The large stone sculptures known as betili (a kind of slender menhir, sometimes featuring crude depiction of male sexual organs, or of female breasts), and the representations of animals such as the bull, belong most likely to pre-Nuragic civilizations. The latter kept however its importance among the Nuraghe people, and was frequently depicted on ships, bronze vases used in religious rites and in the soldiers’ helmets. Small bronze sculptures depicting half-man, half-bull figures have been found, as well as characters with four arms and eyes and two-headed deers: they probably had a mythological and religious significance. Another holy animal which was frequently depicted is the dove.

A key element of the Nuragic religion was that of fertility, connected to the male power of the Bull-Sun and the female one of Water-Moon. According to the scholars’ studies, there existed a Mediterranean-type Mother Goddess and a God-Father (Babai). The excavations have proved that the Nuragic people, in determinate periods of the year, gathered in common holy places, usually characterized by sitting steps and the presence of a holy pit. In some holy areas, such as Gremanu at Fonni, Serra Orrios at Dorgali and S’Arcu ‘e is forros at Villagrande Strisaili, there were rectangular temples, with central holy room housing perhaps a holy fire.

The deities worshipped are unknown, but were perhaps connected to water, or to astronomical entities (Sun, Moon, solstices). Also having a religious role were perhaps the small chiseled discs, with geometrical patterns, known as pintadera, although their function has not been identified yet.

Some structures could have a “federal” Sardinian role, such as the sanctuary of Santa Vittoria near Serri, including both religious and civil buildings: here, according to Italian historian Giovanni Lilliu, the main clans of the central island held their assemblies to sign alliances, decide wars or to stipulate commercial agreements. Spaces for trades were also present. At least twenty of such multirole structures are known, including those of Santa Cristina at Paulilatino and of Siligo; some have been re-used as Christian temples (such as the cumbessias of San Salvatore in Sinis at Cabras).

The Bonnanaro culture brought new religious ideas and funerary rites and a new form of sepolture, the so-called “giants’ grave”, a derivate of the Allée couverte. The people who introduced these innovation in the island came probably by sea from southern France and Central Europe in various small waves.

Giants’ grave (Italian: Tomba dei giganti, Sardinian: Tumbas de sos zigantes) is the name given by local people and archaeologists to a type of Sardinian megalithic gallery grave, a form of Megalithic tomb where there is no size difference between the burial chamber itself and the entrance passage, built during the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization. They can be found throughout Sardinia, and so far 321 have been discovered.

A Gallery grave is a form of Megalithic tomb where there is no size difference between the burial chamber itself and the entrance passage. Two parallel walls of stone slabs were erected to form a corridor and covered with a line of capstones. The rectangular tomb was covered with a barrow or a cairn. Most were built during the fourth millennium BC, though some were still being built in the Bronze Age.

They are distributed across Europe and they are usually subdivided by period, region and also into more generic types of chambered long barrows, chambered round barrows, chambered long cairns and chambered round cairns. Examples are known in Catalonia, France, the Low Countries, Germany, The British Isles, Scandinavia, Sardinia and southern Italy.

A stone cairn lies over the burial chamber itself. Some examples have a cup-shaped entrance similar to the court cairn tombs of Ireland. There is also a structure similar to a block-type giants’ tomb on the island of Malta and in British Islands.

The court cairn or court tomb is a megalithic type of chamber tomb and gallery grave, specifically a variant of the chambered cairn, found in western and northern Ireland, and in mostly southwest Scotland (where it maybe also be called a horned cairn or Clyde-Carlingford tomb), around 4000–3500 BCE, but many remained in use until as late as the Bronze Age transition, c. 2200 BCE. They are generally considered to be the earliest chambered cairn tombs in Scotland, and their construction technique was probably brought from Scotland to Ireland. In Scotland, they are most common in what today are Argyll and Dumfries and Galloway (where they form the Clyde-Carlingford group), though a small outlying group have been found near Perth.

Court tombs are rectangular burial chambers. They are distinguished by their roofless, oval forecourt at the entrance. Large slabs of rock were used to make the walls and roof of the very basic burial chamber, normally located at one end of the cairn, which although usually blocked after use could be immediately accessed from the outside courtyard. They are gallery graves rather than passage graves, since they lack any significant passage.

They usually had two functions: the chamber to serve as a tomb, and the courtyard to accommodate a ritual. Objects were often buried with the deceased, as the first megalithic farmers of this time believed in life after death.

There are two general types of giants’ tomb. In the so-called “slab type”, uncut slabs are buried on end in the ground, and are arranged side-by-side. There is usually a central stele, which is the largest (up to 4 m in height) slab and has a doorway cut through it. The sepulchres have a characteristic rectangular plan with an apse. The burial chamber is usually 5 to 15 metres long and 1 to 2 metres high. The structures were originally covered by a mound resembling the shape of an overturned ship. Near the entrance was an obelisk (betile in Sardinian), which symbolizes the gods or ancestors who watched over the dead.

In the more primitive slab-type giants’ tombs, the central slab is unmodified aside from the entrance that is cut through it at the base, or else there is a crude dolmen-like arrangement of 3 uncut rocks to form the entrance (Osono, Sortali, Lolghi, Pescaredda). In a more advanced slab-type giants’ tombs, the central slab is modified so as to be rounded on top, and has a simple design carved into the front surface (Dorgali, Goronna, Santu Bainzu, Coddu Vecchju).

The so-called “block type” is made of rectangular-cut blocks (Bidistili, Madau II, Seleni II, Iloi, Mura Cuata). There is also a structure similar to a block-type giants’ tomb on the island of Malta and in British Islands.

An obelisk (from Greek obeliskos, diminutive of obelos, “spit, nail, pointed pillar”) is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top. Like Egyptian pyramids, whose shape is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, an obelisk is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon. Ancient obelisks were often monolithic, whereas most modern obelisks are made of several stones and can have interior spaces. The term stele (plural: stelae) is generally used for other monumental standing inscribed sculpted stones.

A beehive house is a building made from a circle of stones topped with a domed roof. The name comes from the similarity in shape to a straw beehive.

The ancient Bantu used this type of house, which was made with mud, poles, and cow dung.

Beehive houses are some of the oldest known structures in Ireland and Scotland. Dating from as far back as around 2000 BC and some were still being built as late as the 19th century in Puglia (Italy).

A beehive tomb, also known as a tholos tomb (plural tholoi) (Greek: “domed tombs”), is a burial structure characterized by its false dome created by the superposition of successively smaller rings of mudbricks or, more often, stones. The resulting structure resembles a beehive, hence the traditional English name.

Tholoi were used for burial in several cultures in the Mediterranean and West Asia, but in some cases they were used for different purposes such as homes (Cyprus), ritual (Syria), and even fortification (Spain, Sardinia). Although Max Mallowan used the same name for the circular houses belonging to the Neolithic culture of Tell Halaf (Iraq, Syria and Turkey), there is no relationship between them.

In Greece, the vaulted tholoi are a monumental Late Bronze Age development. Their origin is a matter of considerable debate: were they inspired by the tholoi of Crete which were first used in the Early Minoan period or were they a natural development of tumulus burials dating to the Middle Bronze Age? In concept, they are similar to the much more numerous Mycenaean chamber tombs which seem to have emerged at about the same time. Both have chamber, doorway stomion and entrance passage dromos but tholoi are largely built while chamber tombs are rock-cut.

A few early examples of tholoi have been found in Messenia in the SW Peloponnese Greece (for example at Voidhokoilia), and recently near Troezen in the NE Peloponnese. These tholoi are built on level ground and then enclosed by a mound of earth. A pair of tumuli at Marathon, Greece indicate how a built rectangular (but unvaulted) central chamber was extended with an entrance passage.

After about 1500 BCE, beehive tombs became more widespread and are found in every part of the Mycenaean heartland. In contrast, however, to the early examples these are almost always cut into the slope of a hillside so that only the upper third of the vaulted chamber was above ground level. This masonry was then concealed with a relatively small mound of earth.

The tombs usually contain more than one burial, in various places in the tomb either on the floor, in pits and cists or on stone-built or rock-cut benches, and with various grave goods. After a burial, the entrance to the tomb was filled in with soil, leaving a small mound with most of the tomb underground.

The chamber is always built in masonry, even in the earliest examples, as is the stomion or entrance-way. The dromos in early examples was usually just cut from the bedrock, as in the Panagia Tomb at Mycenae itself. In later examples such as the Treasury of Atreus and Tomb of Clytemnestra (both at Mycenae), all three parts were constructed of fine ashlar masonry.

The chambers were built as corbelled vaults, with layers of stone placed closer together as the vault tapers toward the top of the tomb.

The entrances provided an opportunity for conspicuous demonstration of wealth. That of the Treasury of Atreus, for example, was decorated with columns of red and green “Lapis Lacedaimonius” brought from quarries over 100 km away.

The abundance of such tombs, often with more than one being associated with a settlement during one specific time period, may indicate that their use was not confined to the ruling monarchy only, although the sheer size and therefore the outlay required for the larger tombs (ranging from about 10 meters to about 15 meters in diameter and height) would argue in favour of royal commissions. The larger tombs contained amongst the richest finds to have come from the Late Bronze Age of Mainland Greece, despite the tombs having been pillaged both in antiquity and more recently.

Although the Vapheio tholos, south of Sparta, had been robbed, two cists in the floor had escaped notice. These contained, among other valuable items, the two gold “Vapheio cups” decorated with scenes of bull taming which are among the best known of Mycenaean treasures.

Circular structures were commonly built in the Near East, including the examples known as tholoi found in the Neolithic Halaf culture of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They were probably used as both houses and as storage structures, but ritual use may also have occurred. Other, later examples are found in Cyprus (Khirokitia), where they were used as homes. There is no clear connection between these domestic, circular buildings and later tholos tombs.

In the Chalcolithic period of the Iberian peninsula, beehive tombs appear among other innovative “megalithic” variants, since c. 3000 BCE. They are especially common in southern Spain and Portugal, while in Central Portugal and southeastern France other styles (artificial caves especially) are preferred instead. The civilization of Los Millares and its Bronze Age successor, El Argar, are particularly related to this burial style.

The Bronze Age fortifications known as motillas in La Mancha (Spain) also use the tholos building technique.

The imposing stone structures known as nuraghi as well as the similar structures of southern Corsica, dominated the Bronze Age landscape of Sardinia (Italy). Nuraghi are truncated conical towers of dry-laid stone, about 40 feet in diameter, sloping up to a circular roof some 50 feet above the ground. The vaulted ceiling is 20 to 35 feet above the floor. Although the remains of some 7,000 nuraghi have been found, up to 30,000 may have been built.

There are also recorded Etruscan tombs at a necropolis at Banditaccia from the 6th and 7th Centuries BCE having an external appearance similar to a beehive. The interiors are decorated and furnished as Etruscan dwellings.

The beehive Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is an example of the richly decorated tholoi tombs of Thracian rulers, many of which are found in modern Bulgaria and date from the 4th-3rd century BC. The walls of the Kazanlak tomb are covered with plaster and stucco, with ornate scenes from the life of the deceased. Other tumuli, known as mogili in Bulgarian, that feature underground chambers in the form of a beehive dome include, among others, the Thracian tomb of Aleksandrovo, Golyama Arsenalka, Thracian tomb of Seuthes III. There have been several significant gold and silver treasures associated with Thracian tombs currently kept at Bulgaria’s Archaeological and National History Museums and other institutions.

The earliest stone-built tombs which can be called “beehive” are in Oman, built of stacked flat stones which occur in nearby geological formations. They date to between 3,500 and 2,500 years BCE, to a period when the Arabian peninsula was subject to much more rainfall than now, and supported a flourishing civilisation in what is now desert, to the west of the mountain range along the Gulf of Oman. No burial remains have ever been retrieved from these “tombs”, though there seems no other purpose for their building. They have only superficial similarities with the Aegean tombs (circular shape) as they are built entirely above ground level and do not share the same tripartite structure – the entrances are usually an undifferentiated part of the circular walling of the tomb.

