Origin or beginning of the Civilization (part 1)
Greek civilization began during the period between 3000 to 1200 BC (Sansone, 1). This period is known as the Bronze Age. According to Sansone (10), the Greek civilization emerged after the Minoan civilization during the Mycenaean Age and extended up to the period after the Dark Age. As a matter of fact, many historians consider the Mycenaean Age the earliest period of Greek civilization. The Mycenaean civilization is so called since their capital was built at Mycenae. The founder of Mycenaean civilization was King Perseus. The origin of the people who established the Mycenaean civilization is not well known though some historians suggest that they came from the Minoan civilization.
The early Greek civilizations established various cities. For instance Mycenaean civilization established a capitals city at Mycenae. Other later Ancient Greece civilizations were made of several city States. These states were called Polis were protected by stone walls. There was a market place called Agora in the middle of each city.
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Geography (topography, location, and climate) (part 2)
The ancient Greek civilization occupied the present day mainland Greece. The area was characterized by many mountain ranges and several small valleys. Besides, its coastlines exhibited numerous indented small harbors.
The area occupied by this civilization exhibited Mediterranean climate. This type of climate is characterized by heavy rainfall during few winter months and dry summers. This condition highly favored agriculture.
Religion, rituals, and customs (part 3)
Few evidences showing religious practices of the early Greek civilization, particularly the Mycenaean civilization, are available. For instance, few shrines or temples that signify religious practices have been found in the land believed to have been occupied by this civilization. However, it can be assumed that various religious rituals were carried out elsewhere.
Some historians point out that Mycenaean civilization borrowed many religious practices from the Minoan civilization. For instance, the goddess of fertility, that was popular in the Minoan civilization, was embraced in the Mycenaean civilization. This goddess was depicted by a carving of a nude female. The depiction of this female deity was accompanied by other symbols such as shield and animals. The shield signified that the deity was a war goddess. On the other hand, the animals such as birds, which the deity was usually depicted while holding, was meant to show that she was responsible for the birth and death of animals. A goddess responsible for the birth and death of animals is referred to as potnia.
Another popular deity during this civilization was Poseidon. This deity was believed to be responsible for earthquakes. Some writings of the Mycenaean civilization also reveal that the civilization believed in other gods. These include Zeus Hera, Ares, Artemis, Erinya, Dionysus, Hermes, and Athena.
Ancient Greek civilization observed various rituals. For instance, initiation rituals were heavily practiced in this civilization. With this regard, there were several gods of initiation: Artemis, Dionysos, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Hera (Dodd & Christopher, 131). Due to the presence of deities for initiation, both male and females were likely to undergo various transition stages in life.
Based on evidence of iconographic representation, ancient Greeks, particularly during the period of Mycenaean civilization, most likely used to celebrate vegetation and fertility regularly at specific times as guided by a calendar. In some iconographic representations, a goddess is usually placed at the center while surrounded by faithful. The faithful are mostly depicted in praying positions.
Ritual acts mostly involved processions, giving sacrifices and offerings, offering prayers, and ritual dances. These religious rituals were performed at specific places. Such places include under sacred trees, rocky landscape, and before an altar. Some of the writings contained on tablets retrieved from the remains of the early Greek civilization suggest that offerings given to the deities were mostly agricultural produce. These mainly include olive oil, cereals, and wool. In addition, precious items and manufactured products were given as sacrifices.
Type of government, rulers (part 4)
Mycenaean civilization was ruled by a monarch King. The king was granted privileges such as determining the rates of taxes, making laws, and defining international conditions. The king was also regarded as a religious leader. Wanax is the tittle that was used to refer to the king. Kings owned the largest piece of land in the society. The monarch system of the Mycenaean civilization stayed until the end of the civilization.
After the king, the next most powerful person was the lawangetus. His main responsibility was to lead the army in wars. One of the most famous kings of the Mycenaean civilization is Agamemnon. Agamemnon is famously known for leading Greek to fight the Trojan War. Trojan War broke out after the wife of brother to Agamemnon, Helen, was abducted by a Trojan prince. Menelaus, husband to Helen and brother to Agamemnon, sought for help from his brother following the abduction. Before the abduction of Helen, the Trojan prince, Paris, had been called to choose the most beautiful goddess of the three goddesses: Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena. Paris chose Aphrodite and he had to be rewarded with Helen as had been promised by Aphrodite.
