Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Mainland Greece is on the left and Turkey is on the right,and the Greek islands are scattered between them

Mainland Greece is on the left and Turkey is on the right,and the Greek islands are scattered between them

When was the Mesolithic in Greece?

Nobody knows much yet about the people of Greece in the Middle Stone Age – the Mesolithic (approximately 9000-7000 BC). This was the time just after the end of the last Ice Age. In Asia and Africa, people were starting to farm food and grow flax and hemp to make clothes, but in Greece (and the rest of Europe) people were not farming yet.

Timeline of world history: the Stone Age
The Stone Age in West Asia
The Stone Age in Africa

What was life like in Mesolithic Greece?

By this time there weren’t any more Neanderthals in Greece, only modern humans. People still lived mainly from gathering and hunting and fishing, especially for tuna fish. They still did not farm or use metal or build houses. Probably most people lived in houses built of sticks and mud, but we don’t have those houses anymore. We find out about them from the remains they left in caves, when they stayed there.

What is gathering?
More about fishing
The Paleolithic in Greece
The Neolithic in Greece
All our ancient Greece articles

Sailing and obsidian

Obsidian tools: thin sticks of obsidian glass chipped into knives and arrowheads

Obsidian tools

Somebody from Mesolithic Greece seems to have sailed on the Mediterranean Sea in small boats made of reeds and animal skins. (But they may well have had boats even in the Paleolithic.) People in Mesolithic Greece would probably have needed boats to catch tuna, and also they must have sailed because they used tools made of obsidian. You can’t get obsidian on the Greek mainland, only on the volcanic islands nearby.

What is obsidian?
Early history of boats
Greek ships and sailing
What is the Aegean Sea?

The nearest place where there is obsidian is on the Aegean islands between Greece and Turkey. So either the mainland Greeks were sailing to the islands to get obsidian, or the islanders were sailing to Greece to sell it to them.

Mesolithic trade

In order to get obsidian, the people of mainland Greece were probably selling something in return. They may have enslaved people and sold them, or they may have fought as mercenary soldiers. Maybe they sold dried fish, or furs from animals they hunted: both of those are common early trade items. They probably made baskets, so they could have sold those. And they probably made a lot of things out of straw, like rugs, hats, shoes, and sleeping mats.

History of slavery
What are mercenaries?
History of baskets
What did people make from straw?

Learn by doing: go to a rock shop and check out some obsidian
More about the Neolithic in Greece

Bibliography and further reading about Greece in the Stone Age:

The Stone Age: What Life Was Like for the Earliest Humans, by Philip Steele (2000). Includes instructions for projects.

Eyewitness: Early Humans, by Nick Merriman (2000). With great pictures.

The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction, by William Biers (revised edition 1996)Biers writes very clearly and has a lot of good pictures.

The Early Neolithic in Greece : The First Farming Communities in Europe (Cambridge World Archaeology), by Catherine Perlès and Norman Yoffee (Editor) (2001).

More about the Greek Neolithic
Ancient Greece home