CLSX 525/HA 505

Aegean Bronze Age Chronology

last update: 3 August 2017

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70,000 Palaeolithic (lower, middle, upper)stone tools; Platyvolos skull
15,000 Mesolithicboats; obsidian from Melos
6,000 Neolithic (Early, Middle, Late, Final)the "agrarian revolution" (domestication of plants and animals, settled life in villages, handmade pottery; Franchthi Cave (Middle Pal-EN)
Dimini [MN]
Sesklo [LN]
smelting of copper ("Chalko-lithic")

3000Early Bronze Age2800-2600: EBA I (EM I at Debla)
2600-2200: EBA II (proto-urban [great house; centralized government])
EM II: Vasilike;
EH II: Lerna, Corridor House ("House of the Tiles"), destroyed by fire

2200-2100: EBA III: "Anatolian" pottery; potter's wheel; Greeks?
1900Middle Bronze AgeMiddle Helladic (mainland Greece)
small villages, intra-mural burials (Ayios Stephanos)

Middle Minoan (Crete)
1900-1800: MM IA: writing (Cretan Hieroglyphic)
1800-1700: MM IB-II: "Protopalaces"
1700-1600: MM III: Neopalatial Crete; Linear A
1600Late Bronze AgeMainland
1600-1500: LH I, "Shaft Grave Period"
1600-1525: LM IA end, eruption of Santorini (ca. 1625; see below)
1525-1470: LM IB, destruction of almost all Cretan sites
1470-1400: LM II: Greek take-over of Crete (Final Palatial)

Mycenaean Empire
1400-1375: LB IIIA: early palaces (Menelaion [SP], Mycenae, Tiryns, Thebes, Pylos)
1375-1325: LB IIIB: destruction of Knossos in Crete (Post Palatial)
1325-1225: LB IIIC: destruction of all other Mycenaean centers
1200-1100end of the Aegean Bronze Ageall state-institutions collapse; Sea Peoples invade Egypt

BRONZE AGE: in detail

Notes: low dates (high dates); MY=Mycenae, PY=Pylos, SP=Sparta, TI=Tiryns, TH=Thebes

Early Bronze Age
2800EM IPyrgos wareEH I 
2200EM IIMyrtos "Goddess"; Vasilike ware

fire destructions

EH IILerna

fire destructions

2100EM IIIearly Kamares wareEH IIIearly Gray MinyanAnatolian wares

Middle Bronze Age
1900 (1950)MM IAHieroglyphic writingMH IGray Minyan
1850 (1900)MM IBProto-Palaces
Linear A
1800 (1850)MM IIA MH IIYellow Minyan
1700 (1800)MM IIBheight of Kamares ware

fire destructions

1700 (1775)MM IIINeo-Palaces in Crete; Ayia Irini (Kea) templeMM IIItumuli, Grave Circle B (MY)

Late Bronze Age
1550 (1700)LM IAFloral style pottery

Thera Eruption (ca. 1625)

LH IGrave Circle A

For the eruption date of Santorini (Thera), see note at end of file.

1450 (1610)LM IBMarine style pottery
Ayia Irini statues
fire destructions
LH IIAVapheio tholos
1425 (1550)LM IIKnossos survives
Palace style pottery
LH IIBLinear B
1400 (1490)LM III A1KN Chariot tablets
AT Sarcophagus
Archanes tholos A
LH III A1MY Atreus tholos
1325 (1410)LM III A2 LH III A2Phylakopi West sanctuary
MY citadel walls
1275(1365)LM III BKnossos destroyed;
inscribed stirrup jars to TH;
larnax burials
LH III B1MY: Clytemnestra tholos, west enceint, Lion Gate
TH Kadmeion destroyed
MY destructions outside
1250 (1300)  LH III B2destructions: MY (inside), TI, TH New Palace
Phylakopi sanctuary
1200LM III C LH III C1Pylos destroyed

earthquake (Phylakopi)

1150LM III C midMGUAs;
refuge settlements
LH III C midPhylakopi & Tiryns constrict
1100  LM III C latePhylakopi & Tiryns abandoned

Eruption of Santorini (Thera):

Science 312 (28 April 2006), 547-65: "Chronology for the Aegean Late Bronze Age 1700-1400 B.C.," by Sturt W. Manning, Christoper B. Ramsey, Walter Kutschera, Thomas Higham, Bernd Kromer, Peter Steier, and Eva M. Wild.

In short: the early date for the eruption of Santorini (mid 16th c. BCE, ~1560) is now moved up to the late 17th c. (1621-1605 BCE).

One team led by Sturt Manning, new director of the Aegean Dendrochronology Project at Cornell, produced 127 new C14 dates from Akrotiri (and other Aegean BA sites: seeds, groups of seeds, twig) that span a period from ca. 1700 to 1400 BCE. These new dates also date the eruption to between 1660 and 1613 with 95% confidence, and within 1639-1616 with 68% confidence.

Another team, led by Walter Friedrich (University of Aarhus), radiocarbon dated the olive branch (discovered in 2002 by Tom Pfeiffer, complete with remnants of leaves and twigs, buried alive in the eruption) to 1627-1600 according to its outermost ring, again with 95% confidence (1621-1605 with slightly less confidence).

Although Peter Kuniholm, past director of the ADP-Cornell, cautions that it is more difficult to date olive rings than conifers or oaks, nonetheless a date early in the last quarter of the 17th century seems trustworthy.

John Younger