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In most regions of the world, the 8th Century B.C marks the most important time in history of landscapes. So many things took place during this time frame ranging from civilization to other geographical processes. It was also during this time that Greece witnessed the end of period of Dark Ages which later resulted to shaping of existing political form giving rise to the city-state (The British Museum, 2007). The 8th Century is specifically a period which commenced from the day one of 800 BC and spanned until the last day of 701 BC. Osborne (2009) stated that "It is during this period that the Greek landscape draws a lot of historical shaping therefore the 8th Century is an important period for the development of the Greek landscape as suggested by most scholars"
In his article, Jacks (2007) defined landscape as; "a geographical term referring to all those land features which can be seen or which are visible. It comprises of the physical features including the water bodies, living part of ecosystem, artificial features and the ephemeral part of the environment". When studying a landscape of a place, the above components of a general landscape need to be distinguished or each traversed from different components it comprises. Consequently, water body of a landscape includes rivers, lakes and broadly the sea water bodies. The living elements are include the land cover or simply the vegetation which is closely related or influenced by the artificial part which is described the human land uses such as; constructions and structures. Lastly, the ephemeral part is described as the meteorological factors like weather patterns and lighting.
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Aston (1997) said in his book: "history of a landscape can be best understood if the study is flexible and inclusive enough to diversify its perspectives". As a result, the physical elements are best understood if the human cultural presence is taken into consideration. Most of these features are assumed to have been formed several Millennia ago; where some are as old as human history depending on the different religions and beliefs existing in different regions of the world. The studies undertaken on these landscapes have been used to distinguish one region from another where the landscape's outlay and the quality are the parameters. However, these features are not universal for all regions as the relief and the polarity of a place are the major determinants. For example; Polar Regions have an icy landscape, hilly regions have mountainous landscapes, arid regions have desert landscapes, coastal regions have coastal and island landscapes and the highly vegetated regions which have both the wooded and the forested regions (Jacks, 2007). Likewise, the human socio-economic activities have given rise to different landscapes especially the agricultural landscapes commonly found in both the tropical and temperate regions.
Greece is one of the countries located in the southeastern parts of Europe and it is also known as Hellas, formerly the Hellenic Republic. It borders Albania and Bulgaria republics to the north, Turkey eastwards. It is a country which has vast sources of history and much other stored historical information regarding the ancient times which are often quoted as "the ancient Greek". The facts are drawn primarily from archeological findings found on print media, artistic archives, and the archeological sites in Greece and others found in the countries where the later studies and analysis was done. Archeology provides this information in clearly understandable and provable forms. It employs the study of the ancient human societies by retrieving and analyzing the material culture and data found within the environment which was left behind (Tsantakis, 1999-2010). Additionally, archeological studies rely on the artifacts, biofacts, architectural retrieval, and the cultural landscapes.
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Landscape scholars describe Greece as having a wide variety of landscapes which they have put suggestions that most of them developed more during the 8th Century. Some of the examples are: firstly, over two thousand Greece islands which are spread throughout the seas. Rhodes and Crete islands are some of the areas studied by landscape scholars to ascertain the importance of 8th century in their modifications and use. Apart from their unique features, these islands have beaches which carry very fascinating history concerning their earlier settlements. The second Greek landscapes are the seas. The country is surrounded by three seas; Ionian Sea to the west, Sea of Crete southwards and the Aegean sea to the east. All these carry historical backgrounds on the types of access by the Greeks earlier in 800 B.C.
Greece is also made up of several mainlands where some are connected while others are disjoint. Scholars have identified Athens as one of the Greek mainland where its landscape was developed during the 8th Century. Apart from having serene highly populated environment housing over 40% of Greek population, the city also houses archeological museums containing important archeological materials retrieved from sites which also found around the city. Other centuries which were also built during those early times are; Meteora, Arta Bridge, Parga, Pelion, Peloponnese, and Ambracian Gulf all having landscape development dating 8th as suggested by the landscape archeology scholars. Facts are laid on the architectural and artistic constructions which are found here or which have undergone modifications to give rise to the contemporary landscapes.
