Seminar in Classical History: DARK AGE AND ARCHAIC GREECE

Classical Greece is still alive and rightly deserves to be defined as the apex of ancient Greek civilization. Until relatively recently, Classical Greece had been treated like the birth of the goddess Athena: fully grown when she came out of the head of Zeus, her father. Recent research, by contrast, has shown that the foundations of Classical Greece were laid beforehand during several formative centuries which laid the groundwork, making these achievements possible. The primary aim of this seminar course is to study, using a problem-oriented method, the main historical developments and issues of these formative centuries, from the Dark Age to the Archaic period ending in the watershed Persian Wars (roughly 1100-480 BC), a time-period collectively known as “Early Greece.” This is a truly fascinating period, which witnesses such things as the fall and re-rise of civilization (the second time on a completely different footing from the first), the birth of the city-state (sometimes governed by democracy, another invention of the period), the migration of Greeks to areas outside Greece, like Italy, France, North Africa, and Black Sea (which raises issues of culture contact and culture change), and numerous other characteristic features which we traditionally associate with the Classical Greeks. A secondary aim of the seminar course is to introduce students to the challenges and benefits of dealing with an epoch of human history that includes prehistoric, protohistoric, and archaic phases, all at once, and that, as a result, requires an eclectic approach in order to bring together different types of interrelated sources (oral traditions; literature; inscriptions; coinage, and archaeology). Early Greece provides a valuable test case for the development of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of human behaviour.