Greek Dark Ages

Greek Dark Ages

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The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age (ca. 1200 BC–800 BC) are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 from the presumed Dorian invasion
Dorian invasion
The Dorian invasion is a concept devised by historians of Ancient Greece to explain the replacement of pre-classical dialects and traditions in southern Greece by the ones that prevailed in Classical Greece...

 and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 city-states in the 9th century BC. These terms are gradually going out of use, since the former lack of archaeological evidence in a period that was mute in its lack of inscriptions (thus "dark") has been shown to be an accident of discovery rather than a fact of history.

The archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 in the eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned. Around this time, the Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 civilization suffered serious disruption and cities from Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 to Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 were destroyed. Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece the Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 writing of the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 used by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceases. The decoration on Greek pottery after ca 1100 BC lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles (1000-700 BC). It was previously thought that all contact was lost between mainland Hellenes and foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth; however, artifacts from excavations at Lefkandi
Lefkandi
Lefkandi is a coastal village on the island of Euboea. Archaeological finds attest to a settlement on the promontory locally known as Xeropolis, while several associated cemeteries have been identified nearby. The settlement site is located on a promontory overlooking the Euripos, with small bays...

 on the Lelantine Plain
Lelantine War
The Lelantine War was a long-remembered military conflict between the two ancient Greek city states Chalkis and Eretria in Euboea which took place in the early Archaic period, at some time between ca 710 and 650 BC. The reason for war was, according to tradition, the struggle for the fertile...

 in Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 show that significant cultural and trade links with the east, particularly the Levant coast, developed from c 900 BC onwards, and evidence has emerged of the new presence of Hellenes in sub-Mycenaean Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and on the Syrian coast at Al Mina
Al Mina
Al-Mina is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontes, near present-day Samandag in Turkey's province of Hatay....

.

Fall of the Mycenaeans


From around 1200 BC, the palace centres and outlying settlements of the Mycenaeans' highly organized culture began to be abandoned or destroyed, and by 1050 BC, the recognisable features of Mycenaean culture had disappeared. Many explanations attribute the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 to climatic or environmental catastrophe combined with an invasion by Dorians or by the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

 or the widespread availability of edged weapons of iron, but no single explanation fits the available archaeological evidence.

Mediterranean warfare and the Sea Peoples


Around this time large-scale revolts took place in several parts of the Eastern Mediterranean, and attempts to overthrow existing kingdoms were made as a result of economic and political instability by surrounding people who were already plagued with famine and hardship. Part of the Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 kingdom was invaded and conquered by the so-called Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

 whose origins - perhaps from different parts of the Mediterranean, such as the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, the Aegean and Anatolian regions - remain obscure. The thirteenth and twelfth-century inscriptions and carvings at Karnak
Karnak
The Karnak Temple Complex—usually called Karnak—comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings, notably the Great Temple of Amun and a massive structure begun by Pharaoh Ramses II . Sacred Lake is part of the site as well. It is located near Luxor, some...

 and Luxor
Luxor
Luxor is a city in Upper Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The population numbers 487,896 , with an area of approximately . As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open air museum", as the ruins of the temple...

 are the only sources for "Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

", a term invented by the Egyptians themselves and recorded in the boastful accounts of Egyptian military successes:
A similar assemblage of peoples may have attempted to invade Egypt twice, once during the reign of Merneptah
Merneptah
Merneptah was the fourth ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years between late July or early August 1213 and May 2, 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records...

 about 1224 BC, and then again during the reign of Ramesses III
Ramesses III
Usimare Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE...

 about 1186 BC.

Dark Age culture


With the collapse of the palatial centres, no more monumental stone buildings were built and the practice of wall painting may have ceased; writing in the Linear B script ceased, vital trade links were lost, and towns and villages were abandoned. The population of Greece was reduced, and the world of organized state armies, kings, officials, and redistributive systems that offered security to individuals disappeared. Most of the information about the period comes from burial sites and the grave goods contained within them. To what extent the earliest Greek literary sources, Homeric epics
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 (8th-7th century) and Hesiod's Works and Days
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 (7th century) describe life in the 9th-8th centuries remains a matter of considerable debate.

