Again, it is worth pointing out a theory. (That theory is not, as you might suppose, that Erik is too lazy to work on "Techblogging May, 1945, II, today." I have very important reasons for putting that off to the end of the week. Important, I say!)
As late as the end of the first third of the Nineteenth Century, travellers to Greece were struck by the way that the lowland ports where they debarked their ships in search of the lost landmarks of Antiquity, Pausanias in hand, were tent cities. The "homes" of the Greek peasantry lay elsewhere, up high in the cool mountain heights.
There, for the most part, Pausanias did not go, and neither did the travellers. Mystras, near Sparta, was too famous to ignore, and the Acrocorinth was a good, stiff walk above that city. But as for the heights of Ithome or Ypati, the town travellers were prone to confuse with ancient Thebes, as Mystras was confused with Sparta.
The theory is that our Antiquity-centred view of Greece focusses on the coastal plains which are the most agriculturally productive under a regime of commercial agriculture focussing on the production of crops such as olives for export. What we are seeing in the Nineteenth Century is a resumption of that kind of agricultural economy in Greece under the stimulus of foreign demand, a "return to the plains."
Here's another take. Ruins, high politics, a past disowned.
Time has not been kind to Nebhepetre Mentuhotep's House of a Million Years. (Though the modern reconstruction is spectacular.) The founder of the Middle Kingdom occupies an odd place in the history of Greece. If you believe Martin Bernal, he is the founder of a great Egyptian empire which colonises Greece. If you don't (and, frankly, you shouldn't), he is the founder of a great state that ought to have exerted a considerable influence on Greece. Hints that the Middle Kingdom did just that can then be heaped up into a mountain of inference that takes you back to Bernal and Black Athena.
But never mind that, because having given credit where credit is due, the issue with the mortuary complex at Deir-al-Bahani is not the distant days of 2000BC, but a tomb, carefully cut into the southern face of the cliffs near the ancient mortuary complex and subsequent additions. Here, some time shortly after 969BC, a priestly clan reburied the mummies of 40 pharoahs of the New Kingdom, removed from their original tombs. A little later, they added the mummies of 150 high priests. To hear them explain themselves, the descendents and followers of high priest Pinedjem I were doing the honly thing they could to protect the treasures of the pharoahs from relentless tomb robbers. But careful examination of the unfinished tomb of Ramesses XI reveals that the Pinedjemists used the site to process tomb furniture from these burials into more conveniently, shall we say, disposable, forms? It seems like a pretty disrespectful way to treat the pharaoh, but at the end of the period known as the Suppression, probably exactly as dark and sinister in fact as it sounds in retrospect, the victors were probably not long on respect for the late ruler.
It suffices to point out that most of the treasure buried in the tombs of Egypt for the eternal profit of the Two Lands was brought back into circulation about 950BC, and not by the tomb raiders who are conventionally blamed, but by the authorities who ostensibly fought them. The period of Egyptian history after c. 950BC gets little attention from Egyptologists. The country is ruled by Libyans and Kushites and even Assyrians and Persians and Greeks, and once you have foreigners in charge, the next step is miscegenation, followed by race mixing, followed by...
I'm sorry, I just got
unaccountably aroused appalled by my chain of thought. Anyway, point is, this sort of stuff is bad and wrong and bad, so that even if all the archaeological evidence would seem to suggest a period of unprecedented prosperity, culminating with the Ptolemies, the most nearly world-hegeomic of all Egyptian regimes great power regime we can be sure that Egypt was, in some more "in decline." Enough of Egypt! The torch has been passed, to the splendour that was Athens, the glory that was Sparta. That's a Not-Safe-for-Mental-Health link there, by the way.
Only can we just, for a second, please not?