Our knowledge of the formation of Archaic society derives mainly from classical sources. What is clear in these is the existence of groups formed on a local or kinship basis: the tribes, the trittyes and the naukrariai make up the first instance; the phratriai and the families the second. All these groups comprised a large number of families; overlapped and intersected; and linked their members in social, political and religious activity. There were also others of a clearly religious nature, such as the thiasoi and the orgeones.

Two kinds of forms of social formation made their appearance: those based on kinship and those with place of residence as their principle. In both cases, the principle of heredity was in force. Thus even in the demes - the local institution par excellence - the status of the demotes was hereditary and did not disappear if the citizen relocated to another region.

We cannot say with certainty exactly when these forms of organization made their appearance, but the tribes, at least, can very probably be attributed to the 11th century B.C., since they are directly linked to the Ionian migration, while the idea of the ethnos and the phylon are obviously already familiar in the Mycenaean world. It is probable that the remaining groups, too, were formed early on, but shaped themselves only gradually after the synoecism, and adjusted themselves to the facts of city life.

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