Illuminating the Dark Ages Through the Examination of Burial Goods
When the Sub-Mycenaean period (ca. 1250 B.C) approached its end, and the Mycenaean civilizations began to dwindle in the presence of rebellion, destruction, and new settlements, a new era was thrust onto the Grecians (Biers 98). This period is presently referred to as the “Dark Ages”. Occurring relatively from the years 1250 B.C to 750 B.C, this era characterized the years of struggle and suffering for most of the Greek population. As one can imagine, the title “dark” subjects itself to the common notions of misery, pain, and pessimism towards society, culture, and civilizations in this respective time. During this period, Linear B writing had ceased, vital trade links were lost, and towns and villages were abandoned. The population of Greece was reduced, and the world of organized state armies, kings, officials, and redistributive systems disappeared (Hurwit, 53). The Dark Ages seemed to consistently foster a period of exceptional poverty, recession, depopulation, a declined standard of living, and isolation, yet, there were some positives that ensued the hardship and tragedy (Biers 99). Towards the middle and end of this period, we can recognize an upward trend in civilization; the rise of Protogeometric arts being a core example of this. However, another form of art, one more specifically through offering, lends an interesting story within the Dark Age period. Through the progression of the Dark Ages, mystic grave offerings and practiced Grecian burials played an exceptionally critical role in defining not only the transition from life to death, but also the expression of art and well-regarded artifacts.
While there is evidence and information that may suggest this was an era of declining culture, the Dark Ages may have proved to be an era of less destruction than archaeologists had once imagined. While it has not yielded any writing in its ruins, the burials at Lefkandi and in Athens, have turned up evidence of wealth, social organization, and trade with other areas of the Mediterranean, all at levels presumed impossible in the Dark Ages (“Burial Findings”). This exhibit is an attempt to shed light on an era much in the dark through the examination of some of the few clues that have survived to today. Through the observation of specific graves and artifacts, we will attempt to illuminate the mystery that surrounds the culture of the Dark Ages.
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