The Discovery of the Greek Bronze Age

Overview

J. Lesley Fitton traces this exciting tale of scholarly discovery and weaves it into an engaging, in-depth portrait of Greek Bronze Age civilizations, from their dawning on the Cycladic Isles in the third millennium B.C. to their later flowering in Minoan Crete and then in the Mycenaean centers and finally to their mysterious disappearance in the twelfth century B.C. The result is an elegant assimilation of vast historical detail and a well-illustrated tour of the art and artifacts, the grand palaces and tombs, ...

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Overview

J. Lesley Fitton traces this exciting tale of scholarly discovery and weaves it into an engaging, in-depth portrait of Greek Bronze Age civilizations, from their dawning on the Cycladic Isles in the third millennium B.C. to their later flowering in Minoan Crete and then in the Mycenaean centers and finally to their mysterious disappearance in the twelfth century B.C. The result is an elegant assimilation of vast historical detail and a well-illustrated tour of the art and artifacts, the grand palaces and tombs, the mythical heroes and Trojan treasures that form at least one cradle of our own civilization.

Fitton begins with the early finds of travelers, advances in geology, and research into Homer's identity. She vividly recreates the heroic age of the first archaeological excavations, particularly Heinrich Schliemann's fascinating work at Troy and Mycenae, and Arthur Evans's pioneering excavation and restoration of the Palace of Minos on Crete. The persistent search for signs of writing among Bronze Age Greeks culminates in Fitton's description of the 1952 deciphering of the earliest script used to write Greek. And as her account extends into the present, it encompasses the important contributions of the archaeologists Alan Wace and Carl Blegen, the War's impact on research, and a concise summation of current scholarly trends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Only in the last 125 years have archeologists and historians established that classical Greece had roots in the early Bronze Age cultures that flourished in the Cycladic islands in the third millennium B.C.; in Minoan Crete, whose elaborate palaces were built around 1900 B.C.; and in Mycenae, dominant power of the Greek mainland from 1600 B.C. until the collapse of the Bronze Age in the 12th century B.C. In an exciting, useful, attractively illustrated study, Fitton, a curator at the British Museum, begins with the pioneering excavations of Troy, Mycenae and Minoan Crete by Heinrich Schliemann, Arthur Evans and others, then reviews the consolidation and reinterpretation of their finds by succeeding generations. She also discusses remarkable new finds, such as the discovery in 1984 of a Bronze Age sunken cargo ship off Turkey, and the recent excavation of 16th-century-B.C., Minoan-style wall paintings in Avaris, ancient capital of Egypt's Hyksos kings in the Nile delta. (Mar.)
Bernard Knox
Fitton's book is an authoritative, well illustrated and highly readable history of [Heinrich] Schliemann's pioneering excavations...She deals with the spirited and sometimes rancorous controversies to which these discoveries have given rise and chronicles the developments of new methods and attitudes in archeology. But she also presents the reader with vivid portraits of the personalities and accomplishments of a series of individuals who, like Schliemann, devoted their lives to the search for that lost world which, before Schliemann's excavations, had been dismissed as myth and epic fantasy. -- Bernard Knox, The New Republic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674211896
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/11/1998
  • Series: British Museum Paperbacks Series
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 6.53 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Lesley Fitton is a curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum, where she specializes in the Greek Bronze Age.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 8
Introduction 9
I 'A Past That Never Was Present' 13
The Ancient View of Prehistory 14
Before the Age of Excavation 28
II The Heroic Age of Excavation 47
Schliemann at Troy and Mycenae 48
Christos Tsountas and Other Pioneers 104
Arthur Evans and Minoan Crete 115
Discoveries Elsewhere in Greece 140
III Minoans versus Mycenaeans 149
Alan Wace and Carl Blegen 150
The Interruption of War 166
The Decipherment of Linear B 171
IV Certainties and Uncertainties 179
Later Excavations 180
Current Trends 200
Bibliography 206
Index 210
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