You are on page 1of 15

The Cycladic Civilization (3200-1100 BC) The beginning of a permanent human activity in Cyclades dates to at least the 5th

millenium BC, however, such human occupancy may be supportable as far back as the 8th millenium B.C or approximately 10,000 years ago. Remnants of the Cycladic culture have been found in most all of the Cycladic islands, even in the smallest ones. Because of the lack of fertile soil, settlements appear to have been small in size, with a continuing island flair with fishing as a significant economic activity. Trade with the huge island of Crete seems to be at the center of the evolving economic activities of the early Cycladic culture.

Greece experienced significant Stone Age settlements. According to some archaeological remains in Thessaly, the earliest stages of settlement are from the Palaeolithic era, between 11.000-3.000 BC, when a population coming from the east (and, as some believe, from Central Europe) started to develop stone tools and basic agricultural activities.

The excavations and discoveries made have proved that the civilization in Greece became more complex between 3500 and 3000 B.C, with larger villages and a social organization turning from the tribalism to chiefdoms with the formation of an elite group. In the meanwhile, Thessaly, Anatolia, and the islands of the Aegean and Crete were colonized around 6000 B.C. and extensive agricultural communities appeared.

These civilizations fished, produced clay pottery and started sea expeditions. These regions offered perfect conditions for human settings: olive trees, grape vines, fertile plains, forests, water These conditions attracted immigrants and traders f rom all the Mediterranean. At the same period, trace of religion appeared: clay figurines of female and animals were placed in sanctuaries and graves.

Many of the key locations in the Cycladic Islands were coastal ports and were on trade between Crete and the rest of the Greece. These settlements date back to the time of the Cycladic Civilization and include those in the islands of Melos, Paros, Kea, Thera (also known as Santorini), Therasia, Delos, Tinos, Syros, Sifnos and Amorgos. Throughout the majority of the Cycladic Civilization, the influence of Crete on trace and culture was strong. In the beginning of the later Cycladic civilization, the Cyclade Islands were generally influenced by the domination of the Minoan sea empire.

The Minoan Civilization (2600-1200 BC) The first settlers of the large Greek island of Crete probably came from western Asia Minor or modern day Turkey well before 3000 B.C. Ultimately Crete became a thriving sea power. The Cretans engendered trade with the older civilizations of Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Asia. Because of these influences and her own diligence and creativity, Crete produced a distinctive and highly advanced civilization.

The Cretan civilization was principally excavated by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. In 1900, Evans began his excavations of Knossos, the leading city of ancient Crete. Evans discovered amazing multistory buildings that he called the Palace of Minos. Evans named the archaeological find as a tribute to legendary king of Crete. Because of this, the civiliza tion of Crete has been referred to as the Minoan Civilization. Evans relied heavily not only on the archaeology of the main edifices at Knossus, but he also drew heavily on the chronology on the residue of pottery found at Knossos. This is because different styles of pottery often provide an accurate record of the successive stages of civilization at a site like Knossus or other sites in ancient Greece.

A spectacular palace setting created during the Minoan period was found at Phaistos. The complex of the palaces at Phaistos, which were built in the shadows of spectacular snow-capped mountains, were repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes. However, they were consistently reconstructed by the enterprising Minoans.

Around 1700, Knossos and Phaistos were destroyed by earthquakes. Shortly after these disasters, the palaces of Knossos and Phaistos were reconstructed again and the Minoan sea empire or thalassocracy was founded. Minoan military bases were placed on the islands of Kythira, Thera (Santorini), Melos, Kea and Aegina, as well as, in Rhodes and Miletus.

Around this time, the influence and importance of the Greek royal house in Mycenae and in western Peloponnese was being felt. The Minoan stronghold at Knossos had good relations and trade with other powers in the Mediterranean. In Crete, art is beginning to soar with a more naturalistic formal art in sculpture and dance. Further, frescoes such as scenes of gardens, are beginning to attain a status of high quality. However, around 1600 B.C. the palaces of Knossos and Phaestos were destroyed again, most likely by subsequent earthquakes which frequently ravaged the Mediterranean region.

Crete was reconstructed again from the ruins of these earthquakes and four palaces were stellar at this time, the palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros. Most of these palaces were used for the exchange of products with the mainland, where now the Mycenaean civilization, which later launched the Trojan War, was thriving. The relations with other Greeks, particularly the Greeks of Mycenae, appeared peaceful.

Around 1450 Zakros was destroyed by fire, as the palaces at Malia, and Phaistos had now lost it's importance. Perhaps these facts have to do with the volcanic disasters in Thera. Around 1400 B.C, Knossos was destroyed again, perhaps by another earthquake, and the Minoan palaces were not reconstructed to their earlier grandeur thereafter. Predominant influence on Crete was assumed by the mainland Mycenean culture.

