Was Ancient Greece essentially a Middle Eastern civilization?

Mar 2015
402
New York
Interesting theory and the people who think your wrong are just as wrong. These are the same people who think history is only Adam and Eve, Greece, Rome and Christ. Nothing before that and a big blank 1400 something years till Columbus the Great single handedly discovered the new world and they and their limited opinions lived happily ever after here on historum.

Now thats what I call a 101 history buff!
 
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Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,129
Scandinavia, Balkans, Anatolia, Hatay
Comparing the ancient traditions and what some or maybe also modern established theories say does many things not make sense. That was also my point where myself cant take everything of modern theories of where and when.
I think that is because the ancient term Pelasgians, seems to be a generic term for various pre-Greek inhabitants, not a specific group. If you read (modern) articles regarding them you will see that most historians make that comment. It is simply an ambiguous term.

Second, you do not have theories regarding the Aegean populations, you have data. There is a big difference. A theory is that of Renfrew for instance. You obviously have the spread of farming from Anatolia to Greece and then to Europe. That is the fact. The theory is that those farmers were bearers of Proto-Indo-European (including Greek). This theory is popularized by journalists and people who just find it fascinating, but rejected by linguists (the vast majority at least).

From what I understand, you must have read various things on pre-Greek from what I call the "hokus pokus era" (pre 50s) when there was too much of baseless assumptions (so I can fully understand your distrust). Because of all this (excuse me) crap, there was a total stop in Pre-Greek studies, as it became almost a taboo. It is now, with the advancement of archaeology and linguistics that you have some really nice breakthroughs, but the information about them is hidden in non-public libraries and paid journals.


According also to the ancient historians was the Pelasgians autochthonus and envolving in Arcadia from a nearly totally mountainous wild lifestyle (nothing to do with Anatolia nor with agriculture called also proselenes - being there before the moon exist to mark howold they was in historical times) into civilised people, also there was according to the legend the very first city founded Lycosoura but also the very first settlement in otheer lands , Italy which some tribes where the later historical greek colonists met there thad their roots on those settlers from Arcadia. Its not only Pelasgians and Arcadia and the ancient oral and writen traitions about. If myself check out many things didnt fit and as myself wrote before modern explanations dont are enough personally for me to fully accept them. I could found about some of them different explanations out of my mind who could pass also giving another direction how things happened and why.

Also another example the Kouretes was the Aetolians in older times , read that from an ancient source but dont hold exactly the details about nor I remember exactly , its another connection with Crete which could show a direct connection from the Minoans with mainland Greece.

About what myself mean when writing Pelasgians not much more or less again than myself understand from the ancient writings, in our days reduced to just a pre greek tribe which spoke a barbarian tongue back than the ancestors of the Greeks themselfes , the first peoplewho unite Greece under a mythical kingdom and colonise not only the greek penninsula but also the Caucasus, the mediteranean, very possible south Anatolia , Italy the iberian penninsula and other places . Them where the hellenic generacames out from not out my own wishful thinking but according the ancient historians and writers themself. Even when in theclassical times they see the remaining Pelasgians not as Greeks they accept their roots from the Pelasgians, Arcadia being the birthplace of them when they later called Arcadians and also Athenians and a big part of Ionians, Aeolians the Peloponnes Thessaly and Epirus had its roots on that population when the other Hellenes came out also from the Pelasgians but sepperate of them to absorb them when they get stronger(the seperation happened after theflood of Deucalion and thats also where coming out of Pelasgians the descedants of Deucalion sepperate of them to absorb and "hellenise" them later)...

So here we will not agree Midas cause so far I know archeology hasnt make some signifficant evolution on that cases nor linguistically is much known despite a text on the net that is called pelasgian (dont know if it really is nor am I an expert) has acoording to my modest knowledge many words inside it that are for us simply greek words. Myself understand your position and how can such a discussion seriously continue, its sad that the standarts modern science move into arent at this time enough to analyse on another basis with facts also outside the ancient writings about them. For a long time myself didnt knew nearly nothing about them also accept the pre Greeks population theory but the ancient texts deliver us at their majority a very different picture . Last but not least myself enjoy your posts from the very beginning and the also closed thread about ancient Epirots where you give some facts about was also the very first contact with the phorum after it follows my registration :)
Don't forget that Greece had since way back in the past hunter gatherers who came from North Africa. Those people are your ancestors as much as the neolithic farmers. However, when the hunter-gatherers met the farmers, the gap between them was larger that it would be for us to meet the Mycenaeans. We're talking about a civilization meeting the people of the Palaeolithic. There was no way, the hunter-gatherers wouldn't assimilate to the safer life-style of the farmers. In the same way, we do not have evidence of their language, which I suspect (you can only take my word for it as it is my theory) was similar to the Pre-Celtic substratum. Words of this hunter-gatherer language did not survive in Greece, with few exceptions like maybe Anc. Macedonian βίῥῥοξ 'shaggy, hairy' and Arcadian Iώ 'moon'.

