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KRONOS Vol. I, Issue 4


Copyright © 1976 by IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY

"Olympia" is a section of the soon to be completed Volume II (The Time of Isaiah and Homer) of the series Ages in Chaos. The entire series will consist of four volumes (the other volumes, since sometime in printer's proofs, are titled Ramses II and His Time and Peoples of the Sea) ."Olympia" follows the section, "The Scandal of Enkomi" that was printed in Pensee X (Winter, 1974-75), pp. 21-23. Both of these sections were written more than a quarter of a century ago, and set in print in 1952 as part of the second volume of Ages in Chaos when the entire work was thought to be comprised of two volumes, the plan that was later changed by extending the second volume, alone, into three.

This February, Velikovsky turned once more his attention to the incomplete intermediary volume. It consists of two parts, "The Dark Age of Greece" and "Assyrian Conquest." With the completion of this volume, the entire series will be complete as well.

The scholarly world without any further deliberation decided not to bring the Mycenaean Age down to the first millennium, but this decision did not eliminate the disturbing facts. At the same time another one-man battle was being carried on at the other end of the front. Greek antiquities, commonly regarded as belonging to the eighth and seventh centuries, were declared by a dissenting authority to date from the second millennium, to have been contemporaneous with the Mycenaean Age, and even to have partly preceded it.

The dissenting scholar, W. Dörpfeld, from 1882 on participated with Schliemann in the excavations at Mycenae. When the Mycenaean tombs were discovered and opened, and the rich inlaid designs in bronze and the ceramics with pictures of marine life were unearthed, the scientific world was amazed by the fact that the ground of Greece should conceal oriental art so unlike the Greek. At that time the idea was expressed that the art objects and the tombs that contained them were of Carian origin of the time of King Minos,(1) or of Phoenician origin,(2) but some scholars would ascribe them to the Achaeans .(3)

After a time one of the progenitors of this last view, A. Fürtwängler, changed his mind. He declared that Mycenaean culture was of greater antiquity than that of the Achaeans and connected it with Minoan art in its later stage discovered on Crete by A. J. Evans. According to this view, the Mycenaean Age came to an end in the second millennium, and the Dorian invasion subsequently brought a primitive art reflected in pottery without designs or with incised designs. A pattern of painted geometric designs developed little by little, reaching its full expression at the end of the eighth and the beginning of the seventh century. Thereafter new motifs were brought into Greek art-griffins, sphinxes, and other oriental figures; this is the period of the orientalization of the art of Greece in the seventh century. The sixth century is the time of "archaic" art, and in due course "archaic" art developed into "classical" art.

This scheme was accepted, and today, with only slight variations, it is the credo of archaeological art.

Dörpfeld insisted that the geometric ware ascribed to the first millennium was actually contemporaneous with, and even antecedent to, the Mycenaean art of the second millennium, and that the "primitive" pottery was also of the second millennium. The latter was actually found in Mycenaean tombs together with the Mycenaean ware. This should signify that in the second millennium two or three different cultures met in Greece. Mycenaean art was, according to the dissident, an imported Phoenician art of the second millennium; Homer, in the Iliad and the Odyssey, gave ample testimony that rich oriental ware and arms were exported by the Phoenicians and also brought from Sidon to Greece by wandering Greeks. A Phoenician crater was the most precious possession in Menelaus' palace.(4) The "Mycenaean ware" that is met all around the Mediterranean was this Phoenician export. Achaeans dwelt in the Mycenaean palaces in Greece, but these palaces were built in a style brought from the Orient.

There exists no similarity between the Minoan art of Crete and Mycenaean art, Dorpfeld proceeded,(5) and it is impossible that the latter was developed from the former. The "Mycenaean" culture was imported not only into Greece but into Crete as well, but it was not born in either place.