The Bronze Age brought numerous changes to Greece and the Greek Islands. The art of metalworking arrived from the east around 3.000 B.C. The use of Bronze in tool making and weaponry was a rebirth for the civilization settled in Greece. The second millennium B.C gave birth to some great civilizations: the Minoan on Crete, the Mycenaean on the Mainland and the Cycladic in the islands of Centre Aegean.

The period is characterized by a rapid growth of population and a rapid development of trade. The Cyclades islands, located between Crete and the mainland, were an important trade centre between Europe and Asia. These islands offered safe harbor in bridging the gaps in what may have otherwise been treacherous travel for early sailors. The Cycladic civilization developed rapidly in all domains: trade, politics and culture with impressive frescoes and marble figurines.

The Minoan civilization, named after the reputedly mythical King Minos, developed in Crete in 2.600 B.C. Remains of large villages were found as well as sculpture and pottery. Around 2.000 B.C., the Minoans had a flourishing economic, political, social and cultural organization. The Minoan period was characterized by important trade activities and the construction of impressive palaces such as Knossos, Malia and Phaistos. During this period, the first writing in the Greek World, called Linear A,

appeared for the first time in Crete. The Minoan also developed a strong fleet and had power and influence over all the Aegean while establishing many colonies in various places.

According to the remains that were found on the island and the lack of defensive walls, the Minoan civilization, an obviously strong seapower, must have had peaceful or friendly relations with the other civilizations of the Aegean. However, the Minoan civilization disappeared suddenly around 1.500 B.C., possibly due to the huge volcanic eruption of the island of Santorini. It is said that the eruption has caused an enormous earthquake and huge tidal waves.

It is after that period, around 1.200 B.C. that the rival Mycenaean civilization took control of the trade network of Crete.

The Mycenaean Civilization (1600-1100 BC) As brilliantly described in the Ancient Greek Thesaursus: Greeks first settled on the Greek mainland about 2000 B.C. Geography played a large part in the formation of their society, as it does in all civilizations. Mountain ranges divide Greece into many small valleys. The resulting pattern of settlement, so different from that of Egypt, encouraged the Greeks to develop independent political communities without the direction or oppressionof a central ruler. The broken coastline, indented with countless small harbors, invited the people to become sailors, traders, and warriors at sea. By 1600 enterprises by sea had transformed a number of the independent Greek communities into wealthy, fortified states. Chief among them was Mycenae; therefore the years from 1600 to 1100 B.C. are often called the Mycenaean Age.

Fabulous grave discoveries were made at Mycaneae on the mainland of Greece that reflect that the Mycenaeans were also wealthy like the Minoans on Crete but were considerably more warlike. Nonetheless, the island culture on Crete apparently did not decline primarily because of war but went downhill after the devastating volcanic eruption on Thera which significantly erodeded the economic and trading activities of the Minoans on Crete.

The height of Mycenean culture and wealth followed the volcanic catastrophe on Santorini and the decline of the Minoan civilization. The Mycenean civilization had thus supplanted the Minonan civilization as the predominant sphere of influence on the Greek Islands. The city-states during this period were probably generally independent. The only time these cities appear to have united was during the Trojan war. The origin of the Trojans is not totally clear, but pottery suggests a close trading and ties to the Greeks. One layer of the city of Troy, in modern Turkey, was destroyed by an enemy about 1250. In addition to the very specific evidence portrayed in the Illiad, archaeological evidence suggests that Homer's account of a successful Greek expedition against Troy is based on substantial historical truth.

As described in the Ancient Greek Thesaursus: The war against Troy was the last feat of the Mycenaean Age. About 1300 or a little later, various marauders began to attack Greek ships and even mainland Greece. The identity of these warriors is still uncertain. Historians usually call them sea-peoples, and their homes were probably somewhere in Asia Minor. Whoever they were, they made trading by sea so dangerous that the export of Mycenaean pottery virtually ended. The raids by sea were temporarily destructive. But much more significant was a series of attacks by land, lasting roughly from 1200 to 1100. Near 1100, Mycenae itself was overrun and destroyed.

It is not completely clear who these land invaders were, however, ancient Greek tradition spoke of the "return of the sons of Heracles (Hercules)," which apparently meant the return of Greeks speaking the Doric dialect of Greek to their ancestral home in the Peloponnese. The same suggestions worked out a date for this event, at about 1100 B.C.

The Mycenaean civilization took it name after the discovery of Mycenae, the first site were this culture was identified. As shown by the excavations, the Mycenaean society was formed by an elite group organized around the judicial and executive authority of a single figure, with varying degrees of power. Their citadels were fortified with the Cyclopean walls, called this way because Greeks believed that only Cyclopes could have lift stones that large. The Mycenaean society had a great military strength and therefore conquered Crete and took the control of the Minoan trade network.

