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THE HISTORY OF GREECE BEFORE 1500

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THE HISTORY OF GREECE BEFORE 1500

Introduction

Greece, which is currently a country in the Aegean, was once a collection of independent city states that were known as poleis based on the archelogy evidence from the Bronze Age. These city states were competitive and fought against each other often and against external forces like Persia. [1]During this period, land was known to be the most important source of wealth which was also a scarce supply. [2]The growth of population in Greece pushed a lot of men and women to move away from their city states to settle in the sparsely populated areas around Aegan and Greek. It is currently known as the Ancient or Archaic Greece that was known for its diversity. [3]It is said that Western Civilization wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the influence of Greek civilization. Major aspects of the modern world were influenced by the ways of the ancient Greece from the language, architecture, government systems, philosophy, arithmetic, history knowledge, drama, literature, the Olympic games among other aspects. The history of Greece before 1500BC talks about a period that is referred to as the Dark Ages to the antiquity. Many archeologists before talk about the different civilizations that took place in the Ancient Greece like Minoan and Mycenean while other scientists argue that that these two civilizations were different from the rest of the ages in Greek. Before 1500, Greece went through different ages, which had different characteristics. The Prehistoric Greece, the Ancient Greece, the Roman Greece and the Middle Age Greece that all happened in different periods of the country’s development.

Prehistoric Greece (7000-1100 BC)

[4]This period happened between the Neolithic to Bronze Age during 7000-1100 BC. During the Neolithic Revolution, that reached Europe between 7000-6500 BC while the agriculture community from the East entered Greek peninsula from Anatolia. During the third millennium BC, the Greek went through an agricultural and cultural transformation that resulted to climate change, local events and developments as well as bronze imports to improve the agricultural techniques. This period is famously known for its two civilizations the Minoan and the Mycenaean civilization. [5]The Minoan civilization was best known for its schematic flat female idols that were made from pure marble found on the island in Crete. 5The Minoan civilization was named after the legendary King of Crete, Minos. Very little is known abut this civilization including their writing system that was written on the Linear A script and the Cretan hieroglyphs. They were known as traders across the Mediterranean Sea. Their civilization was however affected by several natural disasters like the Thera volcanic eruption, earthquakes in the 1600 BC, and the Minoan palaces were devastated by fire allowing them to expand Crete. The Minoan civilization evolved to the Mycenaean civilization when the Greeks rebuilt Crete.

The Mycenaean civilization was formed in 1600 BC, after the Minoan Crete culture led to the change of the Greek culture. Taking its name from archeological site in Mycenae in Argolid in Southern Greece and was dominated by a warrior aristocracy. They gained control of Crete, with their writing technique on a Linear B script for their early Greek form. The Mycenaeans preserved their dead nobles in beehive tombs, with different battle equipment while they were seated. This civilization lasted until the Mycenaean palaces in 1100 BC when their cities were sacked, where the Greeks called this the Dark Age and blamed the dropped population and illiteracy levels on the Dorians.         

Ancient Greece (1100-146 BC)

This Greek history lasted from the Dark Ages to the end of antiquity and is used when referring to the Greek history before the Roman Empire. [6]Although this period of Greek history started at around 776 BC, during the beginning of the Olympics Games bust most historians extend the dates to the 1000 BC because the characteristics were very similar The Greek people lived throughout Greece in small villages with their main occupation being farming. As the population increased the villages began to evolve and built walls around them for protection from their rivals which were mostly other villages. Most of these villages-built markets around them as well as common community meeting places. In the process of rebuilding their civilization, they began building governments and coming up with a constitution too. Armies were raised and raising tax systems were raised. [7]The Greeks were also religious people whose city states and villages were protected by different gods and goddesses who were offered sacrifices by the Greeks. The largest city state in the history period was known as Sparta that was around 300 square miles. The aspects that were discovered by the Greeks during this period have proved to be the most important to Western Civilization like art, poetry, drama, politics, architecture and education systems which have been used to date after the continued improvements made on them. This history period comprises of the iron age, that was divided into Archaic, Hellenistic and the Classical Greece.

[8]The Iron Age happened between 1100-800 BC, involved the Greeks rebuilding from the invasion of Dorians and the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization. This was the period that the city-states rose in Greece and the earliest Greek writings were invented. When the Mycenaean civilization collapsed, several other neighboring empires like Egypt and Hittite. This is because the Dorians targeted the weapon wielders that lived around the Mediterranean Sea. The Kings ruled until they were replaced by aristocratic governments which made the warcraft switch from cavalry to infantry. Due to the availability of bronze to make weapons the kings were easily overthrown leading to growth in equality among the Greek people. By the end of this civilization, the Greek world spread as far as the Black Sea and Spain and eventually spread across Italy and Gauls.

      In the 8th Century BC, the Greek began to emerge from the dark ages and this period in history was referred to as the Archaic Greece. By this time the Mycenaean script was long forgotten which is why then Greek invented and adopted the Phoenician Alphabet, which was modified to create the Greek alphabet. The Greeks divided themselves into self-governing communities depending on their geographic features like mountains, valleys, rivers, seas and plains. Greece also adopted some mythological, art and religion cultures. The Greek believed in Olympian gods that were led by Zeus. The rest of the Gods were Athena, Apollo, Poseidon, Hemes, Hera, Aphrodite, Demeter, Ares, Artemis, Hades, Hephaistos and Dianysos.


[1] Cartwright, Mark. “Ancient Greek Religion.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified March 13, 2018

[2] Caskey, John L. “Lerna in the Early Bronze Age”. American Journal of Archaeology. 1968. 72 (4): 313–316

[3] Brewer, David. Turkish Rule from the Fall of Constantinople to Greek Independence. Greece, The Hidden Centuries 2010.

[4] Gray, Russel D.; Atkinson, Quentin D. “Language-tree Divergence Times Support the Anatolian Theory of Indo-European Origin”. Nature426 (6965): 2003.  435–439. 

[5] Chadwick, John. : The Prehistory of the Greek Language. The Cambridge Ancient History 1963.

[6] Pomeroy, Sarah B.; Burstein, Stanley M.; Donlan, Walter; Roberts, Jennifer Tolbert. A Brief History of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society and Culture. 2009

[7] Olbrycht, Marek. In Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (eds.). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. John Wiley & Sons. 2011. pp. 342–370

[8] Rhodes, P.J. (2007) [1986]. The Greek City-States: A Source Book (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

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