Ancient : The History of the Ancient Greece

The term Ancient, or archaic, Greece refers to the time three centuries before the classical age, between 800 BC. and 500 B.C. – a relatively sophisticated period in world history. Archaic Greece has made progress in art, poetry and technology, but above all, it is the age in which the polis, or city-state, was invented. The polis became a standing characteristic of Greek political life for hundreds of years.

The birth of the city state
During the so-called. “Greek gloomy century” before the archaic period, people lived scattered throughout Greece in small agricultural villages. As they grew up, these villages began to develop. Some have built walls. Most built a market (agora) and a place for community meetings.

They developed governments and organized their citizens according to some kind of constitution levels or set of laws. They raised armies and collected taxes. And each of these city states (known as the polis) was protected by a certain god or goddess, to whom the citizens of the polis owed much respect and sacrifice. (For example, Athens, for example, was also Sparta.)

Greek military leaders trained heavily armed Dutch soldiers to fight in a mass formation called the phalanx. Standing side by side, men were shielded from their neighbor’s shield. This intimidating technique played an important role in Persian wars and helped the Greeks build their empire.

Even though their citizens had in common what Herodotus called “the same fund and the same speech, our common temples of gods and religious rituals, our similar customs”, each Greek city state was different. The largest, Sparta, controlled about 300 square miles of territory; The smallest had only a few hundred people.

However, until the beginning of the archaic period in the seventh century BC, the city states developed several common characteristics. They all had economies that were based on agriculture, not on trade: For this reason, the land was the most valuable resource for all cities-state. Likewise, most were overthrowing their hereditary kings or basilians and were ruled by a small number of wealthy aristocrats.

These people monopolized political power. (For example, they refused to allow ordinary people to serve on councils or assemblies.) They also monopolized the best arable land, and some even claimed to have originated from the gods. Because “the poor with their wives and children were enslaved to the rich and lacked political rights,” Aristotle said, “there has long been a conflict between nobles and the people.”


Emigration was one way to free up some of this tension. The country is the most important source of wealth in the city states; it was, apparently, in the final offer.  The pressure of population growth drives many men away from their home fields and in sparsely populated areas around Greece and the Aegean Sea.

Between 750 B.C. and 600 BC, the Greek colonies emerged from the Mediterranean to Asia Minor, from North Africa to the Black Sea coast. By the end of the seventh century B.C., there were more than 1,500 colonial fields.

Each of these polis was an independent city-state. In this way, the colonies of the archaic period were different from other colonies known to us. The people who lived there were not driven or tied to the city states from which they came. The new fields are self-governing and self-satisfied.

The rise of the TYRANTS

Over time agricultural city-states have begun to produce consumer goods, such as ceramics, cloth, wine and metal work. Trade in these goods made some people – usually not members of the old aristocracy – very rich. These people insulted the untested power of the oligarchs and joined themselves, sometimes with the help of heavily armed soldiers called hoplites, to put new leaders in charge.

These leaders were known as tyrants. Some tyrants fell out as autocratic as the oligarchs who replaced them, while others turned out to be enlightened leaders. (Feodon of Argos established an orderly system of weights and measures, for example, while the Megara Theagens brought water to his city). However, their rule did not last: the classical period brought with him a series of political reforms that created a system known as democracy, or “rule of the people”.

Archaic renaissance?

Colonial migrations of the archaic period had an important effect on his art and literature. Spreading Greek styles throughout and encouraging people from all over the region to participate in the creative revolutions of the era. The epic poet Homer, from Ionia, created his Iliad and Odyssey during the archaic period.

Sculptors created curls and bark, carefully proportionate human figures that served as monuments to the dead. Scientists and mathematicians made progress: Anaximandros invented a theory of gravity; Xenophanes writes about his discovery of fossils; and Pythagoras of Croton discovered his famous theorem.

The economic, political, technological and artistic development of the archaic period prepares the Greek city leaders for the monumental changes in the next few centuries.

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