Portal:Ancient Greece

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The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, located on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Ancient Greece (Greek: Ἑλλάς, romanizedHellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of classical antiquity (c. AD 600), that comprised a loose collection of culturally and linguistically related city-states and other territories—unified only once, for 13 years, under Alexander the Great's empire (336-323 BC). In Western history, the era of classical antiquity was immediately followed by the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine period.

Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the age of Classical Greece, from the Greco-Persian Wars to the 5th to 4th centuries BC. The conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon spread Hellenistic civilization from the western Mediterranean to Central Asia. The Hellenistic period ended with the conquest of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, and the annexation of the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.

Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it throughout the Mediterranean and much of Europe. For this reason, Classical Greece is generally considered the cradle of Western civilization, the seminal culture from which the modern West derives many of its founding archetypes and ideas in politics, philosophy, science, and art. (Full article...)

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Hellenistic Amphorae, stacked the way they were probably transported in antiquity, display in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

Ancient Greek pottery, due to its relative durability, comprises a large part of the archaeological record of ancient Greece, and since there is so much of it (over 100,000 painted vases are recorded in the Corpus vasorum antiquorum), it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society. The shards of pots discarded or buried in the 1st millennium BC are still the best guide available to understand the customary life and mind of the ancient Greeks. There were several vessels produced locally for everyday and kitchen use, yet finer pottery from regions such as Attica was imported by other civilizations throughout the Mediterranean, such as the Etruscans in Italy. There were a multitude of specific regional varieties, such as the South Italian ancient Greek pottery.

Throughout these places, various types and shapes of vases were used. Not all were purely utilitarian; large Geometric amphorae were used as grave markers, kraters in Apulia served as tomb offerings and Panathenaic Amphorae seem to have been looked on partly as objets d’art, as were later terracotta figurines. Some were highly decorative and meant for elite consumption and domestic beautification as much as serving a storage or other function, such as the krater with its usual use in diluting wine. (Full article...)
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Sparta shield.svg

Sparta (Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, Spártā; Attic Greek: Σπάρτη, Spártē) was a prominent city-state in Laconia, in ancient Greece. In antiquity, the city-state was known as Lacedaemon (Λακεδαίμων, Lakedaímōn), while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.

Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the leading force of the unified Greek military during the Greco-Persian Wars, in rivalry with the rising naval power of Athens. Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War (between 431 and 404 BC), from which it emerged victorious after the Battle of Aegospotami. The decisive Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC ended the Spartan hegemony, although the city-state maintained its political independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. After the division of the Roman Empire, Sparta underwent a long period of decline, especially in the Middle Ages, when many of its citizens moved to Mystras. Modern Sparta is the capital of the southern Greek region of Laconia and a center for processing citrus and olives. (Full article...)

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A painting of an older man puzzling over geometric problems
Archimedes Thoughtful
by Domenico Fetti (1620)

Archimedes of Syracuse (/ˌɑːrkɪˈmdz/; Ancient Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; Doric Greek[ar.kʰi.mɛː.dɛ̂ːs]; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Considered to be the greatest mathematician of ancient history, and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying the concept of the infinitely small and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including: the area of a circle; the surface area and volume of a sphere; area of an ellipse; the area under a parabola; the volume of a segment of a paraboloid of revolution; the volume of a segment of a hyperboloid of revolution; and the area of a spiral.

His other mathematical achievements include deriving an accurate approximation of pi; defining and investigating the spiral that now bears his name; and devising a system using exponentiation for expressing very large numbers. He was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics. Archimedes' achievements in this area include a proof of the principle of the lever, the widespread use of the concept of center of gravity, and the enunciation of the law of buoyancy. He is also credited with designing innovative machines, such as his screw pump, compound pulleys, and defensive war machines to protect his native Syracuse from invasion. (Full article...)

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Parthenon from south.jpg
Photo credit: Thermos
The Parthenon (ancient Greek: Παρθενών) is a temple of the Greek goddess Athena built in the 5th century BC on the Acropolis of Athens. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Here the temple is viewed from the south.

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