Currently there are three areas where these tombs can be found: Al Hajar Region, Hat Region, and Hadbin area close to Barka. The Hajar tombs are very numerous and one or two have been restored, allowing you to crawl into the centre of a 5-6m tall stone structure.

The Bonnanaro culture is the last evolution of the Beaker culture in Sardinia, and shows several similarities with the Bronze-Age Polada culture of northern Italy. These have been connected to link with the Italian prehistoric settlements through Corsica. To this period date the construction of the platformlike so-called proto-nuraghe.

The Bonnanaro culture had been described by scholars as the Sardinian regionalization of the pan-European Bell Beaker culture with some influences from the Polada culture (14th-13th century BC) of northern Italy, a culture of the ancient Bronze Age which spread on all of the territory of Northern Italy and characterized by settlements on pile-dwellings.

Terramare is a technology complex mainly of the central Po valley, in Emilia, northern Italy, dating to the Middle and Late Bronze Age ca. 1700–1150 BC. It takes its name from the “black earth” residue of settlement mounds. Terramare is from terra marna, “marl-earth”, where marl is a lacustrine deposit. It may be any color but in agricultural lands it is most typically black, giving rise to the “black earth” identification of it. The population of the terramare sites is called the terramaricoli. The sites were excavated exhaustively in 1860–1910.

These sites prior to the second half of the 19th century were commonly believed to have been used for Gallic and Roman sepulchral rites. They were called terramare and marnier by the farmers of the region, who mined the soil for fertilizer. Scientific study began with Bartolomeo Gastaldi in 1860. He was investigating peat bogs and old lake sites in north Italy but did some investigations of the marnier, recognizing them finally as habitation, not funerary, sites similar to the pile dwellings further north.

His studies attracted the attention of Pellegrino Strobel and his 18-year-old assistant, Luigi Pigorini. In 1862 they wrote a piece concerning the Castione di Marchesi in Parma, a terramare site. They were the first to perceive that the settlements were prehistoric. Starting from the views of Gaetano Chierici that the pile dwellings further north represented a Roman ancestral population, Pigorini developed a theory of Indo-European settlement of Italy from the north.

Great differences of opinion have arisen as to the origin and ethnographical relations of the Terramare folk. Brizio in his Epoca Preistorica advances the theory that they were the original Ligurians, an ancient Indo-European people who gave their name to Liguria, a region of north-western Italy, who at some early period took to erecting pile dwellings.

Why they should have done so is difficult to see. Some of the Terramare are clearly not built with a view to avoiding inundation, inasmuch as they stand upon hills. The rampart and the moat are for defence against enemies, not against floods, and as Brizio brings in no new invading people till long after the Terramare period, it is difficult to see why the Ligurians should have abandoned their unprotected hut-settlements and taken to elaborate fortification.

There are other difficulties of a similar character. Hence Luigi Pigorini regards the Terramare people as a lake-dwelling people who invaded the north of Italy in two waves from Central Europe (the Danube valley) at the end of the Stone Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age, bringing with them the building tradition which led them to erect pile dwellings on dry land, as well as Indo-European languages.

These people he calls the Italici, to whom he attributes the Villanovan culture, the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age Terramare culture and giving way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders, which was followed without a severe break by the Etruscan civilization.

These cultural traces may not be directly equivalent to a widespread ethnic culture that identified itself as the equivalent of “Villanovan”, Renato Peroni has suggested; they tend to underlie those of both Celtic and Italic provenance, adding to the difficulties in assessing who “founded” the culture. Many archeologists consider that Villanovans belonged to the indigenous population. However, there is a common view that they might be identified as the Proto-Etruscans.

The expansion of the Urnfield/Halstatt culture to Italy is evident in the form of the Villanovan culture (c. 1100-700 BCE), which shared striking resemblances with the Urnfield/Hallstatt sites of Bavaria and Upper Austria.

The Villanova culture marks a clean break with the previous Terramare culture. Although both cultures practised cremation, whereas Terramare people placed cremated remains in communal ossuaries like their Neolithic ancestors, Villanovans used distinctive Urnfield-style double-cone shaped funerary urns, and elite graves containing jewellery, bronze armour and horse harness fittings were separated from ordinary graves, showing for the first time the development of a highly hierarchical society, so characteristic of Indo-European cultures. Quintessential Indo-European decorations, such as swastikas, also make their appearance.

Originally a Bronze-age culture, the Villanova culture introduced iron working to the Italian peninsula around the same time as it appeared in the Hallstatt culture, further reinforcing the link between the two cultures. In all likelihood, the spread of the Villanova culture represents the Italic colonisation of the Italian peninsula. The highest proportion of R1b-S28 is found precisely where the Villanovans were the more strongly established, around modern Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna.

The Villanova culture was succeeded by the Etruscan civilisation, which displayed both signs of continuity with Villanova and new hybrid elements of West Asian origins, probably brought by Anatolian settlers (who would have belonged to a blend of haplogroups E1b1b, G2a, J1, and J2).

The Nuragic civilization was a civilization of Sardinia, lasting from the Bronze Age (18th century BC) to the 2nd century AD. The name derives from its most characteristic monuments, the nuraghe. They consist of tower-fortresses, built starting from about 1800 BC. Today some 7,000 nuraghi dot the Sardinian landscape.

The cyclopean nuraghes, the main type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia, developed during the Nuragic Age between 1900-730 BC., has come to be the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, the Nuragic civilization.

The cyclopean nuraghes has more or less related cousins like the Mycenaean tholoi, the Corsican Torre, the Talaiots of the Balearic Isles, the Sesi of Sicily, and more (the probably much later Brochs of Scotland are mentioned as well): All these architectural forms have their origins from a common cultural matrix widespread in the Mediterranean, but in Sardinia there was an original and grandiose development that has not be found elsewhere.

It is still uncertain if the first “protonuraghi” or “pseudonuraghi” were built at this time or in the successive Sub-Bonnanaro culture (or Bonnanaro B) of the middle bronze age (1600-1330 BC) .

The Proto-Nuraghi were megalithic edifices which are considered the precursors of the future Nuraghi. The Proto-Nuraghi are horizontal building characterized by a long corridor with rooms and cells ; they represent an attempt to fortify the more traditional huts, in a period were tribal clashes, due to the introduction of the first sophisticated weapons, were becoming increasingly common.

Soon Sardinia, a land rich in mines, notably copper and lead, saw the construction of numerous furnaces for the production of alloys which were traded across the Mediterranean basin and nuragic people became skilled metal workers; they were among the main metal producers in Europe and with bronze they produced a wide variety of objects and new weapons as swords, daggers, axes, and after drills, pins, rings, bracelets, typical bronze statuettes, and the votive bronze boats show a close relationship with the sea.

Tin may have drawn Bronze Age traders from the Aegean where copper is available but tin for bronze-making is scarce; The first verifiable smelting slag has come to light; its appearance in a hoard of ancient tin confirms local smelting as well as casting.

The usually cited tin sources and trade in ancient times are those in the Iberian Peninsula or from Cornwall. Markets included civilizations living in regions with poor metal resources, such as the Mycenaean civilization, Cyprus and Crete, as well as the Iberian peninsula, a fact that can explain the cultural similarities between them and the Nuraghe civilization and the presence in Nuragic sites of late Bronze Age Mycenaean, west and central Cretan and Cypriote ceramics, as well as locally made replicas, concentrated in half a dozen findspots that seem to have functioned as “gateway-communities.

By the 15th century, international trade returned, making Sardinia an integral part of a commercial network that extended from the Near East to Northwestern Europe, the principal eastern component of this network being Cyprus. Also contacts with the Mycenaean world were established.

Indigenous Sardinians appear in the Eastern Mediterranean as Sherden, one of the main tribes of the Sea Peoples, and are supposed to be the carriers of some of the eastern material found on the island.

The late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries BC) saw a vast migration of the so-called sea people, described in ancient Egyptian sources. They destroyed Mycenaean and Hittite sites and also attacked Egypt. According to some scholars the Sherden, one of the most important tribes of the sea peoples, are to be identified with the Nuragic Sardinians.

Sardinian (Logudorese: sardu/saldu, limba sarda Campidanese: sardu/sadru, lingua sarda) is a Romance language spoken on most of the island of Sardinia (Italy). It is the most conservative of the Romance languages in terms of phonology and is noted for a Paleosardinian substratum.

Since 1997, the languages of Sardinia have been protected by regional and national laws. Several written standards, including the Limba Sarda Comuna (Common Sardinian Language), have been created in an attempt to unify the two main variants of the language. This standard is co-official with Italian where spoken on Sardinia.

The history of the island of Sardinia, relatively isolated from the European continent up into modern times, led to the development of a distinct Romance language, which even now preserves traces of the indigenous pre-Roman language of the island. The language is of Latin origin like all Romance languages yet the following substratal influences are possible: Nuragic, Etruscan, Basque and Illyrian. Adstratal influences include: Catalan, Spanish and Italian.

Sassari’s Republic medieval statutes written in the Sardinian language (13th–14th centuries)

The early origins of the Sardinian language (sometimes called Paleo-Sardinian) are still obscure, due mostly to the lack of documents, as Sardinian appeared as a written form only in the Middle Ages. There are substantial differences between the many theories about the development of Sardinian.

Many studies have attempted to discover the origin of some obscure roots that today could legitimately be defined as indigenous, pre-Romance roots. First of all, the root of sard, present in many toponyms and distinctive of the ethnic group, is supposed to have come from the Sherden, one of the so-called Peoples of the Sea.

Massimo Pittau claimed in 1984 to have found in the Etruscan language the etymology of many other Latin words, after comparison with the Nuragic language. If true, one could conclude that, having evidence of a deep influence of Etruscan culture in Sardinia, the island could have directly received from Etruscan many elements that are instead usually considered to be of Latin origin. Pittau then indicates that both the Etruscan and Nuragic languages are descended from the Lydian language, both therefore being Indo-European languages, as a consequence of the alleged provenance of Etruscans/Tyrrhenians from that land (as in Herodotus), where effectively the capital town was Sardis. Pittau also suggests, as a historical point, that the Tirrenii landed in Sardinia, whereas the Etruscans landed in modern-day Tuscany. Massimo Pittau’s views however are not representative of most Etruscologists.

It has been said that Paleosardinian should be expected to have notable similarities with Iberic languages and the Siculian language: the suffix -‘ara, for example, in proparoxytones (Bertoldi and Terracini proposed it indicated plural forms). The same would happen (according to Terracini) for suffixes in -/àna/, -/ànna/, -/énna/, -/ònna/ + /r/ + paragogic vowel (as in the toponym Bonnànnaro). Rohlfs, Butler and Craddock add the suffix -/ini/ (as in the toponym Barùmini) as a peculiar element of Paleosardinian. At the same time, suffixes in /a, e, o, u/ + -rr- seem to find a correspondence in northern Africa (Terracini), in Iberia (Blasco Ferrer), in southern Italy and in Gascony (Rohlfs), with some closer relation to Basque (Wagner, Hubschmid). However, these early links proposing a link to a precursor of modern Basque have been discredited by most Basque linguists.[3] Suffixes in -/ài/, -/éi/, -/òi/, and -/ùi/ are common to Paleosardinian and northern African languages (Terracini). Pittau underlined that this concerns terms originally ending in an accented vowel, with an attached paragogic vowel; the suffix resisted Latinization in some toponyms, which show a Latin body and a Nuragic desinence. On this point, some toponyms ending in -/ài/ and in -/asài/ were thought to show Anatolic influence (Bertoldi). The suffix -/aiko/, widely used in Iberia, and perhaps of Celtic origins, as well as the ethnical suffix in -/itanos/ and -/etanos/ (as in the Sardinian Sulcitanos) have been noted as other Paleosardinian elements (viz Terracini, Ribezzo, Wagner, Hubschmid, Faust, et al.).

