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Synopsis

By systematically confronting Greek tradition of the Heroic Age with the evidence of both linguistics and archaeology, Margalit Finkelberg proposes an interdisciplinary assessment of the ethnic, linguistic and cultural situation in Greece in the second millennium BC. The main thesis of this book is that the Greeks started their history as a multi-ethnic population group consisting of both Greek-speaking newcomers and the indigenous population of the land, and that the body of 'Hellenes' as known to us from the historical period was a deliberate self-creation. The book addresses such issues as the structure of heroic genealogy, the linguistic and cultural identity of the indigenous population of Greece, the patterns of marriage between heterogeneous groups as they emerge in literary and historical sources, the dialect map of Bronze Age Greece, the factors responsible for the collapse of Mycenaean civilisation and, finally, the construction of the myth of the Trojan War.

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