II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > D. Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World > 3. The Archaic Period, 800–510 B.C.E.
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
3. The Archaic Period, 800–510 B.C.E.
a. Economy, Technology, Society, and Culture
 
The Greek diet was simple: bread, cheese, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and occasionally fish or pork. Beef was seldom eaten, and sheep and goats were kept mainly for hides, wool, and milk. Most farms were small, and slave labor was apparently rarely used in agriculture in the Archaic period. By 800 the classical polis was beginning to emerge, the city-state with its own central palace, territory, government, and loyal citizens (along with many noncitizen inhabitants). Many cities, including Athens, were dependent on the importation of grain, particularly from the Black Sea region. The main centers for manufacture were Athens, famous for its painted vases; Corinth; Sicyon; Argos and Chalcis, noted for metal-work; and Miletus and Samos, which made furniture and textiles. Mining was extensive: marble came from Mt. Pentelicus and Paros; silver, from Mt. Laurium and Mt. Pangaeus; gold, from Mt. Pangaeus and Thasos; iron, from Laconia; and copper, from Cyprus. Rough terrain and poor roads made overland travel difficult, so most commerce was by sea. The introduction of coined money from Lydia in the 7th century facilitated trade and capital investment but also increased debt. The two prominent standards of currency were the Euboean and the Aeginetan. By c. 750 B.C.E. the Greeks had borrowed the Phoenician alphabet, adapted certain letters to represent vowels, and added others for sounds found only in Greek. Marble temples appeared, and the three architectural orders—Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic—developed. Sculpture began representing the human body in the nude. Marble statues were generally painted in lifelike colors. Early Greek painting is known mainly from decorated pottery: red-figured vases replaced black-figured c. 500 B.C.E.  1
In the early Archaic period, aristocratic oligarchies generally replaced Dark Age monarchies, except in Sparta and Macedonia. Later, ambitious individuals overthrew the constituted governments of many cities and established themselves as tyrants. Beginning c. 760 B.C.E., Greek cities started founding colonies, which eventually occupied much of the coastline of both the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Colonists, led by a founder, or oikistes, generally adopted the religious cults and constitution of the “mother city” (metropolis) but were politically independent. In the 7th century, hoplite warfare developed. Hoplites were citizen soldiers who provided their own equipment: a round bronze shield (hoplon), a bronze helmet with cheek and nose guards, and a nine-foot spear. They fought in a phalanx, shoulder-to-shoulder in line, facing the enemy with a wall of shields and spears and marching in step to the music of flutes. Athletics was an important element of Greek culture. There were major international festivals which involved athletic contest, such as the Pythian Games at Delphi and the Olympian Games, starting (traditionally) in 776 and held every four years.  2
The Boeotian poet Hesiod (c. 700) wrote the Theogony, on the genealogy of the gods, and the Works and Days, giving advice on proper living. Other early poets included the Ionian Archilochus (c. 700), the Aeolians Alcaeus and Sappho (c. 600), and the Dorians Stesichorus (630–555) and Arion (c. 600). Lyric poetry was exemplified by Alcman (c. 654–611), Anacreon (born c. 570), Simonides (c. 556–468), Pindar (518–442), and Bacchylides (c. 480). Tragic drama grew out of cultic songs, originally performed by a chorus at religious festivals. The poet Thespis first introduced a speaking actor into a tragedy in 534 B.C.E. Greek philosophy began with Thales (c. 600), who was said, probably falsely, to have predicted a solar eclipse in 585 B.C.E. Anaximenes (c. 600) and Anaximander (c. 610–540) and other early philosophers started to seek knowledge for its own sake and to develop rational explanations for natural phenomena. The so-called logographoi wrote local histories, the best example being Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 500).  3
The normal age for marriage in Greece was 30 for men and 15–16 for women. Most marriages were arranged. Women took little part in public life and, in some cases, had no more legal rights than slaves. Most citizen women spent their lives secluded in women's quarters. Spartan women were the exception and received the same physical training as men. At least one woman poet wrote in the Archaic period: Sappho of Lesbos.  4
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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