Linguists like Blasco Ferrer (2009, 2010) or Morvan (2009) have recently attempted to revive the theory of a Basque connection by linking modern surface forms such as Sardinian ospile “fresh natural cover for cattle” and Basque ozpil “id.”, Sardinian arrotzeri “vagabond” and Basque arrotz “stranger”, Sardinian arru “stone, stony” and Basque arri “stone”, Gallurese (South Corsican and North Sardinian) zerru “pig” and Basque zerri “id.”. Of interest, and in support to this theory, genetic data on the distribution of HLA antigens have suggested a common origin for Basque and Sardinian people.

The Sherden (also known as Serden or Shardana) are one of several groups of “Sea Peoples” who appear in fragmentary historical records (Egyptian inscriptions) for the Mediterranean region in the second millennium B.C.; little is known about them. On reliefs they are shown carrying a round shield and a long thrusting Naue II type sword. They are shown wearing a complicated armour corselet of overlapping bands of either leather or metal, and a horned helmet surmounted with a balled spike at the top.

At Medinet Habu the corselet appears similar to that worn by the Philistines and is similar, though not identical, to that found in tomb 12 at Dendra where Mycenaean IIB-IIIA pottery dates it to the second half of the fifteenth century BCE. The Sherden sword, it has been suggested by archaeologists since James Henry Breasted, may have developed from an enlargement of European daggers, and been associated with the exploitation of Bohemian tin. Robert Drews has recently suggested that use of this weapon amongst groups of Sharden and Philistine mercenaries made them capable of withstanding attacks by chariotry, making them valuable allies in warfare.

The earliest mention of the people called Srdn-w, more usually called Sherden or Shardana, occurs in the Amarna Letters correspondence of Rib-Hadda, of Byblos, to Pharaoh Akhenaten, at about 1350 BCE. At this time, they already appear as sea raiders and mercenaries, prepared to offer their services to local employers.

Ramesses II (ruled 1279-1213 BCE) defeated them in his second year (1278 BCE) when they attempted to raid Egypt’s coast, together with the Lukka (L’kkw, possibly the later Lycians) and the Šqrsšw (Shekelesh), in a sea battle off the Mediterranean coast. The pharaoh subsequently incorporated many of these warriors into his personal guard. An inscription by Ramesses II on a stele from Tanis which recorded the Sherden pirates’ raid and subsequent defeat, speaks of the constant threat which they posed to Egypt’s Mediterranean coasts: the unruly Sherden whom no one had ever known how to combat, they came boldly sailing in their warships from the midst of the sea, none being able to withstand them.

After Ramesses II succeeded in defeating the invaders and capturing some of them, Sherden captives are depicted in this Pharaoh’s bodyguard, where they are conspicuous by their helmets with horns with a ball projecting from the middle, their round shields and the great Naue II swords, with which they are depicted in inscriptions of the Battle with the Hittites at Kadesh. Ramesses tells us, in his Kadesh inscriptions, that he incorporated some of the Sherden into his own personal guard at the Battle of Kadesh. Little more than a century later, many Sherden are found cultivating plots of their own; these are doubtless rewards given to them for their military services. There is also evidence of Sherden at Beth Shean, the Egyptian garrison in Canaan.

Michael Wood suggests that the Sherden were an important part of the bands of pirates that disrupted Aegean trade in the end of the 13th century BCE, and that their raids contributed greatly to the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization.

Archaeologist Adam Zertal suggests that some Sherden settled in what is now northern Israel. He hypothesizes that Biblical Sisera was a Sherden general and that the archaeological site at el-Ahwat (whose architecture resembles Nuraghe sites in Sardinia) was Sisera’s capital, Harosheth Haggoyim.

No mention of the Sherden has ever been found in Hittite or Greek legends or documents, suggesting that they did not originate from either sphere of influence. The theory that these people came from the Western Mediterranean, suggested by some who draw attention to the etymological connections between Sherden and Sardinia, Shekelesh with Sicily, and Trs-w (Teresh or Tursci) with Etruscans, is not archaeologically satisfactory, and there is evidence that these people arrived in the areas in which they lived after the period of Ramesses III, rather than before. Archaeologist Margaret Guido[9] concludes the evidence for the Sherden, Shekelesh or Teresh coming from the western Mediterranean is flimsy.

Guido suggests that the Sherden may ultimately derive from Ionia, in the central west coast of Anatolia, in the region of Hermos, east of the island of Chios. It is suggested that Sardis, and the Sardinian plain nearby, may preserve a cultural memory of their name. Until recently it was assumed that Sardis was only settled in the period after the Anatolian and Aegean Dark Age, but American excavations have shown the place was settled in the Bronze Age and was a site of a significant population. If this is so, the Sherden, pushed by Hittite expansionism of the Late Bronze Age and prompted by the famine that affected this region at the same time, may have been pushed to the Aegean islands, where shortage of space led them to seek adventure and expansion overseas. It is suggested that from here they may have later migrated to Sardinia. Guido suggests that if a “few dominating leaders arrived as heroes only a few centuries before Phoenician trading posts were established, several features of Sardinian prehistory might be explained as innovations introduced by them: oriental types of armour, and fighting perpetuated in the bronze representation of warriors several centuries later; the arrival of the Cypriot copper ingots of the Serra Ilixi type; the sudden advance in and inventiveness of design of the Sardinian nuraghes themselves at about the turn of the first Millennium; the introduction of certain religious practices such as the worship of water in sacred wells – if this fact was not introduced by the Phoenician settlers”.

However, weapons and armour similar to those of the Sherden are found in Sardinia dating only to several centuries after the period of the Sea Peoples. If the theory that the Sherden moved to Sardinia only after their defeat by Ramesses III is true, then it could be inferred from this that the finds in Sardinia are survivals of earlier types of weapons and armour. On the other hand, if the Sherden only moved into the Western Mediterranean in the ninth century, associated perhaps with the movement of early Etruscans and even Phoenician seafaring peoples into the Western Mediterranean at that time, it would remain unknown where they were located between the period of the Sea Peoples and their eventual appearance as the Nuragic civilization of Sardinia.

These theoretical coincidences (enforced, as said, by linguistic considerations) could allow to suppose that a people of skilled sailors left the Eastern Mediterranean and established themselves in Sardinia. They very probably would have encountered some resistance on their way there. It is also possible that they were explorers. If so, it is likely that only a warrior people like the Sherden could have organised such an expedition.

Another hypothesis is that they arrived to the island around the 13th-12th century after the failed invasion of Egypt. However, these theories remain controversial. A lost work by Simonides of Ceos reported by Zenobius, spoke of raids by Sardinians against the island of Crete, in the same period in which the Sea People invaded Egypt. This would at least confirm that Nuragic Sardinians frequented the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Further proofs come from 13th century Nuragic ceramics found at Tiryns and in the Agrigento area in Sicily, along the sea route linking western to eastern Mediterranean.

Recently the archaeologist Adam Zertal, echoing the theory already presented in 2005 by Leonardo Melis, has proposed that the Harosheth Haggoyim of Israel, home of the biblical figure Sisera, is identifiable with the site of “El-Ahwat” and that it was a Nuragic site suggesting that he came from the people of the Sherden of Sardinia.

In ancient times, Greek historians and geographers tried to solve the mystery of the nuraghe and their builders. They described the presence of fabulous edifices, called daidaleia, from the name of Daedalus, who, after building his labyrinth in Crete, would have moved to Sicily and then to Sardinia. Diodorus Siculus asserts that Sardinia would have been populated by Heracles, who sent here a colony of his children led by nephew Iolaus. He also speaks of the Ilienses tribe, who were repeatedly fought by the Carthaginians and the Romans, but in vain.

Around 1000 BC the Phoenicians began visiting Sardinia with increasing frequency. The most common ports of call were Caralis, Nora, Bithia, Sulcis, Tharros, Bosa and Olbia.

The Roman historian Justin describes a Carthaginian expedition led by Malco in 540 BC against a still strongly Nuragic Sardinia. The expedition failed and this caused a political revolution in Carthage, from which Mago emerged. He launched another expedition against the island, in 509 BC, after the Sardinians attacked the Phoenicians coastal cities held by the enemy. The Carthaginians, after a number of military campaigns in which Mago died and was replaced by his brother Hamilcar, overcame the Sardinians and conquered the coastal Sardinia, the Iglesiente with its mines and the southern plains. The Nuragic civilization survived in the mountainous mainland of the island.

Circa 1000 BC the Phoenicians began visiting Sardinia with increasing frequency, presumably initially needing safe over-night and/or all-weather anchorages along their trade routes from the coast of modern-day Lebanon as far afield as the African and European Atlantic coasts and beyond. The most common ports of call were Caralis, Nora, Bithia, Sulcis, Tharros, Bosa and Olbia.

While the Phoenicians stuck to the coastline, their relationship with the Sardinians was peaceful. However, after a few hundred years of habitation, they began expanding inward. They took over valuable natural resources such as silver and lead mines, and established a military presence in the form of a fortress on Monte Sira in 650 BC. The Sardinians resented these intrusions, and in 509 BC they mounted a series of attacks against Phoenician settlements. The Phoenician settlers called upon Carthage for help, and when it arrived they successfully took control of part of the southern part of the island.

In 238 BC the Carthaginians, as a result of their defeat by the Romans in the first Punic War, surrendered Corsica and Sardinia to Rome, and together they became a Roman province. The Greek geographer Strabo confirms the survival of the Nuragic civilization in Roman times.

The existing coastal cities were enlarged and embellished, while Coloniae such as Turris Lybissonis and Feronia were founded. These were populated by Roman immigrants. The Roman military occupation brought the Nuragic civilization to an end. Roman domination of Sardinia lasted 694 years, during which it was an important source of grain for the capital. Latin came to be the dominant spoken language of Sardinia during this period, though Roman culture was slower to take hold, and Roman rule was often contested by the inhabitants of Sardinia’s mountainous central regions.

Throughout the second millennium and in the first part of the first millennium BC, Sardinia was inhabited by the single extensive and uniform cultural group represented by the Nuragic people.

Centuries later, Roman sources describe the island as inhabited by numerous ethnic groups which had gradually merged culturally. They however maintained a political identity, and were often warring each other for the control of the most valuable territories. Tribes mentioned include the Iolei or Ilienses, the Balares, the Corsi and the Civitatas Barbarie, the latter living in what is now Barbagia and defying the Romanization process.

The east Germanic tribe of the Vandals conquered Sardinia in 456. Their rule lasted for 78 years up to 534, when eastern Roman troops under Cyrillus retook the island. It is known that the Vandal government continued the forms of the existing Roman Imperial structure. The governor of Sardinia continued to be called the praeses and apparently continued to manage military, judicial, and civil governmental functions via imperial procedures. (This continuity was not novel to Sardinia; like the Visigoths, the Vandals generally maintained the pretense of the empire, nominally acknowledging Constantinople and declaring themselves its deputies.) The only Vandal governor of Sardinia about whom there is substantial record is the last, Godas, a Visigoth noble. In AD 530 a coup d’état in Carthage removed King Hilderic, a convert to Nicene Christianity, in favor of his cousin Gelimer, an Arian Christian like most of his kingdom. Godas was sent to take charge and ensure the loyalty of Sardinia. He did the exact opposite, declaring the island’s independence from Carthage and opening negotiations with Emperor Justinian I, who had declared war on Hilderic’s behalf. In AD 533 Gelimer sent the bulk of his army to Sardinia to subdue Godas, with the catastrophic result that the Vandal Kingdom was overwhelmed when Justinian’s own army under Belisarius arrived in their absence. The Vandal Kingdom ended and Sardinia was returned to Byzantine rule.

In AD 533 Sardinia returned under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire (in this period sometimes referred to as the Byzantine Empire) when the Vandals were defeated by the armies of Justinian I under the General Belisarius in the Battle of Tricamarum, in their African kingdom; Belisarius sent his general Cyrillus to Sardinia to retake the island. Sardinia remained in Byzantine hands for the next 300 years., aside from a short period in which it was invaded by the Ostrogoths in 551.

