Greece and the Foundation of the
“The history of ancient Greece is a story of individual
thinkers, artists, writers, soldiers, and leaders who
contributed to the future civilizations. Although the
Greeks in time were conquered, their culture spread to
distant lands. Their ideas became the basis of Western
Civilization- the heritage of ideas that spread
throughout Europe to the Americas and remains part
of our culture.”
Three geographic factors profoundly inﬂuenced Greek
- The Climate
- The Terrain
- The Sea
Greece and the Foundation of the
The Climate of Greece
l Greece is part of a large ecological
zone that encompasses the
Mediterranean Sea and the lands
l The zone is bounded by the Atlantic
Ocean, the Alps, the Syrian desert to
the east, and the Sahara to the south.
l The lands lying within this region
have roughly uniform climate,
experience a similar sequence of
seasons, and are home to similar
plants and animals.
l This is called a Mediterranean
Consequences of the Climate
l Mild climate promoted public
l Men spent most of their at
the agora-the public meeting
place-in political meetings, at
the theater and at civic
celebrations. All these events
took place outdoors.
The Terrain of Greece
l Physically Greece is a land of
rough mountains, narrow valleys,
and no navigable rivers.
l 3/4’s of Greece is covered with
– These mountains divide
Greece into a number of
– In ancient times, rugged
terrain made communcation
Mainland Greece Cont...
l The mountains
Greek political life.
l Severely hampered
communication led to
the development of
city-states and the
failure create a single,
uniﬁed Greek state to
Natural Resources etc...
l To most Greeks, home was their
own valley and the mountains
that enclosed it.
l Tiny but fertile valleys covered
1/4 of Greece.
l Principle crops are grains,
grapes, and olives.
– Sheep and goats were grazed
in the hills during the
growing season but meat was
rare because the animals had
nothing to graze on.
To the Sea Cont...
l Greece is renown as a great
l A combination of circumstances
drew the Greeks to the sea.
– Lack of and need to import
resources like metals, timber,
and grain (food)
– The difﬁculty of overland
transport and communication
– Availability of natural harbors
“The sea shaped Greek civilization just as rivers
shaped the river valley civilizations.”
l Greece itself was poor in natural resources
• This led to the eventual establishment of a number of Greek Colonies
throughout the Mediterranean World
✴ to ease overcrowding on the tiny mainland
✴ to provide Greece with necessary resources
l Wine and olive products were exchanged for grain to support home cities.
l Sea travel facilitated the exchange of ideas between the Greeks and other
older societies (Phoenicians)
l Trade and colonization advanced Greek culture and inﬂuence in the
Colonization and Diﬀusion
“In one sense the Greeks did not live on a land
but around a sea.”
But in the Beginning...
l Greek civilization arose in the lands bordering the
Aegean Sea; the Greek mainland, the islands of the
Aegean, and the Western coast of Asia Minor.
l The ﬁrst two notable Greek civilizations were those
of the Minoans on the island of Crete and the
Myceneans in mainland Greece
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