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Ancient Greece developed between 800 and 30 BC.
Started in the
south of the
The natural enviorenment influences a lot the
development of Ancient Greece:
- Proximity to the sea: They built up
commercial activities along all the
Mediterranean. Specially with Egypt and
- Innumerable island and mountains divided
the territory and they were organised in city-
states. They were never united.
- Though this independence they share the
culture, the language, the religion…
They had discovered farming by 7000 BC.
During their Metal Ages there were two
important civilizations: Crete and Mycenas.
Hellenes (Helenos, de Grecia) took important
cultural aspects from these cultures: writing,
Greeks live in city states called Poleis.
Every Polis had its own goverment, economy,
laws, army, currency, way of life…
Poleis were formed by an urban centre and
then farming lands around.
There were more than 200 poleis. Examples:
Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, Troy,
Between the 8th and 6th centuries there was
a crisis in Greece: population increased and
their land was not very fertile so there was not
enough food for everybody.
In consequence, many Greeks migrated and
founded colonies. First in Italy, France, Spain,
Libya… and then around the Black Sea.
Because of colonies Greek culture spread: use of
iron, money, art… and they mixed with other
Who were the Phoenecians?
Where they came from?
Find five colonies founded by the
Phoenecians. Could you name any in the
How was their culture?
Originally from Mesopotamia, they moved a
lot because of their nomadic lifestyle.
Finally, around 1050 BC they settled in
Canaan (Palestina) and created its capital:
They were the only monotheistic culture in
5th and 4th centuries BC were the most
splendid period of Greece. We call it the
Classical Age. Athens and Sparta dominated
and there were continual wars.
The government of all the poleis was an
oligarchy: power belongs to the aristoi
(aristocracy), a few privileged men.
In the classical period Athens established a
new political system: democracy.
In Sparta, like in other poleis, power was
based on oligarchy (oligarquía): a small
group of people controlled the politics.
There were two important families so there
were two kings. They led the army and
performed honorific and religious functions.
But there were another institutions:
o The Gerousia. 28 aristocrats over 60 years.
They prepare the laws and the projects.
o The Apella. Composed by the Spartan
citizens: males over 30 with Spartan
parents. They vote the laws and projects
proposed by the Gerousia but they can not
discuss: they only can answer ‘yes’ or ‘not’.
o Ephors. Five delegates who controlled the
security and the education.
In the 7th century BC, some people in the
polis protested against the abuse of power by
the governing aristocracy.
As a result, SOLON (638-558 BC) gave
political power to the Citizens’ Assembly or
Later, CLEISTHENES (Clístenes) introduced
some more reforms and democracy was
created (508 BC).
Athenian democracy was based on three
institutions. However, to participate in
them you had to be a citizen: men over 18
from Athenian parents (it means only
40,000 people over a population of 500,000).
Ekklesia or assembly. Greatest power: they
decided about laws, war and peace, etc.
Composed by all the citizens.
Boule or Council of 500. They prepared
the issues that were going to be debated in
the Assembly and it had 500 members.
Magistrates. They controlled the
enforcement (cumplimiento) of laws.
In Spanish Guerras Médicas.
In 494 Persians controlled the Greek Poleis of
Asia Minor and then they tried to conquer
continental Greece and islands.
Athens organised an association of city-states,
to fight together against the Persians.
The First Persian War: Darius attacked
Athens. It ended in 490 BC with the greek
victory in the Battle of Marathon.
The Second Persian War: Xerxes (Jerjes)
attacked Greece again in 480 BC. Athens
was destroyed but then the Persians were
defeated at the Battles of Thermopylae
(Termópilas) and Salamis (Salamina).
Las Guerras del Peloponeso
After the Persian Wars Athens became the richest
and most influential polis.
The fifth century BC was their most splendorous
period. Under its leader PERICLES democracy
In this period Athens produced brilliant artists
(e.g. Phidias), philosophers (Socrates),
dramatists (Sophocles, Euripides), etc.
The dominant position of Athens was a menace
(amenaza) to other important poleis such as
Some poleis supported Sparta and others Athens.
Finally, there was a war where Sparta won and
became the most powerful polis.
Meanwhile, Macedon (Macedonia) organised a
Macedon was a monarchy in the north of Greece.
They were strongly influenced by Greek culture.
The wars between poleis had weakened Greece
and Philip II (Filipo II de Macedonia) took
advance of that. By 338 BC he dominated all
Greece except Sparta.
Philip was assassinated and his young son
Alexander succeeded him at the age of 20.
He continued the territorial expansion that his
father had started.
First, he unified the Greeks against the Persian.
Then, after defeating the Persians, he continued
conquering Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc., reaching
the Indo River.
Alexander created the largest Empire of the
Ancient World until Rome.
He founded many cities so Greek Culture
He founded many cities so Greek Culture
spread to the East. At the same time, Greek
culture mixed with Oriental culture,
creating a new epoch called Hellenism.
