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Greek Steel

Author(s): S. C. Bakhuizen
Source: World Archaeology, Vol. 9, No. 2, Architecture and Archaeology (Oct., 1977), pp. 220-234
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/124266
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GreekSteel
S. C. Bakhuizen

This is a contribution to an inquiry into the emergence of Greek and Italian civilization
of the alphabetical age.1
Two questions
X Why was the great colonization movement along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea
and the Black Sea (c. 800-550 B.C.) Greek, and not, for instance, Italian, Anatolian or
Spanish? Why did not it occur one or two millennia earlier? Why did it occur at all?
2 How did polis culture of Greece originate in the eighth century B.C.? Why did it
originate at all?
In the eleventh, tenth and ninth centuries B.c. Greece was inhabited by prehistoric
societies: farmers, herdsmen, fishermen, an odd craftsman, living in villages. Maritime
contact with societies outside Greece was scarce (Snodgrass 1971: 368 sqq.). Attica was
probably the most advanced and most powerful district (Desborough 1972: 157-8,
341, 344-7). Athens may have been a sizeable place. Here - and in one or two similar
places - the town of the first millennium B.C. developed at the base of the 'Mycenaean'
citadel in a continuous tradition of inhabitation. Thus the term polis 'citadel' received its
connotation and later meaning 'town' (cf. Thuc. II, 15, 6), both meanings implying a
centralized organization of society.
Structure of society resembled that of the middle of the third millennium B.C. This
early way of life gave rise to the 'palace' polities of Crete and the mainland (Renfrew
1972). What happened in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. with a result that history
did not repeat itself but gave rise to polis culture instead of another wave of 'palace'
culture?

Far-distance

colonization

In contrast with Roman colonization, which was continental - the colonists were marched
to the sites of the new towns - Greek colonization was sea-borne. Greek overseas
1 For fuller
argumentation see S. C. Bakhuizen, Chalcis-in-Euboea, Iron and Chalcidians Abroad,

Chalcidian Studies III (Leyden: E. J. Brill, 1976). See also S. C. Bakhuizen, Iron and Chalcidian Colonization in Italy, Mededelingen van het Nederlands Instituut in Rome (Papers of the
Dutch Institute in Rome) XXXVII (Nova Series II) (1975), 15-26.

World Archaeology Volume 9

No. 2

Architecture and archaeology

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Greek steel

221

settlement of the first millennium B.C. began in the years between 850 and 750 B.C.:
along the shores of the Levant, from Cilicia down to Palestine (find-places of Greek
pottery are Mersin, Tarsos, Al Mina, Tall Sukas, Tabbat al Hammam, Khalde, Tall
Abu Hawam, and Askalon), and near the Bay of Naples (the colony of Pithekoussai on
Monte Vico on the island of Ischia, and Cumae on the mainland opposite to it). How
did it begin?
A feature of this early Greek overseas settlement strikes the eye: it is far-distance
colonization. It is not the Aegean basin nor other neighbouring shores which were
selected but places far away from Greece, in completely different worlds: in the East
the Mediterranean shores of the civilized Orient, in the West footholds near prehistoric,
though relatively prosperous societies. The hypothesis suggests itself that the earliest
overseas settlements were of commercial origin.
Early Greek settlement on the shores of the Levant has not been explained satisfactorily by scholarship (Riis I970: i64-8; Boardman I973: 41-2). The evidence, which
is almost completely archaeological, is insufficient. The early Greek settlement near the
Bay of Naples, however, is attested in Greek literary tradition, and there is good archaeological evidence as well. Analysis and evaluation of this western colonization shows that
the maritime Greek town of Chalcis-in-Euboea had been the centre of activation. This
observation may open the way to an explanation.
Contraryto currentopinion it is held here that the earliestcolonizationof Greeksin the West
was an exclusivelyChalcidianaffair,that neither Eretriansnor other Greeks had any significant part in it. This thesis is based on assumptionsderived from the written evidence. The
archaeologicalrecord does not contradictit.
Two theories, which both date back to antiquityitself, have caused confusion in the study
of early Greek colonization and should be discarded: (i) the Chalcidic promontoryin the
northern part of the Aegean Sea was not colonial territory of the Euboean Chalcidians;
(2) the evidence suggesting that the Euboean Eretriansusually joined the Euboean Chalcidians in their colonizing enterprisesis debatable.
The Chalcidians-in-Thracewere not descendants of Euboean Chalcidians,but a native
Greek tribe that alreadylived in Thrace before the era of colonization.It was identity of
names that occasioned the ancient aetiologicaltheory that they were descendantsof the
Euboean Chalcidians.Constructionslike this were happily promulgatedby authors like
Hellanicus and Ephorus. Once launchedthe thesis spread about (Zahrnt 197I: I2-27).
2 The presumedEuboeanorigin of the Thracian Chalcidianswas combinedwith knowledge
concerningthe real Eretriancolonizationof the district (Mende, Dikaia, Neapolis). It was
silently assumed that the Chalcidiansand Eretrianshad founded their northern colonies
in approximatelythe same period. The impression conveyed is that there had been some
form of mutual agreement which area either of them was to occupy (Strabo X, i, 8,
p. 447C, cf. X, I, 12, p. 448C).
I

