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Ancient Greek Civilization

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Last updated date: 12th Jul 2024
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Introduction To Ancient Greek Culture

The ancient, medieval, and late classical periods in Greece started from 480 to 323 BCE. During these periods, Ancient Greece accomplishments and the polis of Athens saw its Golden Age beneath the supervision of Pericles. However, city-state enmity led to wars, and Greece couldn’t be a stable nation until it won. Ancient Greek culture is noteworthy for its contributions like Government, Art, Architecture, Philosophy, and Sports to the world.


All of these became foundations for modern western society (modification in Greek civilization). So, this culture was admired and acknowledged by others, including Alexander the Great and the Romans, who helped extend Greek culture across the world. Before this culture was initiated in Greece, early civilizations succeeded on the Greek mainland and the Aegean Islands. Therefore, the descend of these cultures and later, were called the Dark Age. Also, it is believed to be the time when the Homeric epics were first sung.


Here, we will get to learn the Greek civilization that covers classical Greece and the Ancient Greek contributions to Western civilization. Also, we will focus on the facts of Greek society.


All You Need To Know: Ancient Greek Culture

Ancient Greek culture has a thousand years old history, from the earliest civilizations in the area to the cultures that became the Ancient Greeks. Following a Greek Dark Age, Greece over again flourished and advanced into the historical culture that we understand today.

  • Greek culture relies on a sequence of shared values that connected free city-states across the region and extended as far north as Mount Olympus

  • Greek society was insular, and loyalties were centered around one’s polis (city-state). Greeks considered themselves civilized and also outsiders to be barbaric.

  • While Greek daily life and loyalty were focused on one’s polis, the Greeks did create leagues, which vied for control of the peninsula, and were capable of uniting collectively against a common threat (consisting of the Persians).

  • This culture is focused on their government, artwork, architecture, philosophy, and sport. Athens was profoundly proud of its advent of democracy, and citizens from all poleis (city-states) participated in civic duties. Cities respected artists and architects to honor their gods and beautify their cities.

Greek philosophers, mathematicians, and thinkers are still venerated in society today. As a religious people, the Greeks worshipped several gods via sacrifices, rituals, and festivals.


Greek Society: Bronze Age And Proto-Greek Civilizations

Below, you will find examples of Greek culture and contributions to the world:


During the Bronze Age, numerous distinct cultures evolved across the Aegean. The Cycladic civilization, across the Cyclades Islands, thrived from 3,000 to 2,000 BCE. Little is understood about the Cycladic civilization due to the fact they left no written records. Their material culture is in particular excavated from gravesites, which screen that the people produced unique, geometric marble figures.


Minoan Civilization

The Minoan civilization period started from 3700 BCE till 1200 BCE, and thrived during their Neopalatial period (from 1700 to 1400 BCE), with the large-scale constructing of communal palaces. Numerous archives have been found at Minoan sites; but their language, Linear A, has yet to be deciphered. The culture was centered on trade and production, and the Minoans were terrific seafarers at the Mediterranean Sea.


Mycenaean Civilization

A proto-Greek culture refers to Mycenaeans who developed and flourished on the mainland, eventually winning the Aegean Islands and Crete. However, the Minoan civilization was targeted. The Mycenaeans initiated a fractious, war-like culture that was targeted at the authority of a single ruler. Their culture ultimately collapsed, however a lot of their citadel sites were occupied through the Greek Dark Age and rebuilt into Greek city-states.


The Dark Age

From around 1200 BCE, the palace centers and outlying settlements of the Mycenaeans’ culture started to be abandoned or destroyed. By 1050 BCE, the renowned features of Mycenaean culture had vanished.


Many reasons attribute the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the crumble of the Bronze Age to climatic or environmental catastrophe, mixed with an invasion with the aid of using the Dorians or with the aid of using the Sea Peoples, or to the great availability of edged guns of iron, however, no single explanation fits the available archaeological evidence.


This two- to the three-century span of records is likewise referred to as the Homeric Age. It is assumed that the Homeric epics The Iliad and The Odyssey were first recited around this time.


The Geometric and Orientalizing Periods

The Geometric period (c. 900–700 BCE), which takes its name from the proliferation of geometric designs and rendering of figures in art, witnessed the emergence of a new culture on the Greek mainland. The culture’s trade-in language, its adaptation of the Phoenician alphabet, and its new funerary practices and material culture suggest the ethnic population modified from the mainland’s previous inhabitants, the Mycenaeans.


During this time, the new culture was the target of the people and independent poleis, which divided the land into regional populations. This duration witnessed a boom in the population and the revival of trade.