Under Byzantine rule, the island was divided into districts called merèie, which were governed by a judge residing in Caralis (Cagliari) and garrisoned by an army stationed in Forum Traiani (today Fordongianus) under the command of a dux. During this time, Christianity took deeper root on the island, supplanting the Paganism which had survived into the early Medieval era in the culturally conservative hinterlands. Along with lay Christianity, the followers of monastic figures such as St. Basil became established in Sardinia. While Christianity penetrated the majority of the population, the region of Barbagia remained largely pagan. In Barbagia towards the end of the 6th century, a short-lived independent principality established itself, returning to the local traditional religions. One of its princes, Ospitone, conducted raids upon the neighbouring Christian communities controlled by the Byzantine dux Zabarda. He was later reprimanded by Pope Gregory I within a letter for “Living, all like irrational animals, ignorant of the true God and worshiping wood and stone” In 594. Ospitone was then convinced by Gregory the Great, to convert to Christianity after receiving the papal letter. His followers, however, were not immediately convinced and ostracised their prince for a short time before they themselves converted.

The dates and circumstances of the end of Byzantine rule in Sardinia are not known. Direct central control was maintained at least through c. 650, after which local legates were empowered in the face of the rebellion of Gregory the Patrician, Exarch of Africa and the first invasion of the Umayyads in North Africa. There is some evidence that senior Byzantine administration in the Exarchate of Africa retreated to Cagliari following the final fall of Carthage to the Arabs in 697.

The loss of imperial control in Africa led to escalating Moorish and Berber raids on the island, the first of which is document in 705, forcing increased military self-reliance in the province.

Communication with the central government became daunting if not impossible during and after the Muslim conquest of Sicily between 827 and 902. A letter by Pope Nicholas I as early as 864 mentions the “Sardinian judges”, without reference to the empire and a letter by Pope John VIII (reigned 872-882) refers to them as principes (“princes”). By the time of De Administrando Imperio, completed in 952, the Byzantine authorities no longer listed Sardinia as an imperial province, suggesting they considered it lost.

Whether this final transformation from imperial civil servant to independent sovereign resulted from imperial abandonment or local assertion, by the 10th century, the giudici (Sardinian: judikes / Latin: iudices, literally judges”, a Byzantine administrative title) had emerged as the autonomous rulers of Sardinia. The title of iudice changed with the language and local understanding of the position, becoming the Sardinian giudice, essentially a king or sovereign, while giudicato (Sardinian: judicadu), literally judgeship or judicature, came to mean both State and palace or capital.

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Cyclopean walls and the Cyclopes

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 27, 2013

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The Shengavit Settlement is an archaeological site in present day Yerevan, Armenia located on a hill south-east of Lake Yerevan. It was inhabited during a series of settlement phases from approximately 3200 BC cal to 2500 BC cal in the Kura Araxes (Shengavitian) Period of the Early Bronze Age and irregularly re-used in the Middle Bronze Age until 2200 BC cal. The town occupied an area of six hectares.

It appears that Shengavit was a societal center for the areas surrounding the town due to its unusual size, evidence of surplus production of grains, and metallurgy, as well as its monumental 4 meter wide stone wall. Four smaller village sites of Moukhannat, Tepe, Khorumbulagh, and Tairov have been identified and were located outside the walls of Shengavit. Its pottery makes it a type site of the Kura-Araxes or Early Transcaucasian Period and the Shengavitian culture area.

Archaeologists so far have uncovered large cyclopean walls with towers that surrounded the settlement. Within these walls were circular and square multi-dwelling buildings constructed of stone and mud-brick. Inside some of the residential structures were ritual hearths and household pits, while large silos located nearby stored wheat and barley for the residents of the town. There was also an underground passage that led to the river from the town. Earlier excavations had uncovered burial mounds outside the settlement walls towards the south-east and south-west. More ancient graves still remain in the same vicinity.

Gegharot (also Romanized as Gekharot; until 1945, Keshishkend) is a town in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. The fortress of Gegharot lies on a spur of Mt. Tsilkar on the eastern outskirts of the village, 700 m northeast of the Kasak River. The site (as defined by the surface materials) covers an area of approximately 3.43 ha, but the fortification walls circumscribe only the 0.36 ha citadel.

The citadel is highly eroded, with weathered bedrock visible at a number of places. Only the top course of the fortification walls is visible from the surface, so little can be said regarding the masonry employed in their construction. The layout of the walls suggests the presence of a gateway on the northwest side of the site

The archaeological complex at Gegharot was first identified by Martirosyan who recorded scatters of Early Bronze Age surface materials, a cyclopean fortress, and a cemetery (Martirosyan 1964: 23). The surface remains recovered from Gegharot included a large corpus of fragmentary ceramics indicating occupations dating to the Early and Late Bronze Ages as well as to the Iron 3 period.

The growth of the Kura-Araxes horizon village suggests a late fourth and early third millennium occupation at the site of some duration, perhaps, as noted above, interrupted by at least one hiatus. It is clear from the stratigraphy of the site, the material assemblages, and the available radiocarbon determinations that the Early Bronze Age village at Gegharot was occupied during two phases of the Kura-Araxes horizon: an early occupation beginning in the latter half of the fourth millennium B.C. (ca. 3500/3350-2900 B.C.) defined by an Elar-Aragats material assemblage and a later occupation from the early third millennium B.C. (ca. 2900-2700 B.C.) marked by a Karnut-Shengavit assemblage.

Excavations began at Metsamor in 1965 and are still in progress, led by Professor Emma Khanzatian. The most recent excavation work occurred in the summer of 1996, along the inner cyclopic wall.  Excavations have shown strata of occupancy going back to the Neolithic period (7,000-5,000 BC), but the most outstanding features of the site were constructed during the early, middle and late Bronze Ages (5000-2,000 BC).  Inscriptions found within the excavation go back as far as the Neolithic period , and a sophisticated pictograph form of writing was developed as early as 2000-1800 BC.

The cyclopean walls date from the 2nd millennium BC, when the site was fortified during the Urartian Era.  The stone blocks average 20 tons in weight, and are more than 3 meters thick in places. During the Middle Bronze Period (late 3rd to mid 2nd millennium BC) there was a surge of urban growth and a development of complex architectural forms which extended the boundaries of the settlement to the area below the hill.  Basically, that area within the inner cyclopean walls are the older city, and that beyond represent newer areas.  By the 11th c. BC the central city occupied the lowlands stretching to Lake Akna, and covered 100 hectares (247 acres).

A multi-phase prehistoric settlement in the Ararat Valley. Excavations since 1965 show the presence of superimposed Eneolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age occupation. In its early phases it was an urban-type settlement of 10.5 ha with a citadel surrounded by a sturdy Cyclopean wall and ziggurat observatory situated on a low ridge.

Firstly there are the extensive Cyclopean walls, made of huge stones, often weighing several tons each. They were originally erected at the height of the city’s success, in the late 2nd millennium BC, but the walls were re-used in the Urartian period, from the 9th to 6th centuries BC.

By the middle Bronze Age (late 3rd to middle 2nd millennia BC) the size and architectural sophistication of the site had increased considerably and by the 10th century BC it covered 100ha. About 500m southeast of the citadel was a cemetery with barrows and stone tombs. Finds suggest trading links with Egypt and Babylon in the mid 2nd millennium BC.

The Nuragic civilization was a civilization of Sardinia, lasting from the Bronze Age (18th century BC) to the 2nd century AD. The name derives from its most characteristic monuments, the nuraghe. They consist of tower-fortresses, built starting from about 1800 BC. Today some 7,000 nuraghi dot the Sardinian landscape.

The cyclopean nuraghes, the main type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia, developed during the Nuragic Age between 1900-730 BC., has come to be the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, the Nuragic civilization.

The cyclopean nuraghes has more or less related cousins like the Mycenaean tholoi, the Corsican Torre, the Talaiots of the Belaric Isles, the Sesi of Sicily, and more (the probably much later Brochs of Scotland are mentioned as well): All these architectural forms have their origins from a common cultural matrix widespread in the Mediterranean, but in Sardinia there was an original and grandiose development that has not be found elsewhere.

The characteristic of the Cyclopean Walls of Mycenae is that they are made of huge limestone boulders, which have been fitted together rather roughly. Notable is that the hammer was rarely used for the construction of these walls and thus they fit very roughly together. The cracks or gaps between the boulders were filled with smaller limestone. As these boulders are very big in size, the ancient people believed that it was the Cyclops who built these gates, as the thought it impossible for men to move such big rocks. That is why these walls were named Cyclopean Walls.

“The style of architecture used by the Mycenaeans in their cities developed during the Early Mycenaean period. As with the art of the Mycenaeans, their architecture owes a great deal to the influence of the Minoans of Crete. The plan and layout of the Bronze Age cities on the mainland resemble the “palaces” of Crete in many ways, however, the Mycenaeans did develop their own style over the following centuries.

After the “Dark Age”, when Hellenes looked with awe at the vast dressed blocks, known as Cyclopean structures, which had been used in Mycenaean masonry (at sites such as Mycenae and Tiryns or on Cyprus), they were so impressed by the walls built by the Mycenaeans, that they could not believe that humans constructed them, and concluded that only the giant Cyclopes had the combination of skill and strength to build in such a monumental manner. Thus, this type of architecture got its common name, Cyclopean architecture.

A cyclops, in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead and a foul disposition. The name is widely thought to mean “round-eyed” or “circle-eyed”.

Various ancient Greek and Roman authors wrote about cyclopes. Hesiod described one group of cyclopes and the epic poet Homer described another; other accounts were written by the playwright Euripides, poet Theocritus and Roman epic poet Virgil.

Hesiod described them as three brothers who were primordial giants. All the other sources of literature about the cyclopes describe the cyclops Polyphemus, who lived upon an island (often identified by ancient authors with Sicilly) populated by the creatures.

In the Theogony by Hesiod, the Cyclopes – Brontes (“thunderer”), Steropes (“lightning”) and the “bright” Arges – were the primordial sons of Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth) from the dark pit of Tartarus, and brothers of the Hecatonchires. As such, they were blood-related to the Titan and Olympian gods and goddesses.

According to Hesiod, they were strong and stubborn. Collectively they eventually became synonyms for brute strength and power, and their name was invoked in connection with massive masonry. They were often pictured at their forge.

Uranus, fearing their strength, locked them in Tartarus. Cronus, another son of Uranus and Gaia, later freed the Cyclopes, along with the Hecatonchires, after he had overthrown Uranus. Cronus then placed them back in Tartarus, where they remained, guarded by the female dragon Campe, until freed by Zeus.

They fashioned thunderbolts for Zeus to use as weapons, and helped him overthrow Cronus and the other Titans. The lightning bolts, which became Zeus’ main weapons, were forged by all three Cyclopes, in that Arges added brightness, Brontes added thunder, and Steropes added lightning.

These Cyclopes also created Poseidon’s trident, Artemis’ bow and arrows of moonlight, Apollo’s bow and arrows of sun rays, and Hades’ helmet of darkness that was given to Perseus on his quest to kill Medusa.

In a famous episode of Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus encounters the cyclops Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon and Thoosa (a nereid), who lives with his fellow Cyclopes in a distant country. The connection between the two groups has been debated in antiquity and by modern scholars. It is upon Homer’s account that Euripides and Virgil based their accounts of the mythical creatures.

Cyclops

Cyclopean structures

Metsamor

Shengavit Settlement

Nuraghes

Talaiots

Sesi

Brochs

Posted in Mediterrean, Megalithic | Leave a Comment »

The Hyksos in Egypt, Creta, Alalakh and Ugarit

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 26, 2013

Crete: the Egyptian island of the dead?

Kura Araxes

The Shengavit Settlement is an archaeological site in present day Yerevan, Armenia located on a hill south-east of Lake Yerevan. It was inhabited during a series of settlement phases from approximately 3200 BC cal to 2500 BC cal in the Kura Araxes (Shengavitian) Period of the Early Bronze Age and irregularly re-used in the Middle Bronze Age until 2200 BC cal.