The Chalcidic co-operationtheory, in turn, seems to have led to the further assumption
by some ancient authorsthat also in the West Eretriansand Chalcidianshad co-operatedin
founding the earliestEuboean colonies. This is probablythe origin of two ancient notes that
both Eretriansand Chalcidianshad taken part in founding Pithekoussaiand Cumae (Strabo
V, 4, 9, p. 247C; Dion. Hal., Ant. Rom.VII, 3, i). These two isolatedreferencesto Eretrians
participatingin colonizationnearthe Bay of Naples are not confirmedby the majorityof the

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222

S. C. Bakhuizen

written sources, which only name the Chalcidiansas the organizersof Greek colonization
near the Bay of Naples (Thuc. VI, 4, 5; Livy VIII, z22,5; Veil. Pat. I, 4, x; Pliny Nhi III,
6I; Steph. Byz. s.v. XaAKis).
The absolute and even the relative foundation dates of Pithekoussai and Cumae are
unknown. Both towns may have been founded in the earlier part of the eighth century
B.C. Pithekoussai may have been the older of the two (Livy VIII, 22z, 5-6). However
this may be, the two neighbouring colonies lay as an isolated pair in completely foreign
surroundings, far away from Greece. They more or less belonged together. They had
established themselves near the societies living in Campania, Latium and Tuscany,
prosperous populations of prehistoric Italy.
Not only did the Chalcidians found the earliest Greek colony near the Bay of Naples
but they also managed to control sea-traffic between Greece and the distant tradingpost for some period after its foundation: the Chalcidian towns of Naxos, Zankle and
Regium lay along the line of communication between Greece and the Bay of Naples.
The Sicilian agricultural settlements of Katane, Leontini, Kallipolis, Euboia and Mylae
constitute a third category of Chalcidian colonies in the West. Chalcidian colonization
was multiform. Though they must soon have been joined by other Greeks the fact still
remains that the Chalcidians had been the first to settle in the West and that they
remained protagonists in western enterprises for some time. It is this Chalcidian protagonism that asks for an explanation.
To summarize. The beginnings of Greek colonization - effectuated by the Chalcidians
of Euboea, at least in Italy - were apparently of commercial origin. The products involved
have to be made clear. The Chalcidians afterwards founded colonies of the agrarian
type. It was this agrarian type of colony that became normal. Once it had become clear
that there were opportunities for agrarian colonization overseas the Greeks began to
colonize on a wide scale.
The question remains: which was (were) the product(s) traded by the Chalcidians in
their earliest far-away Italian settlements? or: was there any particular potential at (near)
Euboean Chalcis which, in the eighth century B.C., enabled the Chalcidians to launch
new initiatives?

