Mute Witnesses

The divergence of almost five hundred years in the archaeological age evaluations repeats itself with respect to many sites of the Greek past. Because two timetables are applied simultaneously to the past of Greece—one built on the evidences of Greece itself, the other on the evidences of relations with Egypt—a clash of opinions in matters of age appraisal is almost inevitable.

The theory that “a period covering the seventh century and extending, perhaps, into the eighth century, was the time in which pottery and other antiquities of the Mycenae class were produced for the home market of Greece and possibly in Greece itself” (Murray)1 was pronounced an “archaeological insinuation” (Evans)2

The other attempt at synchronizing the geometric with the Mycenaean ware by ascribing them to the second millennium (Doerpfeld) was called “the naivete of complete ignorance” (Furtwängler).3

The separation of the Mycenaean Age from the Greek Age by five hundred years of Dark Age was paid for with an ever-growing mass of conflicting facts. Already in the shaft tombs of Mycenae some of the finds bore conflicting and unreconcilable evidence:

Nor . . . is the evidence of Greek excavation always as simple and convincing as it looks. It has been usual to regard all the contents of the acropolis-graves at Mycenae as dating more or less to the same period. But some of the objects from these graves can be shown, if we are not to throw aside all that we have learned of the development of early Greek art, to be of far later date than others.”4

The same author admitted that the graves in Greece were as a rule not re-used. This makes the presence of objects of two different epochs in the Mycenaean graves in Greece very enigmatic.5

The epochs, as usual, are separated by close to five hundred years.6


  1. A. S. Murray, Handbook of Greek Archaeology (New York, 1892), p. 57.

  2. Evans, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 30 (1900), p. 200.

  3. Furtwängler, Kleine Schriften, vol. I, p. 456.

  4. H. R. H. Hall, The Oldest Civilization of Greece (London, 1901), p. 16.

  5. [Hall later retracted his opinion for the shaft graves of Mycenae, but the same 500-year enigma has since been found in other Late Helladic tombs throughout the Aegean. See J. N. Coldstream’s article on hero cults in Journal of Hellenic Studies (1976). EMS]

  6. For many more 500-year enigmas, see, Israel M. Isaacson, “Applying the Revised Chronology,” Pensée IVR, no. 4 (Fall 1994), 5-20.