The fragmented, localized and autonomous cultures of reduced complexity are noted for such diversity of their material culture
Material culture
In the social sciences, material culture is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. Studying a culture's relationship to materiality is a lens through which social and cultural attitudes can be discussed...

s in pottery styles (conservative in Athens, eclectic at Knossos), burial practices and settlement structures, that generalizations about a "Dark Age society" are misleading. Tholos tombs are found in early Iron Age Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 and in Crete but not in general elsewhere, and cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 is the dominant rite in Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, but nearby in the Argolid it was inhumation. Some former sites of Mycenaean palaces, such as Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 or Knossos
Knossos
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...

, continued to be occupied; other sites' experiencing an expansive "boom time" of a generation or two before they were abandoned, James Whitley has associated with the "Big-man social organization
Big man (anthropology)
A Big Man refers to a highly influential individual in a tribe, especially in Melanesia and Polynesia. Such person has no formal authority , but maintains recognition through skilled persuasion and wisdom.-Big Man "system":The American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins has been a proponent of the Big...

", based on personal charisma and inherently unstable: he interprets Lefkandi
Lefkandi
Lefkandi is a coastal village on the island of Euboea. Archaeological finds attest to a settlement on the promontory locally known as Xeropolis, while several associated cemeteries have been identified nearby. The settlement site is located on a promontory overlooking the Euripos, with small bays...

 in this light.

Some regions in Greece, such as Attica, Euboea and central Crete, recovered economically from these events faster than others, but life for the poorest Greeks would have remained relatively unchanged as it had done for centuries. There was still farming, weaving, metalworking and potting in this time, albeit at a lower level of output and for local use in local styles. Some technical innovations were introduced around 1050 BC with the start of the Proto-geometric style (1050-900 BC), such as the superior pottery technology, which resulted in a faster potter's wheel for superior vase shapes and the use of a compass to draw perfect circles and semicircles for decoration. Better glazes were achieved by higher temperature firing of clay. However, the overall trend was toward simpler, less intricate pieces and fewer resources being devoted to the creation of beautiful art.

During this time the smelting of iron was learnt from Cyprus and the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, exploited and improved upon, using local deposits of iron ore previously ignored by the Mycenaeans: edged weapons were now within reach of less elite warriors. Though the universal use of iron was one shared feature among Dark Age settlements, it is still uncertain when the forged iron weapons and armour achieved superior strength to those that had been previously cast and hammered from bronze. From 1050 BC many small local iron industries appeared, and by 900 almost all weapons in grave goods were made of iron.

The distribution of the Ionic Greek dialect in historic times indicates early movement from the mainland of Greece to the Anatolian coast to such sites as Miletus
Miletus
Miletus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia , near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria...

, Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

, and Colophon
Colophon
Colophon was a city in the region of Lydia in antiquity dating from about the turn of the first millennium-BC. It was likely one the oldest of the twelve Ionian League cities, between Lebedos and Ephesus and its ruins are in the eponymously named modern region of Ionia.The city's name comes from...

, perhaps as early as 1000 BC, though the contemporaneous evidence is scanty. In Cyprus some archaeological sites begin to show identifiably Greek ceramics, a colony of Euboean Greeks was established at Al Mina
Al Mina
Al-Mina is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontes, near present-day Samandag in Turkey's province of Hatay....

 on the Syrian coast, and a reviving Aegean Greek network of exchange can be detected from 10th-century Attic Proto-geometic pottery found in Crete and at Samos
Samoš
Samoš is a village in Serbia. It is situated in the Kovačica municipality, in the South Banat District, Vojvodina province. The village has a Serb ethnic majority and its population numbering 1,247 people .-See also:...

, off the coast of Asia Minor.

Post-Mycenaean Cyprus


Cyprus was inhabited by a mix of "pelasgian" and Phoenicians, joined during this period by the first Greek settlements. Potters in Cyprus initiated the most elegant new pottery style of the 10th and 9th centuries, the 'Cypro-Phoenician' 'black on red' style of small flasks and jugs which held precious contents, probably scented oil. Together with distinctively Greek Euboean ceramic wares it was widely exported and is found in Levantine sites, including Tyre and far inland in the late 11th and 10th centuries. Cypriote metalwork was exchanged in Crete.

