Ancient Greece was the civilization that gave birth to things such as Western Philosophy, literature, mathematics, history, drama, the Olympic Games and even today's well-known democracy.
Geographically, Ancient Greece was located almost the same way as modern Greece. Mainland Greece was located on a large peninsula called Peoloponnese, that was surrounded on three sides by the Mediteranian sea. The territory also consisted of southern part of Balkan peninsula as well as thousands of islands of different size, but people have lived only on the large ones: Ionian Islands, Cyclades, Rhodes and Crete, which is the largest one.
The word "Greece" knows in Greek as "Ellada" originally was called "Hellas".
The word "Hellas" derives from Hellen, the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha who are featured prominently in Ovid's tale of the Great Flood in his Metamorphoses.
The mythical Deucalion (son of the fire-bringing titan Prometheus) was the savior of the human race from the Great Flood, in the same way Noah is presented in the biblical version or Utnapishtim in the Mesopotamian one.
Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulate the land once the flood waters have receded by casting stones which become people, the first being Hellen.
The Minoans and the Mycenaeans were two of the early civilizations that developed in Greece. The Minoans lived on the Greek islands and built a huge palace on the island of Crete. The Mycenaeans lived mostly on mainland Greece and were the first people to speak the Greek language.
The Minoan civilization began to weaken around 1450 BC. Archeologists think this might have been due to a natural disaster such as an earthquake. The Mycenaeans took over the islands of the Minoans and adopted much of the Minoan culture. They adapted the writing of the Minoans to their own language. Today this writing is called "Linear B."
The Mycenaean civilization began to collapse around 1250 BC when many of their cities were burnt to the ground. After this, they continued to decline and were not a major power in the region. Archeologists are unsure of what caused the collapse. It might have been foreign invaders such as the Sea Peoples or the Dorians. It may also have been a natural disaster such as an earthquake or drought.
After the fall of the Mycenaeans, Greece entered into a dark age. The Greek Dark Age was a period of decline, famine, and lower population throughout the region. This period lasted from around 1100 BC to 800 BC.
The civilization that is often referred to as "Ancient Greece" began around 800 BC. The first part of this period is called the Greek Archaic Period. During this time, many Greek city-states began to form and gain power. Early Greek culture began to take shape including the development of Greek philosophy and theatre.
During the time of the Ancient Greeks Athens was the center of power, art, science, and philosophy in the world. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world as well, with recorded history going back over 3400 years. It is the birth place of democracy and the heart of the Ancient Greek civilisation.
Athens is named after the Greek goddess Athena. She was the goddess of wisdom, war, and civilization and the patron of the city of Athens. Her shrine, the Parthenon, sits on top of a hill in the center of the city.
Sparta, on the other hand, was one of the most powerful city-states in Ancient Greece. It is famous for its powerful army as well as its battles with the city-state of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Sparta was located in a valley on the banks of the Eurotas River in the south-eastern portion of Greece. The lands it controlled were called Laconia and Messenia.
Unlike their counterparts in the city of Athens, the Spartans didn't study philosophy, art, or theatre, they studied war. The Spartans were widely considered to have the strongest army and the best soldiers of any city-state in Ancient Greece. All Spartan men trained to become warriors from the day they were born.
Spartan boys were trained to be soldiers from their youth. They were raised by their mothers until the age of seven and then they would enter a military school called the Agoge. At the Agoge the boys were trained how to fight, but also learned how to read and write.
The Agoge was a tough school. The boys lived in barracks and were often beaten to make them tough. They were given little to eat in order to get used to what life would be like when they went to war. The boys were encouraged to fight one another. When the boys turned 20 they entered into the Spartan army.
It will be impossible to not mention Leonidas when talking about Sparta.
Leonidas (c. 530-480 B.C.) was a king of the city-state of Sparta from about 490 B.C. until his death at the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army in 480 B.C. Although Leonidas lost the battle, his death at Thermopylae was seen as a heroic sacrifice because he sent most of his army away when he realized that the Persians had outmaneuvered him. Three hundred of his fellow Spartans stayed with him to fight and die. Almost everything that is known about Leonidas comes from the work of the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484-c. 425 B.C.).
The first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. The games would take place every 4 years in honor of the Greek god Zeus.
In 757 BC the First Messenian War begins. This is a war between Sparta and Messenia that will last many years.
750 BC - Homer begins to write the Iliad and Odyssey. These epic poems become two of the most famous literary works in Greek literature.
In 650 BC the Greek Tyrants come into power. Cypselus is the first Tyrant of Corinth.
Few decades later in 621 BC a lawyer named Draco introduces strict new laws in Athens that are punishable by death. These are called Draconian laws.
However, in 508 BC democracy is first introduced in Athens by Cleisthenes. He establishes a constitution and is often called the "Father of Athenian Democracy". This is one of the great accomplishments of the Greek culture.
490 BC - The Greeks fight the Persians in the Greek/Persian Wars. Two famous battles are the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC and the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. The Greeks win and the Persians retreat.
431 BC - The wars between Sparta and Athens begin. They are called the Peloponnesian Wars. The wars will last 27 years with Sparta eventually conquering Athens in 404 BC.
399 BC - The famous Greek philosopher Socrates is put to death for corrupting the youth of Athens with his teachings.
386 BC - Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, Plato, founds the first institution of higher learning in the western world. It's called the Academy.
342 BC - The great philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, Aristotle, begins to tutor Alexander (later to be called Alexander the Great).
336 BC - Alexander the Great becomes king when his father, Philip of Macedon is assassinated.
333 BC - Alexander begins his conquests and defeats the Persians.
332 BC - Alexander conquers Egypt. He establishes the new capital of Egypt at Alexandria. Over the next several years Alexander would greatly expand his empire, conquering much of Persia on the way to India.
323 BC - The Hellenistic period begins when Alexander the Great dies. The Ancient Greek civilization begins its decline and the Ancient Romans start to gain power.
300 BC - Euclid, a Greek mathematician, writes Elements. This famous writing will have an impact on mathematics for years to come.
146 BC - Rome conquers Greece making it part of the Roman Empire.
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