A team of dedicated researchers has recently made a remarkable discovery that sheds new light on the Late Geometric period in ancient Greece, a time that witnessed significant cultural advancements and the beginning of Greek colonization in the central Mediterranean.

By employing cutting-edge radiocarbon dating techniques on animal bones found in stratigraphic sequence with Geometric pottery at the Zagora site on the island of Andros, the researchers have conclusively dated this pivotal period, challenging previously held beliefs and providing a more accurate timeline for this era.

The Late Geometric period, which was previously thought to span from 760-700 BCE, has now been revealed to have encompassed a much longer duration of approximately 150 years.

This groundbreaking finding not only explains the substantial population growth observed during this time but also pushes back the beginning of the Late Geometric period to between 935 and 850 BCE, placing significant cultural events, such as the introduction of the Greek alphabet, much earlier than previously expected.

The researchers’ findings are further supported by the fact that these new dates align with other Iron Age dates from the Mediterranean region and with those indicated by classical literature, such as the founding of Carthage in the late 9th century BCE.

This synchronicity provides a more credible chronology for the Late Geometric period in Greece, allowing for a gradual population increase and the expansion of Greek influence across the Mediterranean.

Bayesian modeling suggests that the Late Geometric I period at Zagora began no later than 935-850 BCE, and even without considering the Bayesian models, the Late Geometric I ceramics from two secure Zagora sites were found in context with animal bones whose unmodeled dates, with 95.4% confidence, are no later than the third quarter of the 9th century BCE. This evidence strongly supports the adoption of a higher chronology for the Late Geometric period, given Zagora’s proximity to Greek ceramic production centers.

The implications of this research extend beyond the Late Geometric period in Greece, as it supports the absolute dates of Carthage, Italy, and central Europe, while also providing a better explanation for the historical events and cultural developments that occurred during the Middle and Late Geometric periods throughout the Mediterranean, such as the adoption of the Greek alphabet.

These groundbreaking findings are expected to encourage further research and the acquisition of radiocarbon dates from Late Geometric I contexts in Greece and beyond, ultimately contributing to a more precise understanding of this crucial phase in Mediterranean history.


Sources

Alagich R, Becerra-Valdivia L, Miller MC, Trantalidou K, Smith C., Mediterranean Early Iron Age chronology: assessing radiocarbon dates from a stratified Geometric period deposit at Zagora (Andros), Greece. Antiquity. Published online 2024:1-16. doi:10.15184/aqy.2024.16


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