Greece is a nation in southeastern Europe, recognized in Greek together Hellas or Ellada, and also consisting the a mainland and also an archipelago that islands. Old Greece is the birthplace of Western philosophy (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle), literary works (Homer and also Hesiod), math (Pythagoras and also Euclid), history (Herodotus), drama (Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes), the Olympic Games, and also democracy.

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The ide of an atomic world was first posited in Greece with the occupational of Democritus and also Leucippus. The procedure of today"s scientific an approach was very first introduced v the work-related of Thales of Miletus and also those who followed him. The Latin alphabet also comes from old Greece, having been introduced to the region during the Phoenician emigration in the 8th century BCE, and also early job-related in physics and engineering was pioneered through Archimedes, that the Greek nest of Syracuse, amongst others.


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Mainland greece is a huge peninsula surrounded on 3 sides by the Mediterranean Sea (branching right into the Ionian Sea in the west and the Aegean Sea in the east) which additionally comprises the islands well-known as the Cyclades and the Dodecanese (including Rhodes), the Ionian archipelago (including Corcyra), the isle that Crete, and the southerly peninsula recognized as the Peloponnese.


The Greeks ended up being skilled seafaring civilization & traders who developed some the the most impressive frameworks in antiquity.

The location of Greece greatly influenced the culture in that, with couple of natural resources and surrounded by water, the human being eventually required to the sea for your livelihood. Mountains cover 80 percent the Greece and also only small rivers run through a rocky see which, for the most part, provides tiny encouragement because that agriculture. Consequently, the early old Greeks conquered neighboring islands and also founded negotiations along the coastline of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey). The Greeks came to be skilled seafaring people and traders who, possessing an abundance of raw products for construction in stone, and an excellent skill, built some that the many impressive structures in antiquity.


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Etymology of Hellas

The designation Hellas derives indigenous Hellen, the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha who attribute prominently in Ovid"s tale of the great Flood in his Metamorphoses. The mythical Deucalion (son of the fire-bringing titan Prometheus) to be the savior the the human race from the an excellent Flood, in the same way Noah is gift in the biblical version or Utnapishtim in the Mesopotamian one. Deucalion and also Pyrrha repopulate the land as soon as the floodwaters have receded by spreading stones which come to be people, the very first being Hellen. Contradictory to famous opinion, Hellas and also Ellada have actually nothing to perform with Helen of troy from Homer"s Iliad. Ovid, however, did not coin the designation. Thucydides writes, in book I of his Histories:

I to be inclined come think that the very name was not as yet offered to the entirety country, and in fact did not exist at all before the time that Hellen, the son of Deucalion; the various tribes, of i beg your pardon the Pelasgian was the many widely spread, offered their own names to various districts. Yet when Hellen and his boy became powerful in Phthiotis, their aid was invoked by other cities, and those who connected with them gradually began to be called Hellenes, despite a long time elapsed before the name was widespread over the entirety country. The this, Homer affords the ideal evidence; for he, although that lived long after the Trojan War, nowhere supplies this name collectively, however confines it to the pendant of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes; when speaking that the whole host, he calls castle Danäans, or Argives, or Achaeans.

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Minoan Bull Leaping
Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA)

Early background of old Greece

Ancient Greek history is most easily interpreted by dividing it right into time periods. The region was currently settled, and agriculture initiated, during the Paleolithic era as shown by find at Petralona and Franchthi caves (two that the oldest human being habitations in the world). The Neolithic age (c. 6000 - c. 2900 BCE) is identified by long-term settlements (primarily in north Greece), domestication the animals, and also the further advance of agriculture. Archaeological finds in north Greece (Thessaly, Macedonia, and also Sesklo, amongst others) imply a migration indigenous Anatolia in that the ceramic cups and also bowls and also figures uncovered there share characteristics distinctive to Neolithic find in Anatolia. This inland inhabitants were generally farmers, as northern Greece was more conducive to agriculture than in other places in the region, and lived in one-room rock houses through a roof of timber and clay daubing.


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The Cycladic human being (c. 3200-1100 BCE) grew in the islands of the Aegean Sea (including Delos, Naxos, and Paros) and provides the earliest evidence of regular human habitation in that region. Throughout the Cycladic Period, houses and also temples were developed of finished stone and the human being made their living with fishing and also trade. This period is usually separated into 3 phases: early Cycladic, middle Cycladic, and Late Cycladic with a steady advance in art and also architecture. The latter two phases overlap and finally merge with the Minoan Civilization, and differences in between the periods end up being indistinguishable.