Iron and steel


Hypothesis
The nucleus of the first groups of Chalcidian emigrants to settle near the Bay of Naples
consisted of traders in iron products and of iron-smiths. They came to the West because
they expected to find a market for their products in Italy. They based their expectations
on the knowledge that they were able to offer a superior product. The iron and steel
technology of the Chalcidians must have been well advanced compared to that of other
centres of iron metallurgy. For some time the Chalcidians must have commanded the
iron and steel market.

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Argumentation
i

We are dealing with the years when iron and steel were replacing bronze for most
utensils and offensive weapons. This was the real beginning of 'the Iron Age'. Iron
and steel were now becoming basic products of technology. Iron and steel objects of
good quality must have been in fair demand.
Smelted iron has been known since the third millennium B.c. (Coghlan 1956:
61 sqq.). The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations used iron for amulets and
jewellery (rings for instance) (Iakovidhis I970: 288-96). Towards the end of the
Mycenaean period and in the beginning of the Dark Ages the Greeks began to use
iron for weapons: knives, daggers and swords (Snodgrass 197I: 217 sqq.). In the
Near East iron became widespread by I200 B.C. The iron dagger blade from the
tomb of Tutankhamen (c. I350 B.C.) and the iron blade of the battle-axe from Ras
Shamra (c. 1300 B.C.) are top pieces of the iron metallurgy of this age (Singer 1954:
619). The techniques of hot-forging (hammering) and carburization had been
mastered now (see e.g. Coghlan 1956: I34-5I). Iron objects with hard and sharp
cutting edges or points could be made in this way.
Around the middle of the eleventh century the Greeks themselves may have begun
making iron swords, knives, daggers and pins, from local ores (Snodgrass 197I:
221 sqq.). For the time being iron did not yet surpass bronze in all respects. The
hardness of the entire objects was often less than that of bronze objects, and the
toughness of later steel objects was unknown as yet. For about one or two centuries
no great technological progress seems to have been made. It is with new techniques quenching, and piling together thin laminations of carburized iron - that the
quality of iron (steel) objects increases in such a way as to make a lasting impact on
technology (it is not known how early the technique of tempering became known;
Wootz steel and pattern-welded true damascene steel [Coghlan 1956: I55-65] were
not yet fabricated by the Greeks). From the ninth or eighth centuries B.C. onwards
iron of great hardness and steel of fair elasticity could be fabricated (pace Keene
Congdon I97I). The variety of iron utensils increased considerably then (Pleiner
I969: i8).
It is recorded for c. 600 B.C. that Chalcis was a well-known production centre of
swords (Alcaeus F357Lobel and Page, 1.7; cf. Aeschylus F703Mette, Callimachus
F236Pfeiffer, Hyginus, Astr. II, 6; see also Archilochus F3Diehl). The blades of
these swords must have been of steel.
In later centuries Damascus and Toledo were famous for their steel swords.

Central Euboea is rich in iron ore deposits, see fig. i (Anastopoulos I960;
Melidh6nis i960; Katsikatsos I969a; Katsikatsos I969b; Katsikatsos 1975). The
great majority of the Euboean iron deposits lies in the territory of ancient Chalcis.
The Chalcidian iron and steel industry may have used local ores. Euboean iron
mining is recorded in ancient authors (Callimachus F70oPfeiffer; Strabo X, I, 9,
p. 447C; cf. Heraclides Lembos F62Dilts).