The Mycenaeans also used a written language called Linear B, a development of the former Minoan Linear A, used only for register the flow of goods and produce into the palaces. Between 1250 and 1150 B.C., a combination of peasant rebellions and internal warfare destroyed most of the Mycenaean palace and the Mycenaean civilization disappeared. 3200-1100 BC Cycladic Civilization Minoans 1600-1100 BC Myceneans 2600-1200 BC

100-800 BC Dark Ages of Greece 800-500 BC Growth of City-States Peloponnesian War Ottoman Occupation Rise of City-States Classical Period Rise of Philip of Macedon War of Independence Persian Wars Byzantine Period After World War II

Roman Period Modern Times

The Dark Ages of Greece (1100-800 BC) The Dark Ages of Greece dramatically illustrate the historical principal that cultures can decline and the future may not be as prosperous as the past. The period from 1100 to 800 B.C. is known as the Dark Age of Greece. As described in the Ancient Greek Thesaursus: Throughout the area there are signs of a sharp cultural decline. Some sites, formerly inhabited, were now abandoned. Pottery was much less elegant; burials were made without expensive ornaments; and the construction of massive buildings came to a halt. Even the art of writing in Linear B vanished. The palace-centered bureaucracies no longer existed, but of the political machinery that replaced them we know almost nothing.

Still, the cultural decline was not quite a cultural break. Farming, weaving, and other technological skills survived; pottery, though it was for a while much less gracious, revived and developed the so-called Geometric style. Nor was the Greek language submerged. Many Greeks, displaced from their homes, found safety by settling in other parts of Greece.

In a larger sense, the shattering of the monarchic pattern in the Mycenaean Age can be viewed as a liberating and constructive event. We cannot show that the kings and dynasties in Greece were dependent on or were imitating kings in the ancient Near East, but the two systems of monarchy resembled each other. If the Mycenaean kings had survived, mainland Greece might have developed as Anatolia did, with strong monarchies and priests who interpreted and refined religious thought in ways that would justify the divine right of kings. Self-government within Greek states might not have emerged for centuries if it appeared at all. But the invasions of the twelfth century, in which the Dorians at least played a part, ended forever the domination of the palace-centered kings.

The civilizations that flourished during the Bronze Age ended in an abrupt way during the 12th century B.C. when a Greek speaking civilization, the Dorians, came from the North of Greece.

They scattered the Mycenaean population and decentralized the Mycenaean established control system. Agriculture, industry and trade activities were divided in some hundred of villages.

The disruption that followed was of great importance. The economy, the politics and the culture declined and all the trade networks with the Near East collapsed. The art of writing also disappeared and the only literary work of that period is the amazing Trojan War epic poem, the Iliad, written by the famous Homer.

This period was characterized as the "Dark Ages" following the decline and fall of the Mycenean kingdoms after the middle of the 12th century, partially because the facts for this period were very poor. It is also sometimes referred to as the Geometric period from the geometric shapes at the decoration of the vases made during that time. There was a significant migration of peoples during this period both to the Greek mainland as well as Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Greek peoples that previously inhabited mountainous and barren areas in the periphery migrated toward fertile areas and population centers. This transformation was a precursor to the formation of the Greek city-states that would shine so brightly in the Classical period which would soon follow.

This age was also referred to as the Homeric Age which existed roughly from 1200 800 BC. The Greece that we know today was roughly formulated during this period and it was the first period of Greeces history. During this era, not only was the Greek nation formed, but the foundations were put in place for many of the social and political developments throughout the ages. The era was also forever etched in history with the creation of the two greatest epic novels in world history Homers Iliad and Odyssey.

The Ancient Greek Thesaursus describes the Homeric period as: By 1200 BC the Greeks had occupied most of the northern sections of the peninsula and a few scattered locations along the coast. At first they filtered in slowly, bringing their herds and flocks with them and settling in the more sparsely populated

areas. Many of these early immigrants seem to have belonged to the group which later came to be known as Ionians. Another division the Achaeans pushed further south, conquered Mycenae and Troy, and ultimately gained dominion over Crete. Soon after 1200 the great Dorian invasions began and reached their climax about two centuries later. Some of the Dorians settled in central Greece, but most of them took to the sea, conquering the eastern sections of the Peloponnesus and the southern islands of the Aegean. About 1000 BC they captured Knossos, the chief center of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

Whether Achaeans, Ionians, or Dorians, all of the Greeks in the Homeric Age had essentially the same culture, which was comparatively primitive. Not until the very last century of the period was there any general knowledge of writing. We must therefore envisage the Homeric Greeks as a preliterate people during the greater part of their history, with intellectual accomplishments that extended no farther than development of folk songs, ballads, and short epics sung and embellished by bards as they wandered from one village to another. A large part of this material was finally woven into a great epic cycle by one or more poets and put into written form in the ninth century BC. Though not all of the poems of this cycle have come down to us, the two most important, the Iliad and the Odyssey, provide us with our richest store of information about the ideals and customs of the Homeric Age.

