The first major civilization in the
Mediterranean area was the Minoan Civilization. It was named after King Minos and began
about 2500 B. C. The Mineoans were skilled architects and built beautiful palaces. They
were masters at jewelry and pottery making. They developed a system of writing.
Archaeologists believe the Minoans landed in Greece and colonized parts of it. The Greeks
imitated the Minoan style of architecture and pottery.
|"Mask of Agamemnon" (c1500 BC) found in shaft tomb
at Mycenae. repoussť gold. National Museum, Athens
courtesy and © 1994 Kathryn
Greek Art and Architecture
|Around 1600 B. C. the Mineoans became
weak and the Greeks, who were called Mycenaens after their largest city Mycenae, became
stronger. Finally the Mycenaens landed in Crete and destroyed Knossos. The Mycenaens took
control of the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Their greatest centers were at Mycenae,
Tiryns, and Pylos.
From the ruins at
Mycenae, archaeologist learned that the Greeks traded with the Egyptians during this
period. Some scholars believe that the Iliad and the Odyssey are stories
written about the warriors during the Mycenaean Age.
From 1100 to 800 B. C. Ancient Greece
went through a dark ages. This started when a number of tribes from the north invaded the
area. At this time the Greeks lost touch with the surrounding countries. Simplified
versions of the old Mycenaean and Minoan pottery were produced. Metal craftsmanship was
In about 800 B. C. the people of Greece
began to emerge as a world power. The people developed a more advanced written language.
Trade and travel among the countries lining the Mediterranean Sea started again. Pottery
and metalworking became works of skilled craftsmen. The city-states of Athens and Sparta
became powerful rivals. The population in Greece dramatically increased. Many Greeks moved
to the new lands to the east and west to find more land. Written language re-emerged.
Coins were invented by the East Greeks or Lydians. The Doric and Ionic architectural types
of architecture were established with the building of the Greek temple.
Map of Greek and Phoenician
Colonization about 550 B.C.
Image Courtesy of Classroom
In 600 B. C. the people of Athen began
many building projects. Attica dominated the pottery market. Corinth became a wealthy
Democracy began in Athens after the
tyrant Peisistratid fell from power. At this time the large statues of nude males called
kouroi and draped females called korai were being produced for sanctuaries and as markers
for graves. Huge marble temples were being constructed.
In 490 B. C. the Greeks teamed together
to fight the Persians. The finally defeated them in 473 B. C, The next period was called
the "Golden Age of Greece". It is during this time that great works of art,
architecture, and drama were developed.
|Poseidon from Artemision
Athens, National Archaeological Museum
|Charioteer from Delphi
|Photo courtesy and ©
1994 Kathryn Andrus-Walck, Greek Art and Architecture
In 431 B. C. Sparta
attacked Athens. This was the beginning of the Peloponnisian War. This war lasted for 27
years. In 338 B. C. Philip of Macedonia defeated the Greek city states and united Greece
under his rule. His son, Alexander the Great, invaded Persia and increased the Greek
Empire all the way from Egypt to India. Greece remained a world power until 150 B. C. when
it was conquered by Rome.