Portal:Ancient Greece

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The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, located on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Ancient Greece (Greek: Ἑλλάς, romanizedHellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of classical antiquity (c. AD 600), that comprised a loose collection of culturally and linguistically related city-states and other territories. Most of these regions were officially unified only once, for 13 years, under Alexander the Great's empire from 336 to 323 BC (though this excludes a number of Greek city-states free from Alexander's jurisdiction in the western Mediterranean, around the Black Sea, Cyprus, and Cyrenaica). In Western history, the era of classical antiquity was immediately followed by the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine period.

Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and the colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the age of Classical Greece, from the Greco-Persian Wars to the 5th to 4th centuries BC, and which included the Golden Age of Athens. The conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon spread Hellenistic civilization from the western Mediterranean to Central Asia. The Hellenistic period ended with the conquest of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, and the annexation of the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it throughout the Mediterranean and much of Europe. For this reason, Classical Greece is generally considered the cradle of Western civilization, the seminal culture from which the modern West derives many of its founding archetypes and ideas in politics, philosophy, science, and art. (Full article...)

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The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization, around 1100 BC, to the beginning of the Archaic age, around 750 BC. Archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned. At around the same time, the Hittite civilization also suffered serious disruption, with cities from Troy to Gaza being destroyed. In Egypt, the New Kingdom fell into disarray, leading to the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. Following the collapse, there were fewer, smaller settlements, suggesting widespread famine and depopulation. In Greece, the Linear B script used by Mycenaean bureaucrats to write the Greek language ceased to be used, and the Greek alphabet did not develop until the beginning of the Archaic Period. The decoration on Greek pottery after about 1100 BC lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles (1000–700 BC).

It was previously thought that all contact was lost between mainland Hellenes and foreign powers during this period, yielding little cultural progress or growth. But archaeologist Alex Knodell considers that artifacts from excavations at Lefkandi on the Lelantine Plain in Euboea in the 1980s "revealed that some parts of Greece were much wealthier and more widely connected than traditionally thought, as a monumental building and its adjacent cemetery showed connections to Cyprus, Egypt, and the Levant as markers of elite status and authority, much as they had been in previous periods", and this shows that significant cultural and trade links with the east, particularly the Levant coast, developed from c. 900 BC onwards. Additionally, evidence has emerged of the new presence of Hellenes in sub-Mycenaean Cyprus and on the Syrian coast at Al-Mina. (Full article...)
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Bouleuterion in Olynthos 2.jpg
Bouleuterion of ancient Olynthus
Olynthus (Ancient Greek: Ὄλυνθος Olynthos, named for the ὄλυνθος olunthos, "the fruit of the wild fig tree") was an ancient city of Chalcidice, built mostly on two flat-topped hills 30–40m in height, in a fertile plain at the head of the Gulf of Torone, near the neck of the peninsula of Pallene, about 2.5 kilometers from the sea, and about 60 stadia (c. 9–10 kilometers) from Poteidaea. Artefacts found during the excavations of the site are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Olynthos. (Full article...)

Did you know...

  • Knossos Bull-Leaping Fresco.jpg
    ...that Crete, although now Greek, had its own civilization well before Ancient Greece in the Minoan culture?

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Alexander the Great mosaic (cropped).jpg
Alexander the Great in the Alexander Mosaic at the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy

Alexander III of Macedon (Ancient Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος, romanizedAlexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon. He succeeded his father Philip II to the throne in 336 BC at the age of 20, and spent most of his ruling years conducting a lengthy military campaign throughout Western Asia and Egypt. By the age of 30, he had created one of the largest empires in history, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered to be one of history's greatest and most successful military commanders.

Until the age of 16, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle. In 335 BC, shortly after his assumption of kingship over Macedon, he campaigned in the Balkans and reasserted control over Thrace and Illyria before marching on the city of Thebes, which was subsequently destroyed in battle. Alexander then led the League of Corinth, and used his authority to launch the pan-Hellenic project envisaged by his father, assuming leadership over all Greeks in their conquest of Persia. (Full article...)

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Calyx-krater Louvre CA929.jpg

Photo credit: Jastrow

A krater (from the Greek verb κεράννυμι, meaning "I mix") was a vase used to mix wine and water. At a Greek symposium, kraters were placed in the center of the room. They were quite large, so they were not easily portable when filled.

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Places: Aegean Sea · Hellespont · Macedonia · Sparta · Athens · Corinth · Thebes · Thermopylae · Antioch · Alexandria · Pergamon · Miletus · Delphi · Olympia · Troy · Rhodes

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