The political institutions of the Homeric Greeks were also exceedingly primitive. Each little community of villages was independent of external control, but political authority was so tenuous that it would not be too much to say that the state scarcely existed at all. The king could not make or enforce laws or administer justice. He received no remuneration of any kind, but had to cultivate his farm for a living the same as any other citizen. Practically his only functions were military and priestly. He commanded the army in time of war and offered sacrifices to keep the gods on the good side of the community. Although each little group of villages had its council of nobles and assembly of warriors, neither of these bodies had any definite membership or status as an organ of government. The duties of the former were to advise and assist the king and prevent him from usurping despotic powers. The functions of the latter were to ratify declarations of war and assent to the conclusion of peace. Almost without exception custom took the place of law, and the administration of justice was private. Even willful murder was punishable only by the family of the victim. While it is true that disputes were sometimes submitted to the king for settlement, he acted in such cases merely as an arbitrator, not as a judge. As a matter of fact, the political consciousness of the Greeks of this time was so poorly developed that they had no conception of government as an indispensable agency for the preservation of social order. When Odysseus, king of Ithaca, was absent for twenty years, no regent was appointed in his place, and no session of the council or assembly was held. No one seemed to think that the complete suspension of government, even for so long a time, was a matter of any critical importance.

The Growth of City-States (800 500 BC) About 800 B.C., the need for protection became more pronounced. Therefore, the village communities which had been centered around clan groups underwent a transformation to larger political units which would ultimately evolve into the Greek City-State. A central feature of these City-States was the acropolis, which means high city. The acropolis was a citadel built on a high location. I allowed the citizenry of the area to have protection against an invasion or siege. Therefore, a city would grow up around the acropolis. This settlement became a political and commercial center and various forms of government would emerge to manage the affairs of the city and its environs, the state. One form of government that arose from this evolving process was democracy. The largest and most prominent of these city-states were Athens and Sparta. They would have radically different forms of government and spheres of influence.

Generally Greek city-states experienced similar political transformations. They started out as monarchies. During the eighth century BC, they were generally changed into oligarchies. Around a century later, these oligarchies were overthrown by dictators as this became the period of "tyrants." Some ruled oppressively but the period of tyranny was counter to the basic

essence of being Greek. The evolution process continued to where in the sixth and fifth centuries, other forms of governing arose that provided more freedom and responsibility for the Greeks. Certain city-states, like Athens, adopted forms of democracy. Other city states turned to a form of government called "timocracies" based on property ownership for participation.

These political changes were based on a growing ownership of land and economic prosperity in the region. As people became wealthy, they were not satisfied with having their politics dictated to them by kings or tyrants. This period was also characterized by a dispersion of people seeking more land and expansion of trade.

Greece has two geologic and geographic phenomena that shaped its development and evolution. Because of its proximity to the sea, no place in Greece is more than one hundred kilometers from the sea. Greece is also eighty percent mountains and is therefore was relatively poor in agricultural resources. The increase in population around this time period, plus the natural seafaring essence of the Greeks led to colonization of the known world. In lieu of importing food, the Greeks solved problems created by an expanding population by exporting people to other lands.

As land began scarce, settlements were increased in the islands and on the coast in the area of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. But this was not enough and a period of colonization occurred. Some of the colonies founded ended up being more famous than their founder as in the case of Megaras foundation of Byzantium, later known as Constantinople and now, Istanbul.

The Greeks colonized extensively and by the end of this period had spread over an enormous area. Greek colonies could be found from the northern, western, and southern shores of the Black Sea through Western Asia Minor and Greece proper, including the Aegean islands, Sicily and southern Italy, and continuing west along both shores of the Mediterranean to Cyrene in Libya, to Marseilles, and to Spanish coastal sites. Wherever they went, the Greeks settled near the sea. Among the settlements founded by the Greeks are some of the great modern port cities like Istanbul, Naples, and Syracuse.

A positive externality of Greek colonization was a renewal of trade throughout the Mediterranean region. Often the colonies were strategically located and the colonists were able to inject raw materials into the trading pipeline, thus allowing for expanded production of finished goods. As is true today, prosperity for the Greeks was a natural consequence of the expanded trade made possible by the extensive colonization of the Greeks.

Trade also brought other benefits to the Greeks by bringing them in close contact with other cultures and practices. One of these great benefits was the alphabet. Around 750 BC, the Greeks began to trade with the Phoenicians, a people generally living along the southern coast of the Mediterranean, who utilized a Semitic script called the alphabet (from the first two characters, aleph, "ox," and beth, "house"). The Greeks incorporated this Phoenician alphabet into their own language. At some later time poets used the alphabet to preserve the Homeric poems, which originally were passed down as oral epics. Ultimately large regions of the world use a derivative of the Phoenician alphabet as transformed by the Greeks, that being either the Latin alphabet in the West or the Cyrillic alphabet in the East.

The Ancient Greek Thesaursus describes this period of economic transformation as: The consequence was a veritable economic revolution in the Greek world. Commerce and industry grew to be leading pursuits, the urban population increased, and wealth

assumed new forms. The rising middle class now joined with dispossessed farmers in an attack upon the landholding oligarchy. The natural fruit of the bitter class conflicts that ensued was dictatorship. By encouraging extravagant hopes and promising relief from chaos, ambitious demagogues attracted enough popular support to enable them to ride into power in defiance of constitutions and laws. Ultimately, however, dissatisfaction with tyrannical rule and the increasing economic power and political consciousness of the common citizens led to the establishment of democracies or liberal oligarchies.

