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Ancient Greece History Guide..
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A Timeline of Ancient Greece



Synoikismos of Athens, people of Attica were willing to transfer their allegiance to one city, Athens, because of Theseus


office of Archon established King was emasculated


Cylon, Athenian noble, seizes Acropolis and tries to make himself king, fails


Draco, Athenian lawgiver, issues code of laws where everything is punishable by death -- Draconian


Solon, Athenian statesman, becomes Archon, captures Salamis from Megarians, establishes Timocracy, rule by the richest, constitutional reforms, more vote and trade, abolishes slavery, Know Thyself


Sappho, Greek poetess and priestess, flourishes on island of Lesbos


Pisistratus, Athenian general, organizes Diakrioi, party of poor people


Pisistratus takes power first time, driven out by Lycurgus who leads nobles


Pisistratus restored by help of Megacles


Pisistratus expelled, makes fortune from Thracian mines


Croesus, rich king of Lydia, killed at Sardis by Persians


Pisistratus restored by Thessaly and Lygdamos of Naxos


Pisistratus dies, succeeded by sons Hippias and Hipparchus


Persian Darius I, son-in-law of Cyrus the Great takes Egypt


Cleisthenes, Greek reformer, takes power, increases democracy


Themistocles and Miltiades, Athenians, defeat Darius at Marathon, Pheidippides runs with news


Aeschylus, Athenian playwright, wins Athenian Prize


Leonidas, Thespian, makes sacrifice of 300 Spartans at Thermopylae so main force can escape, Xerxes son of Darius is leading the Persians


Battle of Salamis - Themistocles, Athenian general, lures Persians into Bay of Salamis, Xerxes loses and goes home, leaves behind Mardonius


Pausanius, Greek general routs Mardonius at Plataea


Battle of Mycale frees Greek colonies in Asia. After the Battle of Salamis, Athens set up the Delian League, treasury on island of Delos, a confederacy of cities around the Aegean. It was intended as a military defense association against Persia but was turned into an empire, collecting tribute and deciding policy of its associates. Sparta formed rival Peloponnesian League


Cimon elected general each year, he was victorious over Persia and then enforced military power on Delian League


Pindar, Greek poet moves to Thebes from court at Syracuse


Themistocles ostracized


Sophocles, Greek playwright, defeats Aeschylus for Athenian Prize


Cimon ostracized


Pericles, Athenian statesman begins Golden Age, he was taught by Anaxagoras, who believed in dualistic Universe and atoms


Aeschylus dies


Herodotus, Greek Historian, writes History of Greco-Persian War from 490-479


Ictinus and Callicrates, Greek architects rebuild Acropolis from Persain destruction


Euripides, Greek playwright, wins Athenian prize


Heraclitus, Greek philospher, believes everything is mutable


Phidias, Greek sculptor, completes Zeus at Elis 1 of 7 wonders


Corinth and Sparta Megara and Aegini also ally against Corfu and Athens Rhegium and Leontini also


End of Golden Age, Peloponnesian Wars begin Athens under Pericles blockades Potidaea, Corfu declares war on Corinth


Sparta led by Archidamus II sets out to destroy Athens


Empedocles, Greek doctor, believes body has 4 humors


Failed peace mission by Athens, bubonic plague year, Sparta takes no prisoners


Leucippus, Greek philospher, believes every natural event has natural cause


Phormio, Atheinian admiral, wins at Chalcis


Pericles dies of bubonic plague


Hippocrates, Greek doctor, believes diseases have physical cause


Mitylene rebels, chief city of Lesbos


Archidamus II dies, Alcidas, Greek admiral sent to help Lesbos, raids Ionia and flees after seeing Athenian might


Mitylene surrenders to Athens, Plataeans surrender to Athens


Aristophanes, Greek playwright, wins Athenian Prize


Corfu secures island for Athens


Demosthenes, Athenian general, and Cleon, Athenian demagogue, revitalizes Athenian forces, makes bold plans opposed by Nicias, his first military campaign barely succeeds


Athenian fleet bottles up Spartan navy at Navarino Bay, Nicias resigns


Syracuse sends Athenians home


Pagondas of Thebes crushes Athenian army at Delium, Brasidas a Spartan general makes a successful campaign, Cleon exiles Thucydides for 20 years for arriving late


Truce of Laches supposed to stop Brasidas but doesn't, Nicias leads Athenian forces in retaking Mende


