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I am writing a story, in which the greek gods appear. The main point I need is, when exactly the many greek gods such as important figures like Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Cronos etc. appeared in history for the first time. Bascially, when did they have an cultural impact and slowly over time "lost" their meaning. It is a very big story and I am trying to be as accurate as possible with respect to the many cultures I am using. I am not well-versed in history or great at researching, which is why I am asking here, hoping some experts can help me out. It is important for me, to have a deeper understanding of the context regarding my question. Preferably in the form of books, internet sources, videos or at least based on their own experiences

Edit: This question has been previously asked on the history forum and it was decided to post it here. Another thing is, it was explained to me, that asking for sources, may not be the right approach, since they tend to be more subjectively then factually correct. Especially when trying to clarify the nature of the timeline, when greek gods played a huge role in history.

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When the archeologists managed to decipher Linear B, they found many shopping lists that included purchases of sacrifices for this god or that. The only Olympian missing was Apollo. Thus, all the rest go back to the earliest records.

Apollo does appear in The Iliad, so that is about the only god whose appearance in history can be dated.

(I note that some theorized that Dionysus was a later comer because of his not appearing in The Iliad, but he's listed in the shopping lists.)

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It really depends on how you define "appeared in history for the first time". Let me illustrate by an example:

Zeus may be known to most as a Greek god, but this deity (and his name) is actually based on a much older proto-Indo-European deity called Dyeus ph2tēr (lit. "father daylight-sky-god") - hence the Roman Jupiter. Dyeus is also the origin of a similar deity in the Vedic, Thracian and Hittite pantheons. Of these the Vedic is probably the oldest recorded in writing. So what do you want to take as the "point of origin" in this case?

Even if you limit the scope to Greece, there are conflicting origin stories for most of the deities. My recommendation would be to take one historical source, like the collection of myths attributed to Appollodorus and take those as "canon":

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  • You actually described my problem quite better than I could. I took the greek god as an example, since I believed it to be a popular and well-known example. I am trying to trace the origin, in this case Zeus, all the way to the end, when the gods were bascially "forgotten". Bascially who was the first "Zeus" in the oldest recorded writing or orally passed down stories, before it was "copied" by other cultures. I was aware of the conflicting origin stories, which is why I wanted to pinpoint a chronological moment in history in order to write a as close as factually correct story.
    – user8635
    Oct 14 at 19:09
  • But I may also have realized it might to big of a task, to find an answer on a forum, given the amount of information or/and lack of information. I was more or less worried about being wrong. I think I will start with the links you provided and grind my way through it.
    – user8635
    Oct 14 at 19:13
  • @user8635 you might want to review en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_mythology and related links and books, then!
    – mrcasals
    Oct 19 at 6:29

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