Cultures of the Mountains and the Sea

Geography shapes Greek life

Greek life: the Sea

Greek life: the Land

Greek life: climate

Mycenaean civilization

Mycenaean civilization, an ancient Aegean civilization known from the excavations at Mycenae and other sites. They were first undertaken by Heinrich Schliemann and others after 1876, and they helped to revise the early history of Greece. Divided into Early Helladic (c.2800–2000 B.C.), Middle Helladic (c.2000–1500 B.C.), and Late Helladic (c.1500–1100 B.C.) periods, the chronology roughly parallels that of the contemporary Minoan civilization. The Mycenaeans entered Greece from the north or northeast c.2000 B.C., displacing, seemingly without violence, the older Neolithic culture, which can be dated as early as 4000 B.C. These Indo-European Greek-speaking invaders brought with them advanced techniques in pottery, metallurgy, and architecture. Mercantile contact with Crete advanced and strongly influenced their culture, and by 1600 B.C., Mycenae had become a major center of the ancient world.

The exact relationship of Mycenaean Greece to Crete between 1600 and 1400 B.C. is extremely complex, with both areas evidently competing for maritime control of the Mediterranean. After the violent destruction of Knossos c.1400 B.C., Mycenae achieved supremacy, and much of the Minoan cultural tradition was transferred to the mainland. The Mycenaean commercial empire and consequent cultural influence lasted from 1400 to 1200 B.C., when the invasion of the Dorians ushered in a period of decline for Greece. Events from 1100 to 900 B.C. are extremely obscure, but by the 9th cent. B.C. the centers of wealth and population showed a decisive shift. Although the Mycenaeans had certain innovations of their own, they drew much of their cultural inspiration from the Minoans. The great Mycenaean cities—Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Thebes, Orchomenos—were noted for their heavy, complex fortifications and the massive, cyclopean quality of their masonry, while Minoan cities were totally unfortified. Mycenaean palaces were built around great halls called megara rather than around an open space as in Crete. Unlike the Cretans, the Mycenaeans were bearded and wore armor in battle.

Their written language, preserved on numerous clay tablets from Pylos, Mycenae, and Knossos, appears to be a form of archaic Greek linguistically related to ancient Cypriot. The presence of this script, known as Linear B, at Knossos c.1500 B.C. indicates that Mycenaean Greeks had invaded and dominated Crete during the Late Minoan period before the final collapse c.1400 B.C. The works of Homer have been radically reevaluated since the archaeological discoveries of Mycenaean Greece. He is now considered to give admirable glimpses of the culture of the late Mycenaean civilization of the 12th cent. B.C

Minoans Influence

Either by Trade or War, both Minoan and Mycenean cultures influenced each other. Basically, Minoans interfered or better influenced, in the writing system and spoken language. As well its crafts designs and building structures. Indeed, Western civilization is mostly influenced in the fusion of both this civilizations.
Here are a few of representatives of the mixtures' cultures:
"Toreador Fresco"
from the East Wing of the Court of the Stone Spout, Knossos
c. 1400 BCE
Fresco (restored)
(Archaeological Museum, Herakleion)


The Minoan Dolphin crater depicts what the Minoans best loved to show in their art: scenes from nature like animals, flowers, and sea life. The Minoans were clearly overjoyed at the abundance of natural beauty which surrounded them on their island.

Although the dolphins are stylized in color and marking, details such as the subtle color changes, the lines of the dorsal fin, the curved, flat nose, and the intelligence reflected in the eyes (the dolphins have defined pupils while other fish have just a black dot), show us that the Minoans were highly familiar with these animals.

The dolphins are swimming among a variety of small sea life and seaweed. Notice how the dorsal fin of the lower dolphin and the flippers of the top dolphin converge in the center of the fresco to draw the eye, and how the small fish placed randomly show carefully planned asymmetry that indicates artistic sophistication.

Dolphins have often been depicted in Greek and other Eastern Mediterranean art, on vases, coins and jewelry, and obviously occupied a special place in the animal world to these ancient people, as they still do today to the modern Greeks.


Undeciphered Minoan Script

Trojan war

The Trojan War took place during the 1200s and lasted ten years. It was begun by the Greeks of the Mycenean period against the city of Troy in Anatolia.