Cleon meets Brasidas outside of Amphipolis, both are killed


Peace of Nicias brings temporary end to war, but Alcibiades, a nephew of Pericles, makes anti-Sparta alliance


Quadruple alliance of Athens, Argus, Mantinea, and Elis confronts Spartan-Boeotian alliance


King Agis, ruler of Sparta, attacks Argus, makes treaty


Mantinea, greatest land battle of war, gives Sparta victory over Argus, which broke treaty, Alcibiades thrown out, alliance broken


Alcibiades makes plans, is restored to power


Hermai are mutilated in Athens, Alcibiades accused, asks for inquiry, told to set sail for battle, is condemned to death in absentia, he defects to Sparta


Lemachus, Athenian commander killed at Syracuse


Nicias and Demosthenes killed at Syracuse


Alcibiades is thrown out of Sparta, conspires to come back to Athens


Democracy ends in Athens by Antiphon, Peisander, and Phrynichus, overthrown by Theramenes, Constitution of the 5000, Athenian navy recalls Alcibiades, confirmed by Athenians


After several successes, Athenian demagogue Cleophon rejects Sparta peace overtures


Byzantium recaptured by Alcibiades for Athens


Alcibiades reenters Athens in triumph, Lysander, a Spartan commander, builds fleet at Ephesus


Lysander begins destruction of Athenian fleet, Alcibiades stripped of power


Callicratides, Spartan naval leader, loses Battle of Arginusae over blockade of Mitylene harbor, Sparta sues for peace, rejected by Cleophon


Lysander captures Athenian fleet, Spartan king Pausanius lays siege to Athens, Cleophon executed, Corinth and Thebes demand destruction of Athens


Athens capitulates Apr 25 Theramenes secures terms, prevents total destruction of Athens, Theramenes and Alcibiades are killed


Thucydides, Greek historian, leaves account of Golden Age and Pelopennesian War at his death


Socrates, Greek philospher, condemned to death for corrupting youth


Plato, Greek philospher, founds Academy


Aristotle, Greek philosopher, begins teaching Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon


Philip of Macedon defeats Athens and Thebes in last struggle for Greek Independence at Battle of Cheronea Aug 2


Alexander succeeds father, who was assassinated at the wedding feast of his daughter


Alexander defeats Persians at Battle of Issus, Oct, but Darius III escapes


Alexander conquers Egypt


At Battle of Arbela Oct 1, Alexander end Achaemenid Dynasty and takes Persian Empire


Democritus, Greek philosopher, develops Atomic theory, believes cause and necessity, nothing comes out of nothing


Alexander conquers Samarkand


Alexander invades Northern India, but army is tired so doesn't pursue it


Alexander dies, his generals vie for power in Wars of the Diadochi Antigonus- Macedonia, Antipater- Macedonia, Seleucus- Babylonia and Syria, Ptolemy- Egypt, Eumenes- Macedonia, Lysimachus, later Antipaters son Cassander also vies for power


Meander, Greek playwright, wins Athenian prize


Euclid, Greek mathematician, publishes Elements, treating both geometry and number theory


Athens falls to Demetrius, Lachares killed


Archimedes, Greek mathematician, develops screw, specific gravity, center of gravity; anticipates discoveries of integral calculus

To learn more - use these online Internet resources

  • The Ancient Greek World   - An online exhibition from the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, examining the land and time periods, daily life, economy, religion and death.