The town occupied an area of six hectares. It appears that Shengavit was a societal center for the areas surrounding the town due to its unusual size, evidence of surplus production of grains, and metallurgy, as well as its monumental 4 meter wide stone wall. Four smaller village sites of Moukhannat, Tepe, Khorumbulagh, and Tairov have been identified and were located outside the walls of Shengavit. Its pottery makes it a type site of the Kura-Araxes or Early Transcaucasian Period and the Shengavitian culture area.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Kura-Araxes culture of the Armenian Highlands

Prehistoric Nagorno-Karabakh, The Kura-Araxes

Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian

Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture (aka Kura-Araxes culture)

A role for Kura-Araxes in the spread of V88?

Kura–Araxes culture

Shengavit Settlement

Urartu

The Armenians, fathers of the Etruscans

The Hyksos

The Hyksos or Hycsos were a people from West Asia who took over the eastern Nile Delta, ending the Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt and initiating the Second Intermediate Period. The Mitannians, who were probably allies of the Kassites, had horses and chariots, and the horse appeared in Egypt during the Hyksos era. Perhaps the successful invasion of the Hyksos was due to the use of cavalry.

The origin of the term “Hyksos” derives from the Egyptian expression hekau en khaswet (“rulers of foreign lands”), used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands. This expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom in Egypt, referring to various Nubian chieftains, and in the Middle Kingdom, referring to the Semitic chieftains of Syria and Canaan.

The Hyksos first appeared in Egypt c.1800 BC, during the Eleventh Dynasty, and began their climb to power in the Thirteenth Dynasty, coming out of the second intermediate period in control of Avaris and the Delta. By the Fifteenth Dynasty, they ruled Lower Egypt, and at the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty, they were expelled (c. 1560 BC).

The Hyksos practiced horse burials, and their chief deity, their native storm god, became associated with the Egyptian storm and desert god, Seth. Although most Hyksos names seem Semitic, the Hyksos also included Hurrians, who, while speaking an isolated language, were under the rule and influence of Indo-Europeans.

Modern scholarship usually assumes that the Hyksos were likely Semites who came from the Levant. Kamose, the last king of the Theban 17th Dynasty, refers to Apophis as a “Chieftain of Retjenu (i.e., Canaan)” in a stela that implies a Semitic Canaanite background for this Hyksos king: this is the strongest evidence for a Canaanite background for the Hyksos.

Khyan’s name “has generally been interpreted as Amorite “Hayanu” (reading h-ya-a-n) which the Egyptian form represents perfectly, and this is in all likelihood the correct interpretation.” Kim Ryholt furthermore observes the name Hayanu is recorded in the Assyrian king-lists for a “remote ancestor” of Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1813 BC) of Assyria, which suggests that it had been used for centuries prior to Khyan’s own reign.

The Hyksos brought several technical improvements to Egypt, as well as cultural impulses such as new musical instruments and foreign loan words. The changes introduced include new techniques of bronze working and pottery, new breeds of animals, and new crops. In warfare, they introduced the horse and chariot, the composite bow, improved battle axes, and advanced fortification techniques.

As to a Hyksos “conquest”, some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as “northern hordes . . . sweeping through Canaan and Egypt in swift chariots”. Yet, others refer to a ‘creeping conquest’, that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or seminomads who either slowly took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup d’etat put themselves at the head of the existing government. In The World of the Past (1963, p. 444), archeologist Jacquetta Hawkes states: “It is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers… represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics… they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.”

In his Against Apion, the 1st-century AD historian Josephus Flavius debates the synchronism between the Biblical account of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and two Exodus-like events that the Egyptian historian Manetho apparently mentions.

It is difficult to distinguish between what Manetho himself recounted, and how Josephus or Apion interpret him. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first exodus mentioned by Manetho, when some 480,000 Hyksos left Egypt for Jerusalem. The mention of “Hyksos” identifies this first exodus with the Hyksos period (16th century BC).

Creta

A palace complex in Tel ed-Daba (Avaris), an area on the western edge of the site, known as Ezbet Helmi, reveal a large palace-like structure dating to the Hyksos period (18th century BC). The ancient gardens reveal many fragments of Minoan wall-paintings, similar in style to those found in the palace at Knossos in Crete. Knossos-like paintings has also been found in the tombs of the necropolis of Thebes West.

It has been suggested that the Avaris paintings with a distinctive red-painted background may even pre-date those of Crete and Thera and possibly have influenced some of the 18th Dynasty tomb paintings that appear to include Minoan themes such as the “flying gallop” motif of horses and bulls.

In the 18th Dynasty strata of Ezbet Helmi, Dr Bietak also discovered many lumps of pumice-stone, which could have come from the volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, occurring in the 15th century BC and identified as the cataclysmic event that ended the Minoan civilisation.

The Hyksos, who ruled from Avaris, ruled shortly before the 18th Dynasty, which saw the exchange of Egyptian and Cretan “goods”. The Hyksos were connected with Crete, at a time when the Avaris frescos had not yet been discovered.

In Knossos, an alabaster lid with the name of the Hyksos king Khyan has been found. The enigmatic Phaistos Disc, found in the palace of Phaistos on Crete, might also be linked with the Egyptian game of Senet and Snake Game. H. Peter Aleff argues that the depictions are not a script, but are related to the signs of the board game. Senet was a popular pastime in ancient Egypt from late pre-dynastic times on and is well documented because it became an important part of the funerary magic and then evolved into today’s Backgammon.

Its pieces simulated the passage of the player through life and, even more importantly, through death and its perils. The oldest surviving copy of any known board game is the Snake Game. It helped at least one king in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts to ascend to heaven and so seems to have represented the same journey, except that its path was not folded, as in Senet, but coiled into the spiral of a snake’s rolled-up body. On one of its sculpted stone boards, the tail of the snake ended in the head of a goose.

During the Middle Kingdom (1500 BC), the dead in Egypt were buried in valleys – the same practice was adhered to in Crete, with one of the more famous Valley of the Dead behind the Palace of Kato Zakros. Namewise, Zakros is similar to Saqqara and Sokar, an important necropolis and god of the dead in ancient Egypt.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians argued that the dead went to live on an island in the West. Crete is an island in the west. Furthermore, the concentration of Minoan civilisation is in Eastern Crete – the part closest to Egypt.

The Hyksos period coincides exactly with the time between the Old and New Palace Period on Crete. When the Hyksos invaded Egypt, the old palaces were destroyed, probably by an earthquake. Did the Hyksos (partly) come from Crete? Or did the Hyksos, once out of grace and power in Egypt, travel to Crete, to continue their culture there?

The right answer will have a lot to do with correct dating and many have argued that the chronological alignment of the various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean has not been a complete success. Only the future will shed more light on the interrelationship between Egypt and Crete, but it can no longer be denied that the two civilisations had intimate contacts with one another.

Linear A and B are two scripts found on the island of Crete. The newer Linear B turned out to be Greek. Linear A shows a connection between Minoan Crete and the Hyksos. There is different theories what languages Linear A is related to, but it can be related to the languages of Ugarit and Alalach, the name of an ancient city-state near modern Antakya in the Amuq River valley of Turkey’s Hatay Province.

Alalakh

Alalakh (Hittite: Alalaḫ) is the name of an ancient city-state near modern Antakya in the Amuq River valley of Turkey’s Hatay Province founded by the Amorites during the Middle Bronze Age in the 2nd millennium BC. The first palace was built c. 2000 BC, contemporary with the Third Dynasty of Ur. The site is now represented by an extensive mound, the name of the modern archaeological site is Tell Atchana.

The written history of the site may begin under the name Alakhtum, with tablets from Mari in the 18th century BC, when the city was part of the kingdom of Yamhad (modern Aleppo), which appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus, has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.

The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.

Aleppo was the capital of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamḥad, alternatively known as the ‘land of Ḥalab. A substantial Hurrian population lived in the kingdom, and the Hurrian culture influenced the area. The kingdom was the most powerful in the Near East during the Middle Bronze Age, ca. 1800-1600 BC. Its biggest rival was Qatna further south. Yamhad was finally destroyed by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the sixteenth century BC.

However, Aleppo soon resumed its leading role in Syria when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife. Taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, Parshatatar, king of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, conquered Aleppo in the 15th century BC. Subsequently, Aleppo found itself on the frontline in the struggle between the Mitanni and the Hittites and Egypt.

The Hittite Suppiluliumas I permanently defeated Mitanni and conquered Aleppo in the 14th century BC. Aleppo had cultic importance to the Hittites for being the center of worship of the Storm-God.

Alalakh was destroyed in the 16th century BC, most likely by Hittite king Hattusili I, in the second year of his campaigns. After a hiatus of less than a century, written records for Alalakh resume. At this time, it was again the seat of a local dynasty. Most of the information about the founding of this dynasty comes from a statue inscribed with what seems to be an autobiography of the dynasty’s founding king.

According to his inscription, in the 15th century, Idrimi, a Hurrianised Semitic son of the king of Yamhad, Aleppo, who had been deposed by the new regional master, Barattarna, the name of a Hurrian king of Mitanni in the fifteenth century BC., and may have fled his city for Emar.

Nevertheless he succeeded in regaining his seat and was recognized as a vassal by Barattarna, who ruled over the Hurrians. Idrimi traveled to Alalakh, gained control of the city, founded the kingdom of Mukish, and ruled from Alalakh as a vassal to the Mitanni. He also invaded the Hittite territories to the north, resulting in a treaty with the country Kizzuwatna. Mitanni in his time probably extended as far as Arrapha in the east.

Barattarna may have been the Mitannian king the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III encountered by the river Euphrates in his campaign of year 1447 BC. In the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) he mention the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

An inscription on a statue base found at Alalakh records Idrimi’s vicissitudes. After his family had been forced to flee to Emar, with his mother’s people, he left them and joined the “Hapiru people”, in “Ammija in the land of Canaan”, where other refugees from Aleppo recognized him as the “son of their overlord” and “gathered around him;” after living among them for seven years, he led his new friends and Habiru allies in a successful attack by sea on Alalakh, where he became king.

However, according to the site report, this statue was discovered in a level of occupation dating several centuries after the time that Idrimi lived, and there has been much scholarly debate as to its historicity. Nonetheless, archeologically dated tablets tell us that Idrimi’s son Niqmepuh was contemporaneous with the Mitanni king Saushtatar, which would seem to support the statue’s claim that Idrimi was contemporaneous with Barattarna, Saushtatar’s predecessor.

Habiru or Apiru or pr.w (Egyptian) was the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources (dated, roughly, between 1800 BC and 1100 BC) to a group of people of various origin, both Semitic and Hurrian, living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan. Depending on the source and epoch, these Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.

The socio-economic history of Alalakh during the reign of Idrimi’s son and grandson, Niqmepuh and Ilim-ilimma is well documented by tablets excavated from the site. Idrimi himself appears only rarely in these tablets.

In the mid-14th century, the Hittite Suppiluliuma I defeated king Tushratta of Mitanni and assumed control of northern Syria, including Alalakh, which he incorporated into the Hittite Empire. A tablet records his grant of much of Mukish’s land (that is, Alalakh’s) to Ugarit after the king of Ugarit alerted the Hittite king to a revolt by the kingdoms of Mukish, Nuhassa, and Niye.

Alalakh was probably destroyed by the Sea People in the 12th century, as were many other cities of coastal Anatolia and the Levant. The site was never reoccupied, the port of Al Mina taking its place during the Iron Age.

Ugarit

Ugarit (Ugaritic: Ugrt‎) was an ancient port city on the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland some 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Latakia in northern Syria near modern Burj al-Qasab.

Ugarit sent tribute to Egypt and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from ca. 1450 BC until 1200 BC.

Though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier, Neolithic Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BC. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, ca. 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art.

The earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I, 1971 BC – 1926 BC. A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments got to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit ca. 1350 BC record one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen.

