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Minyan Ware - a red clay sauceboat with a long spout

Minyan Ware – Greek pottery from about 2000 BC


The new invaders who destroyed Lerna at the end of the Early Bronze Age in 2100 BC, were the Greeks. Unlike the people of Sesklo, Dimini and Lerna, these new people were Indo-Europeans, or Yamnaya. They came from Central Asia, and they spoke an early form of the Greek language. Other Indo-European groups, speaking related languages, reached Northern Europe, Italy, and Asia Minor (modern Turkey) about the same time. Probably all these people left home because of a serious drought that also ended the Egyptian Old Kingdom.

Who were the Yamnaya?
More about the drought
The Early Bronze Age in Greece
Bronze Age timeline
All our ancient Greece articles

Horses and chariots

Women from Mycenaean Greece driving a chariot, about 1300 BC

Women from Mycenaean Greece driving a chariot, about 1300 BC

Their special military weapon, which helped them to beat the Early Bronze Age people of Greece, seems to have been the horse, men fighting from chariots drawn by horses, or maybe just using horses to get from one place to another very quickly. Early Bronze people at Lerna didn’t have horses, and then the Minyans of the Middle Bronze Age (like other Indo-European groups) did have horses.

Where do horses come from?

The potter’s wheel

The Greeks also brought with them a new invention from West Asia: the pottery wheel. The wheel made it possible to make clay pots much more quickly, and therefore more cheaply, than before.

The invention of the wheel
Minyan pottery in Greece
More Greek pottery
History of pottery

Minyan Greece: the Middle Bronze Age

For about five hundred years after the Greeks invaded, until about 1600 BC, not much seems to have happened in Greece. On the neighboring island of Crete, which nobody had invaded, the Minoans were building palaces and trading with the Egyptians and West Asians, but the Greeks were more isolated.

Who were the Minoans?
Middle Kingdom Egypt
Hammurabi and Babylon

They were busy learning the new culture of the people they had invaded and gradually mixing with the people who were already in Greece. They were also working out trade routes with Italy and with northern Europe.

Bronze Age Italy
Northern Europe in the Bronze Age

The Middle Bronze Age in Greece has been called “500 years without an idea.” This is not quite right, though. The Greeks were getting ready for their first appearances in the Mediterranean political scene.

Learn by doing: ride a horse (there may be a rental place near you)
More about the Late Bronze Age in Greece

Bibliography and further reading about the Middle Bronze Age in Greece:

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

Greek Art and Archaeology (3rd Edition), by John G. Pedley (2002) This has a lot of good information and is pretty readable. Plus, Pedley is really an expert in this field.

The Aegean Bronze Age (Cambridge World Archaeology) by Oliver Dickinson, Norman Yoffee (Editor) (1994)

The Coming of the Greeks, by Robert Drews (reprinted 1994). About the arrival of the Indo-Europeans in Greece, about 2000 BC.

More about the Late Bronze Age
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