Modern archaeological finds can still contribute much to the study of ancient literature. For example, forty years ago a survey of the early Greek dramatist Aeschylus’ plays would have started with The Suppliant Women. Many factors internal to the play, but perhaps most especially the prominence of the chorus (which in this play has the main role), led scholars to consider it one of Aeschylus’ earlier works.

Although I know what the conditional structures almost are and mean, in fact, I wonder the reason why there has been used such construction-- the bold part. In other words, I wonder why there has been used the construction:would have started".

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The author wants to express what would have happened if the event (survey) had taken place forty years ago:

If the survey had happened forty years ago it would have started with The Suppliant Women.

So, here, we are talking about an impossible condition in the past that (didn't happen), and, consequently the result in the past is not possible too.

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