In order to understand where exactly 8th Century falls in Greek history, one need to understand the "Art of Ancient Greece" which spanned from 1100 B.C-31 B.C. Greek art and architecture all began during the Hellenic Greece characterized by earlier civilization. Such architecture and arts were adapted from western civilization. The first period was from 1100 B.C to 750 B.C and was called Dark Ages. This period was characterized by collapsing of the Mycenaean civilization and the followed readopt ion of the writing skills later in 8th and 7th Century B.C. the skill had been lost after the Trojan Wars when the Mycenaean went through a period of civil wars and invasions. This lead to a decline in their population also associated with the impoverishment and cultural isolation. It was also during this Dark Age when the Greeks settled Ionia. The artisans from Athens championed the painted pottery which was then called protogeometric.
From the Greek-thesaurus.gr, (2010), the second period is called Archaic Period which spanned after the Dark Ages i.e. from 750B.C-500B.C. It was during this period when Greek artisans adopted skills and ideas from foreign artists. During the 7th and 6th Centuries, most cities were under the democracies ruling like the Athenian democracy. This period also saw the stone sculpture and vase painting becoming the mode through which Greeks demonstrated their ideas. This the main difference from the initial Homeric ages. Monumental stones were laid by several communities which use this art to compete amongst themselves. The result was the building of the kore and kouros statutes. The challenge faced by the Greece during this period was the Persian expansion into eastern parts along Aegean Sea which to war break out in 5th century which saw the Greeks becoming victorious.
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The last two periods were the Classical and the Hellenic. The Classical period spanned from 480-338 B.C. the classical art took a central point during this period and the earlier problems faced by artists during the Archaic Period were solved. During this period, the Greek artists were able to make human being sculptures in action or at rest. Painting art disappeared as the Greeks came up with the sculptured gods. The last period is the Hellenic which spanned from 338-31 B.C. this was a very volatile period in Greek history (Aston, 1997). There was rise and diminishing of the Alexander the Great who extended his father's empire. The Greek culture extended from the ethnic Greeks to all Greek-speakers from different ethnicity. Upon his death, the empire was subdivided into several kingdoms. The art shifted from the godlike to the emotional where the Greeks came up with sculptures to portray the emotional characteristics. Of all the centuries the Ancient Greece covered, the 8th is seen by most scholars to have marked an important period in the development of the Greek landscape.
As mentioned before, the period between 800 BC-701 BC was an important period in Greek landscape. It falls under the two historic periods of the ancient i.e. the Dark Age and the Archaic periods. The landscape archeology; which is the study of how the human of the past contributed to shaping of the land around them with or without their consent has revealed human influence on the Greek landscape. This resulted as the human artistic activities came up with several physical features like hieroglyphs which were also associated with environmental modifications as people planted gardens and establishment of village settlement patterns and the pathways leading to them. (Pearson, 2007)
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During this century, there was a widespread drift and the migration to the two major settlements i.e. the mainland Greece and the Aegean islands extending to the coastal regions of Asia Minor. The Greeks deserted the barren and hilly regions to settle on the highly fertile Mycenaean centers. As a result, there was establishment of the Greek city-states therefore changing both the agricultural and settlement landscape. Later when the Mycenaean showed weaknesses, inhabitants who were mainly Dorians were forced to migrate southwards under the assistance from military operations hence the coming up and development of Central Greece and Peloponnese. All these took place until the beginning of the 8th century.
8th century was also marked with the formation of new colonies and cities. This was attributed to higher spread of commercial activities and the guest of virgin lands. Some of the colonies which were developed during this century were; the Eubeans, Spartans, and the Megarians. As a result, there was political decentralization where each city-sate had its own culture. Worshipping was a unifying factor where polytheism was a common practice. This led to creation of Olympian Pantheon which later led to establishment of the Olympic Games becoming the basis for the dating all historical events. To date, the landscape archeologists still use the Olympic Games to estimate the age of their artifacts and associated historical events. (Wilson, 2006)
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Greeks also used this century to realize the importance of their national cohesion. As a result, they were now able to extend their ruling to the Mediterranean. They later developed commercial harbors on it with further colonies originating from Black Sea, Cyprus, and Asia Minor. Their acquired skills and unity was an added advantage for them towards becoming the seafarers where they manage to build several coastal features. This totally transformed the coastal landscape which had not been witnessed during the earlier centuries (Wilson, 2006).