The most important city was Alexandria, in
Egypt, symbol of the new civilization. This
city had a lot of important buildings,
including the lighthouse (one of the Seven
Wonders of Ancient World), the library, etc.
[The Spanish movie Agora is based on Alexandria]
He died at the age of 33 in Babylon (323 BC).
His generals divided the Empire into three
large kingdoms and made themselves kings.
Macedonia and Greece
Old Persian Empire (Asia Minor,
Between 2nd and 1st centuries BC Rome took
control of the Greek territories.
There was a high level of inequality in
Greek society was based in two groups:
Citizens: Aristocrats, merchants and
farmers. They have rights, they can took
part in politics and they paid some taxes.
Non-citizens: Not allowed to take part in
politics. There were 3 different categories:
Foreigners: They were free but they paid
more taxes and fought in the army. They can
not allow land or houses. They usually
worked in trade and crafts.
Slaves: They had no rights and freedom. They
were a property of a family and they worked
for them. Usually war prisoners.
Women: With no rights, they couldn’t hold
political positions, vote or go to public shows.
Always under the rule of a man: first the
father, then the husband.
Main Economical Activities:
Long distance trade: Rich merchants with
ships, trade along the Mediterranean Sea
and with the colonies. They import (buy)
food, wood, cooper… and export (sell)
pottery, textiles, perfumes…
Local commerce: Small shops in cities or
markets. They used silver coins called
Main Economical Activities (cont.):
Crafts: Greeks produce excellent pottery and
sculpture which exported. They worked also
with leader, textiles, etc.
Agriculture: Done by the poorest people.
Based on the ‘Mediterranean Triad’: wheat,
vines and olives (trigo, vid y olivo).
Livestock: sheep, goats, pigs, mules…
The Greeks were polytheistic: they believed
in many gods.
The gods have human appearance and
feelings but different powers. The most
important god was Zeus (King of gods, sky
Each god represented a natural force or a
They lived on Mount Olympus.
Sons of gods and humans. E. g.: Hercules,
Ulysses (Ulises), Achilles (Aquiles)…
They were very powerful but mortal.
The tales of gods and heroes are known as
They also believed in fantastic creatures such
as centaurs, cyclopes…
This religion was later adopted by the
Romans, who only changed the names.
Gods had the same needs than humans. So
Greeks give them food and presents.
They believed that gods live in temples.
Priest and priestesses were their servants.
Gods could help or harm human beings.
The Greeks try to know the opinion of the
gods using oracles (oráculos). The most
famous one was in Delphi (Delfos).
Greek Culture has been the foundation of
Greeks were the first on using logic and
reasoning to explain the phenomena. So
they are considered the fathers of science
They also developed mathematics, physics,
medicine, astronomy, literature, theatre…
Some examples: Socrates, Aristotle
Philosophy: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
(Sócrates, Platón y Aristóteles).
Literature: They had Epic Poems like the
Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. They also
invented theatre (Sophocles, Euripides).
History: Herodotus is considered the first
Physics and Maths: Archimedes,
Greeks were very concerned about get these
Usually they used white marble painted in
colours (but these have disappeared with
time). There are some important elements:
Columns: provide support for a building. In
Greece there are three styles depending on
the type of column: orders.
Double-sloped roof (tejado a dos aguas).
Pediment (frontón): Triangular structure
placed above a horizontal structure.
Doric (Dórico): The simplest. The column
has no base. The capital is smooth.
Ionic (Jónico): The column has a base. The
capital is decorated with scrolls (volutas).
The shaft (fuste) is taller than the Doric.
Corinthian (Corintio): More decorative,
the capital is adorned with acanthus leaves
(hojas de acanto). The shaft is thinner
There are a lot: temples, tombs, theatres,
stadiums, hippodromes, gymnasiums…
The most important ones were temples and
Temples: Houses of gods. Inside was the
statue of the gos and the treasure. They were
rectangular and surrounded by columns.
The most famous ones are located in the
acropolis of Athens, like the Parthenon.
Peristyle: row of columns.
Pronaos: Entrance Hall
Naos or cella: In the centre. Contained the
statue of the godto whom the temple waas
Opisthodomos: Opposite to pronaos.
Room where the treasure was kept.
in the slopes
were at the
Function: principally to decorate buildings.
Themes: Mainly deities and heroes, but also
athletes, priests, etc.
Materials: wood, marble (mármol) or
bronze. Then painted in bright colours.
Focus on: human form, usually naked, the
ideal of beauty and proportion.
Faces with big eyes.
Forced smile (archaic smile/sonrisa
Long hair with diferent styles.
Women dressed. Men naked.
Perfectly proportioned bodies.
Faces with a serene expression.
Some more movement.
Important artists: Myron, Phidias,
Polykleitos (Policleto), Praxiteles…
They are more
and elderly were