What Were The Dark Ages?; Ardi; Ur, Iraq.

What Were The Dark Ages?

The Dark Ages refer to times in the past where there is little or no known written history, and very little, sometimes no, archaeology, to inform us what was happening. The term was first used by Francesco Petrarca, an Italian Scholar, in the 1330’s when he used the terms of Light and Dark to describe periods in history, and therefore relating them to good and evil.

Two major areas where the Dark Ages are referred to in history and archaeology refer to Greece and Britain.

The Greek Dark Ages was a period after the collapse of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations and the emergence of Classical Greece – c.1100-800 BC. During this period the area was attacked and settled by neighbouring people, namely the Dorians and the Ionians.

Dark Ages Greece
Dark Ages Greece

Legends handed down from the Greek Dark Ages include Homer, in The Iliad and The Odyssey. Legends set around ancient Troy and the Trojan War, then the epic journey home by Odysseus following the battle.

Western Asia Minor Greek Colonization During the Greek Dark Ages
Western Asia Minor Greek Colonization During the Greek Dark Ages

The British Dark Ages refers to the period following the Roman withdrawal from Britannia in c.410 and the rise of Christianity at around the time of St. Augustine in 597. Little is known of this period, and this gave rise to mythical figures and legends that have continued down through the ages.

The Death of King Arthur
The Death of King Arthur

In Britain the most widely known mythical figure from the Dark Ages is King Arthur. His popularity has not waned. A mention is made of him and his antics in the Welsh Triads, but whether he is mythical, or his tales are based upon a real person, we may never know. Even in the 21st century his legend lives on in popular culture through the TV series The New Adventure of Merlin (BBC).

The New Adventures of Merlin
The New Adventures of Merlin

Where there is hardly any history and little archaeological evidence legends, myths and folklore have a way of weaving their magic that can, even today, have a hold over many!!


    • Dark Ages Greece – By Robert Markot (The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

    • Western Asia Minor Greek Colonization During the Greek Dark Ages – By Alexikoua [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
    • The Death of King Arthur – By Creator:John Garrick (John Garrick, 1862) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
    • Merlin – www.merlin-arthur.com


Archaeology Wow!! – Ardi

Ardi is the name given to the second remains that have been found and belong to one of our ancestors – Ardipithecus ramidus.

Ardi Skeleton
Ardi Skeleton

Ardi is one of our earliest ancestors and dates to around 4.4 million years ago. Her remains were found at Aramis in Ethiopia in 1994 by Yohannes Haile-Selassie, a college student working with anthropologist Tim D White from UC Berkeley.

Ardi Skull
Ardi Skull

The most complete set of human remains found include most of the skull, teeth, pelvis, hands and feet. – altogether amounting to 110 bones. The remains show us that Ardi was bipedal (walked upright on two legs), but she also climbed trees. originally would have weighed around 50 kg (110 lb) and stood 3 ft 5 inches (120 cm) tall.


The word Ardi means ‘ground floor’ and the word Ramid is African for ‘root’ – when put together her name means at the root of the human family tree.

These were not the first ramidus remains to be found, the first were in 1992, but more needed to be uncovered before the species could be confirmed, and when Ardi was found there was the proof for the species at the foot of our human family tree!!


  • Haviland. W., Walrath. D., Prins. H., & McBride. B. 2013.Evolution and Prehistory: The Human Challenge. Victoria, New South Wales: Cengage Learning.
  • Meredith. M. 2011. Born in Africa: The Quest for the Origins of Human Life. Cammeray, New South Wales: Simon and Schuster.
  • Ardi – By Chartep (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Ardi Skull – By T. Michael Keesey (Zanclean skull  Uploaded by FunkMonk) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Ardi Skeleton – By Chartep (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.


Archaeological Site Guide – Ur, Iraq

Ur is one of the first city states that the ancient world ever knew. Situated at the mouth of the Euphrates River in ancient Mesopotamia, the city was created by the Sumerian people c.3,800 BC. Over time the mouth of the Euphrates has silted up and the site now sits inland about 6 km.

The ruins cover an area of 1,200 metres by 800 metres and some of the ruins still stand 20 m high. The name is beleived to come from URIN which meant the abode of Nanna. Nanna was the Sumerian city patron deity and the Moon God whose shrine stood in the Ziggurat of Ur. The main large structure that was built in the 21st century BC during the reign of King Ur-Nammu.

The first recorded history of the city state is from the 26th century BC and the king at the time is noted as being King mesh-Ane-pada. The city is also mentioned in various religious texts,

The Bible – The Book of Genesis. The place where Abraham was born

The Torah – The city is mentioned four times.

The history of the discovery of the site is

1625 – Visited by Pietro della Valle who was the first person to describe the ruins.

1853-1854 – First excavated by John George Taylor on behalf of the British Museum.

1918-1919 – Excavated by Reginald Campbell Thompson for the British Museum.

1922-1934 – The British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania undertook a joint excavation led by Sir Charles Woolley. He uncovered a number of royal burials. He also found the famous Standard of Ur which is on display at the British Museum.

American and Iraqian governments are working together to protect the remains of this amazing site which have suffered some war damage in recent years. The Great Ziggurat is an amazing structure and needs to be protected for future generations!

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The following video gives the story behind the site and some of the amazing artefacts uncovered at the Royal tombs.


  • Nemet-Nejat. K. R. 1998. Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • McIntosh. J. 2005. Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO.
  • The Standard of Ur – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AStandard_of_Ur_-_peace_side.jpg.
  • Ur with the Ziggurat of Ur in the Background – By M.Lubinski from Iraq,USA. (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Balance Sheet from Ur – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABalance_sheet_Mesopotamia_Louvre_AO6036.jpg. Public Domain.
  • Cylinder Seal – Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Gold Vase from the Queens Tomb at Ur – [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons” href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APuabi_gold_vase.gif”><img width=”512″ alt=”Puabi gold vase”.
  • Record of Temple Workers from the  3rd Dynasty at Ur – Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Ram In A Thicket from Ur – Jack1956 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Map of UR 2014 – http://archeoguide.com/ur/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ORTHO-UR.jpg


Great Books to Read…….


Great Web Pages to Look At…….



Activity –  Word Search 17 October 2014

4 Comments on “What Were The Dark Ages?; Ardi; Ur, Iraq.

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