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The paper is aimed to outline the main directions and incentives for the evolution of the social organization of Athens, which led to the emergence of the Athenian polis. The Mycenaean catastrophe caused the desolation of Attica and prolonged concentration of the population in the town (Athens). This left its mark on the process of the emergence of social institutions. We think that the Athenian (or Ionian) tribes existed in the previous Mycenaean period. In the process of the Ionian migration, they became widespread in Asia Minor, i.e. in the Ionian poleis. It is diffi cult to say whether the phratries existed in the Mycenaean period, but it can be assumed that they arose or began to take shape during the Ionian migration. From the 9th century BC (Geometric period) the process that often labeled as an internal colonization of Attica begins. In its course, the population that was concentrated in Athens begins to resettle and inhabits Attica. The result was the decentralization of state (polis) or the breakdown of ties between the center and the periphery. Certainly, this creates an incentive to restore (or gain) unity. This process called as Theseus’ synoikism followed by the formation of an archaic (aristocratic) polis.

Although the problems we are considering are within the period between the 11th and 8th centuries BC, but the title of the work mentions Theseus’ synoecism – an event that is undoubtedly legendary. Taking this into consideration, the author nevertheless believes that the formation of the Athenian polis was the result of what, at least formally, can be named as Theseus’ synoecism.


Post-Mycenaean regresses, depopulation, the Dark Ages, Ionian tribes, phratries, synoecism, Theseus.

Valeriy R. Goushchin

National Research University Higher School of Economic, Perm, Russia

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