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Transcript of Ancient Greece
Greece is a peninsula surrounded by three seas:
▪ The Ionian Sea to the west
▪ The Mediterranean Sea to the south
▪ The Aegean Sea to the east
Mainland Greece is almost split into two by:
▪ The Saronic Gulf
▪ The Gulf of Corinth
The Greek Islands are the tips of mountains that sank beneath the sea long ago - they act as
stepping stones from Greece to the Asia Minor.
The rugged mountains deeply affected the development of Ancient Greece:
▪ The mountains (and the islands) cut Greece into separate little areas. In these areas small groups of people developed differently. Each group built its own town, which governed the surrounding area. We call each of these towns and its area a city-state (polis). The most famous city-states were Athens, Sparta, Corinth and Thebes.
▪ The mountains made communication between city-states difficult.
▪ Only a small amount of land was suitable for growing crops.
▪ The mountains contained marble and clay deposits. These materials were sued by the Ancient Greeks for building, sculpture and pottery.
The geography affected the Greeks in many ways:
▪ For most of their history they did not form a united Greece. Instead they developed separate city-states.
▪ They had to trade their pottery, olives and oil to get the grain and metals their own country could not produce.
▪ The lack of agricultural land forced many Greeks to form settlements (colonies) in other countries.
▪ Greece had warm/ dry summers and mild winters - very suitable for outdoor activities and growing grapes and olives.
▪ The Greeks became seafaring people because the mountains made it difficult to travel by land, the rivers were too short and swift to provide a transport system.
The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations
The Trojan War
The Dark Ages
Types of Governments
Cleisthenes' democratic constitution
Rise of Macedonia
Alexander the 'Great'
The Bronze Age
3,000 BC to 1100 BC
2,000 - 1,700 BC Mycenaean enter mainland Greece.
1,700 - 1,500 BC The height of Minoan Civilization is reached.
1,400 BC The rise of Mycenaean naval strength.
1,200 BC The Trojan War and the fall of the Mycenae.
1,150 BC Dorian Immigration into Greece mainland.
The Dark Ages
1,100 - 800 BC
1,100 BC End of Mycenaean age and civilization. Early city states are ruled through monarchy.
1,100 - 1,000 BC Ionian Immigration to Asia Minor.
800 BC - 500 BC
800 - 700 BC Monarchies begin to be replaced by Aristocratic Republics.
776 BC Date of the first Olympic games.
600 BC Coin currency introduced.
546 BC Persian invasion and conquest of Greek territories through out Asia Minor.
507 BC Cleisthenes' democratic constitution.
500 - 400 BC
490 BC First Persian invasion of Greece, the Battle of Marathon.
480 BC Second Persian invasion of Greece, Spartans are defeated at Thermopylae, Athens is occupied by the Persians. The Persians are finally defeated at Salamis.
The founding of the Delian League.
479 BC Persians are defeated at Plataea.
448 BC Peace with the Persians.
443 - 429 BC Pericles is leader of Athens during the Golden Age.
431 - 404 BC The Peloponnesian War.
404 BC Athens Surrenders to Sparta.
Late Classical Period
400 - 330 BC
371 BC Thebes defeats Sparta at Leuctra.
338 BC Philip of Macedonia leads the Greek City States.
336 - 323 BC Alexander the Great's reign begins.
330 - 30 BC
323 - 148 BC Greek City States remain relatively independent. Frequent warfare continues between rival leagues.
200 - 196 BC First Roman victories over Greece.
148 BC Macedonia becomes a Roman providence.
146 BC Corinth destroyed by the Romans.
86 BC Athens is sacked by Sulla.
From these images what can we deduce about the Mycenaean civilization?
The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations
Crete (Minoans) and Mycenae may be described as the 'lost civilizations' of Ancient Greece, for they were only discovered in the late nineteenth centuries. Legends and the stories of Homer's had hinted at their existence, but few people believed the old tales until archaeology verified them.
From these images what can we deduce about the Minoan Civilization?
