Reawakening in the East
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Reawakening in the East book
The Proto-Geometric period in Greece can be looked upon both as the first intimation of Greek society and civilisation, and also as the period of minimal external contact in the eastern Mediterranean. But from about 900 BC, we see in the archaeological record the gradual rebirth of contact between various areas of the eastern Mediterranean which was to infiltrate towards the centre and west. The initial impulse for these changes came from the Levant, especially in the development of the trading cities of the east Mediterranean coast which were supplying goods to the established civilisations of the Mesopotamian world, now dominated by the Assyrian empire. Pride of place is always given to the two cities of Tyre and Sidon which initiated the Phoenician trade network, soon to spread as far as Spain and Portugal, but other cities such as Byblos and Al Mina also developed rapidly, dominating coastal harbours, or routes into the interior. The date for the development and the foundation for the Phoenician network is something of a problem, as the mythical foundation dates for many of the colonies receive no support in the archaeological record. Kition in Cyprus, for instance, is supposed to have been founded around 1200 BC, but the excavations have produced no evidence for activity before about 800 BC, while Carthage, which has a traditional foundation date of around 900 BC, archaeologically only starts at 700 BC. The truth probably lies somewhere between the two sets of evidence. Greece was affected fairly early by this trade system, and we can see in the archaeological record the first glimmerings of foreign influences
appearing in burials such as those from Athens in the early Geometric period around 900 BC. From the Kerameikos cemetery in Athens there is an embossed bronze bowl with human figures and animals in a style which certainly originates from the Levant, though no precise origin can be suggested.