This period is known to have been a major stepping stone for the Greek people as it ended the long centuries of Dark Age which spanned from 1100-800 BC. During this period of Dark Age, both the writing and reading skills are thought to have been lost. Also many settlement villages and urban centers experienced a slow growth of population which also declined with time. With the beginning of the 8th century; Greece witnessed great revolutions in their human lifestyles and activities which later brought a lot of changes in the existing landscapes and the upcoming of new human made physical features. Human beings took advantage of this period to recover the lost skills and techniques lost during the Dark Ages. This was facilitated by the acquired widespread of iron which began during 950 BC. During this period, iron was used for most architectural constructions which changed the landscape outlook throughout the Country.
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According to Yu (1996), he termed the period is as "Geometric Period". Being a unique period compared with the past centuries; Greece entered into a new era of changes where the people in all levels engaged themselves in their socio-economic and cultural revolution. As a result new urban centers were established; iron became a widespread building material which later made Greece a prosperous trader among the mutual partners. All these made the general outlook of the Greek landscape to take a totally different image compared to the earlier Dark Ages (Yu, 1996). As a result, this period is important for the development of Greek landscape as suggested by most scholars
During this period landscaping took another turn as the Geometric pottery became another major artistic work. The features which were created were also decorated using the decorated patterns. This can be proved using the retrieved artifacts found in the landscape archeological books and museums. For this reason, there was creation of artistic works along the coastal regions on the beaches. These can be identified as pot-like features which are laid in clusters with their uses not yet identified but they are speculated to have been used for games and symbolism. Archeological retrieval here is represented in photographs which can be accessed in sites like Acropolis. Also some remnants can are found along the coastal beaches with suggestive clusters. Actually, this geometric pottery practiced at the beginning of 8th Century is an important episode which brought a lot of land shaping otherwise referred to as landscaping in Greek physical environment.
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According to (Wilson, 2006), "it was also during the 800 BC when the earlier lost writing skill was reintroduced. The Greek learning institutions adopted the Phoenician alphabet in the curriculum. This was another boost to the architectural domain as the Greeks could then learn more architecture using a more universal and understandable alphabet". As a result, the acquired skill totally revolutionized the urban landscape as more building were constructed. During this period the existing alphabet was upgraded by adding more letters to represent the vowel sound. This without doubt made learning more advanced and flexible to gather for the needs of students from diverse nationalities who were undertaking their studies and careers in Greece to efficiently communicate. The subsequent architectural works can be found in Acropolis, Athens where the trends in advancing the landscaping have been preserved as artifacts (Wilson, 2006).
Archeological findings which has been recently released by the scholars has also pointed out that 8th century was a very active century as far landscaping is concerned. There are several traces of earlier occupations and burials found in Argolic Plain in the northeastern Peloponnese, Greece (Hunter, & Cox, 2005). This plain is characterized burial remains which are closely related with the Bronze Age cavity tombs and tholoi. Archeologists have argued out that this landscape should be interconnected with the studies of the current landscapes as they have close interconnections. To support the argument, scholars have further pointed out that rituals performed by the earlier inhabitants of the plains left the burial remains which date back to 800 B.C. the landscape archeology asserts an ideological relationship between the cultural activities by the Greeks and the archeological excavations (Vince, 2004). This makes the century to an important period in the development of the Greek landscape and the modification of those which existed before 800 B.C (Hunter, & Cox, 2005).