Chalcis, well-placed as a port for trade in various directions (Desborough I976), lay
in the centre of one of the major iron-bearing districts of Greece. This district

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224

S. C. Bakhuizen

FigureI The iron ore deposits of centralEuboea


includes the rich iron ore deposits of north-eastern Boeotia, see fig. 2 (Petrascheck
I953). (Other iron-bearing regions of Greece are Attica, Laconia, the Cyclades,
Crete, and Thasos, see fig. 3 [Aronis 1952].) Thus geographical prerequisites for an
iron and steel industry of more than local importance were unmistakably present.
The hypothesis is forwarded here that the Chalcidians dug local iron ores already in

Figure2 The iron ore deposits of eastern Boeotia and centralEuboea

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Greek steel

225

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the Protogeometric and Geometric periods. It is probably not correct to conceive a


Chalcidian production merely as finished industrial products like swords: there may
also have been an export of bars of iron, and of blooms.
5 Athens, Sparta, the Cyclades and Crete contained maritime communities well-placed
for trade, and possessing local iron ores. Yet they do not seem to have challenged the
early Chalcidian monopoly. The fact of the monopoly could suggest that the Chalcidians in the ninth and early eighth centuries made innovations or improvements in
the fabrication of iron and steel wlhich enabled them to control the market. Another
possibility is that the composition of their local ores, iron-nickel, producing a natural
alloy, was responsible for the surmised high quality of their iron (steel).
6 The sword was the weapon which profited most from the discovery of steel. The
power of bronze swords had been limited by the strength of the blade. Gradually
the iron-smiths, by hot-forging, carburizing, quenching, and piling together laminations, learned to manufacture blades with sufficient resistance and elasticity. No
weapon or tool profited so much from a combination of hardness, of a minimum of
swords may
Chalcidian swords
as did
did the
the sword.
sword. Chalcidian
and of
of elasticity
may
of sharpness
elasticity as
sharpness and
brittleness, of
brittleness,

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2z6

S. C. Bakhuizen
have possessed these qualities. The sword is not an arbitrary specimen out of a wide
range of iron (steel) tools and weapons, but the eagerly coveted top product of the
ancient iron-smith. The market must have been extensive. In the eighth century B.C.
men used to go about girt with steel swords (Ahlberg 1971; 'all Greeks used to wear
steel weapons',

7r&ma

yap X''EAA;s&E'a7t.Ppodo'PE&,Thuc. I, 6, i, cf. I, 6, 3).

Xer6polis and Chalcis


Chalcis is encircled by the fertile alluvial Lelantine plain, see fig. 4. At its south-eastern
extremity, near the modern village of Levkandi, lies the site of the ancient cliff settlement of Xeropolis. The headland is a plateau c. 500 m. long, 1zo m. wide, rising c. 17 m.

Figure4 Chalcis, Xer6polis and the Lelantine Plain

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Greek steel

227

above sea-level, with abrupt cliffs facing the sea, and spacious enough to hold a sizeable
town. On either side there is a small bay with a sandy beach (Popham and Sackett I968:
2-3; Desborough I972: I87). The plateau was occupied from the late tenth till the end
of the eighth century B.C. The nearby cemeteries, which lie c. 600 m. to the west,
contain material from the first half of the eleventh to the second half of the ninth centuries
B.C. (Popham and Sackett I968: 23-35;
Desborough 1972: I88-99). Xeropolis was
abandoned shortly before 700 B.C., never to be occupied again.
The site of Chalcis had been used on a small scale in Protogeometric times (Andhriomenou I966). The geographical and archaeological situations suggest that Xer6polis was
'Old-Chalcis' and that in the eighth century B.c. a shift of habitation took place from
Xer6polis to Chalcis. An explanation may be found in two features of the age: the new
commerce, and revival of piracy. Chalcis has a deep and spacious harbour, a high
acropolis hill rises on its shore (Bakhuizen I972). Thus the site of Chalcis was well
adapted to the circumstances of the eighth century B.C., better than Xer6polis was.
The Levkandi finds from the ninth and eighth centuries are remarkably rich (Sackett
and Popham I972: 16-9; Desborough 1972: 197-9, 347-9). Ivory, seals, a scarab and
other objects testify to contacts with the East. The hypothesis may be ventured that
ninth- and eighth-century Levkandi-Xer6polis derived its prosperity from iron and steel
metallurgy using local ores.
Xer6polis (and later Chalcis) must have been a polls: i.e. a community with a considerable group of artisans and traders side by side with the farming and fishing population. This is the meaning of polls in the alphabetical age (for the origin of the term see
above, Two Questions). Literacy, a means of organization, is closely connected with the
emergence of urban patterns (Sjoberg 1965: II, 33-5). It has been demonstrated that in
the eighth century some people at Xer6polis had learned to write (Popham and Sackett
I968: 33-4). Most (or all of the) 'Chalcidian' colonies may actually have been dispatched
from Xer6polis.