From the 16th to the 13th century BC Ugarit remained in constant touch with Egypt and Alashiya (Cyprus). In the second millennium BC Ugarit’s population was Amorite, and the Ugaritic language probably has a direct Amoritic origin. During some of its history it would have been in close proximity to, if not directly within the Hittite Empire.

The foundations of Ras Shamra, the Bronze Age city, were divided into “quarters.” In the north-east quarter of the walled enclosure the remains of three significant buildings were unearthed; the temples of Baal and Dagon and the library (sometimes referred to as the high priest’s house).

Within these structures atop the acropolis numerous invaluable mythological texts were found, that have opened some initial understanding of the Canaanite mythological world and religion. The Baal cycle represents Baal’s destruction of Yam (the chaos sea monster), demonstrating the relationship of Canaanite chaoskampf with those of Mesopotamia and the Aegean: a warrior god rises up as the hero of the new pantheon to defeat chaos and bring order.

After its destruction in the early 12th century BC, Ugarit’s location was forgotten until 1928 when a peasant accidentally opened an old tomb while ploughing a field. The discovered area was the necropolis of Ugarit located in the nearby seaport of Minet el-Beida. Excavations have since revealed a city with a prehistory reaching back to ca. 6000 BC.

The excavations uncovered a royal palace of ninety rooms laid out around eight enclosed courtyards, and many ambitious private dwellings. Crowning the hill where the city was built were two main temples: one to Baal the “king”, son of El, and one to Dagon, the chthonic god of fertility and wheat. 23 stelae were unearthed during excavations at Ugarit. Nine of the stelae, including the famous Baal with Thunderbolt, were unearthed near the Temple of Baal, four in the Temple of Dagon and further ten around the city.

On excavation of the site, several deposits of cuneiform clay tablets were found; all dating from the last phase of Ugarit, around 1200 BC. These represented a palace library, a temple library and—apparently unique in the world at the time – two private libraries, one belonging to a diplomat named Rapanu.

Scribes in Ugarit appear to have originated the “Ugaritic alphabet” around 1400 BC: 30 letters, corresponding to sounds, were inscribed on clay tablets; although they are cuneiform in appearance, that is, impressed in clay with the end of a stylus, they bear no relation to Mesopotamian cuneiform signs. A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic “alphabet” was first.

While the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order (preserved in the Latin alphabet as A, B, C, D, etc.) shows strong similarities between the two, suggesting that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions.

The Ugaritic language is attested in texts from the 14th through the 12th century BC. Ugaritic is usually classified as a Northwest Semitic language and therefore related to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician, among others. Its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian.

Ugaritic is an inflected language, and as a Semitic language its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian. Ugaritic is considered a conservative Semitic language, since it retains most of the Proto-Semitic phonemes, the case system, and the word order of the Proto-Semitic ancestor.

The Ugaritic alphabet is a cuneiform abjad (alphabet without vowels), used from around 15th century BC. Although it appears similar to Mesopotamian cuneiform, it was unrelated (see Ugaritic alphabet). It is the oldest example of the family of West Semitic scripts that were used for Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The so-called long alphabet has 30 letters, while the short alphabet has 22. Other languages (particularly Hurrian) were occasionally written in it in the Ugarit area, although not elsewhere.

Clay tablets written in Ugaritic provide the earliest evidence of both the Levantine and South Semitic orders of the alphabet, which gave rise to the alphabetic orders of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin alphabets. The script was written from left to right.

It has been used by scholars of the Old Testament to clarify Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed ways in which ancient Israelite culture finds parallels in the neighboring cultures. According to one hypothesis, Ugaritic texts might solve the biblical puzzle of the anachronism of Ezekiel mentioning Daniel at Ezekiel 14:13-16; it is because in both Ugaritic and the Ancient Hebrew texts, it is correctly Danel.

The libraries at Ugarit contained diplomatic, legal, economic, administrative, scholastic, literary and religious texts. The tablets are written in Sumerian, Hurrian, Akkadian (the language of diplomacy at this time in the ancient Near East), and Ugaritic (a previously unknown language). No less than seven different scripts were in use at Ugarit: Egyptian and Luwian hieroglyphs, and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform.

Apart from royal correspondence with neighboring Bronze Age monarchs, Ugaritic literature from tablets found in the city’s libraries include mythological texts written in a poetic narrative, letters, legal documents such as land transfers, a few international treaties, and a number of administrative lists.

The discovery of the Ugaritic archives in 1929 has been of great significance to biblical scholarship, as these archives for the first time provided a detailed description of Canaanite religious beliefs, during the period directly preceding the Israelite settlement.

Fragments of several poetic works have been identified, and include the Legend of Keret, the Aqhat Epic (or Legend of Danel), the Myth of Baal-Aliyan, and the Death of Baal – the latter two are also collectively known as the Baal cycle, that detail Baal-Hadad’s conflicts with Yam and Mot, and other fragments.

The most important piece of literature recovered from Ugarit is arguably the Baal cycle, describing the basis for the religion and cult of the Canaanite Baal.

These texts show significant parallels to Biblical Hebrew literature, particularly in the areas of divine imagery and poetic form. Ugaritic poetry has many elements later found in Hebrew poetry: parallelisms, metres, and rhythms. The discoveries at Ugarit have led to a new appraisal of the Hebrew Bible as literature.

Also found on tablets were the Hurrian songs, including the famous hymn to the moon goddess Nikkal, the oldest surviving substantial musical notation in the world. It offers both words and music, which were a series of 2-toned intervals played up a 9-string lyre.

Documents unearthed have revealed many parallels between ancient Canaanite and Israelite practices. Levirate marriage, giving the eldest son a larger share of the inheritance or redeeming the first-born son were practices common to the people of Ugarit.

The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, (circa 1215 to 1180 BC) was a contemporary of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. However, a letter[4] by the king is preserved, in which Ammurapi stresses the seriousness of the crisis faced by many Near Eastern states from invasion by the advancing Sea Peoples.

Ammurapi pleads for assistance from the king of Alasiya (Cyprus), highlighting the desperate situation Ugarit faced: «My father, behold, the enemy’s ships came (here); my cities(?) were burned, and they did evil things in my country. Does not my father know that all my troops and chariots(?) are in the Land of Hatti, and all my ships are in the Land of Lukka?…Thus, the country is abandoned to itself. May my father know it: the seven ships of the enemy that came here inflicted much damage upon us.”

Unfortunately for Ugarit, no help arrived, and the city was burned to the ground at the end of the Bronze Age. Recent radiocarbon work indicates a destruction between 1192 and 1190 BC. Whether Ugarit was destroyed before or after Hattusa, the Hittite capital, is debated. The destruction is followed by a settlement hiatus. Many other Mediterranean cultures were deeply disordered just at the same time, apparently by invasions of the mysterious “Sea Peoples.”

Posted in Egypt, Mediterrean | Leave a Comment »

Aten, Akhenaten and Monotheism, and the relation between Egypt and Mitanni

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 25, 2013

Aten (also Aton, Egyptian jtn) is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the monolatristic, henotheistic, or monotheistic religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who later took the name Akhenaten in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem “Great Hymn to the Aten”, Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, and giver of life. The worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb.

The Aten, the sun-disk, is first referred to as a deity in The Story of Sinuhe, a narrative set in the aftermath of the death of Pharaoh Amenemhat I, founder of the 12th dynasty of Egypt, in the early 20th century BC., in which the deceased king is described as rising as god to the heavens and uniting with the sun-disk, the divine body merging with its maker. By analogy, the term “silver aten” was sometimes used to refer to the moon.

The solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god in the reign of Amenhotep III (1386 to 1349 BC.), when it was depicted as a falcon-headed man much like Ra. In the reign of Amenhotep III’s successor, Amenhotep IV, the Aten became the central god of Egyptian state religion, and Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity.

The full title of Akhenaten’s god was “Ra-Horakhty who rejoices in the horizon, in his Name as the Light which is in the sun disc.” (This is the title of the god as it appears on the numerous stelae which were placed to mark the boundaries of Akhenaten’s new capital at Akhetaten, modern Amarna.)

This lengthy name was often shortened to Ra-Horus-Aten or just Aten in many texts, but the god of Akhenaten raised to supremacy is considered a synthesis of very ancient gods viewed in a new and different way.

The god is also considered to be both masculine and feminine simultaneously. All creation was thought to emanate from the god and to exist within the god. In particular, the god was not depicted in anthropomorphic (human) form, but as rays of light extending from the sun’s disk.

Furthermore, the god’s name came to be written within a cartouche, along with the titles normally given to a Pharaoh, another break with ancient tradition.

Ra-Horus, more usually referred to as Ra-Horakhty (Ra, who is Horus of the two horizons), is a synthesis of two other gods, both of which are attested from very early on.

During the Amarna period, this synthesis was seen as the invisible source of energy of the sun god, of which the visible manifestation was the Aten, the solar disk. Thus Ra-Horus-Aten was a development of old ideas which came gradually.

The real change, as some see it, was the apparent abandonment of all other gods, especially Amun, and the debatable introduction of monotheism by Akhenaten.

The syncretism is readily apparent in the Great Hymn to the Aten in which Re-Herakhty, Shu and Aten are merged into the creator god. Others see Akhenaten as a practitioner of an Aten monolatry, as he did not actively deny the existence of other gods; he simply refrained from worshipping any but the Aten.

During the Amarna Period, the Aten was given a Royal Titulary (as he was considered to be king of all), with his names drawn in a cartouche.

There were two forms of this title, the first had the names of other gods, and the second later one which was more ‘singular’ and referred only to the Aten himself. The early form has Re-Horakhti who rejoices in the Horizon, in his name Shu which is the Aten. The later form has Re, ruler of the two horizons who rejoices in the Horizon, in his name of light which is the Aten.

High relief and low relief illustrations of the Aten show it with a curved surface (see for example the photograph illustrating this article), therefore, the late scholar Hugh Nibley insisted that a more correct translation would be globe, orb or sphere, rather than disk. The three-dimensional spherical shape of the Aten is even more evident when such reliefs are viewed in person, rather than merely in photographs.

There is a possibility that Aten’s three-dimensional spherical shape depicts an eye of Horus/Ra. In the other early monotheistic religion Zoroastrianism the sun is called Ahura Mazda’s eye. These two theories are compatible with each other, since an eye is an orb.

Relations to Mitanni

Reality queen Kim Kardashian (Armenia), and a relic of Queen Nefertiti, wife of the Pharaoh Akhnaten.

Mitanni and Egypt

Urartu / Armenia

Egypt

Taking into account his unusual name and features, some Egyptologists believe that Yuya was of foreign origin, although this is far from certain. There seems to be that Yuya had some Mitannian ancestry; this argument is based on the fact that the knowledge of horses and chariotry was introduced into Egypt from Asia and Yuya was the king’s “Master of the Horse.”

It was also suggested that Yuya was the brother of queen Mutemwiya, who was the mother of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and may have had Mitannian royal origins. However, this hypothesis can not be substantiated, since nothing is known of Mutemwiya’s background.

While Yuya lived in Upper Egypt, an area that was predominantly native Egyptian, he could have been an assimilated descendant of Asiatic immigrants or slaves who rose to become a member of the local nobility at Akhmin. If he was not a foreigner, however, then Yuya would have been the native Egyptian whose daughter was married to Amenhotep III. Yuya is believed to have died around 1374BC in his mid 50s.

Tiye (c. 1398 BC – 1338 BC, also spelled Taia, Tiy and Tiyi) was the daughter of Yuya and Tjuyu (also spelled Thuyu). She became the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III. She is the mother of Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun. Her mummy was identified as The Elder Lady found in the Tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) in 2010.

Tiye wielded a great deal of power during both her husband’s and son’s reigns. Amenhotep III became a fine sportsman, a lover of outdoor life, and a great statesman. He often had to consider claims for Egypt’s gold and requests for his royal daughters in marriage from foreign kings such as Tushratta of Mitanni and Kadashman-Enlil I of Babylon. The royal lineage was carried by the women of Ancient Egypt and marriage to one would have been a path to the throne for their progeny.

