The study of Greek prehistory is of very recent date. When we began to shed light on the Bronze Age of the Aegean basin, with the discoveries of the Cretan-Mycenaean civilization and of Troy, we noticed at the same time remains of an even older age, to which at first we generally gave the name of pre-Mycenaeans. The discovery of some flint hatchets in the Peloponnese, at the beginning of our century (see Tsoúntas, ‘Αρχ.’ Εϕημ., 1901, p. 85), led for the first time to speak of a Neolithic era, but the real foundations for the study of Greek prehistory were laid, soon after, with the excavations of the Tsoúntas in Thessaly. Since then, and especially in recent years, a very conspicuous number of Neolithic and Aeneolithic stations have been investigated throughout the Hellenic territory and in the neighboring regions; therefore, the various aspects of the prehistoric civilizations that took place there have been determined, and outlining the characteristics of their development, their correlations and successions: however, even today we are still far from being able to say that the picture of Greek prehistory is completely and clearly drawn, especially as regards the origins and provenance of primitive stocks; this is due to the inadequacy of excavations and exhaustive publications, and even more for the obscurity that reigns over the prehistoric civilizations of the neighboring regions and of Eastern Europe in general. today we are far from being able to say that the picture of Greek prehistory is completely and clearly drawn, especially as regards the origins and provenance of primitive stocks; this is due to the inadequacy of excavations and exhaustive publications, and even more for the obscurity that reigns over the prehistoric civilizations of the neighboring regions and of Eastern Europe in general. today we are far from being able to say that the picture of Greek prehistory is completely and clearly drawn, especially as regards the origins and provenance of primitive stocks; this is due to the inadequacy of excavations and exhaustive publications, and even more for the obscurity that reigns over the prehistoric civilizations of the neighboring regions and of Eastern Europe in general.
No trace of Paleolithic civilization has been found in Greece so far; only a few remains of pre-diluvian animals have been noted in Picernio of Attica, in Megalopoli of Arcadia and in Cumae of Euboea; after all, in the whole Balkan peninsula the only Paleolithic finds that can be mentioned are a few pyrite tools from some caves in Bulgaria, and especially from the territory of Tărnovo. The absence of Paleolithic wrecks in Greece could be explained by the inadequacy of research in caves and mountainous regions, while it is likely that even in Greece, as elsewhere, the first homes of man were precisely the caves, near the springs. and the alpine woods, where the classical tradition placed the residence of the divinities, of Pan, of the Satyrs and of the Nymphs, and where numerous places of worship are ascertained both for the historical and prehistoric times; the only places of rock character so far excavated are the station of Marmárianē on the southern slopes of Ossa, the prehistoric cave of Nemea, not even this really located in a mountainous region, and on Crete the cave of Miamoũ and the cave shelter of Magasã: but also admitting a he very ancient population of cavemen, far from presumable, this could not in any way give any light on the provenance of the Neolithic civilization, widely witnessed and documented, for the aspects that this civilization presents since its first rise.
A layer of Neolithic civilization, in fact, is attested to us over a large extension of the Hellenic territory, and precisely over almost the entire eastern part of mainland Greece, the north-eastern area of the Peloponnese and Crete (see map on p. 803): the Neolithic civilizations of mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, despite regional differences, actions and reactions and overlapping facies different, they have safe points of contact and interference, which can make them considered as a single whole; a completely different civilization in origin and development, with independent and homogeneous evolution, from distant origins up to the age of metals, Crete is revealed instead. The first group of Neolithic populations lingers in its stone civilization much further down in time than the population of Crete, who became aware of copper perhaps already in the last centuries of the fourth millennium. Since in the late Bronze Age the whole Aegean basin and the whole Hellenic territory enter the orbit of the Cretan-Mycenaean civilization, and since from this, and from its relations with Egypt, we can obtain the only reliable chronological data for all the prehistory of the Balkan peninsula and neighboring regions, it is usual to study the aspects and the evolution of civilizations in the lands washed by the Aegean sea in a single vision; but from Crete in reality no light can be given for the origin itself and for the first internal events of the other Neolithic peoples of Hellas.
The comparative examination of the successive layers of civilization of the Hellenic peninsula, and above all the association with relics of objects imported from Crete, allow us to outline, naturally with a large approximation, the picture of the movements of peoples and of the succession of civilizations in prehistoric Greece., collected at the bottom of a synoptic chronological table: for a long series of centuries, from a remote period that generally dates back to the mid-fifth millennium BC. C., all the eastern part of Greece was occupied by a population of Neolithic civilization, to which the Greek tradition gave the name of Pelasgi; towards the beginning of the third millennium (about 2800 BC) a second wave of Pelasgians, moving by sea from eastern Macedonia, occupies northern and south-eastern Thessaly, and, in a another expedition a little later, he settled in Argolis and in the territory of Corinth. Around 3000 a. C. nuclei of populations detached from the south-western coasts of Asia Minor, and which the Greek tradition calls Cari and Lelegi, occupy the Cyclades, and a little later also the Argolis and the region of Corinth, whence they gradually rise to the conquest of a part of central Greece, up to the Spercheo valley, establishing the first bronze civilization, called ceramics Urfirnis. Around the middle of the third millennium a. C., populations aware of the civilization of metals also settle in central Macedonia, and perhaps also in western Macedonia and from there, around 2250 BC. C., sent south, and conquered northern Thessaly, putting an end to the Neolithic civilization here too; around 2100 a. C., begin to descend from the north and gradually settle in central Greece, replacing their own civilization, characterized by pottery called minia, over much of the territory where Urfirnis pottery dominated, the first Indo-European lineages.