'Out on the dark blue sea there lies a land called Crete; a rich and lovely land, washed by the waters on every side. Many people live there...' Written by Homer in the Odyssey
Knossos most significant palace and center of Minoan civilization.
Civilization centered around 'palaces'.
Bureaucratic centers from which government and trade were organized.
Palaces included rooms used for storage of exports, offices and living quarters for the King and his family.
Centers of culture; including beautiful frescoes and other art work.
Palaces included plumbing systems which have not been seen again since the Romans.
Unique feature of Minoan palaces was their lack of defensive fortification.
At its peak, Crete was at the center of a thriving Aegean trading region.
Objects found throughout the Mediterranean region show the extent of Crete's exports, which included wool, olive oil, honey, fine pottery, jewellery and bronze wares.
Crete imported goods such as linen and papyrus from Egypt and copper from Cyprus.
The disappearance of the Minoan civilization
Historians have deduced that a 'mother-earth' goddess was central to Minoan religion.
Similar cults were found throughout the Middle East.
The 'snake goddess' was regarded as the household deity and was seen as the guardian of the house.
Another central figure was the bull, which is found throughout Minoan art. Like the earth goddess the bull symbolized fertility.
This religious figure also gave rise to the legend of the Minotaur which is linked to a dark side to Minoan religion which suggests human sacrificed was practiced.
Later Greeks believed their god Zeus had been born in Crete leading us to believe that some Greek gods may have had Cretan origins.
The Minoan civilization collapsed in about 1450 BC however there is conjecture over their demise.
A tremendous volcanic eruption on the island of Thera caused devastation to Crete which occurred some 50 years before their demise. Maybe they never recovered...
The most common explanation is that the Mycenaeans from the mainland invaded.
As the Minoan populace declined, another Aegean civilization was emerging - that of Mycenae.
Who were the Mycenaeans?
In about 1600BC a warlike group came to power in mainland Greece, named after their largest stronghold at Mycenae in the northeastern Peloponnese.
The Mycenaeans were the first known civilization to speak greek.
The Mycenaean’s had a theocracy consisting of a king, warrior/religious aristocracy, and subjects.
Similar to Ancient Egypt, the king was seen by his subjects as an all powerful individual, so much so that he was given the name wanax (a title which was also given to the divine).
Below the wanax were a number of officials with specific titles, who ruled over aspects of religion and military life. These officials and the king held an extensive division of labour over their subjects.
Political and economic power was retained through the palace of the king, and scribes kept detailed records of the king's possessions, taxes, and other inventories.
With the fall of Minoan Crete, the Mycenaeans were allowed avenues of trade unopened to them before. Quickly, Mycenaean trade expanded to Cyprus, Egypt, and well into Asia Minor.
Traded goods included perfumed oils, olive oil, wine, art, ivory, plaques, pottery, bronze objects, gold, copper, tin, spices, elephant tusks, and dye.
After taking Crete, the Mycenaeans expanded to form cities in Athens, Thebes, Tiryns, and Pylos. In many of the cities, fine citadels were created along with heavily fortified city walls, such as those found at Pylos and Tiryns.
The fall of the Mycenaean Civilization took place within 1300 and 1000 BC, and rather than have attributed its downfall to an outside influence, Mycenea fell by its own hands.
It is surmised (though disputed), that the fall of the Mycenaeans took place as a result of internecine wars between its own kingdoms, historically known as the Trojan Wars.
The pattern of rivalry between kingdoms is evidenced in such great works as Homer’s The Illiad, and continued to be a pattern repeated throughout the history of Ancient Greece. Eventually, with the fall of the Mycenean, Ancient Greece went through what is commonly known as the Greek Dark Ages.
The Trojan War
In Greek legend, the Trojan war is a famous war waged by the Greeks against the city of Troy.
The tradition is believed to reflect a real war between the Greeks of the late Mycenaean period and the inhabitants of the Troad, or Troas, in Anatolia, part of present-day Turkey.