Society


It is likely that Greece during this period was divided into independent regions organized by kinship groups and the oikoi
Oikos
An oikos is the ancient Greek equivalent of a household, house, or family....

or households, the origins of the later poleis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

. Excavations of Dark Age communities such as Nichoria
Nichoria
Nichoria is a site in Messenia, on a ridgetop near modern Rizomylos, at the northwestern corner of the Messenian Gulf. From the Middle to Late Bronze Age it cultivated olive and terebinth for export...

 in the Peloponnese have shown how a Bronze Age town was abandoned in 1150 BC but then reemerged as a small village cluster by 1075 BC. At this time there were only around forty families living there with plenty of good farming land and grazing for cattle. The remains of a 10th century building, including a megaron
Megaron
The megaron is the great hall of the Grecian palace complexes. It was a rectangular hall, fronted by an open, two-columned porch, and a more or less central, open hearth vented though an oculus in the roof above it and surrounded by four columns. It is the architectural predecessor of the...

, on the top of the ridge have led to speculation that this was the chieftain’s house. This was a larger structure than those surrounding it but it was still made from the same materials (mud brick and thatched roof). It was perhaps also a place of communal storage of food and of religious significance. High status individuals did in fact exist in the Dark Age, but their standard of living was not significantly higher than others of their village. Most Greeks did not live in isolated farmsteads but in small settlements. It is likely that, as at the dawn of the historical period two or three hundred years later, the main economic resources for each family was the ancestral plot of land of the oikos, the kleros or allotment; without this a man could not marry.

Lefkandi burial



Lefkandi
Lefkandi
Lefkandi is a coastal village on the island of Euboea. Archaeological finds attest to a settlement on the promontory locally known as Xeropolis, while several associated cemeteries have been identified nearby. The settlement site is located on a promontory overlooking the Euripos, with small bays...

 on the island of Euboea was a prosperous settlement in the Late Bronze Age, possibly to be identified with old Eretria
Eretria
Erétria was a polis in Ancient Greece, located on the western coast of the island of Euboea, south of Chalcis, facing the coast of Attica across the narrow Euboean Gulf. Eretria was an important Greek polis in the 6th/5th century BC. However, it lost its importance already in antiquity...

. It recovered quickly from the collapse of Mycenaean culture, and in 1981 excavators of a burial ground found the largest 10th century building yet known from Greece. Sometimes called 'the heroon
Heroon
A heroon , also called heroum, was a shrine dedicated to an ancient Greek or Roman hero and used for the commemoration or cult worship of the hero. It was often erected over his supposed tomb or cenotaph....

, this long narrow building (150 feet by 30 feet) contained two burial shafts. In one were placed four horses and the other contained a cremated male buried with his iron weapons and an inhumed woman, heavily adorned with gold jewellery. The man's bones were placed in a bronze jar from Cyprus, with hunting scenes on the cast rim. The woman was clad with gold coils in her hair, rings, gold breast plates, an heirloom necklace (an elaborate Cypriot or Near Eastern necklace made some 200–300 years before her burial) and an ivory handled dagger at her head. The horses appeared to have been sacrificed, some appearing to have iron bits in their mouths. No evidence survives to show whether the building was erected to house the burial, or whether the 'hero' or local chieftain in the grave was cremated and then buried in his grand house; whichever is true, the house was soon demolished and the debris used to form a roughly circular mound over the wall stumps.

Within the next few years and down to c 820 BC, rich members of the community were cremated and buried close to the eastern end of the building, in much the same way as Christians might seek to be buried close to a saint's grave; the presence of imported objects, notable throughout more than eighty further burials, contrast with other nearby cemeteries at Lefkandi and attest to a lasting elite tradition.

End


The archaeological record of many sites demonstrates that the economic recovery of Greece was well advanced by the beginning of the 8th century BC. Both cemeteries such as the Kerameikos in Athens or Lefkandi
Lefkandi
Lefkandi is a coastal village on the island of Euboea. Archaeological finds attest to a settlement on the promontory locally known as Xeropolis, while several associated cemeteries have been identified nearby. The settlement site is located on a promontory overlooking the Euripos, with small bays...

 and sanctuaries such as Olympia
Olympia, Greece
Olympia , a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every Olympiad , the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC...