  • Ancient Navigation in Greece - Read about the history of navigation and ship building in the Greek and Roman world, site includes links to publications and scholars.
  • Ancient Greece - A wealth of information about many aspects of ancient Greece, including history, culture, government and art.
  • Ancient Greece - ThinkQuest Library of information on ancient Greek history.
  • Ancient Greece - Educational site on aspects of this civilization, including people, culture, religion, arts, and benchmarks.
  • Ancient Greek Costume - Images of costumes worn by men and women of ancient Greece. Contains links to other historical fashion and costume sites.
  • Ancient Greek Links - Provided by "Medea the Musical", this is a well known and frequently updated catalog of links focused on texts, art, geography and other essential Ancient Hellenic resources.
  • Ancient Greek Science - Greek science and the influence on Western civilization. Topics include Aristotle, agriculture, mathematics, earth sciences, and medicine.
  • The Ancient Greeks - Educational web site about the Athenians of ancient Greece. Their beliefs, entertainment, and the methods in which they lived.
  • Archaic and Alassical Greece - Resource by Richard Hooker; summarizes history, philosophy, arts and provides maps of cities and regions of the ancient atlas.
  • Athenian Rowdies - Local Athenian boy Ariston gets into a spot of legal trouble with bullies in this everyday life portrait of ancient Greece from History House, with bibliography.
  • Barbarians and Bureaucrats - Chapters on the history and culture of Minoan, Mycenean, and Dark Ages Greece from Washington State University.
  • Christopher's Athens - Created by classicist Christopher Planeaux, these personal web pages study ancient Athens and Plato and offer information about Indiana University's faculty of classical studies.
  • Daily Life in Ancient Greece - A friendly look at the daily routines and lifestyle of the ancient Greeks.
  • Early Greek Calendars - Story of early Greek calendars and the Metonic Cycle.
  • Edinburgh University - Ancient Greek Symposiums - Explores Greek drinking parties, with pictures, maps, recipes and essays on gender, entertainment, furniture and architecture.
  • E-Museum - Ancient Greek Civilizations - Provides overview of Greek history including Minoan and Mycenian cultures, Homeric literature and myth. Read about the ancient cities Athens and Sparta.
  • The GloryThat Was Greece - An online resource for students of the history and culture of ancient Athens; features sections on drama, history, mythology, and philosophy. Includes annotated link directory, bibliography, and index of illustrations.
  • Greece (Hellas) at - Alphabetical index of resources on the ancient Greek civilizations.
  • Greece Internet Sampler - Resource for students studying ancient Greece. Features interlinking images of daily life, olympics, myths and art.
  • Greek Civilization - A Portland State University resource center with articles about many aspects of ancient Greek civilization.
  • Greek Funerary Rites and Burials - Resource on aspects of Greek funerary practice and concepts.
  • Greek History - A collection of resources for the study of ancient Greek history at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
  • The Greeks, Crucible of Civilization - Introduction to ancient Greek history, culture, politics, art and warfare, timeline from 1400 B.C. to 337 B.C., map, life in Athens, ancient Greek language lessons.
  • History of Greek Costume - Dedicated to Greek costume from antiquity through the centuries.
  • HistoryLink 101: Ancient Greece - Directory of sites about art, biographies, daily life, maps, pictures, and related research.
  • Humboldt's Essay on Ancient Greece - Read about the decline and fall of the Greek city states.
  • Minoa and Mycenae - Richard Hooker summarizes the civilization of Crete and southern Greece up until the time of Homer and provides an atlas and a gallery as well.
  • Odyssey Online: Greece - A resource for schools covering many areas of life in ancient Greece.
  • Origins of the Greek Alphabet - The origins and development of the first alphabet that became the basis for all other European alphabets.
  • Overview of Late Antiquity - "Ideology, Identity and Empire; The Greeks," by Steven Muhlberger.
  • Poseidon - Hellas and the Sea - The maritime history of Hellas and Cyprus, and the Greek islands.
  • Prehistoric Use of the Greek Alphabet - Controversial one page article by Pan.Kouvalakis from Davlos magazine dates the origin of the Greek alphabet to 6000BC.
  • Sparta Revisited - Historic information about the Greek city-state of Sparta.
  • Thrace and the Thracians - Explore ancient Thrace, source texts, archaeology, warriors, tombs, religion, towns, and other aspects of this civilization.
  • The Unknown Hellenic History - A site about the unknown Greek civilization including the Greek Pyramids, the wonders of ancient technology, the newest clues of prehistory.
  • A Woman of the Minoan Civilisation - Images of "Les Parisiennes" with information about the dress, clothing, and everyday life of women in the Minoan civilization.
  • World History Compass: Ancient Greece - Links to sites and resources for Ancient Greece civilization.

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A short history of Ancient Greece

Minoan civilization

The Minoans were an ancient civilisation on what is now Crete (in the Mediterranean), during the Bronze Age, prior to classical Greek culture. The Minoans were primarily a mercantilist people engaged in overseas trade.

Archaeological History

The civilization is named after King Minos, who in Greek mythology was said to be the King of Crete. Some believe that Minos either figuratively represents the civilization or is a dynastic name. Major cities of Minoan culture were Knossos, Phaestos, and Mallia. The Cretan myths and the discoveries of Heinrich Schliemann encouraged the excavations carried out in 1900, when Sir Arthur Evans started excavations on the palace in Knossos. His methods caused some controversy, because he not only excavated but attempted to reconstruct the buildings.