So, for sure there were older inhabitants in Greece, but the farmers left their obvious marks. Start from the place names, where you have exactly the same ones in Anatolia (e.g. Larissa) or their names are reminiscent of Anatolian languages (e.g. Parnassos or Hurrian like names like Ρέθυμνο, Λάρυμνα etc). If we start with the pre-Greek lexicon, then you have obvious affinities with the immediate non-Semitic/non-Indo-European neighbours from the east and the Caucasus. Now, let the affinities and the lexical similarities aside... That is for amateurs :) You have bloody rules that match!!! That is a very long discussion though.
 
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Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
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Temple of time's comment is not exactly true.

Why, would ethnicity deprive any interest people may have about the past of the land they live on? It is totally absurd! Of course Turks are interested in the past of Anatolia, even if they might not identify themselves with these people. The problem is that in school those chapters of history are passed quickly and young people do not get enough stimulance. They do know about the Hittites, but people like the Lydians, Phrygians etc appear in small letters...

Now, I am not going to comment on the genetics part, but if you think of it a bit Vinnie, it doesn't make sense does it? Ask him to PM you some data on that and lets see if the sayings are in par with it.
 
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Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
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Since, I have been answering mainly on existing posts on this thread, maybe it is hard to see my answer to the OP question.

I consider that you cannot bundle the "Middle east" as a civilization back then. We see the middle east today as a bulk of similar cultures, but that was not the case in antiquity. Thereby, middle eastern is a term that cannot be applied to classify civilizations of antiquity. As I said earlier, Egypt is a category for itself and cannot be grouped with Assyria or the Hittites. The Mitanni as I mentioned earlier consisted by a Indic aristocracy ruling over a Hurrian (non-Semitic/non-Indo-European) population.

Geographically, Greece was a European civilization, that had however much more in common with its immediate Asian neighbours, than with the Celts and the Teutons. It did have however, a lot in common with other Balkanic populations such as the Thracians and of course its western neighbours in Italy. Not to mention the Phrygians, who originally lived in the Balkans before moving to Anatolia.
 
Sep 2015
351
Greece
Since, I have been answering mainly on existing posts on this thread, maybe it is hard to see my answer to the OP question.

I consider that you cannot bundle the "Middle east" as a civilization back then. We see the middle east today as a bulk of similar cultures, but that was not the case in antiquity. Thereby, middle eastern is a term that cannot be applied to classify civilizations of antiquity. As I said earlier, Egypt is a category for itself and cannot be grouped with Assyria or the Hittites. The Mitanni as I mentioned earlier consisted by a Indic aristocracy ruling over a Hurrian (non-Semitic/non-Indo-European) population.

Geographically, Greece was a European civilization, that had however much more in common with its immediate Asian neighbours, than with the Celts and the Teutons. It did have however, a lot in common with other Balkanic populations such as the Thracians and of course its western neighbours in Italy. Not to mention the Phrygians, who originally lived in the Balkans before moving to Anatolia.
If we accept the Kurgan hypothesis as a fact,we could logically assume that early Greeks had strong cultural links with other IE groups.But wasn't culture at the time composed mainly of social hierarchy,burial customs etc?
What I mean is that there is much more to the notion of culture than these "European" shared customs that marked the passage from primitive tribes to civilizations.So if the Early Greeks settled in Greece and mixed with the Neolithical farmers couldn't we assume that the culture they formed was distinct from a shared ''European" culture , as they formed the basics of what we perceive as culture after they left the PIE group?
Something I want to ask is how much of a factor in your opinion was their IE background in the formation of what we know as Ancient Greek culture and how much was the Pre-Greek Neolithical?
 
Nov 2013
842
Lykaonia
It is not like the Pelasgians didnt left anything back nor was hocus pocus that all this greek tribes see themselfes being descedants of the Pelasgians. Another point would be that they was present and the inhabitants of Greece according to the ancients until they just tansform to Hellenes, from populations that came out of them. Cant denie that they had possibly roots from somewhere else but when even into tose what is delivered from ancient sources about them their lines can be followed much more later than the movements you describe.

Indeed its a very big discussion , myself believe that modern sciences just has nearly nothing to touch with the hand about them or they just dont make the right connections since according again t ancient texts the transformation from Pelasgian to mycenean Greece had an overview. Myself would be interested about your opinion on the ancient sources about them (if you have one and you took care about outside of hocus pocus, without any heronie) since its not on topic you can also send me a pm on greek if you want , thanks!
 