Modern archaeological excavations have shown that Troy was destroyed by fire in the early 12th century bc, the traditional date of the war, and that the war may actually have resulted from the desire either to plunder the wealthy city or to put an end to Troy's commercial control of the Dardanelles.
Agamemnon's force included many famous Greek heroes, the most noted of whom were Achilles, Patroclus, the two Ajaxes, Teucer, Nestor, Odysseus, and Diomedes.
After the Trojans refused to restore Helen to Menelaus, the Greek warriors assembled at the Bay of Aulis and proceeded to Troy in 1000 ships.
In the tenth year, Achilles withdrew from battle because of his anger with Agamemnon; Achilles' action furnished Homer with the theme of the Iliad.
The city of Troy was captured at last by treachery. A force of Greek warriors gained entrance to the city by hiding in the interior of a large wooden horse. Subsequently the Greeks sacked and burned the city.
Only a few Trojans escaped, the most famous being Aeneas, who led the other survivors to what is present-day Italy.
There is some doubt over whether the Iliad and the Odyssey were actually composed by the same main author.
Homer is one of the most influential authors in the widest sense, for the two epics provided the basis of Greek education and culture throughout the classical age and formed the backbone of humane education down to the time of the Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity.
It was through their impact on classical Greek culture itself that the Iliad and the Odyssey most subtly affected Western standards and ideas.
The Greeks regarded the great epics as something more than works of literature; they knew much of them by heart, and they valued them not only as a symbol of Hellenic unity and heroism but also as an ancient source of moral and even practical instruction.
The general belief that Homer was a native of Ionia (the central part of the western seaboard of Asia Minor).
One of the most important discoveries of Homeric scholarship, is that the Homeric tradition was oral -- that this was a kind of poetry made and passed down by word of mouth and without the intervention of writing.
The Dark Ages
The Dark Ages
Dark Ages 1200 - 800 BC
The iron age
Lack of evidence
General decay including widespread destruction of palace complexes
Age of invasions- Dorians and other tribes from north
Mycenaean survivors flee and settle elsewhere
Decline in population
"The Homeric age provides something of a bridge between the Dark Age and the Archaic period; it is the name given to the time when Homer is believed to have written the Iliad and Odyssey".
Invasion and early migrations
The Dark Age could also be called an age of invasion.
The devastation of so many Mycenaean sites led to a general shift and movement of peoples in Greece.
During these unsettled times, Greece was subjected to invasions from the Dorian's, and other tribes from the north. Those whom survived tended to disperse elsewhere.
An Alternative theory is that the Dorian's were not invaders, but simply lower class Mycenaeans.
Dorian tribes swept through Greece and eventually dominated the Peloponnese, Crete and the southern part of the coast of Asia Minor.
Their most famous city was Sparta.
Pre - Dorian Greeks
These sects were undoubtedly Greek-speakers and originated outside of Greece.
Arrived 800 years before the Dorian's
The Ionians - were traditionally the forefathers of the Athenians, Herodotus claimed these people to have originated from Archaea.
The Aeolians - originated from Thessaly and Boeotia but invasions led to migrate to Greece.
The Arcadians - are believed to represent the true Mycenaean Greeks, as it was spoken both in Arcadia and on the island of Cyprus, which had been under Mycenaean influence.
Greek mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices.
Greek mythology is explicitly embodied in a large collection of narratives, and implicitly in Greek representational arts, such as vase-paintings and votive gifts.
The oldest known Greek literary sources, Homer's epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, focus on the Trojan War and its aftermath.
Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices.
In Ancient Greece there were no church nor powerful priestly class. However, there were wandering preachers who gained large followings among the poor.
Ancient Greeks believed that the Gods lived on Mount Olympus.
They were ruled by their King, Zeus, these gods controlled everything, including the sun and moon, weather, earthquakes and the growth of crops.