Greek colonization

- answer to the first question

If the above hypotheses are correct it was the new availability of high quality iron and
steel that occasioned the first Greek colonizations at the end of the Dark Ages. This
explanation may hold true not only for Italy, but also for the Levant. Here archaeological
evidence for the early presence of Greeks is gradually increasing. Besides Mersin and
Tarsos in Cilicia find-places are (from north to south): Al Mina, Tall Sukas, Tabbat al
Hammam, Khalde, Tall Abu Hawam and Askalon (Riis 1970: I43, I65). During the
eighth century, perhaps earlier already, Greeks must have lived in some of these places.
The quantities of native pottery, which are large in comparison with the limited amount
of Greek ware, suggest that we should imagine the Greek communities living as small
minorities of foreigners in native settlements. Emigrant Greek iron-smiths may have
produced objects or bars of iron (steel) that were of higher quality than anything known
in the East. The densely populated Levantine coast and its hinterland was a promising
potential market for emigrant Chalcidian (Xeropolitan) iron-smiths. The oldest Greek
ceramic finds in the East - they also occur along the shores of Cyprus - are the Geometric

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2 8

S. C. Bakhuizen

skyphoi with pendent concentric semicircles (Riis 1970: 147, 157, 159). They belong to a
class which is found in Xeropolis (Popham and Sackett 1968: 26-8). The pottery
certainly does not prove that the first Greeks to settle in the Levant came from Euboea,
but it definitely bears with this hypothesis. In the Levant the Greeks adopted the
alphabet, thus obtaining an additional stimulus for organization and for the execution of
power (Goody and Watt I963).
The success of the early Greek overseas settlements in the Western world must have
made the Greeks conscious of their strength vis-a-vis prehistoric native populations. It
must have been the conjunction of (a) a seafaring tradition, (b) of effective leadership,
and (c) of superb offensive weapons that guaranteed to the Greeks a military superiority.
They settled in foreign countries by intimidation or by sheer force of arms. Their ships,
their steel weapons, and their oikists, who had a subtle administrative instrument in the
alphabet, were factors that could not be matched for the time being by native Sicilians,
Italians, Anatolians or Iberians. The great Greek colonization movement finds its
explanation in the high level of Greek technology, which from the eighth century B.c.
on surpassed that of all other Mediterranean peoples. Neither any flexible administrative
potential nor any superior offensive weapons had been available to the seafaring Greek
communities of the third and second millennia B.C.
From the eighth century onward a flow of products and techniques travelled along the
sea-route from the Levant to the Bay of Naples (fig. 5). Greeks commanded this traffic.
In Greece it gave rise to Greek civilization of the alphabetical period, in Italy to that of
the Etruscans.

