Ancient Greece revision notes

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Early civilizations

The Minoans (On the island of Crete)

  • Between 2000 and 1450 BCE during the bronze age
  • Ruled by King Minos, his palace located at Knossos (important archeological find, and his palace became the centres of exchange for Minoan economy)
  • Greek historian Thucydides told of king Minos
  • They were great navigators and farmers
  • They developed linear A and B
  • Artistic expressions and grand construction
  • Earthquake destroys Minoan palaces
  • It is thought that either a volcanic eruption or war between Minoans and Mycenaeans led to decline of power

The Mycenaeans 1600 to 1100 BCE(close to the sea)

  • Indo-European people invaded mainland Greece, replaced language with Achaean, and took control over palace of Knossos
  • Mycenaeans soon controlled mainland Greece, and thus main political centre was Mycenae
  • They were more interested in war, their main ruler was king Agamemnon, but each city had its own king
  • Kings gained wealth from trading and piracy
  • They had small farming communities
  • Homer wrote the Iliad and Odyssey, about the Trojan wars
  • We gain much of our knowledge of the Mycenaean age from Homer’s poems and archeological discoveries (Agamemnon’s palace)
  • Their graves were vertical burial shafts
  • The artifacts found in these graves show strong influence from Minoans
  • The end of it’s civilizations is thought to be due to civil wars among Micenaean cities, outside invasion, drought or famine, or disease. All centers except Athens fell

Dark Ages (1100 to 800 BCE)

  • It was a time when Dorians arrived from the north, dispersing the Greek-speaking people all around the Aegean sea
  • All achievements from Mycenaean civilization in construction, art, monument building and writing were lost or forgotten
  • Invaders wiped out farming communities, causing famine, and Greek population declined

Early classical period (800 BCE to 480 BCE)

  • Rise of first Greek colony (750 BCE) in the Bay of Naples, and Syracuse is greatest colony

Age of Persian wars (550 to 480 BCE)

  • Cyrus of Persia defeats Croesus of Lydia to make the Persian masters of the Greeks in Asian Minor
  • Basic Greek love of independence sparked a strong desire for freedm;  and so the Ionian revolt led by the city state Miletus (as well as other Ionian city states and Athens) was crushed by the Persians in 494 BCE, leading up to the Persian wars as a way of revenge from Persians

King Leonidas

  • He was the Spartan king that commanded the Greeks at the battle of Thermopylae
  • He brought 300 finest Spartan soldiers with him
  • His army grew exhausted and he told most of them to leave
  • He was significant by holding the Persians at Thermopalae, he delayed them for two days and proved they were not invincible. And by refusing to retreat from Thermopalae when the battle was lost, his sacrifice set an example of courage for the rest of Greece to follow, although militarily it was not the wise thing to do.


  • Son of King Darius of Persia, he fought at the battle of Thermoplyae as well as Salamis
  • He was significant because he was able to overtake Spartans at the battle of Thermoplyae, and destroyed Athens
  • He took great control over Greece after that battle, and although he was defeated at Salamis, he left a great force under the command of Persian general Mardonius, who was involved at the final Persian war battle, the battle of Plataea
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Classical Greece or golden age (480 to 380 BCE)

  • Developed because of contats with Egyptians and Persians that inspired a blossoming in the arts and sciences (including stories, ideas of designs of temples, techniques for fine metal work, crafts, etc)
  • This was a time of great thinkers, poets, artists
  • Athens develops the most democratic government of all the city states
  • Athens assumes leadership of the Delian league
  • Sparta decided to expand its empire; and by middle of 6th century BCE it dominated most of the Peloponnese
  • When Athens tried to expand its empire in central Greece, it threatened ...

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