Greek colonies became independent Greek city-states. In spite of this independence, often the founding city-state would look to its colonies for support in certain areas. Such support was not always forthcoming and this led to conflict in the Greek world.

The Rise of the City-State In the 8th century B.C., in Ancient Greece, the Dorians rule declined and the states started to re-emerge. Two ports, Argos and Corinth started to flourish, and began trades with the Near East and a local production. A wealthy elite class therefore emerged. These two ports were specialized in the manufacture of luxury goods. In trade contacts with the Phoenicians, they adopted their alphabet and other innovations that accelerated the changes in the Greek civilization.

Many Greek colonies based on metal trade were founded all around the Mediterranean Basin and the Black Sea and the Greek culture and military power started slowly to establish. In order to find additional land for agriculture, Corinth later sent out settlers to Corfu and Sicily. More than 150 colonies were established.

This period is characterized by the growth of the city state, the polis. The two important city-states that began to develop were Sparta and Athens. Sparta was the first city that organised itself with a rigid social structure and a government that included an assembly that represented every citizen. In the meanwhile, a largest polis appeared which also included several other regions of Attica, and was named Athens. The social system of Athens was based on wealth rather than aristocratic birth. Although in different ways, Sparta and Athens both included all citizens in their political system.

During this period, inter-state relations started to grow from an economical, political and religious point of view. During religious or athletic festivals such as the Olympic Games, a political ramification was established between the city states and Greek people developed an early sense of common identity and referred to themselves as Hellenes. All the foreigners were called barbaroi, barbarians. 3200-1100 BC Cycladic Civilization Minoans 1600-1100 BC Myceneans 2600-1200 BC

100-800 BC Dark Ages of Greece

800-500 BC Growth of City-States Peloponnesian War Ottoman Occupation Rise of City-States Classical Period Rise of Philip of Macedon War of Independence Persian Wars Byzantine Period After World War II

Roman Period Modern Times

The Classical Period Greece reached a pinnacle in relation to the rest of the world during the Classical Period. The Classical Period of Greece History (6th -4th centuries BC) was the Golden Age and the most famous, worldwide; during this period lived the greatest philosophers and mathematicians. This Age saw the construction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. It was also unfortunately characterized also by political and military tensions between the two superpowers in the Greek world, Athens and Sparta.

The cultural accomplishments brightened not only the mainland Greece but had tremendous impact on the growth and development of the islands. The conflict, most prominently the twenty-seven year Peloponnesian War, between Athens and Sparta, was the first truly world war, drawing in the entire Greek world and other peoples as well. Alliances and conflicts in the Greek Islands helped shape the outcome of that war and the future of Greece for centuries to come.

Athens began her history under conditions quite different from found in her main rival Sparta. As described in the Ancient Greek Thesaursus, Attica had not been the scene of an armed invasion or of bitter conflict between oppo sing races. The Ionian penetration of that area was gradual and largely peaceful. As a result, no military caste imposed its rule upon a vanquished people. Furthermore, the wealth of Attica consisted of mineral deposits and splendid harbors rather than agricultural resources. Athens, consequently, never remained a predominantly agrarian state but rapidly developed a prosperous trade and a culture essentially urban.

However, many in the middle and lower rungs of the Athenian economy became overburdened with debt in efforts to survive economically. This led to outcries for governmental reform which were eventually made leading to the creation of a more democratic form of government. These reforms resulted from the appointment of Solon in 594 B.C. as a magistrate with absolute power to effect change. The measures Solon enacted provided for both political and economic adjustments benefitting the poor farmers by canceling existing mortgages, prohibiting enslavement for debt in the future, and limiting the amount of land any one individual could nnyaown. Solon also introduced a new system of coinage designed to give Athens an advantage in foreign trade. Solon also imposed penalties for idleness and ordered every man to teach his son a trade. Solon offered full privileges of citizenship to foreign craftsmen who would become permanent residents of the country.

Although, very important, these reforms led to discontent and war, and were not enough to keep Athens from slipping into a state of tyranny around 560 BC. The tyrants reversed many of the reforms of Solon.

The second tyrant, Hippias was overthrown by a group of nobles with aid from Sparta in 510 BC. Conflict among various factions persisted until Cleisthenes, an intelligent aristocrat, enlisted the support of the masses to eliminate his rivals from the scene. Having promised concessions to the people as a reward for their help, he proceeded to reform the government in so sweeping

a fashion that he has since been known as the father of Athenian democracy. He greatly enlarged the citizen population by granting full rights to all freemen who resided in the country at that time. He established a new Council of Five Hundred and made it the chief organ of government with power to prepare measures for submission to the assembly and with supreme control over executive and administrative functions.

