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Greece History: Ancient Greece

The first sign of colony in Greece comes from about 55,000BC (57,000 years ago). Even then there were not very numerous people until around 3000 BC. Greek history is usually divided into a Stone Age, a Bronze Age, and an Iron Age. Sometimes people divide each of these periods into smaller periods as well.

Stone Age
The ancient traces of human residence in Greece date from the Palaeolithic period (120,000 – 10,000 B.C. approximately). During the subsequent Neolithic period (7,000 - 3,000 B.C. approximately), civilisation flourishes in Greece. A plethora of Neolithic settlements and cemeteries have been discovered in Thessaly (Sesklo, Dimini), Macedonia, the Peloponnese and others.

Bronze Age
The commencement of the Bronze Age (3000 - 1100 B.C. approx.) is marked by the appearance of the first urban centres in the Aegean (Poliochni on the island of Limnos). Flourishing suburbs are found on Crete, the Greek mainland, the Cyclades and in the Northeastern Aegean, regions where characteristic cultural patterns develop. At the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. organised palatial societies appear on Minoan Crete, resulting in the development of the first scripts. Using the palace of Knossos as their centre, the Minoans create a communication network with peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean, adopt elements of their cultures, and in turn have a decisive influence on the cultures of the Greek mainland and the Aegean islands. On the Greek mainland, the Mycenaeans, taking advantage of the destructions caused on Crete by the eruption of the volcano on Santorini (around 1500 B.C.), step forward and become the leading force in the Aegean during the last centuries of the 2nd millennium B.C. The Mycenaean citadels in Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Thebes, Gla, Athens and Iolkós constitute the centres of bureaucratically organised kingdoms. The extensive destruction of the Mycenaean centres around 1200 B.C. led to the decline of the Mycenaean civilisation and the migration of large parts of the population to the coasts of Asia Minor and Cyprus (1st Greek colonisation).

Dark Age
This age continued by a period of wars and invasions, known as the Dark Ages. The Greek Dark Ages (ca. 1100 BC–750 BC) refers to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean civilization in the 11th century BC to the rise of the first Greek city-states in the 9th century BC and the epics of Homer and earliest writings in alphabetic Greek in the 8th century BC. In these periods, the Greeks lived a fairly sedentary, non-urbanized, agricultural life. Many villages were abandoned, and it seems likely that many Greeks returned to a nomadic life in small tribal groups. Several Greeks in this period took to the sea and migrated to the islands in the Aegean; according to Greek history, they were soon followed by the Dorians. Not only did the Greeks abandon writing and most crafts, they also abandoned their large commercial network. They virtually stopped trading with Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Egypt; in fact, they seem to have stopped trading with one another as well. Fortunately for the Greeks, none of the great powers had ever been interested in Europe or the Aegean, so the Greek Dark Ages, once the Dorians had settled, were probably a time of peace. This long breathing-space allowed the Greeks the leisure to slowly redevelop an urbanized culture. In spite of the sadness of the situation, the Greeks started to slowly urbanize in the latter part of the Dark Ages. This early developed culture would produce, at the very close of the Greek Dark Ages, the single greatest Greek accomplishment in the Greek view of themselves: the poetry of Homer. Not only are the two epic poems of Homer windows into the distant Mycenean past and into the darkness of the Greek Middle Ages, they are the defining moment in Greek culture; for the Greeks will turn to these poems throughout their history to define themselves culturally, politically, and historically.

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Greece History

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