The term ancient Greece refers to the periods of Greek history in Classical Antiquity, lasting ca. 750 BC (the archaic period) to 146 BC (the Roman conquest). It is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of Western Civilization. Greek culture had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. The civilization of the ancient Greeks has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and arts, giving rise to the Renaissance in Western Europe and again resurgent during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas.There are no fixed or universally agreed upon dates for the beginning or the end of the ancient Greek period. In common usage it refers to all Greek history before the Roman Empire, but historians use the term more precisely. Some writers include the periods of the Greek-speaking Mycenaean civilization that collapsed about 1150 BC, though most would argue that the influential Minoan was so different from later Greek cultures that it should be classed separately.
Since the time of Homer, the Greeks have called themselves Hellenes (Έλληνες), though they have been known by a number of different names throughout history. The soldiers that fell at Thermopylae did so as the last protectors of Hellas. Homer, Herodotus and the later Greek authors locate the first usages of the word "Hellenes" as an ethnic name-umbrella under which the Achaians and the rest of the Greek allies sailed for the city state of Troy under Agamemnon's leadership, although up to that point "Hellas" (Greek: Eλλάς) and "Hellenes" was the name of the tribe (also called "Myrmidones") settled in ThessalicPhthia having Achilles as their leader.Alexander the Great is the first leader who officially uses the terms Hellas and Panhellenic League (league of all Greek tribes except for the Lacedaemonians) when he began his military campaign against the Persian rulers of the Greek city-states of Asia Minor (Ionia) to revenge their ancestors.
The city of Sparta lay at the southern end of the central Laconian plain, on the right bank of the Eurotas River. It was a strategic site, guarded on three sides by mountains and controlling the routes by which invading armies could penetrate Laconia and the southern Peloponnesus via the Langhda Pass over Mt Taygetus. At the same time, its distance from the sea—Sparta was 27 miles from its seaport, Gythium—made it difficult to blockade.
Ruins of the Ancient Olympic Games training grounds at Olympia.The historical origins of the Ancient Olympic Games are unknown, but several legends and myths have survived. One of these involved Pelops, king of Olympia and eponymous hero of the Peloponnesus, to whom offerings were made during the games.