Friday, April 15, 2011

Appetitive/Reasoning: Greek History Review #8: The Invasion of the Safety Pins

I mentioned in "Greek History Review #7" that I was listening to Berkeley's 2007 History 4A, which is a basic survey history of the Mediterranean world from Mesopotamia to late antiquity. The course is obviously brief, but it was a nice survey of Egypt for me, having little previous experience with Egyptian history. It was not until the moment where she spoke about the end of the Mycenean age that I decided that I really liked (now Professor, then doctoral student) Isabelle Pafford.
Ancient Greece: A Political, Social and Cultural History  The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
I find Mycenean archaeology pretty fascinating, although I know little about it. Until this summer when I started my Greek history review, I had always assumed that the Dorian invasion was a myth made up by the Greeks. It was not until I read an ancient Greek history textbook my grandfather gave to me and (if I remember correctly) Early Greece, proposed the possibility of a possible historical Dorian invasion. Pomoroy et al say that this is problematic because "the only material signs of the Dorians are now dated much later than the destruction period, to around 1000 BC or later" (Pomeroy et al 39). What the book does not say is exactly what constitutes that material evidence. Pafford tells her audience it is a total of 48 non-Mycenean safety pins. Seriously. Safety pins. That just cracked me up. I really enjoy the humor of classical historians.

Apparently, according to Lecture 11, the "safety pins" may correspond to a section in Herodotus that talks about the women with the Heracedae who wore distinctive long pins in their manner of dress. Still, safety pins as the material evidence amuses me.

Perhaps I am an idealist, but I like the idea of an historical Dorian invasion. I am sure that if I ever study the safety pins and any other potential evidence I will be as much of a skeptic as anyone else. I guess I'll see.

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