Zeus - Chief of Gods
Hera - His wife and goddess of marriage
Apollo - Sun god, god of flocks and music
Athena - Goddess of warriors, gifts and wisdom
Poseidon - God of the sea
Dionysus - God of wine
Artemis - Goddess of hunting
Hermes - Messenger
Aphrodite - Goddess of love
Heracles - God of physical strength
Ancient evidence does exist but it has its limitations
Information comes from ancient writers
No description of Sparta has survived from Spartan perspective
Accounts from other Greeks such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristotle and, from later ages, Plutarch and the traveller, Pausanias.
Sparta being the curiosity it was, the writers all tended to be either unashamed admirers or harsh critics.
Sparta for the most part was a 'closed society', which made it difficult for outsiders to penetrate.
How did Sparta develop as it did?
Tradition says that the Spartan city-states began when five Dorian villages combined during the 8th century, later they would subdue the rest of Laconia.
Up until the mid seventh century Sparta was very similar to other Greek city-states.
The Messenian revolt was a turning point in Spartan history.
A century earlier the Spartans had conquered and subdued the population to serf-like status.
Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which completely focused on military training and excellence.
Its inhabitants were classified as
Spartiates - Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights
Mothakes - non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans
Perioikoi - free men
Helots - state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population
Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical world.
At its peak around 500 BC the size of the city would have been some 20,000-35,000 free residents, plus numerous helots and perioikoi (“dwellers around”).
Not all inhabitants of the Spartan state were considered to be citizens. Only those who had undertaken the Spartan education process known as the agoge were eligible.
The only people eligible to receive the agoge were Spartiates, or people who could trace their ancestry to the original inhabitants of the city.
There were two exceptions. Trophimoi or "foster sons" were foreign students invited to study.
The other exception was that the sons of a helot could be enrolled as a syntrophos if a Spartiate formally adopted him and paid his way.
These laws meant that Sparta could not readily replace citizens lost in battle or otherwise and eventually proved near fatal as the number of citizens became greatly outnumbered by the non-citizens and, even more dangerously, the helots.
History of Athens
Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years.
Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BC laid the foundations of western civilization.
The cities name derives from its patron goddess Athena.
During the 6th century Athens transformed from a secondary polis, dominated by aristocrats and plagued by economic and political turmoil, into a prosperous city.
This was achieved through the efforts of Solon and Cleisthenes who led Athens towards democracy and laid the foundations for a stable economy and expanding culture.
As the soil was not conducive to large-scale agricultural programs, Athens turned to trade for its livelihood and, mainly, to sea trade.
Athenian Democracy - Solon and Cleisthenes
The site on which Athens stands was first inhabited in the Neolithic period, perhaps as a defensible settlement on top of the Acropolis ('high city').
The ancient walled city encompassed an area measuring about 2 km and in its peak the ancient city had suburbs extending well beyond these walls.
The Acropolis was situated just south of the center of this walled area.
The Agora, the commercial and social center of the city, lay about 400 m (1,312 ft) north of the Acropolis.
The hill of the Pnyx, where the Athenian Assembly met, lay at the western end of the city. The Eridanus river flowed through the city.
One of the most important religious sites in ancient Athens was the Temple of Athena, known today as the Parthenon, which stood on top of the Acropolis.
Catalyst for Change....
The wealthy aristocrats held control of both the land and the government and, in time, poorer land owners became enslaved.
Further, there was a perceived lack of consistency among the other laws of the city.
The first series of laws written to address these problems were provided by the statesman Draco in c. 621 BCE but were considered too severe (the penalty for most infractions was death).
Solon was called upon to modify and revise them. Solon, though an aristocrat himself, created a series of laws which equalized the political power of the citizenry and, in so doing, laid the groundwork for democracy in Athens in 594 BCE.
Cleisthenes was appointed to reform the government and the laws and, in 507 BCE, he instituted a new form of government which today is recognized as Democracy.
According to the historian Waterfield, "The pride that followed from widespread involvement in public life gave Athenians the energy to develop their city both internally and in relation to their neighbors".
This new form of government would provide the stability necessary to make Athens the cultural and intellectual center of the ancient world; a reputation which lasts even into the modern age.