Tiye became her husband’s trusted adviser and confidant. Being wise, intelligent, strong, and fierce, she was able to gain the respect of foreign dignitaries. Foreign leaders were willing to deal directly through her. She continued to play an active role in foreign relations and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.

Tiye may have continued to advise her son, Akhenaten, when he took the throne. Her son’s correspondence with Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, speaks highly of the political influence she wielded at court. In Amarna letter EA 26, Tushratta, king to Mitanni, corresponded directly with Tiye to reminisce about the good relations he enjoyed with her then deceased husband and extended his wish to continue on friendly terms with her son, Akhenaten.

Amenhotep III died in Year 38 or Year 39 of his reign (1353 BC/1350 BC) and was buried in the Valley of the Kings in WV22; however, Tiye is known to have outlived him for as many as twelve years.

Tiye is believed to have been originally buried in Akhenaten’s royal tomb at Amarna alongside her son and granddaughter, Meketaten, the second daughter born to Akhenaten and Nefertiti, as a fragment from the tomb not long ago was identified as being from her sarcophagus. Her gilded burial shrine (showing her with Akhenaten) ended up in KV55 while shabtis belonging to her were found in Amenhotep III’s WV22 tomb.

Nefertiti, Egyptian Nfr.t-jy.tj, original pronunciation approximately Nafteta, for (“the beauty has come”). Nefertiti’s parentage is not known with certainty, but one often cited theory is that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh. Scenes in the tombs of the nobles in Amarna mention the queen’s sister who is named Mutbenret (previously read as Mutnodjemet). Another theory that gained some support identified Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.

Tadukhipa, in the Hurrian language Tadu-Hepa, was the daughter of Tushratta, king of Mitanni (reigned ca. 1382 BC–1342 BC) and his queen, Juni and niece of Artashumara. Tadukhipa’s aunt Gilukhipa, or more probable Kilu-Hepa in Hurrian language, in the Egyptian language Kirgipa, was the daughter of Shuttarna II, king of Mitanni, had married Pharaoh Amenhotep III in his 10th regnal year. Tadukhipa was to marry Amenhotep III more than two decades later.

Gilukhipa was the sister of Tushratta (later King of Mitanni), Biria-Waza and Artashumara. For political reasons, Gilukhipa was sent to Egypt to join Amenhotep III in marriage. Gilukhipa became known as the “Secondary King’s Wife,” meaning she was secondary to Amenhotep III’s chief wife, Queen Tiye.

The Egyptian pharaoh made a special issue of commemorative scarabs on the occasion of his marriage to Gilukhipa in his 10th regnal year, where he recorded that the princess was escorted by 317 ladies-in-waiting, women from the Mitanni king’s royal palace.

Relatively little is known about Tadukhipa. Some scholars tentatively identify Tadukhipa with Kiya, a queen of Akhenaten. It has been suggested that the story of Kiya may be the source for the New Kingdom story called the Tale of Two Brothers. This fable tells the story of how the pharaoh fell in love with a beautiful foreign woman after smelling her hair. If Tadukhipa was later known as Kiya, then she would have lived at Amarna where she had her own sunshade and was depicted with the pharaoh and at least one daughter.

Others such as Petrie, Drioton and Vandier have suggested that Tadukhipa was given a new name after becoming the consort of Akhenaten and is to be identified the famous queen Nefertiti. This theory suggests that Nefertiti’s name “the beautiful one has come” refers to Nefertiti’s foreign origin as Tadukhipa. Seele, Meyer and others have pointed out that Tey, wife of Ay, held the title of nurse to Nefertiti, and that this argues against this identification. A mature princess arriving in Egypt would not need a nurse.

Kiya was one of the wives of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. Little is known about her, and her actions and roles are poorly documented in the historical record, in contrast to those of Akhenaten’s first (and chief) royal wife, Nefertiti. Her unusual name suggests that she may originally have been a Mitanni princess.

Surviving evidence demonstrates that Kiya was an important figure at Akhenaten’s court during the middle years of his reign, when she bore him a daughter. She disappears from history a few years before her royal husband’s death.

The name Kiya itself is cause for debate. It has been suggested that it is a “pet” form, rather than a full name, and as such could be a contraction of a foreign name, such as the Mitanni name “Tadukhipa,” referring to the daughter of King Tushratta. Tadukhipa married Amenhotep III at the very end of his reign, and the Amarna Letters indicate that she was a nubile young woman at that time.

In particular, Amarna Letters 27 through 29 confirm that Tadukhipa became one of Akhenaten’s wives. Thus some Egyptologists have proposed that Tadukhipa and Kiya might be the same person.

Kiya disappears from history during the last third of Akhenaten’s reign. Her name and images were erased from monuments and replaced by those of Akhenaten’s daughters. The exact year of her disappearance is unknown, with recent authorities suggesting dates that range from Year 11 or 12 to Year 16 of Akhenaten.

One of the last datable instances of her name is a wine docket from Amarna that mentions Akhenaten’s Year 11, indicating that Kiya’s estate produced a vintage in that year. Whether she died, was exiled, or suffered some other misfortune, Egyptologists have often interpreted the erasure of her name as a sign of disgrace.

Various scenarios have been advanced to explain Kiya’s disappearance. Having suggested that Kiya was the mother of Tutankhamun, Nicholas Reeves writes that “it is not beyond the realm of possibility that she fell from grace in a coup engineered by the jealous Nefertiti herself.”

Having argued that Kiya was Tadukhipa, daughter of the King of Mitanni, Marc Gabolde suggests that she “paid the price” for a deterioration in the alliance between Egypt and Mitanni and was sent back home.

Some have speculated that the mummy known as The Younger Lady, discovered in KV35, might be that of Kiya. According to Joann Fletcher (who controversially identified the mummy as Nefertiti) a Nubian-style wig was found near the mummy. This style was also associated with Kiya.

DNA test results published in February 2010 have shown conclusively that the Younger Lady mummy was the mother of Tutankhamun, and by extension a wife of Akhenaten. The results also show that she was a full sister to her husband, and that they were both the children of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

This family relationship rules out the possibility that the Younger Lady was Kiya, because no known artifact accords Kiya the title or attribute “god’s daughter.” For similar reasons Nefertiti is also ruled out.

The report concludes that either Nebetah or Beketaten, younger daughters of Amenhotep III who are not known to have married their father, are the most likely candidates for the identity of the Younger Lady mummy.

Ay is usually believed to be a native Egyptian from Akhmim. During his short reign, he built a rock cut chapel in Akhmim and dedicated it to the local deity there: Min.

Ay may have been the son of Yuya, who served as a member of the priesthood of Min at Akhmin as well as superintendent of herds in this city, and wife Tjuyu. If so, Ay could have been of partial non-Egyptian, perhaps Syrian blood since the name Yuya was uncommon in Egypt and is suggestive of a foreign background.

Yuya was an influential nobleman at the royal court of Amenhotep III who was given the rare privilege of having a tomb built for his use in the royal Valley of the Kings presumably because he was the father of Tiye, Amenhotep’s chief Queen.

There are also noted similarities in the physical likenesses of monuments attributed to Ay and those of the mummy of Yuya, and both held similar names and titles.

Hyksos

The Hyksos or Hycsos were a people from West Asia who took over the eastern Nile Delta, ending the Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt and initiating the Second Intermediate Period. The Mitannians, who were probably allies of the Kassites, had horses and chariots, and the horse appeared in Egypt during the Hyksos era. Perhaps the successful invasion of the Hyksos was due to the use of cavalry.

The origin of the term “Hyksos” derives from the Egyptian expression hekau en khaswet (“rulers of foreign lands”), used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands. This expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom in Egypt, referring to various Nubian chieftains, and in the Middle Kingdom, referring to the Semitic chieftains of Syria and Canaan.

The Hyksos first appeared in Egypt c.1800 BC, during the Eleventh Dynasty, and began their climb to power in the Thirteenth Dynasty, coming out of the second intermediate period in control of Avaris and the Delta. By the Fifteenth Dynasty, they ruled Lower Egypt, and at the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty, they were expelled (c. 1560 BC).

The Hyksos practiced horse burials, and their chief deity, their native storm god, became associated with the Egyptian storm and desert god, Seth. Although most Hyksos names seem Semitic, the Hyksos also included Hurrians, who, while speaking an isolated language, were under the rule and influence of Indo-Europeans.

Modern scholarship usually assumes that the Hyksos were likely Semites who came from the Levant. Kamose, the last king of the Theban 17th Dynasty, refers to Apophis as a “Chieftain of Retjenu (i.e., Canaan)” in a stela that implies a Semitic Canaanite background for this Hyksos king: this is the strongest evidence for a Canaanite background for the Hyksos.

Khyan’s name “has generally been interpreted as Amorite “Hayanu” (reading h-ya-a-n) which the Egyptian form represents perfectly, and this is in all likelihood the correct interpretation.” Kim Ryholt furthermore observes the name Hayanu is recorded in the Assyrian king-lists for a “remote ancestor” of Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1813 BC) of Assyria, which suggests that it had been used for centuries prior to Khyan’s own reign.

The Hyksos brought several technical improvements to Egypt, as well as cultural impulses such as new musical instruments and foreign loan words. The changes introduced include new techniques of bronze working and pottery, new breeds of animals, and new crops. In warfare, they introduced the horse and chariot, the composite bow, improved battle axes, and advanced fortification techniques.

As to a Hyksos “conquest”, some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as “northern hordes . . . sweeping through Canaan and Egypt in swift chariots”. Yet, others refer to a ‘creeping conquest’, that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or seminomads who either slowly took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup d’etat put themselves at the head of the existing government. In The World of the Past (1963, p. 444), archeologist Jacquetta Hawkes states: “It is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers… represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics… they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.”

In his Against Apion, the 1st-century AD historian Josephus Flavius debates the synchronism between the Biblical account of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and two Exodus-like events that the Egyptian historian Manetho apparently mentions.

It is difficult to distinguish between what Manetho himself recounted, and how Josephus or Apion interpret him. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first exodus mentioned by Manetho, when some 480,000 Hyksos left Egypt for Jerusalem. The mention of “Hyksos” identifies this first exodus with the Hyksos period (16th century BC).

Crete

Crete: the Egyptian island of the dead?

A palace complex in Tel ed-Daba (Avaris), an area on the western edge of the site, known as Ezbet Helmi, reveal a large palace-like structure dating to the Hyksos period (18th century BC). The ancient gardens reveal many fragments of Minoan wall-paintings, similar in style to those found in the palace at Knossos in Crete. Knossos-like paintings has also been found in the tombs of the necropolis of Thebes West.

It has been suggested that the Avaris paintings with a distinctive red-painted background may even pre-date those of Crete and Thera and possibly have influenced some of the 18th Dynasty tomb paintings that appear to include Minoan themes such as the “flying gallop” motif of horses and bulls.

In the 18th Dynasty strata of Ezbet Helmi, Dr Bietak also discovered many lumps of pumice-stone, which could have come from the volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, occurring in the 15th century BC and identified as the cataclysmic event that ended the Minoan civilisation.

The Hyksos, who ruled from Avaris, ruled shortly before the 18th Dynasty, which saw the exchange of Egyptian and Cretan “goods”. The Hyksos were connected with Crete, at a time when the Avaris frescos had not yet been discovered.

In Knossos, an alabaster lid with the name of the Hyksos king Khyan has been found. The enigmatic Phaistos Disc, found in the palace of Phaistos on Crete, might also be linked with the Egyptian game of Senet and Snake Game. H. Peter Aleff argues that the depictions are not a script, but are related to the signs of the board game. Senet was a popular pastime in ancient Egypt from late pre-dynastic times on and is well documented because it became an important part of the funerary magic and then evolved into today’s Backgammon.