Figure5 Early Greek commercein the MediterraneanSea


i. Mersin
5. Tabbat al Hammam
3. Al Mina
6. Khalde
a. Tarsos
4. Tall Sukas

7. Tall Abu Hawam


8. Askalon

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229

The rise of the polis - the second question


It is too early to analyse in detail how in the Bronze Age Greek societies developed into
the hierarchical and bureaucratic pattern of the Mycenaean age with its 'kings'
(wanaktes), 'palaces' and 'palace' administrations, whereas from the ninth-eighth
centuries B.C. on the same country - with an eastern world which had not basically
changed - became inhabited by aristocratic, timocratic and eventually democratic
societies of polis type. This analysis may base itself on the general studies of tribes,
tribal organization and on systems theory. The volume of trade may be a factor involved,
so may be the democratizing alphabetic script, which contrasts with the 'palace'monopolized cumbersome Minoan and Mycenaean scripts.
In ninth-eighth century Greece iron became available on a larger scale than before.
The availability of more and better iron tools in agriculture must have improved food
production, effectuating a rise in population and increasing the surplus to feed nonagriculturists. Several branches of industry were able to work now with more effective
implements (iron axes, iron saws, iron tongs, iron scissors etc.), thus improving the
quality and quantity of the output. The war industry flourished too: steel swords, steel
daggers, steel knives. Better iron (steel) must have effected improvements in means of
transport, augmenting the possibilities of communication and trade. Many a maritime
village grew into a market town of the Xeropolis (Chalcis) type. Many new market
centres developed, Eretria for instance. These are the poleis. Trade between the colonial
districts and Hellas, trade among the colonies themselves further activated industry and
urbanization. Etcetera. The opening centuries of Greek history display 'the multiplier
effect' (Renfrew I972: 36-44, 476-504) in full force. I forward the term siderization
(from sideros, arlq7pos,'iron', 'steel', cf. neolithization) to describe the analysis of this
complex process.
The tribal chieftains of the third and second millennia B.C. seem to have risen in
central authority and power, building up a firmer grip on their tribes, finally to become
kings. This may be called 'the continental model', even though the reinforcement of
central authority was occasioned by consequence of industry and trade. In the first
millennium B.C., however, we see the contrary: the villages, elements of the tribe, begin
to loosen themselves from the tribal structure. All around the Aegean shores grow
small states of polis type, gradually replacing the tribal bounds. This can be called 'the
maritime model'. The tribes are not broken up all at once, though. Many of them are
never broken up at all. The polis develops within the tribal system (Giovannini I97I).
Tribes with villages continue to exist in the interior of Greece and in coastal districts
which do not participate in industry and trade to any extent.

Tests
The hypotheses are to be tested. This is a task for the years ahead of us.
i

Archaeologists in the ancient world must pay full attention to finds of iron (steel).
Not only should objects be represented graphically, but metallurgical and chemical

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230

S. C. Bakhuizen

analyses may be made as well (Naumann 1967). Good examples are two publications
on steel objects from Etruria (Panseri 1957; Panseri and Leoni i967) and a paper
on steel knives from Cyprus (Tholander 1971). Analyses may provide evidence on
the metallurgical technique applied and on the possible provenances of the ores.
z Iron ores may form in various ways. There are sedimentary ores, magmatic ores,
contact metamorphic ores, hydrothermal ores, and residuary ores. The iron ores of
Euboea and north-east Boeotia are residuary ores. From its environment at the time
of formation each of the different types of iron ores inherited its own, often characteristic association of trace elements. Assuming that the use of additives improving
the quality of iron was unknown in antiquity it is suggested that by analysing trace
elements of ancient iron blooms, slag or objects the type of ore used may be established. Knowledge of the type of the ore used in the manufacturing of certain objects
limits the number of possible provenances of the ore and of the iron (steel) objects.
Fuller maps indicating the locations of iron ore deposits than are available now
(Blondel and Marvier i952: Atlas; Forbes 1972: opp. 192) would be welcome. The
above mentioned types of ore may be marked on them.
3 The mining and nearby smelting sites (Hesiod, Theogony 864-6) are a subject of
research worth to be taken on. Though much evidence has been destroyed by
modern and pre-modern mining activities, not all of it has. This may never be an
excuse.
4 The Italian and American excavations at Lacco Ameno, Ischia, on the site of the
ancient Pithekoussai settlement (Buchner I966; Buchner 1971; Klein 1972), are
illustrative of our above argument. After unstratified and undatable finds of a piece
of iron ore, of iron slag, of fragments of crucibles for iron, and of parts of a few
bellows-mouthpieces on Monte Vico, the new excavations at the Mazzola site on the
Mezzavia ridge opposite Monte Vico revealed a metal-working establishment of the
eighth century B.C. Here two structures have been identified as smithies. One may
have been the workshop of an iron-smith. Iron was found in remarkable quantity:
pieces of blooms, iron-slag, small pieces of iron, and (fragments of) iron implements.
Yet at present these finds have no demonstrative value: iron-smithies can be expected
in any Greek town of the eighth century B.C.Further work on Ischia is to be stimulated. Archaeological investigation of Ischia sheds light on the origins both of Greek
and of Italian civilization.
5 Sustained, patient archaeological research of early Greek life in Cilicia, Syria,
Palestine and Cyprus, combined with metallurgical and chemical analyses of known
iron (steel) objects in (from) Asia and Egypt, may contribute to test the assumptions
made in this paper.

