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A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BCE, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-30127-2
392 pages
August 2013, ©2014, Wiley-Blackwell
A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BCE, 2nd Edition (1118301277) cover image


A History of the Archaic Greek World offers a theme-based approach to the development of the Greek world in the years 1200-479 BCE.

  • Updated and extended in this edition to include two new sections, expanded geographical coverage, a guide to electronic resources, and more illustrations
  • Takes a critical and analytical look at evidence about the history of the archaic Greek World
  • Involves the reader in the practice of history by questioning and reevaluating conventional beliefs
  • Casts new light on traditional themes such as the rise of the city-state, citizen militias, and the origins of egalitarianism
  • Provides a wealth of archaeological evidence, in a number of different specialties, including ceramics, architecture, and mortuary studies
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Table of Contents

List of Maps x

List of Figures xi

List of Documents xiii

Preface xv

Preface to the Second Edition xvii

Timeline xix

1 The Practice of History 1

The Lelantine War 1

The Lelantine War Deconstructed 4

What Is History? 8

History as Literature 11

Method and Theory 12

2 Sources, Evidence, Dates 16

Evaluating Sources 16

Dating Archaic Poets 21

Non-Literary Evidence 26

Ancient Chronography 29

Archaeological Dating 33

3 The End of the Mycenaean World and Its Aftermath 41

Mycenaean Greece 41

Gauging the Historicity of the Dorian Migration 44

Alternative Explanations 51

The Loss and Recovery of Writing 56

Whose Dark Age? 59

4 Communities of Place 68

Defining the Polis 68

The Urban Aspect of the Polis: Houses, Graves, and Walls 72

Political and Economic Functions 81

Cultic Communities 85

Polis and Ethnos 90

5 New Homes Across the Seas 96

On the Move 99

The Credibility of Colonial Foundation Stories 105

Pots and Peoples 111

A Spartan Foundation? Taras, Phalanthos, and the Partheniai 116

Hunger or Greed? 120

6 The Changing Nature of Authority 126

Charting the Genesis of the State 126

Kings or “Big-Men”? 127

The Emergence of an Aristocracy 134

Laws and Institutions 138

The Return of the “Big-Man” 144

Excursus I. A Cautionary Tale: Pheidon of Argos 154

7 Fighting for the Fatherland 165

A Hoplite Revolution? 165

Some More Equal Than Others 174

Conquest, Territory, and Exploitation 181

Excursus II. Archaeological Gaps: Attica and Crete 190

8 Defining the Political Community 200

Looking to the End 200

The Role of the Dêmos and the Great Rhetra 205

Drawing Boundaries 211

Land, Labor, and the Crisis in Attica 214

The “Second Sex” 220

Excursus III. Evaluating the Spartan Mirage 227

9 The City of Theseus 235

The End of the Tyranny 235

The Birth of Democracy? 238

The Unification of Attica 243

Theseus: Democrat or Autocrat? 251

The (A)typicality of Athens 255

10 Making a Living 260

Conceptualizing Ancient Economic Activity 260

A Peasant Economy? 262

Plying the Seas 268

The Introduction of Coinage 275

Excursus IV. The Rise of Persia and the Invasions of Greece 282

11 Imagining Greece 290

“Greek” Culture: Unity and Diversity 290

Greeks and Others: The External Dimension 293

The Emergence of Panhellenism: The Internal Dimension 301

The Invention of the Barbarian 308

12 Writing the History of Archaic Greece 312

The First Sacred War: Fact or Fiction? 312

The Limits of Narrative History 317

Dividing up Time and Space 320

Abbreviations and Glossary of Literary Sources 326

Works Cited in the Further Reading 330

Guide to Electronic Resources 339

Index 342

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Author Information

Jonathan M. Hall is the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities and Professor in the Departments of History and Classics and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity (1997), Hellenicity: Between Ethnicity and Culture (2002), and Artifact and Artifice: Classical Archaeology and the Ancient Historian (2013).

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“Breaking news - the Archaic period of ancient Greece is not archaic! The updated and augmented second edition of this thematically inflected history does full justice to an experimental and brilliantly innovative era.” - Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge

“Informative and clear for the student and the interested non-specialist, this book is full of stimulating observations and questions, from which also the specialist may profit. With its second edition, Jonathan Hall offers a reliable and up-to-date survey of the major developments in society, institutions, and culture in the Greek World and its periphery from the end of the Mycenaean palace administration to the Persian Wars. By operating with a ‘long Archaic Age’, that has its roots in the Late Bronze Age, Jonathan Hall fruitfully challenges the traditional periodization of Greek history.” - Angelos Chaniotis, Institute for Advanced Study

“Further enriched in its second edition, this book offers a balanced, superbly informed, critical, and lucid discussion of all the major issues that contributed to shaping Greek society and culture in its formative period. Engaging closely with the archaeological evidence, textual sources, and modern scholarship, the author challenges many well-established views and introduces the reader to the evidence as well as the tools, approaches, and methods on which a meaningful reconstruction of the crucial developments in early Greek history can be based. Hall does not present final truths but takes us along on his exciting and sometimes frustrating road to discovery; he stimulates our thinking and helps us penetrate to a deeper level of understanding.” – Kurt Raaflaub, Brown University

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