Early Inhabitants of Ancient Greece
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In many ways, the history of Greece has been shaped by its geography. Those who inhabited Greece thousands of years ago were affected by the geography. The vast mountain range that covers most of mainland Greece forced the early people to either live close to the sea. Moving inland resulted in a lack of communication from one part of Greece to the other, so most chose to make their homes by the sea.
Because communication between communities was difficult because of the mountains, Ancient Greece developed into a series of Greek speaking city-states which each had their own unique culture, dialect, and government. The only thing that truly united them was their shared ethnicity and the Ancient Greece language. But who, exactly, were the early inhabitants of Ancient Greece? Here’s more information.
First People – The Pelasgians
Before the Indo-Europeans settled in Greece, a group known as the Pelasgians lived in Ancient Greece. Very little is known about this group but one thing that people do agree on is that they didn’t leave Greece peacefully. When the Indo-European people invaded Greece, the Pelasgians were destroyed and very little remains to tell their story. In fact, there is no evidence that shows they even had a written language.
However, there is some controversy as to who the Pelasgians really were. The term, “Pelasgian” shows up in classic Greek literature in the writings of people such as Homer, Sophocles, and Euripides. In these contexts, “Pelasgian” is a general term that refers to either the ancestors of the Ancient Greeks, or an ethnic group that predated the Greeks. But which is it? Since not much remains of this ancient group, it is hard to know. Much of what we do know is based on educated speculation based on archaeological findings (such as the Lemnos stele) or by analyzing the Greek language for influences beyond that extends beyond the Indo-European root.
Much of what we know about the Indo-European people and how they migrated came about by analyzing the languages in the Indo-European language family, of which Greece is a part. Many scholars believe that the Indo-European people invaded Greece and decimated the Pelasgian population. However, since there is little archaeological evidence that can be traced to this time period, there’s no way to be truly certain if the Indo-European people invaded or simply settled in Ancient Greece.
Following the Indo-European migration, Ancient Greece entered a period referred to as the “Dark Ages,” which lasted from around 1100 B.C. to 800 B.C. However, it is important to note that even though there isn’t a written history, Greek culture did achieve its beginning during this time. Early forms of pottery, painting, and even poetry, can be traced to this time period. Also, many of the myths that we associated with Ancient Greek Mythology were developed during this time period. In other words, if it weren’t for this period in history, the Greek culture, as we know it today may look much different.
Categorized in: Ancient Greek History
This post was written by Greek Boston