Site Section Links
Aspects of Jesus
5 Gospels of Canon
Misc Ancient Myth Material
1994 Velikovsky Symposium
PDF Download Files
Lecture & Video Links
Spiritual Products online store
KRONOS Winter 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,
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
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)
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.
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
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
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
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
3. A. Furtwangler and G.
Loschcke, Mykenische Vasen (Berlin, 1886), p. ix.
5. W. Dorpfeld, Homers
Odyssee, die Wiederherstellung des Ursprunglichen Epos (Munich,
7. See G. A. Wainwright
in Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology (Liverpool, 1914), VI,
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).
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.