Ancient Greek Settlements




The ancient findings that have come to light over the centuries, testify to the settlement of Greece dating back to the Paleolithic Age, which spanned from 11,000 to 3,000 B.C.  The inhabitants at that time displayed nomadic characteristics.  At many locations around present-day Greece, evidence of Neolithic dwellings have been discovered, from which we can draw conclusions such as what their living quarters were made of and what tools they primarily used (stone and clay).  Again, signs of civilization and aspects of culture were already prevalent in Greece from the time of the Stone Age; while hub development took place later in the Bronze Age (from 3,000 B.C.), when more advanced cultures developed in the Greek lands.         




Cycladic Civilization

The beginning of the Cycladic civilization, which developed in the Aegean island chain known as the Cyclades, dates back to 3,000 B.C.  From that time (which truly represents the first Hellenistic culture) small marble figurines were discovered, ones that depicted aspects of life.  In addition to cultural, the Cycladic islands were also an important spiritual center.





The second dominant civilization of the Aegean Sea and Greek lands developed in Crete, known as Minoans, which owes its name to the king of Knossos, Minos.  Their society and culture is more evolved and advanced than that of the Cyclades; evidenced by the invention of the Linear A (subsequent to hieroglyphics), in a linguistic system that to this day is still a mystery.  Samples from this writing reveal to us the Phaistos disk, which was discovered in 1908 and was the oldest written document of the time.  The Minoans had built great palaces during this era of unprecedented artistic and architectural masterpieces.  For the first time in history, the Minoans incorporated science into their architecture.  The most well-known palaces included Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros, with the Palace of Knossos being the most impressive, grandiose and recognizable.  Sadly, a devastating and catastrophic earthquake (whose epicenter was nearby Santorini) in the 16th century B.C. caused the abrupt end of the Minoan people and their culture, and severely damaged many of the palaces.                     








This decline, however led to the emergence of another nearby civilization and people, called the Mycenaeans, who were inevitably and undoubtedly influenced by the Minoans.  Centered on Mycenae and its advanced system of fortifications, following the example of their predecessors, the culture evolved however not only in technology, science and architecture, but also in poetry that can be considered the forerunner to the Homeric epics.  One other important example of cultural advancement of the Mycenaeans is the emergence of Linear B, which is an extension of the Minoans’ Linear A and adds to the development of a common language.  The flourishing of the Mycenaeans civilization came to an end around 1200 B.C. due to internal strife, external influences and other contributing factors.  Despite its collapse, Mycenaes left an important and proud legacy for its descendants, whereas even today the local Greeks admire the great achievements and contributions made by the ancient Mycenaeans.                  


The decline of the Mycenaeans civilization in Greece during the prehistoric period, concludes an important introductory chapter in Greek history.  These three individual subcivilizations (Cycladic, Minoans, Mycenaeans) mark the beginning of a further development of the pan-Hellenic and Greek people and culture. 



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