Ancient Greece 1
Greece is a peninsula, which means that it is surrounded on three sides by water. Greece has a lot of
smaller peninsulas on it, which means Greece enjoys many natural harbors.
Greece is also covered with mountains. They are not huge mountains but if you are trying to go from place
to place in Greece, you'll find the mountains a bit of a hindrance. Three thousand years ago, it was very difficult to
get from place to place in ancient Greece by walking. But it was easy to get from place to place in Greece by boat.
These physical conditions with montains dividing the Balkan Peninsula into small valleys caused that each island
and each valley developed an independent state. Ancient Greece was never a unified country.
In addition, Ancient Greece had many islands such as Crete or Rhodes. Ancient Greece was sourronded by
the next seas: Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean (which are on Mediterranean Sea) and Black Sea. This is why Greek people
were great merchants and sailors.
1. Localize in the next map: Athens, Sparta, Troy. Colour Greek inlands in red, Asia Menor colonies in green and Greek islands in blue.
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In the ancient world that grew up around the Mediterranean Sea, the Greek became known as great
sailors. They sailed about the Mediterranean, setting up colonies where they could. They established new towns
on the coast of Minor Asia (Turkey nowadays), on the coast of Italy, specially on Sicily and Naples (The Magna
Greece), on the coast of Africa, and on the coasts of France and the Iberian Peninsula.
Meanwhile, back in mainland Greece, cities were thriving. The soil was mostly fertile but not abundant
because they had to farm in small coastal plains and by the 800s BC they had not resources enough. However, the
Greeks had a wealth of seafood, fresh fish, a wealth of vegetables, and fresh drinking water. The Greeks were very
happy with their land. Greece climate is very good too: it has mild winters and long, hot and dry summers.
2. Read your text book on page 111 and complete these sentences.
a. The territories of the Ancient Greeks consisted of ________________________.
b. Greece was divided into different independent states because of ________________________________________.
c. The Greeks used the Mediterranean Sea to _________________ and for ____________________.
3. Read the next text and then do the next activities relationed.
a. Who found a tomb in the city of Mycenae?
b. Who was Agamemnon?
c. Find information about Henry Schliemann in the next internet page:
www.historywiz.com/agamemnon.htm. Then answer the questions below:
1. Who described the city of Mycenae as “rich in gold”?
2. In which war had been the Mycenae people involved?
3. Which text helped Henry Schliemann to discover this city?
4. What did he found in the tombs?
5. Look at the photo and design your own gold mask which shows somethin about your personality or interests.
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2. ANCIENT GREEK HISTORY
Look at the next timeline of Ancient Greece, and colour it using the instructions below:
- Colour the Minoan civilization period in blue.
- Colour the Archaic period in pink.
- Colour the Mycenaean civilization period in orange.
- Colour the Classical period in green.
- Colour the Dark Age in brown.
- Colour the Hellenistic age in yellow.
2.1. MINOAN CIVILIZATION: CRETE ISLAND AND THE MINOTAUR
The Minoans were a tribe living in the island of Crete. These people, the Minoans,
were a very advanced civilization for the times. They had a strong navy and they were
The Minoan king lived in the capital city of Knossos, in a maze of a palace with 1500
rooms! It was a gorgeous palace, one of the most beautiful constructions in Ancient
Greece. The most famous Minoan king was Minos, who is known because he built a
labyrinth where Minos locked the Minotaur up.
The ancient Minoans had a written language. Far more than the records they left
behind, the paintings on the walls of the palace at Knossos share the daily life of these ancient people. Some walls
were painted with pictures of starfish and water scenes, much as you would expect from a civilization that lived on
But some walls were painted with pictures of young people, both boys and girls, jumping over bulls.
Scholars believed that bull jumping must have been a very popular sport in Minoan times.
Around 1700 BCE, an earthquake hit Crete. Much of the Minoan civilization was destroyed. The Minoans
rebuilt. Around 1500 BCE, a volcano erupted near the island of Crete and finally, Minoans decided to leave Crete
and this great civilization dissapeared from the island of Crete.
2.2. MYCENAEAN CIVILIZATION: WARRIORS
The Mycenaeans came to power on the Greek mainland (Peloponneso). The Mycenaeans were great
warriors who fought with everyone with whom came in contact.
The Mycenaeans built their palaces on hilltops where kings lived. The palaces had big stone walls around
them, so later Greeks thought the walls had been built by giants (Cyclops). Myceanaeans learned to write in a sort
of hieroglyphics called linear B.
They sailed around Mediterranean Sea and Black picking fights with other cities to get gold or slaves.
Around 1250 BC, they attacked the city of Troy (Trojan War). Mycenaean Civilization dissapeared when it was
Ancient Greece 4
conquered by other war people: the Dorians.
2.3. DARK AGE: THE DORIANS
The Dorians were better warriors than Mycenaeans because they used iron weapons. We know a little
about this period: they did not leave us scripts or important buildings or artistic activity. This is why they called
it Dark Age. We only know what storytellers have told.
2.4. ARCHAIC PERIOD: THE POLIS AND THE COLONIES
After the Greek dark ages, exciting things began to happen in ancient Greece. Villages started to band
together to form strong trading centers. These groups of villages that banded together were called city-states.
Soon, hundreds of city-states had formed in ancient Greece.
A city-state, or polis, was a city with its own government, laws, army, and way of life. Athens, Sparta,
Corinth and Thebes were poleis. The rulers were usually rich people, or aristoi, which means 'the best'. This form
of government was called 'aristocracy'. Sparta was a famous example of aristocracy government.
