The Greek tribes moved south into the Peloponesus Peninsula as a result of the decline of the Minoan civilization. The result was a kind of dark age until advanced civilization gradually developed. Ancient Greece was the location of almost constant warfare among city states, a kind of perpetual war. These battles between hoplites became almost ritualized. They fought with 30 lb bronze breast plates, 20 lb shields, and 8 ft spears. They fought in phalanxes 8 rows deep. These battles were bloody, but normally short in duration. [Kagan] The first united action came in face of a common danger. The occassion was the first great conflict between the Western world and the East was the effort by Persian to add the Greeks on the western fringe of their territory to their empire--the Persian Wars. It was at the time of the Persian Wars that the Athenians pefected their system of democracy. The defeat of the Persians and the Golden Age of Greece can be seen as the birth of Western Civilization. The conflict between Soaeta and Athens resulted in the Peloponesian War, one of the epic struggles of the ancient world. Greece in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. spread its culture through the Western Mediterranean and Near East. The agent was of course Alexander the Great and his conquests.
The Minoan civiization is sometimes described as a generalized Aegean civilization. It is named after King Minos of Greek legend. The assocaited Mycenae culture is that of mainland Greece at the same time. Tt is one of the earliest important civilizations not founded on a river valley. The Minonan civilization endured 1,500 years, from 3000/2600-1100 BC, and reached the height of its grandeur in the 18th-16th centuries BC. The civilization was centered on Crete but influenced the neighboring Greek islands of the Aegean Sea as well. It was the founding culture for the Achaean Greeks more familiar to the modern reader. The Minoans who virtually unknown to modern scholars until archeologists at the begnning of the 20th century found the palace at Knossos. Previously Greek legends about King Minos were not known to have had actual historical basis. The Minonan civilization is notable as the foundation stone for Greek culture upon which so much of Western thought and culture is based. Of special importance to HBC is that it provides some of the earliest non-religious depictions of people, including children.
The Greek tribes moved south into the Peloponesus Peninsula as a result of the decline of the Minoan civilization. The reasons for the decline of the Minoans is not fully understood, but the Santorini eruption may have played a major role. The result was a kind of dark age until advanced civilization gradually developed.
Greeks in the Mycenaean age were organized into small, waring kingdoms. This era is not well understood in part because of the very limited written texts. The Mycenaean civilization was controlled by a warrior aristocracy. They moved south into Greece and evebntually conqueed Crete (1400 BC). They adopted a form of the Minoan script (Linear A) creating the earliest form of written Greek (Linear B). The best known military conflict during the Mycenean Age was the Trojan War. It was once thought to be mythological. We now know that Troy was real and there actually was a Trojan War. The War is not dated with any certainty and historians debate precisely when it occurred, Most estimates fall between 1250-1135 BC. In fact there appears to have been more than one. Most of what we know about the Trojan War come from Homer's Iliad, but the earliest surviving written version comes centuries after the War and thus can not be treated as an accurate historical description. This of course does not mean that the work does not provide valuable historical information. Modern archeological work is providing increasingly useful insights. The Greek kingdoms appear to have collapsed and the populations abandoned urban centers about 1100 BC.
For a long period of about 400-500 years, Greeks society was based in tribal groups. Some but not all of the tribes shifted to a nomadic lifestyle. Some historians call this era the Greek Dark Age. The Greek tribl grouos by about 700 BC had begun to coalese into larger political groupings. Trade linkiages between these groups increased in inortance. To ccimodate the groing trade, marketplaces began to appear in villages and the evolving political structures came to be called a polis or city state which were composed of neighboing villages which comined to from a defensable unit that could support military forces and build fortifications.
Ancient Greece was the location of almost constant warfare among city states, a kind of perpetual war. These battles between hoplites became almost ritualized. They fought with 30 lb bronze breast plates, 20 lb shields, and 8 ft spears. They fought in phalanxes 8 rows deep. These battles were bloody, but normally short in duration. [Kagan]
The Persian Wars were the 5th century BC struggle between the Persian Empire and the Greek city states. It can be said that the success of the small Greek city states' success in maintaining their independence was the birth of Western civilization. The Greek victories made possible by the defeat of a large Persian army at Matathon (590 BC)--essentially the birth of freedom. Antherstirrung actio occuured 10 yeas later at Thermapole. These victories made possible one of the most important cultral floweing in history. It was also the begning of the rise of naval combat on a large scale. The Greeks saw their victories due to Greek democracy and Persian oriantal absolutism and hybris. Greek discussions of the Persian Wars primarily focused on why they prevailed. What they did not discuss and what is vry important for our modern assessment is the impact of the Persiam Wars on the Geek--espeilly the Athnians. And here it is essenially that the Persian Wars created the idea of freedom. Ther my have been other fctors as well, but the Persian threatseems to have acted to coaless ideas that were still in a rudimentary form/ Political feedom developed into individual librty.
The Peloponesian War was on of the epic struggles of the ancient world. The most important source of information on the Peloponnesian War was written by Thucydides in 431 BC. The Peloponnesian war started beginning in 431 B.C. The war centered on the struggle between Athens and Sparta fvor dominance in the Greek world. Most wars between Greek City states were short, non-conclusive battles. The Peloponesian War lasted 27 years. Athens at the time was the leading power in reece, primarily because of its fleet and maritime empire. It was the Atenian fleet that had defeated the Persians. Sparta, playing upon the resentment of other Greek city states over Athenian hegenomy, asembeled an alliance. Realizing that the Athenian fleet wlould have to be destroyed, the Spatand sought help from the Persians. The Atenian fleet was destroyed at Aegospotami. The Spartans after the Battle of Attica were able to besiege and ultimately defeat Athens.
Greece in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. spread its culture through the Western Mediterranean and Near East. The agent was of course King Philip of Macedon and his brilliant son, Alexander the Great. KIng Philip at the battle of Chaeronea establish his ontrol over Greece (338 BC). With his father's assination, Alexander rose to the throne and lbrashly aunched his military campaign against Persia. He sought personal glory (kleos) as well as the booty and land to pay his soldiers. What followed was 11 years of warfare during which Alexander conquered the known world. He is may have been the greatest military commander of all time. He was a battlefield commander and not uncommonly led from the front. His campaign ended with the defeat of King Porus on the frontiers of India. Alexander was prepared tomgo on, but his men refused. Returning to Babylon, Alexander was wounded. He died in Babylon of unknown causes (323BC). He is said tonhave willed his Empire to "the stringest". The power struggle among the Diadochoi (Successors) resulted in three states (Macedonia and Greece, the Middle East (Seleucids), and Egypt (Ptolemys). The three states vied with each other for power as the Roman Republic grew in strength in the west. The Helenistic period can be said to have ended at Actium (31BC) where Octavian defeated the combined fleet of Anthony and Cleopatra.
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