10 May 2023

What is the Pre-Hellenic Stage? – Towns and characteristics at this stage

By Donald

The pre-Hellenic period refers to the time in the history of ancient Greece that preceded the classical Hellenic culture, that is, before the 5th century BC. During this stage, different peoples inhabited the Greek territory and the Aegean islands, such as the Minoans, the Mycenaeans, the Achaeans and the Dorians, among others. Next, we will talk about it.

What is the pre-Hellenic period?

The pre-Hellenic period is a term used by historians and archaeologists to refer to the period of Greek history which extends from the beginning of Greek civilization to the appearance of classical Hellenic culture in the fifth century BC. During this Era, Greek society was in a state of constant evolution and change. The people of the time lived in small villages and city-states, and were organized in a hierarchical social structure.

Religion was a fundamental part of life for the pre-Hellenic Greeks, and their beliefs and practices were a mixture of local traditions and myths of Eastern origin. The Greek gods were anthropomorphic and were believed to intervene in people’s daily lives. There was also a major commercial and cultural expansion in the eastern Mediterranean. They established contacts with other cultures, such as the Egyptian and the Phoenicianand this influenced his art, architecture and literature.

Between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, there was a great cultural flowering known as the Dark Ages Revival. During this period, epic poetry developed, with works such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and important city-states such as Athens and Sparta were created.

What were the pre-Hellenic peoples or civilizations?

There were several pre-Hellenic cultures and peoples in ancient Greece, which is essential to know in the history of this period. Some of them are:

  • the minoans: They settled on the island of Crete and in areas of the islands of the Aegean Sea and the coast of mainland Greece between the years 3000 BC and 1400 BC The Minoan civilization was known for its great palaces, its art and its hieroglyphic writing.
  • the mycenaeans: They were founded in mainland Greece between 1600 BC and 1100 BC. They stood out for their fortified palaces, their skill in metallurgy and their Linear B script.
  • the achaeans: They were a group of Indo-European peoples who formed on mainland Greece and the islands of the Aegean Sea in the 15th century BC.
  • the dorians: It was another set of Indo-European peoples who settled in Greece around the twelfth century BC and displaced the Mycenaeans.
  • The Aeolians and Ionians: They were also Indo-European regions that originated in the territories of Thessaly and northern Greece and on the coast of Asia Minor.
  • The Tyrrhenians or Etruscans: They were created on the Italian peninsula and had a strong influence on the culture and religion of the Greeks.

These pre-Hellenic peoples played an important role in the formation of the Greek identityand some of their legacies and traditions were carried on into the later Classical Hellenic civilization.

What are the characteristics of the pre-Hellenic peoples?

They had a series of cultural and social characteristics that differentiated them from later stages and that allowed them to develop their own traditions and ways of life. Some of these are the following:

  • nested societies: The pre-Hellenic peoples were organized in hierarchical societies in which power and authority were in the hands of political and religious leaders. These chiefs were considered as intermediaries between the gods and the people and had an important role in social and cultural life.
  • Religious and mythological beliefs: Religion was a fundamental part of their history and was manifested in their art, their architecture and their festivities. Their beliefs and myths were a mixture of local traditions and oriental elements and were represented by anthropomorphic images of the gods and demigods.
  • art and architecture: They produced a great deal of art and architecture that reflected their religion and way of life. Minoan palaces, Mycenaean tombs, funerary stelae, and bronze and ceramic objects are some examples of his art.
  • Writing: Some pre-Hellenic peoples, such as the Minoans and Mycenaeans, developed writing systems that allowed them to record their history and beliefs. The hieroglyphic and linear B were some of the techniques used by these peoples.
  • Trade and cultural contacts: They established commercial and cultural contacts with other cultures of the eastern Mediterranean, such as the Egyptians and the Phoenicians, and this influenced their art, architecture and literature.

What is Pre-Hellenic architecture?

It refers to the architectural production of the peoples who inhabited ancient Greece before the appearance of classical Hellenic culture, that is, before the 5th century BC. This pre-Hellenic architecture includes construction styles and techniques from different periods and regions, and is characterized for great diversity and variety. Some of the features are the following:

  • underground constructions: They built underground structures, such as the catacombs of the Mycenaean era.
  • Palaces and fortified cities: The Minoans and Mycenaeans built great palaces that were centers of political and religious power.
  • megalithic constructionss: The megaliths, or huge blocks of stone, were material that was used by the peoples to build tombs and sanctuaries.
  • construction techniques: They used a wide variety of building methods, such as the use of masonry, ashlars, columns and beams.
  • Ornamentation: It was an important part of pre-Hellenic architecture, geometric and figurative motifs and designs were used to decorate buildings and structures.
  • proportions and symmetry: They gave great importance to the proportions and symmetry in the work of their buildings, as can be seen in the Minoan palaces and in the Mycenaean tombs.