Literary Sources for Myth

(100,000 BC)
Artifacts: hand axes, flint chips
Lifestyle: food gathering, hunting, and scavenging
Religion: None
Late Paleolithic: (40,000 BC)
Artifacts: bear skulls in caves; cave paintings, fire for ritual, not cooking; burial sites
Lifestyle: food gathering, hunting, scavenging
Religion: 1st evidence of burial of dead
Neolithic: (7,500 BC)
Artifacts: pottery, figurines of fertility goddess, and cave paintings
Lifestyle: seed culture, stock breeding, 1st villages; hunting culture, initiation rituals for hunters in caves
Religion: First great insight: bury seed and life springs from death
Shamanistic: initiation into hunt for young men
Middle Neolithic  (3,500 BC)
Artifacts: Great Temples, elaborate pottery and coins, 1st bronze weapons
Lifestyle: 1st Great Civilizations: Mesopotamia (3500 BC), Egypt (2850 BC) Crete (2500 BC), Indus Valley (2500 BC), China (1500 BC)
Arts of civilization are invented: writing, mathematics, 
monumental architecture, scientific observations of the heavens, temple worship, the kingly art of government, forging of great trade routes
Religion: Worship of the Great Goddess: a symbol of the powers of Space, Time and Matter within whose bound all beings are born, live and die, and from whom all Good and Evil spring. Ritual sacrifice in imitation of the phases of the moon, cycles of stars. Voluntary sacrifice of king as vehicle of succession.

Minoan (3000-1500 BC)

"Minoan" culture on Crete, with large population and rich palace centers. Non-Greek speakers.


Bronze Age (2200 BC- 1600 BC)
Artifacts: rapier sword, long spears, boar's tusk helmets, cumbrous shields, arts of war based on massive numbers, group attacks
Lifestyle: invasion of Mediterranean by nomadic cultures from north: hunters, herders, blacksmiths. Battles for great trade routes.
Religion: Hunters and warriors worshipped gods of the sky, 
Zeus not the Earth Goddess. 
Over the next thousand year period, Greek culture is born: a marriage of the sky gods and earth goddesses: mythology- an oral tradition of hymns, poems, dance and ritual in honor of the gods. Stories ever changing.
(Linear A - still undeciphered)
Late Bronze/ Iron Age: 
1700 BC- 1100 BC.
Development (under Minoan influence), peak and decline (after 1250 BC) of  "Mycenaean" culture in mainland Greece.

fortified citadels, beehive tombs, horse drawn chariots, delicate crafts, Greek language written down;
1450 BC- Fall of Knossus and destruction of Minoan Civilization
1300 BC- Iron Age dawns. New slashing sword, small round shield, peaked helmet indicate a new style of fighting accentuating the individual hero
1250-1150 BC- Trojan War fought for trade routes
Religion: Consolidation of patriarchal domination; Athena born from Zeus' head; 
Dionysus born from Zeus' thigh

(Linear B script used for palace records)

"Dark Age" (transition to Iron Age) (1100-850 BC)

Break-up of Mycenaean civilization: Disintegration of great ruling dynasties, period of migrationsGreek settlements throughout the Aegean Islands and the coast of Asia Minor.


Geometric and Archaic Period (850-480 BC)

Redevelopment of overseas trade.
Alphabetic script adapted from Phoenician in Greece, ca 750.
Emergence of the classical Greek city-states, governed by family groups or dictators (mainly 7th-6th century), or democracies (begun by Athens, 5th century)

Homer - Iliad, 750?
Odyssey, 725-700?
Hesiod - Theogony,
Works & Days,
ca 680?
Homeric Hymns,
lost Cyclic Epics.
Bacchylides, 5th - 6th century?

High Classical Period (480-323 BC)

Greek city-states flourish until overshadowed by the powerful Macedonian kings. Philip of Macedon rules Greece; his son Alexander campaigns as far east as India, conquering Persia and Egypt, before dying in 323 BC

Pindar of Thebes, 518-428;
Aeschylus, 525-456,
Sophocles, 495-405;
Euripides, 480-406
Herodotus, ca 484-425
Plato, 428-347
Demosthenes, 384-322

Hellenistic Period (323-146 BC);
Roman Republic (to 44 BC)

Alexander's empire fragments into Greek monarchies in Macedonia, Syria and Egypt.
Roman overseas expansion begins in 208 BC;
Hellenization of Roman myth & religion.
Greece becomes a Roman province.
The Roman Republic ends with a seizure of power by Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 BC)

Apollonius of Rhodes,
Callimachus, 3rd-2nd century BC

Roman Empire (31 BC on)

Augustus, 31 BC - to 14 AD

Vergil, 70-19 BC
Livy, 59 BC - ?? AD
Ovid, 43 BC 18 AD


Julio-Claudian emperors & successors

Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC),
Apollodorus, 1st century AD
Plutarch, ca 45 AD -ca 125 AD
Pausanias, 115 AD - 180 AD


312 AD - Conversion of Constantine to Christianity.


adapted from 

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