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ANCIENT GREECE Region of isolated valleys, hills, small plains, peninsulas, and islands –Sea formed its focal point Nothing more than barbarous fringe.

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Presentation on theme: "ANCIENT GREECE Region of isolated valleys, hills, small plains, peninsulas, and islands –Sea formed its focal point Nothing more than barbarous fringe."— Presentation transcript:

1 ANCIENT GREECE Region of isolated valleys, hills, small plains, peninsulas, and islands –Sea formed its focal point Nothing more than barbarous fringe area to older civilizations of the Middle East –Tiny, unimportant, and poor in natural resources

2 Greece also benefited from its position on the edge of the civilized world Far enough away to escape domination by the various Middle Eastern Empires but close enough to absorb the rich culture of its eastern neighbors

3 FIRST GREEKS Either were Neolithic farmers who migrated from Asia Minor around 3000 BC Or were an Indo-European tribe from southern Russia who migrated into the region around 2300 BC In either case, when people did arrive in the peninsula, they soon came into contact with an already civilized people who lived on the nearby island of Crete –The Minoans

4 MINOAN CIVILIZATION Neolithic settlements date back to 4000 BC –Early farmers probably came into contact with Middle Eastern civilization around 3000 BC Had developed an advanced civilization of their own by 2000 BC –Expressed in the construction and decoration of huge palace complexes Largest one at Knossos

5 MINOAN PALACE COMPLEXES Complicated structures consisting of a honeycomb of various rooms surrounding a large courtyard Huge –Knossos covered three acres Well-built –Strong foundations meant to withstand earthquakes Many rooms decorated with brightly colored frescoes that depicted various aspects of Minoan life –Know from them that men were clean shaven and generally wore short kilts –Women had elaborate hair-dos and wore dresses with wide sleeves and pinched-in waists

6 MINOAN WRITING Developed alphabet around 1700 BC –Linear A –Not yet deciphered Switched to alphabet called Linear B around 1450 BC –Mostly used perishable writing materials None of which has survived –But also sometimes wrote on clay tablets using this alphabet Have been deciphered Tells us quite a bit about their society and culture

7 MINOAN COMMERCE Palaces controlled the commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing activities of surrounding regions Commerce was very important –Acted as trade intermediary between civilized and barbarian worlds Exported wool, olive oil and timber in exchange for other raw materials and luxury items –Built large and technologically advanced merchant and military navy

8 MINOAN WOMEN Women played important role in society –Most of their gods were female Headed by the so-called “Snake Goddess” –Women also portrayed at the head of processions and as participants in athletic events Even bull-leaping May not have been a matriarchy but women nonetheless enjoyed a prominent social position

9 BULL-LEAPING

10 END OF MINOAN CIVILIZATION Civilization came to an end between 1450 and 1350 BC –All palaces destroyed and never rebuilt Theory 1 –Invaded by Mycenaeans in 1400 BC Destroyed Crete to eliminate Minoans as trade rivals Theory 2 –Massive volcanic eruption on island of Thera showered Crete with debris, ash, and poison gas Destroyed fleets with tidal waves Mycenaeans arrived after catastrophe and destroyed what was left

11 MYCENEAN AGE BC Had some contact with Minoan civilization by at least 1600 BC Typical of the very warlike, semi-barbarian cultures that extended over most of Europe –Only difference was that contact with Minoans gradually ameliorated some of their barbarism and allowed them to develop a more sophisticated culture

12 MYCENEAN CIVILIZATION EMERGES Assimilation of Minoan culture was complete by 1400 BC –About the time that they invade and destroyed Crete –Took the place of Minoans as commercial middlemen between civilized Middle East and barbarian Europe –Began to build huge palaces at Mycenae, Tiryns, Athens, Thebes, and Pylos

13 MYCENEAN PALACES Palaces served as central meeting places –Home for the king and his administrators –Warehouse for agricultural and manufactured products –Marketplace –Communications center Also served as religious centers –Crowded with priests and priestesses

14 RELIGION AND CULTURE Great Mother goddess was major god –Derived from Minoan Snake Goddess –But Myceneans also began to emphasize male gods Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes, and Apollo Borrowed heavily from Minoans –Wrote in Linear B on clay tablets –Painted frescoes on palace walls –Carved in ivory and stone –Made elaborate seals

15 DAWN OF THE “DARK AGE” All Mycenean palaces destroyed around 1250 BC –Except one at Athens –Survivors moved to Attica or moved overseas Greece only contained 10% of its former population by 1200 BC –Trade network collapsed –Art and culture lost Greece entered a period of severe economic, social, and technological backwardness –Dark Age ( BC)