As described by the Ancient Greek Thesaursus: Cleisthenes also expanded the authority of the assembly, giving it power to debate and pass or reject the measures submitted by the Council, to declare war, to appropriate money, and to audit the accounts of retiring magistrates. Lastly, Cleisthenes is believed to have instituted the device of ostracism, whereby any citizen who might be dangerous to the state could be sent into honorable exile for a ten-year period. The device was quite obviously intended to eliminate men who were suspected of cherishing dictatorial ambitions.

Although far from a utopian society, the accomplishments of the Ancient Greeks are undeniably remarkable especially considering the lack of natural resources or agricultural lands. The Greeks created a very high and multi-faceted civilization. The Greeks brought forth architectural, artistic, political, intellectual and cultural achievements which have paved the way from the future development of the world. The amazing contributions of the ancient Greeks Hellenic adventure was of such profound significance that nearly all those ideals which we commonly think of as peculiar to the West.

From the 6th to the 4th century, Athens was the pre-eminent power in the Mediterranean. The Athenian Empire was composed of 172 tribute-paying states and was totally controlling the Aegean. The enormous wealth permitted to Athens to flourish in terms of art, architecture, literature, philosophy and politics that is still source of inspiration all over the world.

Until the beginning of the 6th century, Athens was ruled by aristocrats and generals. The position of the citizen in the hierarchy depended from his wealth. Poor people has no rights until Solon, the law giver and poet, placed the first basis for democracy when he declared all free Athenians equal by law and abolished inherited privileges.

Pericles, who came into power in 461 B.C, established democracy and built great architectural monuments, including the Parthenon, to employ workers and symbolize the majesty of Athens. This period was considered as the Golden Age of the Greek civilization. However, with the enormous growth of Athens, many states felt threatened. One of the states was Sparta. Their differences led into the Peloponnesian Wars, the longest war of antiquity.

The Persian Wars Even during the height of Greek cultural accomplishments, Greece was beset by conflict that would shape its future. Soon after the democracy had been established in Athens the Greek people as a whole had to face a severe invasion by the Persian Empire an aggregation of peoples that was more than thirty times larger than the Greeks.

In the 6th century, the Greek Empire was under the threat of the Persian Empire, under King Xerxes rule who had views on invading Greece. The Hellenic league, under the leadership of Athens and Sparta decisively defeated the Persians at the battles of Marathon, Salamis and Platea. This conflict was known as the Persian Wars and was of great importance because they

resulted, after centuries of trade and cultural relations, into the separation between the Greek Empire and the Near East including Phoenicia, Lydia, Egypt, and other cultures.

Then, Sparta left the Hellenic League and Athens gain the total leadership of the League with Themistocles and Kimon. The new Alliance was created that took the name of Delian League. A military force started to be built by using monetary contribution from other member states like its rival Sparta, head of the Peloponnesian league.

In revenge for assistance given by the Athenians and one or two other of the Greek peoples to a revolt against the Persian monarch in Ionia, across the Aegean Sea, Darius, the "Great King" of Persia, sent a naval expedition to punish the offenders. The brunt of the attack fell upon Athens. Darius, it seems, expected to be aided by the dissident antidemocratic party of Hippias, but although the latter was apparently willing to play traitor, it was unable to give him much assistance. The tactics adopted by the Persians were not well suited to the conditions, and the army which landed near Marathon in 490 B.C. was severely defeated by the Athenians, aided by the Plataeans, but without much support from any other of the Greeks. During the battle the Persians could not decide whether to use their superior navy to take Athens directly or to aid their land troops which were being beaten. This indecision meant the defeat of the entire expedition. The navy was unable to take Piraeus, the port of Athens, and returned to Persia.

Darius bequeathed the chastisement of the Greeks to his son Xerxes, who spent the next ten years in preparing a huge army which was expected to overwhelm the Greeks. In the meanwhile, however, the great Athenian leader Themistocles, well aware of the impending expedition, had persuaded the Athenians to use all their surplus money to build a fleet. But Themistocles did not have at his disposal from the citizenry of Athens a really worthwhile army. He therefore attempted to persuade the Spartans of the great danger that all the Greeks were in from the aggressive intentions of the Persians. The Spartans, however, were very jealous of the Athenians and had different notions on the strategy that ought to be employed against the Persians. Indeed, they went so far as to suggest that Greece north of the Peloponnesus was indefensible, and that a wall should be constructed to the north of the peninsula beyond which the Persians would not be able to march. Nothing had been settled when the Persian army in 480 B.C. crossed the Hellespont and proceeded into Greece from the north, receiving the submission of almost all the Greeks in their path. Too late the Spartans sent the flower of their army to stop the Persians but were overwhelmed on the third day at the battle of Thermopylae, after a traitor had betrayed to the Persians the path over the mountains by which the Spartan soldiers could be taken in the rear. The Spartans were killed to the last man, winning undying fame, but not holding up the Persians for any significant period of time.