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Cycladic Figurine c. 2400 BCE
Mary Harrsch (Photographed in ~ the Getty Villa, Malibu) (CC BY-NC-SA)

The Minoan world (2700-1500 BCE) emerged on the island the Crete, and rapidly came to be the dominant sea strength in the region. The term "Minoan" to be coined by the excavator Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered the Minoan royal residence of Knossos in 1900 CE and also named the culture for the old Cretan king Minos. The name by which the world knew themselves is not known. The Minoan world was thriving, as the Cycladic civilization seems to have actually been, long before the accepted contemporary dates which mark its existence and probably previously than 6000 BCE.


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The Minoans emerged a composing system recognized as direct A (which has not yet been deciphered) and made advancements in shipbuilding, construction, ceramics, the arts and sciences, and warfare. King Minos was credited by old historians (Thucydides among them) together being the very first person to create a navy with which that colonized, or conquered, the Cyclades. Archaeological and also geological evidence on Crete suggests this people fell as result of an overuse the the land leading to deforestation though, traditionally, it is welcomed that lock were dominated by the Mycenaeans. The eruption that the volcano on the nearby island of Thera (modern-day Santorini) between 1650 and also 1550 BCE and also the resulting tsunami is identified as the final cause for the fall of the Minoans. The isle the Crete was deluged and also the cities and villages destroyed. This occasion has been generally cited as Plato"s inspiration in producing his legend of Atlantis in his dialogues that the Critias and Timaeus.

The Mycenaeans & their Gods

The Mycenaean world (approximately 1900-1100 BCE) is commonly acknowledged as the beginning of Greek culture, also though us know nearly nothing around the Mycenaeans save what have the right to be figured out through historical finds and through Homer"s account of your war v Troy as recorded in the Iliad. Castle are credited with developing the culture owing generally to their architectural advances, their development of a writing system (known as straight B, an early kind of Greek descended from the Minoan direct A), and the establishment, or improvement of, religious rites. The Mycenaeans appear to have been considerably influenced through the Minoans that Crete in their prayer of planet goddesses and sky gods, which, in time, come to be the classic Greek pantheon.

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Death Mask of Agamemnon
Xuan Che (CC BY)

Greek mythology detailed a solid paradigm the the production of the universe, the world, and also human beings. Very early myth relates how, in the beginning, there was nothing yet chaos in the kind of unending waters. Indigenous this chaos came the goddess Eurynome that separated the water native the air and began her dance of development with the serpent Ophion. From their dance, every one of creation sprang and also Eurynome was, originally, the good Mother Goddess and also Creator of every Things.


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By the moment Hesiod and also Homer were composing (8th century BCE), this story had changed into the more familiar myth worrying the titans, Zeus" war versus them, and also the bear of the Olympian Gods with Zeus together their chief. This transition indicates a movement from a matriarchal religious beliefs to a patriarchal paradigm. Whichever model was followed, however, the gods clearly interacted frequently with the human beings who worshipped them and also were a big part of daily life in old Greece. Prior to the coming of the Romans, the only road in mainland Greece that was not a cow path was the Sacred method which ran between the city of Athens and the holy city that Eleusis, the birthplace the the Eleusinian Mysteries celebrate the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.

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Greater Propylaea of Eleusis
Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA)

By 1100 BCE, about the time the the Bronze period Collapse, the great Mycenaean cities of southwest greece were exit and, some claim, their civilization destroyed by an invasion of Doric Greeks. Historical evidence is inconclusive regarding what led to the autumn of the Mycenaeans. As no written documents of this period survive (or have yet to it is in unearthed) one might only speculate on causes. The tablet computers of straight B script uncovered thus far contain just lists of items bartered in profession or maintained in stock. It appears clear, however, that after what is well-known as the Greek Dark eras (approximately 1100-800 BCE, so named since of the absence of written documentation) Greek colonization was continuous in much of Asia Minor, and the islands bordering mainland Greece and began to do significant social advances. Start in c. 585 BCE the first Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, was engaged in what, today, would certainly be well-known as clinical inquiry ~ above the Asia young coast, and this region of Ionian nests would make significant breakthroughs in Greek philosophy and also mathematics.

From the antiquated to the classic Periods


Greece reached the heights in practically every area of human learning during the classical Period.

The Archaic duration (800-500 BCE) is characterized by the development of republics instead of monarchies (which, in Athens, moved toward autonomous rule) organized as a solitary city-state or polis, the college of legislations (Draco"s revolutionary in Athens), the good Panathenaic Festival to be established, distinctive Greek pottery and Greek sculpture to be born, and also the very first coins minted on the island kingdom of Aegina. This, then, set the phase for the thriving of the Classical period of ancient Greece offered as 500-400 BCE or, more precisely, together 480-323 BCE, indigenous the Greek win at the fight of Salamis come the fatality of Alexander the Great. This was the golden age of Athens, as soon as Pericles initiated the building of the Acropolis and also spoke his well known eulogy for the males who died defending greece at the fight of Marathon in 490 BCE. Greece got to the heights in almost every area of person learning throughout this time and the good thinkers and also artists of classical times (Phidias, Plato, Aristophanes, to cite only three) flourished. Leonidas and also his 300 Spartans dropped at Thermopylae and, the exact same year (480 BCE), Themistocles won win over the remarkable Persian naval fleet in ~ Salamis resulting in the last defeat that the Persians at the battle of Plataea in 479 BCE.