Much of our knowledge of Minoan culture comes from 3000 clay tablets dating from two different time periods. The older tablets (written in Linear A) from around 1750 BC have not yet been deciphered. The newer tablets span a period from 1400 BC to 1150 BC and were deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, who identified the language, Linear B, as an early Greek dialect. As these tablets provide our only written accounts, much of what we surmise about Minoan civilization is based on the elaborate wall paintings and floor mosaics that survived. These provide much of our assumptions about Minoan social relationships and religion.

Geography and Climate

Crete is an mountainous island in the Mediterranean with natural harbors. During the ancient period the island was wracked by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and winter storms.

According to Homer, Crete had 90 towns, of which Knossos was the most important one. Archeologists have found palaces in Phaistos and Mallia as well. The island was probably divided into four political units, the north being governed from Knossos, the south from Phaistos, the central eastern part from Malia and the eastern tip from Kato Zakros. Smaller palaces have been found in other places. It is remarkable that none of the Minoan cities had city walls, and few weapons were found.

Periods of Minoan history:

6000-6500 BC Anatolian settlements established
3100 BC-2100 BC early minoan period
2100 BC-1700 BC middle minoan period= old palace age
1700 BC-1420 BC late minoan period = young palace age
1420 BC-1050 BC Mycenaean period

Chronological History

The oldest signs of inhabitants on Crete are neolithic Anatolians, who arrived around 6000-6500 years BC.

The beginning of the Bronze Age around 3100 BC is a period of great unrest in Crete, but it also marks the beginning of Crete as an important center of civilization.

Around 1700 BC there is a large disturbance in Crete, probably by an earthquake, although an invasion from Turkey has also been suggested. After that the population rose again, and the palaces were rebuilt, even larger than before.

Around 1650 BC, the eruption of the volcanic island Thera caused tsunami which destroyed installations near the coasts. The sulphur dioxide emitted by the volcano also caused a decline in temperature, which resulted in poor harvests for several years. Some archeologists think that the Minoans lost their religious faith in the ability of the priests to control nature.

Around 1450, the palaces were again disturbed. Some time later, around 1420 BC, the island was conquered by the Mycenaeans. After this, most Cretan cities and palaces went into decline; Knossos remained until 1200 BC.


The Minoans raised cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, wheat, barley, vetch, chickpeas, figs, olives, and grapes.

Farmers used wooden plows, bound by leather to wooden handles, and pulled by pairs of donkeys or oxen.


The most important Minoan art is in their ceramics, but they are also known for their frescos, landscapes, and stone carvings. In the early minoan period Minoan ceramics were characterised by linear patterns of spirals, triangles, curved lines, crosses, fishbone motives and such. In the middle minoan period naturalistic designs such fish, squids, birds and lillies were common. In the late minoan period, flowers and animals were still the most characteristic, but the variability had increased. The 'palace style' of the region around Knossos is characterised by strong geometric simplification of naturalistic shapes and monochromatic painting.


Minoan men wore loincloths and kilts. Women wore robes that were slit to the navel and had short sleeves and flounced skirts. The patterns on clothes emphasized symmetrical geometric designs.


Minoan temples were generally L-shaped and housed priestesses, families, storerooms, and craftsmen. The Temple of Knossos was built of cedar and covered 24,000sq yards and was 4 stories tall. It had 60+ rooms, including the center court where men would jump over bulls.

Minoan sacred symbols include the Bull, Bull's Horns of Consecration, Double Axe, Pillar, Snakes, Sun, and Tree.

Minoan art suggests that the Minoans may have worshipped a Mother Goddess who was the Goddess of Fertility, Animals, Cities, Households, Harvests, and the Underworld. She was often represented by snakes. The Goddess was linked to the Earthshaker, a male represented by the bull and the sun, who would die each fall and be reborn each spring. Other illustrations have led to some theories that the Minoans also believed in animal-headed demons. Although long thought to be a peaceful people, recent evidence uncovered at a temple structure near one of the palaces shows that the Minoans engaged in human sacrifice. To date, however, only one such archaeological find has been made.

Minoans buried their dead in pottery jars.


The Minoan cities were connected with stone roads, formed from blocks cut with bronze saws. Streets were drained and water and sewage facilities were available to the upper-class, through clay pipes.

