The Early Greek Years
The Mycenaean civilization came to an abrupt end, in an obscure way, in c. 1200, after the Trojan War, with the destruction of its power centers and the dispersing of their population over the Aegean and Asia Minor. The following 400 years are called Dark Ages, as the information we have is limited and writing does not exist. But in this period we had a great revolution - the coming of iron - and the formation of the Greek society, different and quite unique. Probably, during the 11th century we had the migration of the Dorians (Greek: those who carry the spear) being referred in mythology as the legend of the Heraclids. It seems that they brought with them the use of iron as well as new burial practices.
In art, the appearance of geometric designs on utilitarian or funerary pottery was their major contribution. Late Mycenaean pottery, although stylized and with a tendency towards geometric designs, still maintained some of its naturalism. Early geometric art was characterized by formalism, precision, analogy, symmetry and clarity, elements which became the essence of later Greek art. We witness the reduction of natural forms to geometric shapes as the artist chose to abandon the representation of an ever-changing natural world - with the insecurities and instability it generates - and concentrate in analyzing these natural forms into their components, reducing them to their essentials and reshaping them by applying geometric forms, easy to be perceived by the human eye and easy to be conceived by the mind. A world of order was created where diversity and individualism played no part. Here we witness the beginnings of idealism in art, with the depiction of the essential and the typical. We see the idea of manhood instead of many male individuals with their unique characteristics. The proto-geometric style appeared in Athens in c. 1000 B.C. and it involved the depiction of geometric designs such as spirals, meanders and other, arranged in bands of friezes which, in the earlier years- occupied a small part of the pottery and with the passing of time they occupied larger area, until we reached the late-geometric period (8th c.), when the vase was completely covered with bands and a stylized geometric version of the human body and of horses appeared. It is likely that the stories depicted on these vases derived from myths told in the epic poetry of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which recalled memories of the "deeds of men" in the Mycenaean age.
In sculpture, the situation was even poorer. With no monumental sculpture and only a few examples of small-scale sculpture, we see the geometric aesthetics that prevailed in painting to find their counterpart here. With this style, the Greeks were putting the basis for the future concepts in sculpture. In architecture, one of the earliest temples found, in Thermo-Aetolias, recalled the Mycenaean Megaron. In c. 750 B.C., we see the addition of columns around the cella and thus the beginning of the creation of the Greek architectural orders.
More Prehistoric Greek Civillizations
Minoan and Cretan Civilization The island of Crete was the center of the first western-european civilization
Mycenaean Civilization The new political, economic and cultural superpower of the Aegean region,
The island of Crete was the center of a great civilization, the first western-european civilization, known as the Minoan, which reached its zenith by 2000/1500 B.C.
All Prehistoric Greek Civillizations...
Around 1500 B.C. another civilization succeeded the Minoan Crete as the political, economic and cultural superpower of the Aegean region, with Mycenae as its major city. It is a civilization, described by Homer, who immortalized it in the Iliad and in the Odyssey, as being "rich in gold".