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In this case they point to what classical scholars have long believed was a series of Hellenic descents upon mainland Greece and the Aegean islands.

The first Hellenes to arrive were the Ionians and Aeolians; then a few centuries later, the Achaeans, and finally the Dorians.

Many of the faces could just as easily be those of Celtic chieftains or Viking kings.

There is more evidence of the appearance of the Greeks.

Xenophanes, an Ionian Greek philosopher who lived in the fifth century BC, was amused to note that different peoples believed that the gods look like themselves: “Our gods have flat noses and black skins, say the Ethiopians. Cohen’s observations above) say our gods have red hair and hazel eyes.” Indeed, a fourth century BC fresco of a Thracian woman, found in the Ostrusha Mound in central Bulgaria, shows distinctly red hair and European features. 700 BC) called Troy the “land of fair women.” According to the Roman historian Diodorus Sicilus, who lived in the first century BC, the Egyptian god Set had “reddish hair,” a color that was “rare in Egypt, but common among the Hellenes.” Plutarch (46–120 AD) tells us that while the Theban general Pelopidas (d.

364 BC) was campaigning in central Greece, he had a dream in which a ghost urged him to sacrifice a red-haired virgin if he wished to be victorious in the next day’s battle.

For example, Paul Cartledge, a professor of Greek culture at Cambridge, writes about his specialty, Sparta, for educated but non-academic readers, yet nowhere that I can find does he discuss the racial origins of the Spartans.

Fragments from an ancient 150 BC travelogue describe the women of Thebes as “the tallest, prettiest, and most graceful in all of Hellas.

Their yellow hair is tied up in a knot on the top of their head.” Pindar, a fifth century Theban lyric poet, refers to the Greeks as “the fair-haired Danaoi,” using a poetical name for the Hellenes.

Hellen had sons and grandsons, who correspond to the four main tribal divisions of ancient Greece: the Aeolians Achaeans, Ionians, and Dorians.

Scholars today tend to dismiss such myths but they would not have survived if they had not been generally consistent with the long folk memories of ancient peoples.

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