1. The Prehistory of Epirus
Stone and bone artifacts from the Middle and Late Paleolithic Age have been discovered in more than 100 sites in Epirus attesting to human occupation and activity as early as 150,000 years ago.
a. Who were the first inhabitants of Epirus, and from where did they originate?
b. What are the environmental features of Epirus that attracted the first settlers?
During the Late Bronze Age, a period of population growth and cultural development results in an increase in the number of small organized settlements.
a. What are the contributing factors of this population growth?
b. Upon what resources were these settlements dependent?
c. Is there evidence that the inhabitants of this region had contacts with other populations?
d. Were they Hellenes? were they Doric?
2. From village to city
According to the ancient writers, Epirus was inhabited by fourteen Greek-speaking tribes, part of which expanded out of this area and into mainland Greece and the Peloponessus around the 12th century B.C. The organization of these villages into small unfortified villages is quite different from the fortified city-states of southern Greece.
a. What was the origin of these tribes, and in what kinds of locations did they settle?
b. Is there any indication about how were their lives organized?
c. What was the relationship between these different tribes and settlements? During the 8th and 7th century B.C., Greek from southern states, Corinthians and Eleans, began founding colonies in northern and southern Epirus. These colonies were, at first, commercial ports which were gradually developed into fortified organized cities much like those in their native lands.
a. Where did they set up these colonies, and for what reasons?
b. Is there any evidence that provides insight with regard to the relations these colonists had with the inland inhabitants?
According to the ancient texts and the archaeological data, the synoikismos and the immurement of the inland villages started during the classical period. Henceforth, the inhabitants were living in large fortified cities, began minting their own coinage, and developed political institutions and commercial relations with other parts of the Greek world.
a. When and how did these urbanization processes take place?
b. Do these developments indicate a shift out of a 'primitive' tribal culture into a "civilly-organized" culture?
c. What advantage would the original inhabitants find in adopting practices of other city states?
d. Does the development of the fortified city within the Epirotic region indicate an upsurge in violence?
e. What was the role of the colonies' inhabitants in this urbanization process? Is there any evidence of violence or competition for resources?
3. From Pyrrhus to Augustus:
The Unified Kingdom of Epirus 330-231 B.C.
Pyrrhus, the king of the tribe of Molossians and member of the Aeacid dynasty and removed cousin of Alexander the Great ascended the throne as king of Epirus in 297 and Macedon in 288 B.C. He was the first to rule both states. His reign, as well as the royal Aeacid dynasty, is associated with the prolific cultural development of Epirus during the 3rd century B.C. as well as the significant repulsion of the expanding Roman Empire.
a. How did Pyrrhus manage to make Epirus a strong state of the Greek world?
b. Was there a pressing motivation to focus resources in developing this region?
c. What are the developments that he introduced into the region of Epirus?
d. Which were the relations of the Aeacid dynasty with Macedon and how did this benefit the region of Epirus?
The Epirote League 231-167 B.C.
After the fall of the monarchy in Epirus in 232 B.C., a republic state was founded. The Federation of Epirotes or The Epirote League, was a culturally and economically developed state which was minting his own coinage The political, economic and cultural centre of the Federation was the ancient oracle devoted to Zeus in Dodona.
a. What cities dominated the culture of the Federation?
b. What was the organization of the Federation?
Titus Livius reported that, in 167 B.C., the Romans, under Aemilius Paullus, destroyed 70 cities of Epirus. The archaeological data from a number of sites confirm this event.
a. Which cities were targeted?
b. What reasons contributed to this destruction?
After the battle of Actium (31 BC.), Augustus, in memory of his victory, founded the city of Nikopolis transferring population from the neighboring cities. Nikopolis became the capital of southern Epirus during the Roman period.
a. What happened during the period between the destruction of the cities and the foundation of Nicopolis?
b. Are there any archaeological facts related to this period?