Sanctuaries, Oracles, and Theaters

In ancient Greece, people honored the gods in several ways. Throughout Greece there were special places called sanctuaries where people could offer sacrifices, perform rituals, and pray to different gods.

At Olympia, the god Zeus was honored with athletic games and competitions that took place every four years. These events were so important that all of the city-states of Greece would send their top athletes. Wars would be put on hold, and the winners would receive prizes like free food for life. The games were so important, in fact, that the ancient Greeks numbered their years according to which Olympiad had recently taken place. The first Olympic Games were in 776 BC.

Also at Olympia, The massive temple complex of Zeus, and specifically the monumental gold and ivory statue of the god, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Rituals were performed, and animal sacrifices were made on the altar just outside and in front of the temple.

At the sites of oracles, ancient Greeks…

Ancient Greek Religious Beliefs

The ancient Greeks were polytheistic. They had many gods and goddesses that represented the forces of nature (like the sky, the sea, and death), and to represent human nature (like love, war, and wisdom). The Greeks also told many myths about their gods, their heroes, and their wars. During the Dark Ages (1100 BC - 800 BC), oral tradition kept these stories alive and helped to pass Greek culture down from earlier generations.

Early Greeks and the Geography of Greece

A few videos about the Minoans -- The earliest Greek settlements of Crete:

Maps of Ancient Greece

In class we labeled the following areas of ancient Greece:

Land Areas (black)
Cyclades Islands

City-States (red)

Seas (blue)
Aegean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
Sea of Crete
Ionian Sea

Mountains (green)
Pindus Mountains
Mt. Olympus

Now check out some resources that will help you understand the geography, location, and climate of ancient Greece. Keep in mind the similarities, and especially the differences between ancient Greece and ancient Egypt.

Take a look at this cool interactive map from the British Museum's website: Classical Greece Map

If the video above isn't working, click on the following link:

Ancient Greece Unit Vocabulary

Here are the vocabulary words and definitions for our Greece unit. Copy them into your notebook.

Minoan Art

The Minoans were an amazing civilization, the first in Europe. They developed on the island of Crete around 2500 BCE. Check out this article about the Minoans from National Geographic:

Rise and Fall of the Mighty Minoans (click here)
Here is the introductory paragraph:

In the epic poem The Odyssey, the Greek poet Homer praised an island that lies “out in the wine-dark sea . . . a rich and lovely sea-girt land, densely peopled, with 90 cities and several different languages.” This sophisticated place is not just a random spot in the Mediterranean—Homer is describing Crete, southernmost of the Greek islands and home to one of the oldest civilizations in Europe. Located some 400 miles northwest of Alexandria in Egypt, Crete has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, around 7000 B.C. The culture that developed there during the second millennium B.C. spread throughout the entire eastern Mediterranean world. Crete’s command of the seas would allow its stunning art and architecture to dee…

Egypt: Essential Questions and Review Videos

Here are the essential questions from the Egypt Unit and their answers.
1. How did the location, geography, and climate of ancient Egypt affect the development of civilization there?
The location of ancient Egypt was in northeastern Africa along the Nile River, between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, just north of Nubia. This allowed The Egyptians great trading opportunities with lands all around the Mediterranean region, throughout the Fertile Crescent and Mesopotamia, and with civilizations further south in Africa.
The geography of Egypt consists of a huge desert with only the Nile River as its source of fresh water running through the middle. Therefore, the Egyptians all lived along the river itself, and Egypt developed as an isolated civilization without much interaction with foreigners. Later, the Egyptians use the river and seas near them as routes for trading their grain with neighbors.
The climate of ancient Egypt was extremely hot and dry, with almost no rainfall. The…

Ramses the Great

One of the most powerful and longest-ruling pharaohs in Egyptian history was Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great. In his 90 year lifetime, Ramses conquered vast territories, built huge monuments, and had a reputation as a warrior-pharaoh.

This description comes from the PBS series "Egypt's Golden Empire"

Ramesses II (c.1303 B.C.E. - 1213 B.C.E.)

Despite a very shaky start, Ramesses II (reigned c1279 - 1212 BC) used diplomacy, a massive building program and endless propaganda to become the greatest pharaoh of the New Kingdom, Ancient Egypt's Golden Age. 

Born a commoner, his family's military skills brought Ramesses to the throne at the age of just 15. He immediately faced serious challenges. The Egyptian empire was under threat from the Hittites, who lived in what is now Turkey. They were far more advanced than the Egyptians and were already pushing against the northern border of Egypt's empire. 

Testing the new king
An inexperienced, young king presented t…

Egypt's Golden Empire

Here's a cool set of videos from PBS called "Egypt's Golden Empire." It goes into detail about some of the really interesting pharaohs we talked about in class. It's worth checking out--Especially the segments on Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten, King Tutankhamun, and Ramses the Great.

Akhenaten and Tutankhamun

One of the most interesting pharaohs ever to rule Egypt was named Amenhotep IV, who later renamed himself Akenaten. This pharaoh changed the Egyptian religion and the style of Egyptian art and even moved the capital city of the kingdom from Thebes to a brand new city he built called Amarna. For that reason, this time in history is called the "Amarna Period."

Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, were the center of the new religion. The Egyptian people were expected to worship the ATEN, or the visible rays of the sun.

Click here for an article about the search for Queen Nefertiti's tomb!

In the comments, can you describe any specific changes that Akhenaten put in place?

* Egyptian, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, 1349–1336 B.C.

    Height x width x depth: 51 x 105.5 x 5.2 cm (20 1/16 x 41 9/16 x 2 1/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
    Architectural elements

Accession Number
On view
    Egypt: New Kingdom - 210

Hatshepsut and Thutmose III

During the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom, two of the most important pharaohs were related, but hated one another. The first was Hatshepsut, one of the most powerful female rulers in history. The second was Thutmose III, her stepson who hated Hatshepsut for "stealing" his throne. If a student wanted to know more about either pharaoh, here are a few useful resources:

Information on Hatshepsut 

The Mummy of Queen Hatshepsut Found
Science Blog update about the identification of an unknown mummy as that of Hatshepsut

Video Tour of Hatshepsut Sculptures at the MET
A great exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

National Geographic's Hatshepsut links
Lots of articles, video clips, and good information about the female pharaoh

Dr. Zahi Hawass's description of Hatshepsut
Scroll down to the section that says "Who Was Hatshepsut?"

An Encyclopedia Britannica description of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri

Mortuary Temple of Hatshe…

The Rosetta Stone

No, not the computer program. The actual stone is one of the most important archaeological finds ever unearthed in Egypt. Without it, the ability to read and understand hieroglyphics might still be lost since the 4th or 5th century A.D. When Napoleon brought his conquering French troops to Egypt at the end of the 1700s A.D., he ordered them to build large forts, including in the northern city of Rosetta.

At Rosetta a number of troops unearthed a huge black granite tablet carved with the same message in three different languages: hieroglyphics, a cursive form of hieroglyphics called "demotic," and ancient Greek. A French translator, Jean Champollion, used his knowledge of both ancient Greek and the modern Coptic (Egyptian) language to translate the stone.

One important writing technique of the ancient Egyptians was the use of a cartouche, or an oval-shaped loop of rope drawn around the name of the pharaoh. In this case, the name of Pharaoh Ptolemy V frequently appears in car…