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Ancient Greece

History of ancient Greece

The Acropolis during the Golden Age of AthensThe Acropolis during the Golden Age of AthensThe story of ancient Greece began in the Bronze Age (3000–1100 BC). During this time, the Cycladic civilization developed in the Cyclades islands of the Aegean Sea, while the Minoan civilization occupied the island of Crete and the Helladic civilization rose on the Greek mainland. The Mycenaean era emerged from the Helladic civilization in around 1600 BC. It is also the called the “Age of Heroes”, because it provided the setting for Greek mythology, including the Trojan War. The Mycenaeans took control the islands of the Aegean and Ionian seas, Crete and the coast of Asia Minor, but after 1100 BC, their civilization collapsed. It took 300 years (the “Dark Ages”) for the Greeks to restore their great civilization, which was eventually to flower in the age of Classical Greece (480–323 BC).

A Minoan fresco painting, the A Minoan fresco painting, the "Prince of the Lilies"

Minoan civilization

One of the earliest civilizations to appear in Greece was the Minoan civilization of Crete. This lasted from about 3000 BC to 1400 BC. Little is known about the Minoans—the name is a modern one, taken from Minos, the legendary king of Crete. The Minoans were traders, their merchants travelling throughout the Mediterranean region.

Minoan civilization was affected by a number of natural disasters such as the volcanic eruption at Thera (around 1600 BC) and earthquakes that came just before it. In 1425 BC, all the Minoan palaces, except that at Knossos, were devastated by fire as the Mycenaean Greeks took over Crete.

Draco was Athens' first lawmaker. In 622 BC he established written laws that could be enforced only by a court. Draco's laws were particularly severe, however—stealing a cabbage, for example, was punishable by death. The adjective "draconian” we use today, referring to similarly harsh rules, comes from his name.

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