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(All dates are BC)

  • Aegean inhabitants gather in permanent farming communities and domesticate plants and animals.
Early Bronze Age
  • Hereditary chiefs rule over villages and districts. The use of bronze, developed in the Near East, replaces copper & stone.
Middle Bronze Age
  • Migrating groups, speaking an early form of Greek, arrive from the north and the east.
  • The Minoan civilization, centered on Crete, flourishes. They had huge palaces on Knossos, a writing system (Linear A), large fleets of ships, traded extensively, painted wonderful murals and had lots of leisure time and activities.
  • 1646. Massive volcanic eruption had devastating impact on ancient island of Thera (modern-day Santorini).
Late Bronze Age
  • The Mycenaean civilization learns from and then conquers the Minoans, taking over their power centers and creating small kingdoms. Ruling class buried in “shaft graves” with burial goods ranging from bronze weapons to pottery and jewelry. They also built beehive-shaped, well-engineered “Tholos” tombs.
  • The Mycenaeans developed their own (Greek) system of writing- Linear B- modeled on the Linear A of the Minoans.
  • The Trojan War, if it happened, took place between 1250-1225.
  • Invaders, volcanoes and earthquakes destroy palaces and bring an end to the Mycenaean civilization. The identity of the invaders remains one of the mysteries of archaeology.
The Dark Age
  • Iron technology takes over from bronze. The art of writing has become lost. Stone building is small and infrequent. Trade is diminished. Little production by Greek artisans and craftsmen. A dark age descends over Greece.
  • Behind the “dark curtain” things are happening. There is a big increase in population and manufacturing. Borrowing from the Phoenicians, the Greeks develop their own alphabet. Temples are built. 776BC is generally regarded as the date for the first Olympic games.
Archaic Period
  • The rise of city-states as the largest political unit
  • The epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey were composed
  • Overseas colonization begins.
  • First Greek coins are made
  • Black-figure pottery emerges at Corinth, later in Athens
  • Tyrants seize power in many cities; Athens takes its first steps towards democracy. Draco, Solon, Cleisthenes are key figures
  • Beginnings of science and philosophy, advances in medicine
  • Athenian red-figure pottery emerges.
Classical Period
  • The Battle of Marathon, Salamis and Plataea- defining moments in Greek history as the mighty Persian Empire is defeated.
  • Foundation of the Delian League. Treasury moved to Athens.
  • Construction of the Parthenon. The Age of Pericles.
  • Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes and Euripides write literary masterpieces.
  • Second Peloponnesian War. Sparta now most powerful state.
  • Trial and execution of Socrates. Plato writes his Dialogues.
  • Philip II of Macedonia creates superb army, subdues rivals
  • Alexander, the Great comes to power. Defeats Greek states, defeats Persians, invades India. Dies in Babylon.
Hellenistic Period
  • After Alexander’s death there was a prolonged struggle for control of his Empire. The culture and language of Greece had been spread at least as far as the invasions of his army.
  • Research center at Alexandria- the Museum- established.
  • Rome destroys Corinth (146BC) and Athens (86BC) and annexes Greece and Macedon. The Battle of Actium and the suicide of Cleopatra ends the era of ancient Greece
  • The poet Horace said “ Greece, the captive, took her savage victor captive.”