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Democracy (literally Demos = people and also Kratos = power, so strength of the people) was developed in Athens enabling all male citizens over the age of twenty a voice in the Greek government. The Pre-Socratic philosophers, following Thales" lead, initiated what would come to be the scientific method in exploring natural phenomena. Men like Anaximander, Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Democritus, Xenophanes, and also Heraclitus exit the theistic model of the universe and strove to i found it the underlying, first cause that life and the universe.

Their successors, amongst whom were Euclid and Archimedes, ongoing to development Greek science and philosophical inquiry and also further developed mathematics together a serious discipline. The example of Socrates and the works of Plato and Aristotle ~ him have influenced western culture and culture for over 2 thousand years. This period also saw breakthroughs in architecture and art through a activity away native the best to the realistic. Well known works of Greek sculpture such together the Parthenon Marbles and Discobolos (the discus thrower) date from this time and also epitomize the artist"s interest in depicting human emotion, beauty, and achievement realistically, even if those features are gift in works featuring immortals.

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The Parthenon
Andrew Griffith (CC BY-NC-SA)

All of these breakthroughs in culture were made possible by the climb of Athens adhering to the victory over the Persians in 480 BCE. The peace and also prosperity which followed the Persian defeat listed the finances and also stability for society to flourish. Athens ended up being the superpower of the work and, v the most an effective navy, to be able to demand tribute from other city-states and also enforce that is wishes. Athens developed the Delian League, a defensive alliance whose declared purpose to be to deter the Persians from additional hostilities.

The city-state of Sparta, however, wondered about Athenian sincerity and also formed their very own association for protection against their enemies, the Peloponnesian league (so named for the Peloponnese an ar where Sparta and the others were located). The city-states i m sorry sided v Sparta significantly perceived Athens as a bully and a tyrant, if those cities which sided v Athens regarded Sparta and also its allies with cultivation distrust. The tension in between these 2 parties ultimately erupted in what has become known together the Peloponnesian Wars. The first conflict (c. 460-445 BCE) ended in a truce and continued prosperity because that both parties while the second (431-404 BCE) left Athens in ruins and Sparta, the victor, bankrupt after she protracted war v Thebes.

This time is generally referred to as the late Classical period (c. 400-330 BCE). The strength vacuum left through the autumn of these 2 cities to be filled through Philip II the Macedon (382-336 BCE) ~ his success over the Athenian forces and also their allies in ~ the fight of Chaeronea in 338 BCE. Philip united the Greek city-states under Macedonian dominion and, upon his assassination in 336 BCE, his child Alexander suspect the throne.

Alexander the great & the resulting Rome

Alexander the an excellent (356-323 BCE) lugged on his father"s plans for a complete scale invasion of Persia in retaliation for their intrusion of greek in 480 BCE. Together he had nearly the entirety of greece under his command, a standing army of significant size and strength, and a complete treasury, Alexander did not should bother v allies nor through consulting anyone regarding his plan for invasion and so led his army into Egypt, throughout Asia Minor, through Persia, and also finally come India. Tutored in his youth by Plato"s great student Aristotle, Alexander would spread the ideals of Greek people through his occupations and, in therefore doing, transmitted Greek art, philosophy, culture, and also language to every region he come in contact with.

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In 323 BCE Alexander died and also his vast empire was divided between four of his generals. This initiated what has involved be known to chroniclers as the Hellenistic duration (323-31 BCE) throughout which Greek assumed and society became dominant in the various regions under this generals" influence. ~ the wars of the Diadochi ("the successors" together Alexander"s generals became known), Antigonus I created the Antigonid empire in greece which he climate lost. It was regained by his grandson, Antigonus II Gonatas, by 276 BCE who ruled the nation from his palace at Macedon.

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The roman inn Republic came to be increasingly affiliated in the to work of Greece throughout this time and, in 168 BCE, beat Macedon in ~ the battle of Pydna. After ~ this date, greece steadily come under the influence of Rome. In 146 BCE, the region was designated a Protectorate the Rome and Romans began to emulate Greek fashion, ideology and, come a particular extent, sensibilities. In 31 BCE Octavian Caesar linked the nation as a district of Rome following his victory over note Antony and Cleopatra in ~ the battle of Actium. Octavian came to be Augustus Caesar and also Greece a component of the roman Empire.