Religious practices during the 8th century are also some of the evidences the scholars use to support the relevance of the century in development of the Greek landscapes. There was a cult which was commonly known as Tomb cult. This cultural movement gave tombs a special treatment as they were meant for specific uses. This was after the Bronze Age when the cult spread to and was believed by a large part of the population. Between 770 and 700 B.C, a period which was referred as 'Greek Renaissance' facilitated the widespread of the cult where there existed three distinct tomb cults; the intrusion, secondary burials, and deposition of materials (Johnson, 2007). This resulted in the formation of newly regenerated forms of earth making this period an important episode in the Greek history.
Closely related to the tomb cult was the establishment and the physical re-use of the ancient ruins which were used for other purposes other than those for tomb cult. Mycenaean ruins were evidently used in Paros as terraces and as basement in building houses. This changed the architectural art and landscape as they were cheap and did not require much technical expertise. The agricultural landscape took the advantage of the ruins as the terraces were used to control erosion, and to act as minor boundaries. The latter uses of the Mycenaean ruins and tombs after modification played a major role in totally transforming the landscape both physically and functionally. (Johnson, 2007). They were transformed into water reservoirs, mills, haven for both human being and animal, kilns and the waste pits. The spread of these features totally changed the Greek landscape around the homes and deserted residential. The spread of the same are among the facts which the landscape archeology scholars use support their arguments that the century marked the development of the Greek landscapes.
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Moreover, hero cults also intensified during the 800 B.C. These were the worship shrines constructed and named after the heroes who existed by then. The heroes did not specifically represent human heroes but also the 'lesser gods' which were termed as community ancestors (Johnson, 2007). Some of these represented the Homer's epics while others represented the local heroes who did not feature in myths or epics. They were also used as community identity and these landscape spread to Italy as the Greeks moved away from their nation as they sought to avoid or ease the population pressure. Therefore the Greek landscapes were developed in areas even outside Greece. This is an obvious reason why the scholars studying this spread claim that the 8th century marked the development of the Greek landscapes.
Civilization was also another factor which contributed to changes of some landscapes in Greece. It was during this time when both Peloponnese and Central Greece were separated to form different states. Boundaries were later established to demarcate the borders hence totally changing the initial landscape. This was not witnessed only between the resulting states but also in the urban centers. They took the same visible look as they consisted of acropolis, agora and unitary temple located at the centre of the city. The initial landscape did not posses all these demarcations and arrangements but was only witnessed during this period. As a result, the period marked an important period in the revolution of Greek urban landscapes taking a new outlook (Aston, 1997). The Greeks population also hiked during this historical period leading to land shortage stirring strife between the two poor and rich classes. This caused the Messenia Wars in Sparta resulting in Messenia conquest. As a result, people were forced to develop their pieces of land they were holding to avoid further battles. Boundaries were also erected in all individual land thereby changing the general outlook of the states. With further population growth, the Greeks immigrated to other neighboring countries to ease the pressure on the small pieces of the land. Due to this, the Greeks established colonies in southern Italy (MagnaGraecia) and the Asia Minor (Whitley, 2001). The Greeks spread their boundary demarcation styles common within Greece to the destination countries making their type of landscape more and more common even outside Greece. Evidently, the spread of the Greeks away from the densely populated regions to the sparsely populated regions was associated landscape styles makes the 8th Century an important period for the Greek landscapes. (Whitley, 2001)
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At the end of the 8th Century, Greece had become a disunited land which had separated city-states. The associated wars lead to decrease in population and the mentioned impoverishment. By then, the Greeks had established their colonies in neighboring countries like Persia and Italy. As a result, the native landscaping style was spread throughout these countries making the Greek landscape more developed. The human made landscape was a result of both artistic and architectural styles which were more enhanced when the Greek adopted the Phoenician Alphabet (Aston, 1997). Foreign styles were also acquired by the Greeks and most of them were the Western culture. The most developed landscape is found along the coastal regions and the former residential areas were the outcome of the Mycenaean tombs and ruins were found. In conclusion, the 8th Century was one of the periods in the Greek history when its landscape was developed and the existing ones more modified. The reasons discussed are some of the arguments why the scholars are right when they suggest that the period between 800 B.C and 701 B.C was very important in the development of Greek landscape.