Other kings who ruled in the Mycenaean civilization are Perseus, Eurystheus, Atreus, Aegisthes, and Orestes. Perseus is the founder of Mycenaean kingdom. Eurystheus was the last descendant of Perseus. He is known for ordering labors form Heracles. He died while still ruling hence the Mycenae people elected Atreus to be the new king. Atreus is remembered for killing two sons of his brother, Thyestes. He did this in retaliation for his brother’s earlier act of seducing his wife. Aegisthes seized throne when Agamemnon was away fighting the Trojan War. He first married Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife. Orestes took power later after killing his mother and Aegisthes, her lover, in retaliation for the murder of his father, Agamemnon. He later married Menelaus’s daughter, Hermione. Consequently, Mycenae and Sparta kingdoms united. The kingdom cycle ended after descendants of Heracles overthrew King Orestes.
Daily life to include food, clothing, and the arts (part 5)
Foods commonly consumed in the ancient Greek society varied from one social status to another. For instance, poor people drank mainly water and honey. They also consumed bread as a staple food. Fish, vegetables, pulses, hen’s eggs, onions, garlic, and olives were also plentifully available for ordinary and poor people. The rich had wider access to more variety of food than the poor. For instance, hare’s meat was affordable for the rich but a luxury to the poor.
A garment called peplos was commonly worn by women. It was a woolen rectangular-shaped cloth folded and pinned together. It also had holes from which heads and arms popped. Other garments worn by women were chiton and himations. In addition, jewelries such as necklaces were widely worn by women. Besides, women never used to cut their hair except during mourning. Men on the other hand wore woolen cloths tied at the waist. In addition, they wore himation. Most clothes worn by ordinary people were made of wool. However, the rich could afford cloths made of silk and cotton.
Mycenaean civilization was rich in arts. The people excelled in sculpture, pottery, Painting, music, and drama. With regard to drama, all artists used to be males who would wear masks when acting. Some of the great dramatists in the civilization were Aeschylus who lived from 525 to 456 BC. Another great dramatist was Euripides who lived from 480 to 406 BC.
With regard to music, people in this civilization played a wind instrument called clarinet. Other instruments played were lyre, timpanon, Cymbals, and auloi. Auloi consisted of two pipes played together.
With regard to pottery, pitchers, chalices, jars, and kraters were some of the things made. Painting was also commonly done to communicate themes of the society for instance, their economic activities such as hunting, fishing, and farming.
Sports were important practices of the people of the ancient Greek civilization. As a matter of fact, Olympic Games were first conducted in 776 BC to honor Zeus. Zeus was the chief god. Some of the popular sports during the civilization were wrestling, boxing, running, chariot racing, and horse racing. These athletic competitions were held in every city in the Greek land. In addition, the sporting events coincided with religious ceremonies. Women were not allowed to take part in sports then. In addition, they were not allowed to watch the games.
Contributions to Modern Times (part 6)
The ancient Greek civilization made significant contributions to the modern world. In terms of governance, the Greek were the first to practice democratic system of government. This has been adopted by various civilizations and is currently being witnessed in various nations in the world. As a matter of fact, democracy comes from two Greek words: Demos and Kratos. Demos mean people whereas Kratos means rule (Kuhtz, Cleo, &Hazel Martell, 78) . In terms of architecture, the Greek invented the earliest theorems of geometry and these have been widely adopted by various civilizations in the modern world. In addition, Olympic Games that are conducted and observed globally were first conducted by the ancient societies of Greek. Contribution of Greek in philosophy is also very significant. Aristotle and Socrates are some of the earliest philosophers the world has ever witnessed. Their contributions in philosophy are seen even in the modern world.
Dodd, David B, and Christopher A. Faraone. Initiation in Ancient Greek Rituals and Narratives: New Critical Perspectives. London: Routledge, 2003. Print.
Kuhtz, Cleo, and Hazel Martell. Ancient Greek Civilization. New York: Rosen Central, 2010. Print.
Sansone, David. Ancient Greek Civilization. Oxford: Blackwell Pub, 2004. Print.