Later, in some poleis, democracy replaced aristocracy. Citizens met regularly at assemblies to make
decisions and choose their representatives. They also created councils which prepared the subjects to be
discussed at the assemblies. Athens is a famous example of democratic government.
However, during this period, Greeks lived a crisis: Greek population increased and the land was not fertile
enough to fed all the citizens. In addition, a small minority of rich people owned most of the land and the poor
people and peasants were hungry. Consequently many Greeks migrated and founded colonies around
Mediterranean Sea. Colonies were founded in places near the coast in order to make transport and trade easier.
The Greeks also looked for places which had water and fertile land, and a hill which enabled them to protect the
city. Colonies had the same beliefs, traditions and organization as the polis they came from, but they were
Colonization had important consequences: Greeks mixed with other peoples, such as the Phoenicians, the
Etruscans and the Egyptians. Colonization spread Greek influence beyond its frontiers.
4. Answer the questions:
a. What was a polis?
b. Explain the differences between a democratic polis and aristocratic polis
c. What system of government exists in most European countries today?
d. Why are all the colonies on the coasts?
e. Why did the Greeks expand to other territories?
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2.5. CLASSICAL PERIOD: ATHENS AND SPARTA
Classical period is the shortest period of Ancient Greek History but maybe the knownest (V-IV BC).
During this period two cities became very important: Athens and Sparta, and Greeks had been involved in many
battles, first against Persians and finally Athens and Sparta will fight to demonstrate their powers.
1. THE PERSIANS WARS (Guerras médicas) → The Persians, who
lived in Asia, had expanded their territories and conquered Greek
poleis in Asia Minor and on nearby islands. In 449 BC, these poleis
rebelled and the other Greek cities supported them and fought
against Persian army for three times. The most important battles
were The Battle of Marathon and The Battle of Thermopilae (in
which Spartans contained Persians with only 300 men). Persians
were defeated and left Greeks in peace.
2. ATHENS SPLENDOUR → During the Persian Wars, Greeks had formed the Delian League, which was
gold (money) to defeat Persians. Athens controlled that money, and suddenly Athens became the most beautiful
and influential polis. Athens dominated the League. The 5 th Century BC was the most brilliant period in the history
of Athens, when Pericles, an Athenian government embellished the city, specially the Acropolis.
3. PELOPONNESIAN WAR → The economic, political and cultural domination of Athens was seen by
Sparta such as a deception. Spartans believed than Athenian had stolen the Delian League's money and they
started a war against Athens. Some poleis supported Athens and other poleis supported Sparta. The
Peloponnesian war started in 431 BC and ended in 404, when Spartans won and became the most powerful polis.
However, all the Greek poleis became weak and that made easier to conquer Greek territories by Philip II of
2.6. HELLENISTIC AGE: ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Macedonia was a very large kingdom in the north of Greece. The Macedonians were very strongly
infuenced by Greek culture and spoke a language similar to Greek.
As we studied, the wars between the poleis had weakened Greece and the King of Macedonia Philip II
conquered the Greek territories. He took over nearly all the poleis, but he was assassinated and his son Alexander
the Great suceeded him. Alexander continued the conquests, becoming to expand Macedonian territories from
Greece to the River Indus territories. He even conquered Egypt. Alexander founded many cities, including
Alexandria in Egypt and spread Greek culture, which fusioned with Oriental culture creating a new culture called
Alexander the Great died before he had organized his huge empire. His
generals divided up the territory, made themselves kings and founded
different kingdoms. These kingdoms were known as Hellenistic monarchies
and included Egypt, Mesopotamia and Macedonia.
Ancient Greece History ended when Greek territories were conquered by
the Romans; since that moment Greece became a Roman province.
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5. Read the sentences. What do they refer to?
a. A very large kingdom in the north of Greece →
b. The most famous person in Greek history in the 4th century →
c. The fusion of Greek and Oriental cultures →
d. The kingdoms into which the empire was divided →
–-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------e. What is the Hellenism?
f. Why did Greeks found colonies?
g. Why is Dark Age known?
h. What were the political differences between the Athens and Sparta systems?
i. Why do you think Sparta and Athens became enemies?
6. Define the next terms:
e. MAGNA GREECE
f. DELIAN LEAGUE
g. PELOPONNESIAN WAR
7. True or false. Correct the false sentences.
a. Greece was an island →
b. Minoans built their palaces on hilltops →
c. Agamemnon was a Mycenaean king →
d. Greece had huge valleys where agriculture was practised →
e. The Dorian attacked Troy →
f. During the Dark Age the most Greek buildings were built →
g. Colonies were found during the Classical Period →
h. The most important cities, during the Classical Period, were Athens and Sparta →
i. All Greek city-states were dependents of Athens →
j. Pelopponeso wars were against Persian enemy →
k. Greek poleis formed the Delian League to defend the poleis against Persians attacks →
l. Pericles was a king of Athens →
m. Sparta won the Pelopponeso war →
n. Alexander the Great was educated by Aristotle →
o. Whe Alexander the Great died, he was succeeded by Philiph II →
p. Alexander the Great built a huge empire in 10 years →
q. Macedonians were not influence by Greek culture →
r. Troy was on Magna Greece territories →
s. Alexandria was a Greek city located in Persia →
t. The Battle of Marathon took part during the First Persian War →