chapter  17
47 Pages


Isolation, parochialism, illiteracy and material poverty: these are the defining characteristics of the Dark Age which still persisted throughout this long period in many parts of the Greek world. In most areas, contrasts with the prosperity of the preceding Mycenaean and the subsequent Archaic periods are still stark. Nevertheless, already at the time of the first edition, it was clear that some coastal regions of the Aegean presented shining exceptions to the general darknessespecially Euboea and Crete, and largely through their frequent intercourse with the older civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean. In their eastward exchanges, the Euboeans took an active, the Cretans a passive, part. Recent discoveries in both islands have produced a wealth of new evidence that enhances the contrast with ‘darker’ areas and, indeed, calls into question whether the Euboeans and Cretans ever had to endure a true Dark Age. Much of this section, then, must be devoted to recent finds from those two islands, and a consequent reappraisal of their material record. Starting with Euboea and ending with Crete, we shall witness two different manifestations of that well-worn tag, ex oriente lux. In between, we can deal more briefly with the new discoveries from the rest of the Greek world: the mainland, the Cyclades and the Eastern Aegean.