The Orientalizing period (c. 700–600 BCE) is known for the cultural exchanges the Greeks had with Eastern or Oriental civilizations. During this time, international trade started to flourish. Art from this era reflects contact with locations including Egypt, Syria, Assyria, Phoenicia, and Israel.


Archaic Greece

Greece’s Archaic duration lasted from 600 to 480 BCE, wherein Greek culture expanded. The population in Greece started to increase and the Greeks started to colonize alongside the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The poleis at this time were generally dominated by a single ruler who commanded the city by force.


For the city of Athens, this caused the creation of democracy. Several city-states emerged as predominant powers, which includes Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. These poleis were frequently warring with each other, and formed coalitions to gain power and allies. The Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE marked the end of the Archaic duration.


Classical Greece

The era of Classical Greece commenced in 480 BCE with the sacking of Athens by the Persians. The Persian invasion of Greece, first led by Darius I after which by his son Xerxes, united Greece against a common enemy.


With the defeat of the Persian threat, Athens became the most effective polis till the start of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE. These wars endured on and off till 400 BCE. While affected by war, the Classical duration observed the peak of Greek culture and the creation of several of Greece’s most well-known artwork and architecture.


However, peace and balance in Greece were not achieved till it was conquered and united by Macedonia under the leadership of Philip II and Alexander the Great in the mid-1/3 century BCE.


Hellenistic Greece

The Hellenistic duration started with the loss of life of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE and ended with the Roman victory at the Battle of Actium in 30 BCE. Greece poleis spent this time under the hegemony of foreign rulers, first the Macedon's after which the Romans, starting in 146 BCE.


New centers of Hellenic culture boomed through Greece and on foreign soil, which includes the cities of Pergamon, Antioch, and Alexandria—the capitals of the Attalids, Seleucids, and Ptolemies.


Ancient Greek Accomplishments: List of Discoveries and Inventions

The below list of inventions was also great Ancient Greek contributions to Western civilization:


The Water Mill

Watermills were renowned inventions and are in use over the world for the following purposes:

  • Metal shaping, 

  • Agriculture, and

  • Most importantly, milling.

The Odometer

  • One of the most widely used instruments in the present day, the odometer, measures the distance traveled through a vehicle such as a bicycle or an automobile. Even though modern odometers are digital, not so long ago they were more mechanical, slowly evolving into electro-mechanical with the upward push of technology. This omnipresent instrument was additionally being utilized in historical Greece.

Did You Know?

  • Greek culture started to spread during the Geometric, Orientalizing, and Archaic periods, which lasted from 900 to 480 BCE. 

During this time the population of city-states commenced to grow, Panhellenic traditions were established, and artwork and architecture started to mirror Greek values.

  • The records of the Greek originates with the primordial deities Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky), who were the parents of the first of twelve giants called Titans. Among these Titans were 6 males and 6 females.

  • The males were named as:

    • Oceanus, 

    • Hyperion, 

    • Coeus, 

    • Crius, 

    • Lapetus, and 

    • Kronos.

  • The females were named as:

    • Themis, 

    • Mnemosyne, 

    • Tethys, 

    • Theia, 

    • Phoebe, and 

    • Rhea

Conclusion

Thus, in this article we have covered ancient Greek history and related important aspects. From this we can conclude that Greek history shaped the modern society with its great contribution to various disciplines such as philosophy, art and literature, maths, science, etc. Besides these, it also has influence on the social and political aspects of the society as well as sports. If we talk about the Greek artists, they had gained perfection which was never seen before in history.

FAQs on Ancient Greek Civilization

1. Describe something about Greek mythology. 

The mythologies and cult worship of heroes performed an important function in Greek religion and ritual. Heroes—in particular Perseus, Hercules, Theseus, and those involved in the Trojan War—were frequently depicted in art, and the location in their feats became cult sites.


The temple was considered the home of the god and was frequently a luxurious and lavishly adorned building. The temple included a naos, the main room that held the cult statue. Offerings were left for the gods, and sacrifices took place outdoors.

2. What was the significance of Gods in ancient Greek society? 

The records of the Greek pantheon start with the primordial deities Gaia and Uranus and their children,  the Titans. The pantheon of Greek gods comprised twelve Olympian gods plus numerous additional most important and minor gods and goddesses. The gods had human characteristics and personalities, and their lives were special by the mythologies told about them.


The gods played a critical role in Greek everyday life. They were consulted, blamed, and venerated for numerous reasons, inclusive of natural occurrences (from earthquakes to rain), in addition to for the public and private affairs of the polis and its people.

3. What are some interesting facts about Greek culture?

Greek culture had immense influence on different disciplines and fields of the society. The first democracy was said to have emerged in Athens. Their culture was said to have interest in education and thus a great influence can be seen in different subjects such as maths, science, philosophy, art and literature, etc. Not only this, they have also promoted sports as well.