Its Origin According to Greek Mythology

According to Greek mythology in the wedding of Pelus and Thethisa, Eris (the goddess of discord), threw a golden apple. She said that the apple belonged to whoever was the fairest. Zeus declared that Paris, the prince of Troy, should decide who was the fairest between Athena, Hera and Aphrodite. Paris chose Aphrodite and in exchange she made Helen, who was said to be the most beautiful woman and was the wife of a Mycenean king, fall in love with him. Paris went to Greece kidnapped Helen and took her to Troy. As a result the Mycenean King led troops in to Troy, this was the beginning of the Trojan War. One of the most known details about this legend is the Trojan horse. By the end of the war Odysseus ordered to build a large wooden horse. The horse was hollow so that Greek warriors could go inside it. The horse was brought inside of Troy. When the Trojans were asleep, the Greek soldiers came out. They robbed and burned the city. This resulted in the war’s end.

Historical Evidence

The Archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the ruins of Troy and of the Mycenaean cities of Greece, supporting the possibility that the war took place. Historians believe that if the war actually occurred it was the result of the Mycenaean’s desire of taking the city’s wealth or of ending Troy’s commercial power.

Dorian Period

The Dorians are best known for their invasion of mainland Greece which, along with the civil war at the end of the Mycenaean, led to the Greek Dark Ages. The Dorian originated from north/northwestern Greece, Macedonia and Epirus. Fromthese points they began to invade toward the south, into the center of mainland Greece, then to the Peloponnesian and the southern Aegean islands. Once their invasions of central Greece ceased, their descent to southern Greece produced waves of invasions through the Peloponnesus, into Crete, and westward to Rhodes.

The Dorians themselves were in many regards primitive compared to the Bronze Age Mycenaean, and there are many hypotheses about their origins. The more mythical origins tells how the Dorians acquired their name from a small district in central Greece known as Doris. Accordingly, the Heraclidae, or three sons of Heracles, were driven from their home in Doris, by the mycenaean ruler Eurystheus. The Heraclidae took refuge with the king of Doris Aegimius. Later, the Heraclidae led a successful invasion of mainland Greece and reclaimed their heritage. The actual origins of the Dorians, unlike the myth, remain quite obscure due to a general lack of archeological evidence during the Greek Dark Ages. It is, however, known that the Dorians did have knowledge of the iron slashing sword.

As mainland Greece gradually began to reclaim its urban heritage three centuries later, the Dorians primarily began settling
in the south and eastern mainland of Greece. With the growth of classical Greece, they created strong centers in Laconia (with
its capital Sparta), Messenia, Argolis, and the Isthmus of Corinth. Dorian settlements also continued into the southern Aegean of Melos, Thera, Rhodes, Cos, and Crete. In addition, the Dorians influence in the Aegean reached Halicarnassus and Cnidus (Turkey). By the 8th century BC, Dorian influence had spread to many parts of the Aegean, including Italy, the Crimea along the Black Sea, Corinth, and Argos.


Homer's epics

Because of the lack of writing, Greeks at the time learned about their by stories passed on from generation to generation. The Greek tradition says the greatest storyteller was a blind men named Homer, people don’t know a lot about his personal life, but they know he did his epics or poems about heroic things.

Greeks myths

Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks concerning their Gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece. Modern scholars refer to the myths and study them in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece, on the Ancient Greek civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

Greek mythology is completely explicitly in a large collection of narratives and implicitly in representational arts, such as vase-paintings and votive gifts. Greek myth explains the origins of the world and details the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, and other mythological creatures. These accounts initially were announced in an oral-poetic tradition; today the Greek myths are known primarily from Greek literature.

Greece is located in Europe, next to Italy, on the Mediterranean Sea. All of Greece has pretty much the same weather, it hardly changes. Snow can fall anywhere in Greece, but it is very rare, especially for the islands. Greece's climate is called Mediterranean or subtropical. The summers are long, hot, and dry and it usually stays that way with no rain fall for three to four months. Winters are short, and mildly wet, it is also the wettest during this season. Spring and autumn are the shortest seasons because it either rains or it's hot. If it does happen to rain in the summer, it rains in the morning and is hot and dry in the afternoon, just enough time to go to the beach.

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