Its pieces simulated the passage of the player through life and, even more importantly, through death and its perils. The oldest surviving copy of any known board game is the Snake Game. It helped at least one king in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts to ascend to heaven and so seems to have represented the same journey, except that its path was not folded, as in Senet, but coiled into the spiral of a snake’s rolled-up body. On one of its sculpted stone boards, the tail of the snake ended in the head of a goose.

During the Middle Kingdom (1500 BC), the dead in Egypt were buried in valleys – the same practice was adhered to in Crete, with one of the more famous Valley of the Dead behind the Palace of Kato Zakros. Namewise, Zakros is similar to Saqqara and Sokar, an important necropolis and god of the dead in ancient Egypt.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians argued that the dead went to live on an island in the West. Crete is an island in the west. Furthermore, the concentration of Minoan civilisation is in Eastern Crete – the part closest to Egypt.

The Hyksos period coincides exactly with the time between the Old and New Palace Period on Crete. When the Hyksos invaded Egypt, the old palaces were destroyed, probably by an earthquake. Did the Hyksos (partly) come from Crete? Or did the Hyksos, once out of grace and power in Egypt, travel to Crete, to continue their culture there?

The right answer will have a lot to do with correct dating and many have argued that the chronological alignment of the various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean has not been a complete success. Only the future will shed more light on the interrelationship between Egypt and Crete, but it can no longer be denied that the two civilisations had intimate contacts with one another.

Linear A and B are two scripts found on the island of Crete. The newer Linear B turned out to be Greek. Linear A shows a connection between Minoan Crete and the Hyksos. Linear A is Semitic, related to the languages of Ugarit and Alalach in Syria.

Posted in Armenia, Egypt, Mediterrean, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Minoan Crete – The first civilization in Europe

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 18, 2013

The Minoan civilization

Minoan civilization

History of Minoan Crete

MINOANS, THEIR ART, CULTURE AND RELIGION AND THERA ERUPTION (3000 B.C. TO 1,400 B.C.)

The oldest evidence of preceramic Neolithic farming community remains on Crete are that date to approximately 7000 BC., but it was not until 5000 BC. that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared, marking the beginning of civilization.

A comparative study of DNA haplogroups of modern Cretan men showed that a male founder group, from Anatolia or the Levant, is shared with the Greeks. The inhabitants descended from Neolithic populations that migrated to Europe from the Armenian Highland. The neolithic population dwelt in open villages. Fishermen’s huts were built on the shores, while the fertile Mesara Plain was used for agriculture.

A 2013 mtDNA study of bone samples from a Minoan ossuary in the Lasithi Plateau, dated to 4,400–3,700 years ago, showed that Minoan samples were closest to samples drawn from the modern population of the Lasithi plateau, as well as other Greek, western and northern European samples, while being distant from North African and Egyptian samples.

The ancient Minoan DNA was most similar to populations from western and northern Europe. The population showed particular genetic affinities with Bronze Age populations from Sardinia and Iberia and Neolithic samples from Scandinavia and France. The Minoans are Europeans and are also related to present-day Cretans – on the maternal side.

According to the authors, these results are consistent with the hypothesis of an indigenous development of the Minoan civilization from the descendants of the first Neolithic settlers to the island (who arrived approximately 7000 BC.), as opposed to a North African or Egyptian origin, as originally hypothesized.

The founders of the first advanced European civilization were European. It was an important local development, but it is clear that, for example, in the art, there were influences from other peoples. So we need to see the Mediterranean as a pool, not as a group of isolated nations.

We do not have much information about the very early Minoans before 2600 BC. In the Odyssey, composed centuries after the destruction of the Minoan civilization, Homer calls the natives of Crete Eteocretans (“true Cretans”); these may have been descendants of the Minoans. The term “Minoan” was coined by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans after the mythic “king” Minos. Minos was associated in Greek myth with the labyrinth, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos.

The Minoans are widely recognized as one of Europe’s first ‘high cultures’, renowned for their pottery, metal-work and colourful frescoes. Their civilization fuelled Greek myths such as the story of the Minotaur, the half-man, half-bull creature who lived in a labyrinth. Will Durant referred to it as “the first link in the European chain.”

The Minoan civilization (2700 – 1500 BC.) was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete by the 2700 BC. The Minoans flourished on Crete for as many as 12 centuries until about 1,500 bc, when it is thought to have been devastated by a catastrophic eruption of the Mediterranean island volcano Santorini, and a subsequent tsunami.

The inhabitants of ancient Crete, whom we call Minoans, produced a decentralized culture based on the abundance of the land’s natural resources, and on intense commercial activity. While the island appears today completely deforested, in ancient times timber was one of the natural resources that was commercially exploited and exported to nearby Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Aegean Islands and the Greek mainland.

Several localities on the island developed into centers of commerce and handwork in the late 3000 BC. This enabled the upper classes to continuously practice leadership activities and to expand their influence. It is likely that the original hierarchies of the local elites were replaced by monarchist power structures – a precondition for the creation of the great palaces.

Minoan palaces (anaktora) are the best known building types to have been excavated on the island. They are monumental buildings serving administrative purposes, as evidenced by the large archives unearthed by archaeologists. Each of the palaces excavated to date has its own unique features, but they also share features which set them apart from other structures. The palaces were often multi-storied, with interior and exterior staircases, light wells, massive columns, storage magazines and courtyards.

The Minoans had developed significant naval power and for many centuries lived in contact with all the major civilizations of the time without being significantly threatened by external forces. Their commercial contact with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia undeniably influenced their own culture, and the Minoan civilization in turn appeared as the forerunner of the Greek civilization. The Minoans are credited as the first European civilization.

Besides raw materials, the Minoans also adopted from the surrounding cultures artistic ideas and techniques as evident in Egypt’s influence on the Minoan wall frescoes, and on goldsmithing production knowledge imported by Syria.

There was a large disturbance in Crete, probably an earthquake, or possibly an invasion from Anatolia by 1700 BC. The palaces at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and Kato Zakros were destroyed. But with the start of the Neopalatial period, population increased again, the palaces were rebuilt on a larger scale and new settlements were built all over the island. This period (1700-1600 BC.) represents the apex of the Minoan civilization.

There was another natural catastrophe around 1600 BC., possibly an eruption of the Thera volcano. The Minoan eruption of Thera, also referred to as the Thera eruption or Santorini eruption, was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history and a major catastrophic volcanic eruption. The eruption devastated the island of Thera (also called Santorini), including the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri, as well as communities and agricultural areas on nearby islands and on the coast of Crete, but the Minoans rebuilt the palaces, making them greater than before.

The influence of the Minoan civilization outside Crete has been seen in the evidence of valuable Minoan handicraft items on the Greek mainland. It is likely that the ruling house of Mycene was connected to the Minoan trade network. After around 1700 BCE, the material culture on the Greek mainland achieved a new level due to Minoan influence.

Minoans were traders, and their cultural contacts reached far beyond the island of Crete — to Egypt’s Old Kingdom, to copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan, and the Levantine coasts beyond, and to Anatolia. Objects of Minoan manufacture suggest there was a network of trade with mainland Greece (notably Mycenae), Cyprus, Syria, Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and westward as far as the coast of Spain.

Connections between Egypt and Crete are prominent. Minoan ceramics are found in Egyptian cities and the Minoans imported several items from Egypt, especially papyrus, as well as architectural and artistic ideas. The Egyptian hieroglyphs served as a model for the Minoan pictographic writing, from which the famous Linear A and Linear B writing systems later developed. Bengtson has also demonstrated Minoan influence among Canaanite artifacts.

Historians and archaeologists have suggested that the Minoans were involved in the Bronze Age’s important tin trade: tin, alloyed with copper apparently from Cyprus, was used to make bronze. The decline of Minoan civilization and the decline in use of bronze tools in favor of iron ones seem to be correlated.

Knowledge of the spoken and written language of the Minoans is scant, due to the small number of records found. Clay tablets dating to around 3000 BCE were found with the various Cretan scripts. Clay tablets seem to have been in use from around 3000 BCE or earlier. Two clay cups from Knossos have been found to have remnants of ink, and inkwells similar to the animal-shaped inkstands from Mesopotamia have also been found.

The Minoans seem to have worshiped primarily goddesses, which has been described as a “matriarchal religion.” It is reasonable to assume that both the organization and the rituals, even the mythology, resembled the religions of Near Eastern palatial civilizations.”

Although there is some evidence of male gods, depictions of Minoan goddesses vastly outnumber depictions of anything that could be considered a Minoan god. While some of these depictions of women are speculated to be images of worshippers and priestesses officiating at religious ceremonies, as opposed to the deity, several goddesses appear to be portrayed. These include a Mother Goddess of fertility, a Mistress of the Animals, a protectress of cities, the household, the harvest, and the underworld, and more. They are often represented by serpents, birds, poppies, and a somewhat vague shape of an animal upon the head.

A major festive celebration was exemplified in the famous athletic Minoan bull dance, represented at large in the frescoes of Knossos and inscribed in miniature seals. The Minoan horn-topped altars, since Evans’ time conventionally called “Horns of Consecration,” are represented in seal impressions, and survive in examples as far afield as Cyprus. Minoan sacred symbols include the bull and its horns of consecration, the labrys (double-headed axe), the pillar, the serpent, the sun-disk, and the tree.

Similar to archaeological finds of the Bronze Age, burial remains constitute much of the material and archaeological evidence for the period. By the end of the Second Palace Period, Minoan burial practice is dominated by two broad forms: ‘Circular Tombs’, or Tholoi, (located in South Crete) and ‘House Tombs’, (located in the north and the east).

Many trends and patterns within Minoan mortuary practice do not conform to this simple breakdown. Over all, inhumation was the most popular form of burial; cremation does not seem to have been a popular.

Minoan culture experienced a turning point due to a natural catastrophe, possibly an earthquake by 1450 BC. Another eruption of the Thera volcano has been linked to this downfall, but its dating and implications remain controversial. Several important palaces in locations such as Mallia, Tylissos, Phaistos, Hagia Triade as well as the living quarters of Knossos were destroyed. The palace in Knossos seems to have remained largely intact. This resulted in the Dynasty in Knossos being able to spread its influence over large parts of Crete, until it was overrun by Mycenaean Greeks.

The Minoan palace sites were occupied by the Mycenaeans around 1420 BC. The Mycenaens adapted the Linear A Minoan script to the needs of their own Mycenaean language. It was a form of Greek, which was written in Linear B. The first such archive anywhere is in the “Room of the Chariot Tablets” from 1425-1390 BC. The Mycenaeans generally tended to adapt, rather than destroy, Minoan culture, religion and art. They continued to operate the economic system and bureaucracy of the Minoans.

After about a century of partial recovery, most Cretan cities and palaces went into decline by 1300 BC. The last Linear A archives date to 1390–1370 BC. Knossos remained an administrative center until 1200 BC. The last of the Minoan sites was the defensive mountain site of Karfi, a refuge site which displays vestiges of Minoan civilization almost into the Iron Age.

Minoan civilization

History of Minoan Crete

Minoan Culture

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Tell el-Dab’a (Minoans with Hyksos)

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 17, 2013

https://i1.wp.com/www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw05019HyksosDefeated.jpg
https://i0.wp.com/www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw0241Chariots.jpg
https://i1.wp.com/www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw0242Archery.jpg
https://i0.wp.com/www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw0238Hyksos.jpg
https://i2.wp.com/www.mmdtkw.org/EGtkw0243AvarisWarriorBurial.jpg
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Currently thought to be the site of the Hyksos capital Avaris, Tell el-Dab’a was occupied from the Middle Kingdom through to the New Kingdom and is one of a number of town-sites in the north-eastern area of the Delta. The settlement site which covers an area of two square kilometres has been undergoing excavations since 1966 and has proven to be a very complex site with several occupation levels dating from the First to the Second Intermediate Periods.

Hyksos

Tell el-Dab’a (Minoans with Hyksos)

Posted in Eastern Mediterrean, Egypt, Mediterrean | Leave a Comment »

 
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