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The Rise of Greek Cities

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1 The Rise of Greek Cities
Lesson 2

2 The Big Picture There is little known about the start of Ancient Greece. Many artifacts have been found from 700 BC and onward. These artifacts show that life had changed since the start of Ancient Greece. Groups of powerful men worked together to make decisions for communities, which revolved around one city. Polis: a city-state in Ancient Greece.

3 A Greek Polis Most city-states were built around an acropolis.
Acropolis: a large hill in ancient Greece where city residents sought shelter and safety in times of war and met to discuss community affairs. Farmers would gather in an agora to trade with each other. Agora: a central area in Greece cities used both as a marketplace and as a meeting place.

4 Developing Governments
Each city-state had a different type of government. In order to be a leader of your city-state, you had to be a citizen of their polis. Citizen: a person who has certain rights and responsibilities in their country or community. Only men could be citizens. Women and slaves were not considered citizens. Slaves, also known as helots, were common in ancient Greece.

5 Developing Governments Cont.
A small group of the richest, most powerful citizens made the decisions for the city-states. This is called an oligarchy. Oligarchy: a type of government in which a small group of citizens control decision-making. The Greek city-state of Athens was governed by an oligarchy. Prior to the oligarchy, Athens had a monarchy. This comes from the Greek term “rule by one”. Monarchy: a government ruled by a king or a queen.

6 Two Greek Cities Athens and Sparta are two of the most known city-states. Historians have found many artifacts from these cities-states. They had many things in common, but their day-to-day lives were very different.

7 Sparta Sparta covered a majority of southern Peloponnesus, and was Greece’s largest city-state. A low mountain formed Sparta’s acropolis. The polis agora was the acropolis. Here, Sparta’s leaders made the decisions that shaped their lives. Sparta’s farm workers were slaves. Sparta contained more slaves than any other city-state. Sometimes, there were as many as 7 slaves per Spartan.

8 The Spartan Military Around 600 BC, Sparta’s slaves fought back. Yet, the Spartans overpowered their slaves. The leaders of Sparta were determined to make the Spartan military the strongest in Greece. They did this to make sure no other polis could take over Sparta. Around age 7, boys and girls began training. Boys spent more time training to be soldiers than they did learning to read or write. Girls practiced running, throwing javelins (spears) and playing ball games. They trained to become strong mothers.

9 Athens Athens is located on the peninsula of Attica.
Girls did not practice sports like they did in Sparta. Instead, they were told to “see little, hear little, and ask no more questions than absolutely necessary.” They stayed at home at helped their mothers. They weaved, and helped on the farms at harvest time. Boys worked each day with their fathers. They worked in the fields, or in pottery or stone working shops. They only went to school to learn reading and writing if their parents could afford classes. They would practice wrestling or boxing at a local gymnasium.

10 Government in Athens Athens did not spend as much time as Spartans working towards a strong army. Around 600 BC, Athens’ government was an oligarchy. Many leaders belonged to noble families that were rich and powerful. Poorer citizens demanded to have more of a say in the government. Nobles were forced to share some of their power.

11 Power to the People The new government that was developing in Athens, had all of the citizens making the decisions for the polis. This type of government is known as a democracy, coming from the Greek words “rule by the people”. Democracy: a system of government in which citizens vote to make governmental decisions. Historians trace our own democracy to the beginnings of it in Ancient Greece.


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