13.5.16

Neolithic Greece


Neolithic Civilization is the long era, the main characteristics of which are farming , stock-breeding , permanent installation and the extensive use of stone , as well. From the stage of the nomadic hunter-gatherer (Palaeolithic Era ) man entered the stage of farmer-husbandman and dominated his natural environment. This neolithic "revolution" is affected at the beginning of the 7th millenium.                   The neolithic Civilization lasted more than three thousand years and is divided into five main phases, the Aceramic (6800-6500 BC) , the Early Neolithic (6500-5800 BC) ,the Middle Neolithic (5300-4500 BC) and the Late Neolithic or Chalcolithic (4500-3300 BC).

Neolithic Greece is an archaeological term used to refer to the Neolithic phase of Greek history beginning with the spread of farming to Greece in 7000–6500 BC. During this period, many developments occurred such as the establishment and expansion of a mixed farming and stock-rearing economy, architectural innovations (i.e. "megaron-type" and "Tsangli-type" houses), as well as elaborate art and tool manufacturing.

The study of the Neolithic Period in Greece was inaugurated with the archaeological investigations of Chr. Tsountas (1899-1906) in Thessaly. These investigations included of the location of 63 Neolithic sites and the excavation of certain settlements, such as Sesklo, Dimini, Argissa etc. The results of these first investigations were published by Tsountas in 1908 in the monumental volume on Greek Prehistory: Ai proistorikai akropoleis Diminiou kai Sesklou (The prehistoric citadels of Dimini and Sesklo).

Tsountas' investigations in Thessaly were taken up by A. Arvanitopoulos (1906-1926) and A. Wace and M. Thompson (1907-1910). Both the latter archaeologists, besides the excavations they had conducted in the settlements of Rachmani, Tsangli etc., extended their investigation range to the south, with excavations at Lianokladi in Phthiotis, Elateia in Phocis and Chaironeia in Boeotia, but also to the north by locating Neolithic settlements in Macedonia. The results of this second investigation stage of the Neolithic in Greece were recorded by Wace and Thompson in 1912 in their work Prehistoric Thessaly. Macedonia was the region that, after Thessaly, attracted the interest of prehistoric research, with W. Heurtley (1924-1932) locating settlements and the French Archaeological School conducting excavations at Dikili Tash, Philippi at Kavala while G. Mylonas excavated Olynthos in Chalkidike.

Unlike Thessaly and Macedonia, our knowledge concerning the Neolithic Period in southern Greece, the Ionian and Aegean Islands and Crete is still limited since the focus of archaeological interest in those areas rested on the investigation of sites of the Classical Period and the centres of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations.

The results of the investigations of the first half of the 20th century allowed S. Weinberg (1947, 1954) to divide the Neolithic (a term established in 1865 by J. Lubbock) into Early, Middle and Late following the tripartite subdivision of the Minoan Period by A. Evans.

The systematic exvacations of D. Theocharis and V. Milojcic in settlements of Thessaly during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s form the third important investigation period of the Neolithic. Excavations at such sites as Sesklo, Gentiki, Soufli Magoula, Achilleio, Argissa, Otzaki, Arapi Magoula, Ayia Sophia and Pefkakia, have contributed decisively to the study of the cultural development of Neolithic man and allowed the two above mentioned investigators to subdivide the Neolithic into more phases. At the same time as Thessaly, excavations were conducted in Macedonia (Nea Nikomedeia, Sitagroi), Thrace (Paradimi), the Cyclades (Saliagos), the Peloponnese (Franchthi, Diros), Crete (Knossos) and elsewhere.

During the last two decades of the 20th century, and while the number of recorded Neolithic sites amounts to approximately one thousand, Greek and foreign researchers, in an attempt to solve the problem of how the various Neolithic phases succeeded one another and how the finds from various regions correlate in time, are studying the various activities of Neolithic man, such as ways in which he interfered with the natural environment, the organization of settlements, economy, technology, etc.
TRADITIONALPHASENAMES
UNCAL.B.P.
CAL.B.C.E.
CENTRAL &
S
OUTHERN 
GREECE
CYCLADES
THESSALY
GREEK EASTERN
M
ACEDONIA
Early 
Bronze 
Age
4600
3200
Early Helladic
Early Cycladic
Early Thessalian
Dikili Tash IIIB Sitagroi V
Dikili Tash IIIA
Sitagroi IV
Final Neolithic
(Phase 5)
5700
4500
Aegina
Attica
Kefala(Keos)
Aegina
Attica
Kefala(Keos)
Rakhmani
Kastri?
Sitagroi-IIIC
Sitagroi IIIB
Late 
Neolithic 
(Phase 4)
6000
4800
Gonia
Corycian Cave
Zas Cave
Grotta
Classical Dimini
Otzaki
Agia Sofia
Dikili-Tash-IIC (Galepsos)
Dikili Tash IIB
Sitagroi IIIA
Dik. Tash IIA
Late 
Neolithic 
(Phase 3)
6500
5300
Matt-painted pottery
Kitsos
Elateia
Saliagos
Arapi
Tsangli 
Larissa
Paradimi-III 
Sitagroi II
Dikili Tash I
Sitagroi I
Paradimi I
Middle Neolithic
(Phase 2)
7000
5800
Chaeronea
Urfirnis pottery
  - - - -
Zarko
Sesklo-I-III 
?
Early Neolithic
(Phase 1)
7700
6500
Franchthi 
Corinth
Nemea @
Ayiorgitika
Rainbow ware
  - - - -
Proto-Sesklo
Frühkeramikum
   - - - - 
Preceramic ?
(Phase 0)
8000
6800
Franchthi?
   - - - -
Argissa
   - - - -

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