Early Greeks/Greek Geography

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

A video about the next important civilization of ancient Greece, the Mycenaeans. These are the people sung about in the Iliad of Homer, and who may have been the "Sea People" who fought the Hittites and the Egyptians:

An epic (and epically long) video from PBS about Greek history. Feel free to skip around:

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

For class today, your job will be to check and revise questions 1-5 from the Blue book, page 333. You may have taken notes and answered the questions electronically or on your iPad. Here are the notes from class:

Notice that the geographical center of Greece is actually not land, but the Aegean Sea

1. What were some of the forces that influenced the rise of civilization in ancient Greece?

 The geography of ancient Greece was rocky, mountainous, and surrounded by seas on all sides. The climate is warm and sunny. The Greeks were able to grow great amounts of grapes and olives, but only 1/4 of their land was good for growing grain.

The Greeks learned to make the grapes into wine, and olives into olive oil. Since they lived very close to the sea, the ancient Greeks traded their wine and olive oil to the Egyptians and others for the grain they needed. Over time, the Greek city-states became very wealthy and dominated the Mediterranean economy.

2. In what ways were the Greek city-states described above similar to the cities of ancient Mesopotamia?

The Greek and Mesopotamian city-states had several characteristics in common.
  • Both were independent of any nation or central authority
  • They included the city itself and the surrounding farmland
  • Each had its own protector god that had temples in the city
  • Each city-state had its own government, customs, and culture
  • They were separated from one another by geography (in Mesopotamia by long stretches of desert, in Greece by seas and mountains)
3. How did the Greeks keep their history alive during the Dark Age?

During the Dark Age (about 1100 - 800 B.C.E.), the ancient Greek city-states became isolated from each other, trade decreased, and the written language was lost. History, knowledge, customs, and other information was passed from one generation to the next by oral tradition--telling stories over time. One example is the story of the Trojan War and the wanderings of the hero Odysseus in the Iliad and the Odyssey.

4. Why did Greece develop as a group of individual city-states rather than as a unified state?

Because the geography of Greece includes seas, mountains, hills, and rocky terrain, traveling from city to city was very difficult in the ancient world. Therefore, the Greek cities developed into independent, isolated city-states.