16 CAUSES Period in which Mycenean kingdoms fell was one of general unrest –Lybians and Sea Peoples attacked Egypt –Sea Peoples destroyed Hittite Empire –Pirates roamed the eastern Mediterranean –Mycenean palaces came under tremendous pressure Palaces destroyed over a long period –Perhaps victims of different groups of invaders arriving at different times –Small, vicious groups of raiding parties brought about downfall of Mycenean civilization Not a single, massive migration of new people

17 THE DARK AGE Although generally isolated and backward, the Dark Age did see some technological and cultural innovations that would create foundation for future Greek civilization Iron, for example, came into general use for weapons and agricultural implements People who fled Greece settled on Aegean Islands, coast of Asia Minor, and elsewhere, forming base for prosperous city-states that would develop there

18 ORAL LITERARY TRADITION Dark Age was the firm establishment of an oral tradition that recounted a glorious and heroic past –Thanks to wandering minstrels –Tradition would culminate with the magnificent epic poems of Homer Iliad and Odyssey Composed at the end of the Dark Age

19 EPIC POEMS All epic poems have common theme –Recounting the deeds of superhuman heroes of earlier times –Served function of providing a legendary history which explained how people got where they were and why Greek epic poems had developed the plots of the siege of Troy and various Heracles legends in centuries before Homer –Wandering poets used these basic plots but embellished them in order to appeal to their particular audience Heracles

20 WORLD OF THE ILIAD AND ODYSSEY In terms of values and attitudes, Homer was describing the late Dark Age –Imposed values, attitudes, and motivations of his own age on historical characters World he described was made up of tiny, autonomous political units –Each self-sufficient and inward- looking –Each ruled by a chieftain Main job was to protect his people from constant outside aggression Mask of Agamemnon, king of Argos

21 VALUES Chieftains were military men par excellence –The values they prized most highly were military virtues Physical strength, endurance, bravery, selflessness Any sign of weakness opened the door to his neighbors to take advantage of him –Explains almost childish sensitivity of Homer’s heroes to insults and their continual bellicosity

22 EXPLANATION Obsessive concern with “face” supplied motive power to Homer’s plots –Later Greeks amazed at juvenile behavior of Homer’s heroes Given the precarious nature of life in Greece during the Dark Age –And given the fact that a community’s survival depended on the unblemished reputation of their chieftain The actions of the Greeks against the Trojans becomes understandable

23 END OF THE DARK AGE Greece broke out of its narrow isolation due to influence of Phoenician merchants around 800 BC –Related to Canaanites –Renewed Greek contacts with Middle East through trade Evidence is extensive –Greeks adopted Phoenician/Canaanite alphabet –Established trade contacts with Phoenician city-states in Syria

24 Population of Greek world began to grow rapidly around 800 BC Stimulated another wave of migration and Greek migrants from the peninsula and other settlements founded hundreds of new sites along Black Sea, the Adriatic, and western Mediterranean

25 REPERCUSSIONS Phoenicians and migration into new areas stimulated Greeks intellectually and culturally Formation of colonies caused them to think seriously about the character of their cities and the way they operated –Required the conscious formulation of laws and institutions Renewal of trade broke down isolation and self-sufficiency of Dark Age –Greeks now governed by demands of the marketplace, not by tradition and custom –Facilitated contacts with varied types of governments and social systems Forced them to reflect on that form of government and social organization was best –Laid foundation for philosophy and political theory

26 HOPLITES Dark Age military chieftain and his cronies based their power on their military prowess and ownership of land With rise of wealth based on commerce new men from outside the landowning clique began to demand military participation –Began to arm themselves and found that when they worked together as a team, nothing could stand in their way

27 PHALANX New form of warfare –Units of armed infantry working together as a block –Replaced old dependence on the military chieftain –Security of community no longer depended on power and skill of chieftain but on the massed strength of the hoplites What counted now was the willingness of citizens to cooperate together in battle for the greater good of their city –Numbers and community spirit became more important than individual bravado

28 ATHENS AND SPARTA Influence of trade-generated wealth, stimulation provided by renewal of contacts with outside world, and the challenge of hoplites to aristocratic dominance acted together to dissolve Dark Age society –Ultimately resulted in a new kind of society in Greece Athens and Sparta illustrate process –Both their solutions to changes and challenges associated with end of the Dark Age were radical but also very different


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