Athens was now wide open to the invaders. By winning a great naval battle at Salamis, the Athenians prevented the Persian fleet from invading the Peloponnese. But Athens itself was captured and its citizens took refuge on the island of Salamis, just outside the Athenian harbor. The next year, for the first and almost the only time in Greek history, all the Greeks who had not submitted to the Persians joined together, and under Spartan leadership they defeated the Persians at the decisive Battle of Plataea (479 B.C). The Athenians performed their part of the bargain by again defeating the Persians on sea at the Battle of Mycale. This proved to be the end of the Persian threat until almost a century later. In the late fifth century Persia had her revenge by subsidizing and assisting the Spartans to win the Peloponnesian War, and throughout much of the fourth century it was, to a great extent, Persian intrigues and money that kept most of the Greek states in constant enmity with one another. 3200-1100 BC Cycladic Civilization Minoans 1600-1100 BC 2600-1200 BC


100-800 BC Dark Ages of Greece 800-500 BC Growth of City-States Peloponnesian War Ottoman Occupation Rise of City-States Classical Period Rise of Philip of Macedon War of Independence Persian Wars Byzantine Period After World War II

Roman Period Modern Times

The Peloponnesian War The policy of the great Athenian ruler, Pericles succeeded in arousing the fear of both Sparta and Corinth, who might expect in the event of a war to be aided by dissident cities of the League who wished to escape from the domination of Athens. In 431 B.C., the league that had been organized by Sparta, launched a preventive war, known to history as the Peloponnesian War. This was the first truly world war and became one of the most destructive wars of the ancient world. Because of their various sources of power, Sparta on land and Athens on the sea, the parties were virtually stalemated from the first.

In general, it may be said that the Spartans and their allies were successful by land, while the Athenians were successful by sea. But after the death of Pericles due to a horrid plague in Athens about a year after the beginning of the war, the leadership in Athens fell into the hands of less moderate statesmen. Although for a time a peace was patched up under the influence of a conservative Athenian statesman, the war-party, evidently supported by the mass of the people, soon renewed the war. In 415 B.C., under the leadership of Alcibiades, a brilliant but erratic genius, a great expedition which ought to have succeeded was launched against Syracuse, a colony of Corinth.

But the enemies of Alcibiades, though unable to prevent the launching of the expedition, were strong enough to force his recall before he had won any successes in Sicily. This left the command in the hands of a general who had from the first disapproved of the expedition. He wasted time and took no decisive action, while Alcibiades, who had refused to come home to stand trial for a supposed impiety he had committed, went to Sparta and divulged the strategic secrets of Athens. The early part of this conflict favored Athens and the Syracuseans had considered surrender, however the Spartans sent out an effective general named Gylippos, who turned the tide and ultimately destroyed the entire Athenian expedition.

The Athenians were so shocked by their defeat that they abolished the democracy for a period of about a year. The new government, however, was unpopular and did not achieve much. In despair the Athenians recalled Alcibiades and gave him the command. Though he won several victories he soon fell from favor, accused this time of intriguing with the Persians for his own profit. The Persians, in fact, regarded Alcibiades as their most dangerous enemy, but dealt with him as well as with his Spartan opponent, the able admiral Lysander in their attempts to accomplish the defeat of Athens by means of well-placed bribes. It was Lysander whom the Persians really favored, and, after a long and complex struggle, he who won the crucial battle of Aegospotami in 404 B.C., after Alcibiades had once more been driven into exile. The victory enabled the Spartans to cut off the Athenian grain supply and compelled the surrender of the city. Sparta, ever mindful of the fact that Athens had played a noble

part in defeating the Persians a century before, refused to accept the advice of her allies that the city should be destroyed and was content with dismantling its defenses. Nevertheless, Athens was not able in the following century to recover the leadership in Greece which she lost through the Peloponnesian War.

The Rise of Philip of Macedon During the Peloponnesian Wars, a new political force was rising in Macedonia. The Macedonians were a civilization speaking another form of Greek and with different customs and social organizations. The Macedonian political and social system was totally different from those which were centered around the traditional Greek polis. The Macedonian system was organized around kings wielding the majority of the power fostered by a strong military.

By the end of the Peloponnesian war, Sparta was the acknowledged hegemon of Greece. But though for a while she tried to play the part of an imperialist, she soon lost Persian aid, which was then for a time given to Thebes, previously a relatively unimportant city. Thebes, indeed, had lost all title to respect in Greece by collaborating with the Persians during the Persian Wars. Now however, she developed a new military tactic, and under the leadership of two great generals established herself temporarily as the leading power in Greece. By defeating the Spartans in open warfare she freed the helots, thereby reducing Sparta forever to the rank of a second- or third-rate power. But away in the north from 359 B.C. onward, a new power was rising in Greece. This was Macedon, ruled by a shrewd and crafty semi-barbarian named Philip. Philip perceived very clearly that if he could keep the Greeks disunited he could pick them off one by one.