Minoan buildings often had flat tiled roofs; plaster, wood, or flagstone floors, and stood 2-3 stories high. They would contstruct the lower walls of stone and rubble and use mudbrick for higher elevations. Ceiling timbers would hold up the roofs.


The Minoans traded with Greece, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Spain, and Mesopotamia. The most important Cretan exports were grain, oil, wine, ceramics, copper, tin, gold and silver.

Hellenic Greece

Hellenic Greece is the ancient civilization of Hellas in what is modern Greece. The people are called Hellenes.

After the collapse of Mycenae around 1100 B.C., the Greek cities fell into decline and the country entered into a dark age such that the classical Greek alphabet reflects nothing of the Mycenaean syllabary.

Around 800 BC, the Hellenic civilization began to arise and by 600 BC they were using standardized coinage.


Social divisions were rigid in Hellenic society and slavery was common.


The metics oversaw Hellenic commerce and banking and formed part of the governmental bureaucracy.


The basic unit of Hellenic civilization was the polis, or city-state. Hundreds of these filled Greece, and others, called apoikia, were founded around the Mediterranean, especially in Italy and Asia Minor, but also in North Africa and Sicily. Usually, a polis was ruled by an oligarchy. Towards the end of the seventh century a number of dictatorships were established (see Pisistratus).

In the seventh and sixth centuries many cities came to be ruled as democracies. The best known of these is the Athenian democracy. In these, the ability to vote, hold office, and own property were restricted to citizens, and so excluded slaves and resident foreigners.


By about 650 BC, the military was based around hoplites (heavy infantry), organized into rough phalanxes which usually had 8 or more rows. The hoplites' shields were held nearly touching, each covering its carrier's left side and his neighbor's right side. Because it was important for more than just individual defence, losing one's shield was the ultimate symbol of cowardice and could be considered treason.

Hoplites were provided mainly by the middle class, which usually included most of the citizen population. Wealthier individuals might fight as cavalry, and poorer ones as peltasts, archers, or slingers, but these were not very important in Hellenic militaries until fairly late. In the few naval powers, poor citizens would row the warships (pentekontors and triremes), and the wealthy might command them.


Hellenic temples were typically oblong pillar-framed buildings decorated with sculpted figures.


Hellenes produced iron in clay-lined stone furnaces with stoppered holes that were positioned on hilltops, in order to make use of winds. Slaves fed the furnace crushed charcoal, limestone, and ore and removed slag from the bottom. They would then cool the furnace and remove the bloom which would be heated and hammered until wrought iron was the final product.


Hellenic civilization reached the peak of its power duing the 5th Century BC. In 478 B.C., following the defeat of the Persian invasion, Athens assumed leadership of an alliance known as the Delian League, which would later come to be known as the Athenian Empire. Sparta, the other great power in Greece, and leader of the Peloponnesian League, fearing the growth of Athenian power, sparred with Athens throughout the middle of the century. Finally, the two sides fought in the Peloponnesian War, from 431-404 B.C., which involved virtually every state in Greece, including colonies in Asia, Italy, and Sicily. The war ended in the decisive defeat of the Athenian Empire.

Sparta made an attempt to assure her own supremacy in the Aegean, but in the end Persia managed to recover the Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor, and starting with the King's peace in 386 B.C. even began dictating affairs on the mainland. Athens built up a second confederacy and recovered a position equal to Sparta's, and then Thebes became for a moment the supreme power under Epaminondas. After his death, Greece was left weak and exhausted by continual warfare, leading to its conquest by Macedonia.

The usual periodization practiced by modern historians is to see the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. as dividing the Hellenic period from the Hellenistic. The shift from "Hellenic" to "Hellenistic" represents the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance of the city-state to that of larger monarchies.

Hellenistic Greece

The shift from "Hellenic" to "Hellenistic" in the history of the Mediterranean world represents the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance of the city-state to that of larger monarchies. Furthermore, in this period the traditional Greek culture is changed by strong Eastern, especially Persian, influences.

The usual periodization practiced by modern historians is to see the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC as dividing the Hellenic period from the Hellenistic. Alexander and the Macedonians conquered the eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, and the Iranian plateau, and invaded India; his successors held on to the territory west of the Tigris for some time and controlled the eastern Mediterranean until the Roman Republic took control in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. Most of the east was eventually overrun by the Parthians.

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