Greece - History
The Archaic Period in Greece18-02-2013 20:07During the Archaic Period, Greece created some of the most important features to serve as the foundation of the later acme of Hellenic world. Greece was organized in city-states, made colonies in the Mediterranean, adopted a more advanced economy through trade and the invention of coinage and celebrated unity bonds in remarkable festivals like the Olympic Games.
After the fall of the Mycenaean civilization around 11th century BC, Greece has seen a long period of cultural decline and economic recession that is called by the archaeologists the Greek “Dark Age”, mainly because of the lack of archaeological finds of that era. The settlements had become from luxurious palaces to pastoral huts scattered on the countryside, the usage of the carriage stopped and the first form of written language Linear B was forgotten. The only aspect that survived and historians have followed to track down the history during the Dark Age was pottery.
The Archaic Period stretches between 800 and 500 BC with extensive colonization of the surrounding lands. This wave of migration is believed to have been made mainly because of the overpopulation of the mainland and the lack of land. The Greeks colonized the southern part of Italy, the Minor Asia, the Black Sea and founded new cities, boosting trade and therefore economy between the new cities and the ones that they came from.
During the Archaic Period there were established some of the most important political changes ever made, as the form of the city-state rises and different kinds of governing take place in each of them. During this period, the first governments were formed, laws were codified and money was coined for the first time boosting the trading economy. Initially the city-states were governed by kings, but then the governments became oligarchic ruled by a wealthy aristocracy that owned land, denying political power to those who did not own land. The invention of the coinage helped also in transforming the idea of wealth and established a new kind of social class, a rising middle class of those who gained money over trading, who later grasped political power. These transformations opened the way to the establishment of Athenian Democracy.
As far as culture is concerned, during the Archaic Period, a simplified alphabet was adopted enabling large numbers of Greeks to gain literacy. The Greeks were in place to pose questions over complex ideas like the role of humanity in the universe, founding philosophy and the way of thinking according logic.
Despite the differences in the form of governing, wars over lands and economy, the city-states were strongly united by the same religion. The impact of the common gods and mythology is evident in the creation of festivals that were celebrated from the Greeks all over the Greek world. The most notable of all was the Olympic Games first held at 776 BC in Olympia to honor Zeus, the father of the gods. The Olympic Games were held every four years and Greeks measured time by Olympiads. During the Olympic Games all the wars and hostilities were paused. Other Panhellenic events were the Nemean, Isthmian and Pythian Games.
The Archaic Period comes to an end at 490 BC, when the Greeks defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and the Classical Period follows.
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