Thebes never did come to realize the dangerous nature of Philip, nor the threat that he presented to Greece. The Athenians were divided in their opinions, one party thinking it best to collaborate and "appease" Philip; the other, led by Demosthenes, believing that the only safe policy was to stop Philip before he became too strong. Philip himself did his best to win support in both cities, spending lavishly of the gold which he had won in northeastern Greece, while at the same time building himself a small but strong and effective army, with new military formations hitherto unknown in Greece Though Demosthenes was able to persuade the Athenians to send an expedition to Olynthus, which Philip was threatening, the expedition was too small and arrived too late to be of any great assistance. Philip, after capturing Olynthus, destroyed it completely, thereby providing an example to the rest of the Greeks which he hoped would prove salutary.

Philip's barbarity incensed Demosthenes but cowed most of the Athenian statesmen. Indeed, a writer of speeches named Isocrates even urged Philip to unite the Greeks and engage in a great expedition against Persia. Philip in fact intended to make such an expedition, but the means by which he proposed to unite Greece were not calculated to please any Athenian democrats. In fact Philip's diplomacy paid off handsomely. Although he was not himself regarded as a Greek by the other Greeks, who thought they could use him for their own ends, he was made head of a Greek religious league and invited to chastise some Greek cities which had been accused of sacrilege. Philip, nothing loath, came down into Greece, and suddenly confronted Thebes, which realized at last that there was nothing to hinder him if he wished to turn upon Thebes itself. Demosthenes hastily organized an alliance between Athens and Thebes, but it was too late. Philip defeated the united armies at the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C, and thereafter was the undisputed leader of Greece.

Macedonia quickly became a great Empire and conquered, under King Philip II, a number of city-states, defeating Athens and Thebes in 338 BC at the Battle of Chaeronea. King Philip was assassinated thereafter and the task of expanding the empire was given to his young son Alexander the Great, the most renowned student of the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle. When his father died, twenty two years old Alexander became king of Macedon.

Alexander forged the largest empire the world had yet seen. After having conquered all the city-states of Greece, he invaded Asia Minor with approximately 35.000 soldiers. Before dying at the age of 33, Alexander the Great had conquered the entire Persian Empire, Egypt and the Mesopotamia, Afghanistan and some parts of India. At the time of Alexanders conquests, the Persian empire was thirty times larger than Greece. Alexander truly ushered in a new world age the Hellenistic Age, characterized by the spread of Greek culture throughout the world.

On his deathbed, Alexander reputedly left his empire to the strongest. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian Empire was divided in several parts: such as, the Antigonids in Macedonia, the Seleucids in Asia Minor, Syria, Persia and the Ptolemies in Egypt.

There were severe wars among the successors to Alexander following the Kings death.

Athens was too weak to pose a serious threat at this time and new Hellenistic and autonomous monarchies made their appearance. The concept of the polis disappeared and states of larger size appeared. However, the Greek language remained the official language in trade, administration and literature throughout the Hellinistic world.

The Roman Period Because of its geographical placement and great historical achievements, Greece faced constant warfare from among the several autonomous kingdoms and was made exceedingly vulnerable. Simultaneously, Greece faced threats from the East by Persians, Parthians, and Bactrians and from the West by the Romans, who started expanding their power in the South of Italy and began competing with Greek colonies, especially Tarentum (Taranto) and Syracuse.

Around 280 B.C., the Greek king of Epirus, Pyrrhus, confronted his army against the Romans in southern Italy. Feeling the threat of the Roman Empire, Greeks allied with their former enemies against Rome. Pyrrhus defeated the Romans on various occasions but at such a cost that left his armies depleted. Thus the term Pyrrhic victory has forever been used to describe a win in warfare, but at an exceedingly high price.

The most important adversary of Rome was Carthage which was located in present day Tunisia. Wars started between these two Empires, called the Punic Wars, which lasted 45 tears. The Greeks were involved in this campaign against Rome. Hannibal, the Carthaginian leader, allied with Philip V of Macedonia, the most important power of the Balkans. The Romans defeated the Macedonians in the first and second Macedonian Wars that ended in 197 B.C. The victorious commander Flamininus established a protectorate over the independent city-states of Greece. The Achaean confederacy started a rebellion in 146 B.C. that resulted in the destruction of Corinth. Severe and oppressive restrictions were set. Rome had no consistent policy about the Greek states. The Romans sought principally security and revenue.

Greece from 31 B.C. to 180 AD under the Roman Empire is described as the era of the Pax Romana, which was an era of peace between Rome and the central areas of the Empire like Greece, the Greek Islands and points to the east. This period was

generally characterized as a period of peace and security which facilitated economic and cultural progress, especially in the major cities, such as Athens, Corinth, Alexandria, Miletus, Thessaloniki, and Smyrna. Because of the decentralized Roman provincial administration, a primarily urban-centered elite reemerged in the Greek world, accompanied by the right to participate in the Roman Senate.

The Romans welcomed the Greek culture and Latin and Greek became the dominant languages of the Roman Empire, with Greek surfacing as the official language of the Roman provinces. A Greco-Roman Empire was in effect born.