, recently-founded Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

 or the Heraion of Samos, first of the colossal free-standing temples, are richly provided with offerings including items from the Near East, from Egypt and from Italy made of exotic materials such as amber
Amber
Amber is fossilized tree resin , which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents...

 or ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, while exports of Greek pottery demonstrate contact with the Levant coast at such sites as Al Mina
Al Mina
Al-Mina is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontes, near present-day Samandag in Turkey's province of Hatay....

 and with the region of the Villanovan culture to the north of Rome. The decoration of pottery becomes more and more elaborate and includes figured scenes which parallel the stories of Homeric Epic
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. Iron tools and weapons become better in quality, while renewed Mediterranean trade must have brought new supplies of copper and tin to make a wide range of elaborate bronze objects such as tripod stands
Sacrificial tripod
A sacrificial tripod was a type of altar used by the ancient Greeks. The most famous was the Delphic tripod, on which the Pythian priestess took her seat to deliver the oracles of the deity. The seat was formed by a circular slab on the top of the tripod, on which a branch of laurel was deposited...

 like those offered as prizes in the funeral games celebrated by Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

 for Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

. Other coastal regions of Greece besides Euboea were once again full participants in the commercial and cultural exchanges of the eastern and central Mediterranean, while communities developed which were governed by an elite group of aristocrats rather than by the single basileus
Basileus
Basileus is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. It is perhaps best known in English as a title used by the Byzantine Emperors, but also has a longer history of use for persons of authority and sovereigns in ancient Greece, as well as for the kings of...

or chieftain of earlier periods.

New writing system


By the mid- to late eighth century a new alphabet system was adopted from the Phoenicians by a Greek with first-hand experience of it. The Greeks adapted the Phoenician writing system, notably introducing characters for vowel sounds and thereby creating the first truly alphabetic (as opposed to abjad
Abjad
An abjad is a type of writing system in which each symbol always or usually stands for a consonant; the reader must supply the appropriate vowel....

) writing system. The new alphabet quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean and was used to write not only the Greek language, but also Phrygian
Phrygian language
The Phrygian language was the Indo-European language of the Phrygians, spoken in Asia Minor during Classical Antiquity .Phrygian is considered to have been closely related to Greek....

 and other languages in the eastern Mediterranean. As Greece sent out colonies west towards Sicily and Italy (Pithekoussae, Cumae
Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

), the influence of their new alphabet extended further. The ceramic Euboean artifact inscribed with a few lines written in the Greek alphabet referring to "Nestor's cup
Nestor's Cup
The term Cup of Nestor or Nestor's Cup can refer to:#A golden mixing cup, described in Homer's Iliad, belonging to Nestor, the king of Pylos....

", discovered in a grave at Pithekoussae (Ischia) dates from c. 730 BC; it seems to be the oldest written reference to the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. The Etruscans benefited from the innovation: Old Italic
Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

 variants spread throughout Italy from the 8th century. Other variants of the alphabet appear on the Lemnos Stele and in the alphabets of Asia Minor
Alphabets of Asia Minor
Various alphabetic writing systems were in use in Iron Age Anatolia to record Anatolian dialects and the Phrygian language. Previously several of these languages had been written with logographic and syllabic systems....

. The previous Linear scripts were not completely abandoned: the Cypriot syllabary
Cypriot syllabary
The Cypriot syllabary is a syllabic script used in Iron Age Cyprus, from ca. the 11th to the 4th centuries BCE, when it was replaced by the Greek alphabet. A pioneer of that change was king Evagoras of Salamis...

, descended from Linear A
Linear A
Linear A is one of two scripts used in ancient Crete before Mycenaean Greek Linear B; Cretan hieroglyphs is the second script. In Minoan times, before the Mycenaean Greek dominion, Linear A was the official script for the palaces and religious activities, and hieroglyphs were mainly used on seals....

, remained in use on Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 in Arcadocypriot Greek
Arcadocypriot
Arcadocypriot or southern Achaean was an ancient Greek dialect spoken in Arcadia in the central Peloponnese and in Cyprus. Its resemblance to Mycenaean Greek, as it is known from the Linear B corpus, suggests that Arcadocypriot is its descendant...

 and Eteocypriot
Eteocypriot
Eteocypriot was a pre-Indo-European language spoken in Iron Age Cyprus. The name means "true" or "original Cyprian" parallel to Eteocretan, both of which names are used by modern scholarship to mean the pre-Greek languages of those places. Eteocypriot was written in the Cypriot syllabary, a...

 inscriptions until the Hellenistic era
Hellenistic Greece
In the context of Ancient Greek art, architecture, and culture, Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC...

.