"Mycenaean" vessels can be recognized in the tribute of the Keftiu as depicted in the tomb of Rekhmire, the vizier of Thutmose III, but Keftiu, Dorpfeld claimed, is not Crete, as is often asserted,(6) and the Canopus Decree of -238, preserved in Egyptian and Greek, supposedly proves that it was the name for the off-shore islands on which Sidon and Tyre were built.(7)

The archaeological evidence of the contemporaneity of the geometric and Mycenaean ware and of all other products of these two cultures, and even of the partial precedence of the geometric ware, was the basic issue of Dorpfeld, who spent a lifetime digging in Greece. Observing that the Mycenaean Age is contemporaneous with the period of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and that the geometric ware is contemporaneous with the Mycenaean ware, he referred the geometric ware also to the second millennium.(8) This aroused much wrath.

Furtwangler, who, during the excavations of Olympia in the western Peloponnesus, under the direction of Curtius, was the first to attach importance to bits of pottery and who spent over a quarter of a century classifying small finds, bronzes, ceramics, and other products of art, and devised the system of their development, disagreed on all points.

Dorpfeld chose to prove his thesis on the excavations of Olympia, on which he and Furtwangler had both worked since the eighties of the last century. In those early days Curtius was strongly impressed by proofs of the great antiquity of the bronze and pottery discovered under the Heraion (temple of Hera) of Olympia; he was inclined to date the temple in the twelfth or thirteenth century and the bronze and pottery found beneath it in a still earlier period, and this view is reflected in the monumental volumes containing the report of excavation.(9) At that time Furtwangler was also inclined to disregard the chronological value of occasional younger objects found there.(10)

New excavations under the Heraion were undertaken by Dorpfeld for the special purpose of establishing that the finds, as well as the Heraion, date from the second millennium. But the excavated bronze and pottery strengthened each side still more in its convictions. Each of the two scholars brought a mass of material to prove his own point–one, that the geometric ware was contemporaneous with the Mycenaean ware and therefore belongs to the second millennium; the other, that the geometric ware is a product of the first millennium, and especially of the eighth to the seventh centuries, and is therefore separated from the Mycenaean age by "einer ungeheueren Kluft" (a tremendous chasm).

Who but an ignoramus would place in the second millennium the geometric vases, found in the necropolis near the Dipylon Gate at Athens? Were there not found, in this same necropolis, porcelain lions of Egyptian manufacture dating from the Twenty-sixth, the Saitic, Dynasty of Psammetich and Necho?

Were not also a great number of iron tools found beneath the Heraion in Olympia? The Mycenaean Age is the Late Bronze Age; the Geometric Age, that of iron. No true Mycenaean ware was found in Olympia. It is true that a few iron objects have been found in the Mycenaean tombs, but they only show that iron was very precious at the time these tombs were built, claimed Furtwangler.

Both sides linked the question of the date of origin of the Homeric epic to the question at hand. Most scholars claimed that the epics originated in the eighth century. They originated five or six centuries earlier, in the Mycenaean Age, which is also the Geometric Age, maintained the dissident and his followers.

The dispute was waged with "ungehorigen personlichen Beleidigungen" (personal abuse);(11) and a quarter of a century after one of the disputants was resting in his grave, the other, then an octogenarian, filled two volumes with arguments. They vilified each other on their deathbeds, and their pupils participated in the quarrel. In the end the followers of Dorpfeld, the dissident scholar, deserted him and went over to the camp of his detractors.

But by that time he had already been completely discredited, and his obstinacy only made him a target for further attacks by younger scholars properly trained in the science of archaeology, who are able at a glance to tell the exact age and provenience of a shard. They have no doubt whatsoever that the Mycenaean Age came to a close before - 1200 and that the real Geometric Age belongs to the eighth and seventh centuries, and for a long time now the issue has not been open to dispute.

But this does not mean that the facts ceased to perplex. It is stated that "fragments of geometrical vases, undistinguishable from the Dipylon type, have been found on various sites in Greece together with late examples of Mycenaean pottery."(12) But Dipylon vases have been found together with porcelain lions of Egyptian manufacture of the Saitic or Twenty-sixth Dynasty of the seventh century. When, then, did the Mycenaean Age end, in -1200 or -700?

