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Ancient Greece

The Greeks were probably the most influencial civilization to the Western world.  Greek ideas and vocabulary have been adapted into language and science from the times of Rome to the modern day.  The Greek language is one of the oldest still spoken in the world.  Even the college fraternities make an attempt to imitate the values of the ancient Greek city-states that dotted the landscape of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas over 2000 years ago.

According to a Greek Legend, at the begining of time the gods created the world by separating the seas.  They scooped the mud from the ocean and gathered it into a large pile.  Then, the gods threw the mud accross the sea.  Where the mud landed became continents, islands and land.  After all the mud had been distributed, the gods took the rocks and dropped them into a pile.  This pile became Greece.

Geography has played a leading role in the development of Greece and its culture.  Early in their history it was discovered that the best way to travel was by sea.  The mountains of Greece make overland travel and communication difficult.  The Greeks became a dis-united people.  This lack of unity makes Greek history interesting, but lead to multiple problems during wartime.  The Greeks only organized into leagues when it became absolutely necessary.  These lasted no longer than was needed in most instances.  The Delian League was an exception, but actually lead to more war between Sparta and Athens over the misappropriation of tribute and tax funds.

The Lack of Topsoil and flat plains has always posed challenges to Greek farmers.  It took hard labor to reap a living from the soil.  In response, Greek leaders finally encouraged the creation of pottery and other products that would be traded for food.  This allowed the  Greeks to become a very competitive merchant fleet.  These ships travelled the Mediterranean spreading thier culture along with their fine vases and amphoras.  Finally, the Greek farmers concentrated on the cultivation of olives, grapes, and livestock as a replacement industry for the traditional wheat of the past.

The Absence of Flat Plains also protected the Greeks from invasion during the Greekand Persian Wars.  The Persian army was strengthened by a large cavalry force.  These forces were useless on mountain hillsides.  The lack of unity was balanced, in some regards, by the lack of flat land.  This odd mixture of geographical features created a culture that would change the world for ever.  With the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greece was set to become the inspiration for many of the greatest civilizations yet to come.

Click below to explore more of ancient Greece:
The Minoan Civilization
Greek Warfare
Greek Economy
Greek Religion and Mythology
Teacher's Corner

Check out these Greek Sites:
Greek Vocabulary Sheet

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