According to Aristotle, the word “Greek” comes from “Graikoi”, which was the pre-historic name of the “Hellenes”. We call the country “Greece” and the people who live in it “Greeks” but they actually call themselves “Hellenes” and the country “Hellas”.
One of the earliest civilizations to appear in Crete was the Minoan Civilization. There isn’t much information about the Minoans. They have been characterized as pre-indo-Europeans and were primarily a mercantile civilization.
Eventually they were invaded by the Mycenaeans, coming from the mainland. In conjunction with the eruption of Thera, around 1400 BC, it’s a likely scenario for the end of the Minoan Civilization.
Bronze Age (Mycenaean Civilization)
The Bronze Age lasted from 1600 BC , when the Greeks arrived in the Aegean, to 1100 BC when the civilization collapsed. The civilization takes its name from the archeological site Mycene in the Peloponnesos. Other important Mycenaean sites are: Athens, Thebes, Pylos and Tiryns.
The civilization was mainly a war aristocracy. The Mycenaeans were buried in a sitting positing, often with daggers, armor and other objects, while some of the nobility underwent mummification.
The Dark Ages started with the presumed Dorian invasion in the 11th century BC and ended in the 9th century BC with the rise of the first Greek states. Archeological findings show a collapse of the Greek civilization in this period. The Mycenaean cities and palaces were destroyed and the cities abandoned. At the end of this stagnation, the Greeks relearned writing from the Phoenicians and spread the Greek world as far as Spain and the Black Sea.
The Greek Ancient period was taken to begin with the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC but there isn’t a fixed age when the period began. The end is marked, traditionally, by the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. It refers to the period before the Roman Empire.
Ancient Greece is considered to be the foundation of Western Civilization as the civilization greatly influenced the language, philosophy, art, architecture, politics and educational system of the modern world. In Ancient Greece the basic unit of politics was the “polis”, an independent city-state. It’s the era of Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle and many more.
The Persian Wars, which shaped this era, were recounted in Herodotus’s Histories. Important battles include those of Marathon and Thermopylae.
The Hellenistic Period extended from 323 BC –the death of Alexander the Great- to 146 BC –the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome. The main centers of the civilization are: Alexandria and Antioch.
Even though, the period of Roman rule in Greece, conventionally dated from 123 BC, Macedonia had already been under Roman rule since 168 BC. In 146 BC Macedonia officially became a Roman province and the capital of Thessalonica. In 212 AD, Pedi’s decree extended citizenship to all free adult males in the Roman Empire in an attempt to integrate all the provinces both economically and judiciary.
Constantine the Great turned Byzantium into the capital of the Eastern Rome Empire. Greece’s position became very important and later they were identified with the new empire.
The economy picked up, the rural communities and the cities expended, the country was prosperous. Numerous churches were built. Between 11th and 13th century, medieval cities such as Thessaloniki, Athens, Thebes and Corinth experienced rapid and sustained growth. Trade was a major part of the economy.
When the Ottomans arrived the Greek intelligentsia migrated to the Western Europe, while the Orthodox Greeks living in the plains moved into the mountains in an attempt to preserve their religion, ethnic and cultural heritage.
On March 25, 1821 the Greeks rebelled against the Ottomans and declared their independence. It was politically achieved in 1829.
During World War I, Greece sided against Turkey and the other Central Powers, while during World War II it sided with the Allied Forces.
In 1975, following a referendum, a democratic republic has been created. Since the restoration of democracy, the country has developed remarkably. Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the Euro in 2001. Today it’s one of the most important travel destinations in the world.
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