In this dispute between the two scholars both were guided by the chronology of the Egyptologists, according to which the Eighteenth Dynasty ended in the fourteenth century, the Nineteenth Dynasty came to a close before -1200, and the Twenty-sixth Dynasty belongs to the seventh and sixth centuries.(13) In their application of these undisputed facts to the past of Greece, both disputant scholars agreed that the Mycenaean Age belongs to the second millennium.

The Geometric Age did not follow the Mycenaean Age, but was of the same time or even earlier, argued one scholar, and was he wrong? The Geometric Age belongs to the first millennium, argued the other scholar, and was he wrong? Wrong was their common borrowing of dates for the Mycenaean Age from the Egyptologists.

In view of the fact that the later generations of archaeologists followed Furtwangler and not Dorpfeld, it is worthwhile to reproduce the assessment of the latter by one who knew him and his work, herself a great figure in classical studies built on Mycenaean and Classical archaeology, H. L. Lorimer, author of Homer and the Monuments (1950). In the Preface to the book, Lorimer writes:

"I wish to record the deep debt which in common with all Homeric archaeologists I owe to a great figure, forgotten to-day in some quarters and in others the object of an ill-informed contempt. To Wilhelm Dorpfeld, the coadjutor of Schliemann in his later years and long associated with the German Archaeological Institute in Athens, scholars owe not only that basic elucidation of the sites of Tiryns and Troy which ensured their further fruitful exploration, but the establishment of rigidly scientific standards in the business of excavation, an innovation which has preserved for us untold treasures all over the Aegaean area. That in later years he became the exponent of many wild theories is true but irrelevant and does not diminish our debt. In his own realm his work, as those testify who have had access to the daily records of his digs, was as nearly impeccable as anything human can be. . . . "

This is an evaluation of Dorpfeld as an archaeologist from the hand of a scholar who did not follow the lonely scholar on his "wild theories." The archaeological work that brought him to his theories was impeccable; and his theories were wild mainly because he did not make the final step and free the Greek archaeology and chronology from the erroneous Egyptian timetable. The contemporaneity of the Mycenaean and early Geometric wares, if true, contains the clue to the removal of the last argument for the preservation of the Dark Ages between the Mycenaean and the Greek periods of history.


1. U. Kohler, Athenische Mitteilungen, III (1878), 1-13.
2. W. Helbig, Das Homerische Epos, aus den Denkmalern erlautert (Leipzig, 1887).
3. A. Furtwangler and G. Loschcke, Mykenische Vasen (Berlin, 1886), p. ix.
4. Odyssey, IV, 615-19.
5. W. Dorpfeld, Homers Odyssee, die Wiederherstellung des Ursprunglichen Epos (Munich, 1925),I, 304ff.
6. Ibid., p. 314ff.
7. See G. A. Wainwright in Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology (Liverpool, 1914), VI, 24-83.
8. "Dieser geometrische Stil sei uralt, habe vor und neben der mykenischen Kunst bestanden und sei auch durch diese nicht verdrangt worden." W. Dorpfeld, Alt-Olympia (Berlin, 1935), 1, 12.
9. Olympia. Die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabungen, ed. E. Curtias and F. Adler, 10 vols. (Berlin, 1890-97).
10. A. Furtwangler, "Das Alter des Heraion und das Alter des Heiligtums von Olympia," Sitzungsberichte der Philosophisch-Philologischen Klasse der Koniglich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1906, reprinted in Kleine Schriften (Munich, 1912).
11. Dorpfeld, Aft-Olympia, I, 12.
12. E. A. Gardner, Ancient Athens (New York, 1902), pp. 157-58.
13. In Ages in Chaos III ("Ramses II and His Time") the identity of the Nineteenth and the Twenty-sixth Dynasties will be documented.

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