Conclusion
People from central Euboea influenced Greek and Italian economy and society in such
a way as to mould the prehistoric order into the more intricate town life of the historical
period. The preponderance of the early Chalcidians (Xeropolitans) themselves may have

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Greek steel

231

been fairly short-lived. Their surmised technological knowledge must have spread to
other centres of metallurgy. They had produced a shock, speeding up the slow developments that were at work. They prospered for one, two or three generations. Then other
Greek communities came to the fore as well (fig. 6).

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c

o_

900 B.C.

775 B.C.

740 B.C

the

Xeropolitans
(Chalcidians)
abroad

Figure 6 Tentative diagramillustratingthe surmised impact of iron technology on the ascendancy of Xeropolis-Chalcis
If our hypotheses will be confirmed Greek civilization of the alphabetic age took shape
after some specific technological innovations had occurred. The geological and geographical situations must be considered as necessary pre-conditions.
Once the new trade route 'Levant--Greece-Bay of Naples' had been opened up by the
iron and steel people (hypothesis) further products and ideas travelled along it (e.g.
Buchner I966: 7-8).
Whether diffusion of a given technological item had been carried by a migratory
movement or had been brought about by mere transference of knowledge is a question
familiar to prehistorians. In the case of the Chalcidian colonization near the Bay of
Naples we may have traced an instance of technological innovations (steel, the alphabet)
having been dispersed through migration. This migration had been sea-borne.
The new iron and steel technology 'revolutionized' the prehistoric economic and
social orders of the maritime districts of Greece and of central Italy. The effects upon
the feudal Eastern empires cannot be calculated yet.
HWA

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23

S. C. Bakhuizen

Acknowledgements
In 1971 Mr R. Kreulen, at the time a student of geology at the University of Utrecht, on
my request spent three months in Euboea and its near surroundings. The geological
remarks in this paper derive from his report. I profited from discussions with Dr G.
Katsikatsos, geologist, who publishes the iron occurrences of central Euboea, and with
Dr G. Buchner, archaeologist, who kindly showed me around on Ischia. The drawings
were made by Mr J. Klein, Mr H. Roelink, Mr I. R, Reinders and Miss Y. C. Goester.
My wife Elly improved the English text of the paper. From. 1965 on I regularly visited
Chalkis and the surrounding country. Some of these visits were made possible by the
Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Pure Research (Z.W.O.).
Anc isentHtory
Department Hof
15.iv. 1977
Univaersityof Utrecht

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Abstract
Bakhuizen, S. C.

Greek Steel
The hypothesis is put forward that effective steel metallurgy originated in Greece, and that
steel technology was a major factor in shaping Greek economy and society from the ninth and
eighth centuries B.c. on. It is argued that the leading region of Greek iron and steel metallurgy
of the opening period was central Euboea. Here Xer6polis-near-Levkandi and Chalcis became
prosperous towns. It is held that iron metallurgists of central Euboea constituted the nuclei of
the early Chalcidian colonization enterprises to the Bay of Naples. When a concerted attempt
at the analysis of iron objects, blooms, slag and ores has been made, the hypotheses can be tested.

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