Jul 2015
129
New York
Yes, Mediterranean cultures are surprisingly similar. Much of Western culture is a derivative of middle eastern culture. even Christiandom is middle eastern in origin. even as late as the 80's going to Southern Spain, Italy or Greece, it felt very similar to North Africa or Middle East. In fact, if most westerners see what the real jesus looks like, he will be confused with ISIS fighters
 

Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,129
Scandinavia, Balkans, Anatolia, Hatay
If we accept the Kurgan hypothesis as a fact,we could logically assume that early Greeks had strong cultural links with other IE groups.But wasn't culture at the time composed mainly of social hierarchy,burial customs etc?
What I mean is that there is much more to the notion of culture than these "European" shared customs that marked the passage from primitive tribes to civilizations.So if the Early Greeks settled in Greece and mixed with the Neolithical farmers couldn't we assume that the culture they formed was distinct from a shared ''European" culture , as they formed the basics of what we perceive as culture after they left the PIE group?
Something I want to ask is how much of a factor in your opinion was their IE background in the formation of what we know as Ancient Greek culture and how much was the Pre-Greek Neolithical?
Let's start by analysing the group of people who spoke Proto-Indo-European. What are their characteristics? They are nomadic, however they also know agriculture. They were not nomadic before they knew how to domesticate the horse. They must have had some common cults and cultural traits, rooted in the region they inhabited initially.

Now, lets see things in numbers. How many were those pre-proto-Greeks, Celto-Italics, Proto-Germanics? Not so many, compared to the local populations of the regions they penetrated. So, no matter if they became the aristocracy, they were by far outnumbered by the local populations. Now, you might ask the question "is it possible for a small group to rule them all?"*. Yes it is. Look at the Bulgars. A bunch of people, ruling over a vast majority of slavic speakers. Look at the Hittites who started with 3 cities and took over the whole Anatolia. Now, in the first case (the Bulgars) you have a total assimilation of the ruling class, while in the Hittite case you have (in most cases) cultural assimilation of the rulers, but linguistic assimilation of the subjects. The conclusion is that things can go either way linguistically, but culturally the local element usually prevails, with exceptions of course.

Now, if you look at Greece, it seems like the religious rites go back to pre-Greek times (Eleusinian mysteries, Kabeiroi, Anthesteria etc). Yes, Zeus is an Indo-European god, but non-Indo-European cultures did have a storm god as well (Taru, Teshub**) and he was strikingly similar to Zeus and Thor :). Then you have Artemis, a Aegean-Anatolian goddess. You have Athena Potnia, a pre-Greek goddess. You have Hera and yes most gods had a wife in the past, but she is also called Πύννα which is a pre-Greek epithet related to life-giving (remember that Zeus is also a life giver) and mortality (Hattic funa/puna = mortality). I can go on with many many gods. I am not an expert on religion, not even close, but from what I understand the ancient Greek religion is a fusion of Indo-European and Minoan/pre-Greek gods. Those who needed to be erased are know to us as the Titans.

Now, I am far from knowing all the cultural aspects of PIE, but more or less it takes a lot to learn an old dog new tricks, which I think it was the case of the Helladic population.

I hope, I understood your question right and gave some perspective.


* Think if a local opressed population asks your help against a tyrant. If you beat him, you're the man! See what happened with the Vikings in Russia and Ukraine. The locals asked them to become their leaders.

** Before the Hittites conquered the Hattians, their storm god was named Siu (=Zeus). After they moved their capital to Hattusa, Siu was forgotten as a name and Teshub was used.
 
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Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,129
Scandinavia, Balkans, Anatolia, Hatay
It is not like the Pelasgians didnt left anything back nor was hocus pocus that all this greek tribes see themselfes being descedants of the Pelasgians. Another point would be that they was present and the inhabitants of Greece according to the ancients until they just tansform to Hellenes, from populations that came out of them. Cant denie that they had possibly roots from somewhere else but when even into tose what is delivered from ancient sources about them their lines can be followed much more later than the movements you describe.
You are right on this. Remember, that these movements we're talking about occurred 9000+ years before present. With no way of recording this literary, there's no way the memory could have survived other than in few myths like Pelops coming from "Phrygia".


Indeed its a very big discussion , myself believe that modern sciences just has nearly nothing to touch with the hand about them or they just dont make the right connections since according again t ancient texts the transformation from Pelasgian to mycenean Greece had an overview.
Modern sciences see the outcome. How, the outcome came to be is the question. You need to find its "polynomial" if you understand what I mean.

Myself would be interested about your opinion on the ancient sources about them (if you have one and you took care about outside of hocus pocus, without any heronie) since its not on topic you can also send me a pm on greek if you want , thanks!
I have some things. Let me see if they are publicly available and I will get back to you.
 

Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,129
Scandinavia, Balkans, Anatolia, Hatay
After the tsunamis, the Myceneans destroyed what was left of Minoan civilisation, which means the later Greeks didn't experience much of the Minoans.

Destruction of the Minoan Civilization
There are surprising news about this subject Vinnie...

Archaeological Discovery Yields Surprising Revelations about Europe’s Oldest City

Recent fieldwork at the ancient city of Knossos on the Greek island of Crete finds that during the early Iron Age (1100 to 600 BC), the city was rich in imports and was nearly three times larger than what was believed from earlier excavations.
 

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