Abstract: Homer and Archaeology

The aim of this lecture is to present an overview of the long-lasting debate whether Homer portrays an existing society or a fictitious one. The analysis focuses on the available archaeological data in comparison with the epics. The discussion is complex since it is today widely accepted that the Homeric epics were not conceived in the 8th cent., but were transmitted orally from generation to generation throughout the Dark Ages, therefore incorporating elements belonging to the long formative period between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the 8th c. B.C. By the Late Geometric period (second half of the 8th c. B.C.) they probably crystallized into an initial written form and would have reached a wider audience. Without pretending to solve the numerous uncertainties, we will attempt to make the point of resent scholarship on the subject and to offer some new suggestions. The phenomenon of the cult of ancestors and heroes towards the end of the Geometric period will be analyzed in more detail.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

A. Mazarakis Ainian, Όμηρος και Αρχαιολογία (Homer and Archaeology), Athens, editions M. Kardamitsa, 2000.

A. Mazarakis Ainian, "Heroes in Early Iron Age Greece and the Homeric epics", in J. Bennet and S. Sheratt (eds), Archaeology and Homeric Epic, 11th Aegean Round Table, Sheffield Centre for Aegean Archaeology19th-21st January 2007, Sheffield, in print.

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