Map of Ancient Athens

Map of Ancient Athens

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  • Anon. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie. Leipzig, 1901

Athens History

According to Greek mythology, the first city of Athens was Phoenician and Cecrops was the king who founded it. The city of Athens was officially created the day the Gods decided to have a contest: the growing city would be named after the deity who would offer to mortals the most useful gift. The deity would, therefore, become the patron god of the newly named city. The contest took place between the god of the sea Poseidon and the goddess of wisdom Athena. Poseidon offered a horse, which symbolized strength, while Athena offered an olive tree, for peace and prosperity. The town was finally named after Athena.


Rise to power (508–448 BC) Edit

Hippias, son of Peisistratus, had ruled Athens jointly with his brother, Hipparchus, from the death of Peisistratus in about 527. Following the assassination of Hipparchus in about 514, Hippias took on sole rule, and in response to the loss of his brother, became a worse leader who was increasingly disliked. Hippias exiled 700 of the Athenian noble families, amongst them Cleisthenes' family, the Alchmaeonids. Upon their exile, they went to Delphi, and Herodotus [6] says they bribed the Pythia always to tell visiting Spartans that they should invade Attica and overthrow Hippias. That supposedly worked after a number of times, and Cleomenes led a Spartan force to overthrow Hippias, which succeeded, and instated an oligarchy. Cleisthenes disliked the Spartan rule, along with many other Athenians, and so made his own bid for power. The result was democracy in Athens, but considering Cleisthenes' motivation for using the people to gain power, as without their support, he would have been defeated, and so Athenian democracy may be tainted by the fact its creation served greatly the man who created it. The reforms of Cleisthenes replaced the traditional four Ionic "tribes" (phyle) with ten new ones, named after legendary heroes of Greece and having no class basis, which acted as electorates. Each tribe was in turn divided into three trittyes (one from the coast one from the city and one from the inland divisions), while each trittys had one or more demes, depending on their population, which became the basis of local government. The tribes each selected fifty members by lot for the Boule, the council that governed Athens on a day-to-day basis. The public opinion of voters could be influenced by the political satires written by the comic poets and performed in the city theaters. [7] The Assembly or Ecclesia was open to all full citizens and was both a legislature and a supreme court, except in murder cases and religious matters, which became the only remaining functions of the Areopagus. Most offices were filled by lot, although the ten strategoi (generals) were elected.

The silver mines of Laurion contributed significantly to the development of Athens in the 5th century BC, when the Athenians learned to prospect, treat, and refine the ore and used the proceeds to build a massive fleet, at the instigation of Themistocles. [8]

In 499 BC, Athens sent troops to aid the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, who were rebelling against the Persian Empire (see Ionian Revolt). That provoked two Persian invasions of Greece, both of which were repelled under the leadership of the soldier-statesmen Miltiades and Themistocles (see Persian Wars). In 490 the Athenians, led by Miltiades, prevented the first invasion of the Persians, guided by king Darius I, at the Battle of Marathon. In 480 the Persians returned under a new ruler, Xerxes I. The Hellenic League led by the Spartan King Leonidas led 7,000 men to hold the narrow passageway of Thermopylae against the 100,000–250,000 army of Xerxes, during which Leonidas and 300 other Spartan elites were killed. Simultaneously the Athenians led an indecisive naval battle off Artemisium. However, that delaying action was not enough to discourage the Persian advance, which soon marched through Boeotia, setting up Thebes as their base of operations, and entered southern Greece. That forced the Athenians to evacuate Athens, which was taken by the Persians, and seek the protection of their fleet. Subsequently, the Athenians and their allies, led by Themistocles, defeated the Persian navy at sea in the Battle of Salamis. Xerxes had built himself a throne on the coast in order to see the Greeks defeated. Instead, the Persians were routed. Sparta's hegemony was passing to Athens, and it was Athens that took the war to Asia Minor. The victories enabled it to bring most of the Aegean and many other parts of Greece together in the Delian League, an Athenian-dominated alliance.

Athenian hegemony (448–430 BC) Edit

Pericles – an Athenian general, politician and orator – distinguished himself above the other personalities of the era, men who excelled in politics, philosophy, architecture, sculpture, history and literature. He fostered arts and literature and gave to Athens a splendor which would never return throughout its history. He executed a large number of public works projects and improved the life of the citizens. Hence, he gave his name to the Athenian Golden Age. Silver mined in Laurium in southeastern Attica contributed greatly to the prosperity of this "Golden" Age of Athens.

During the time of the ascendancy of Ephialtes as leader of the democratic faction, Pericles was his deputy. When Ephialtes was assassinated by personal enemies, Pericles stepped in and was elected general, or strategos, in 445 BC a post he held continuously until his death in 429 BC, always by election of the Athenian Assembly. The Parthenon, a lavishly decorated temple to the goddess Athena, was constructed under the administration of Pericles. [9]

Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) Edit

Resentment by other cities at the hegemony of Athens led to the Peloponnesian War in 431, which pitted Athens and her increasingly rebellious sea empire against a coalition of land-based states led by Sparta. The conflict marked the end of Athenian command of the sea. The war between Athens and the city-state Sparta ended with an Athenian defeat after Sparta started its own navy.

Athenian democracy was briefly overthrown by the coup of 411, brought about because of its poor handling of the war, but it was quickly restored. The war ended with the complete defeat of Athens in 404. Since the defeat was largely blamed on democratic politicians such as Cleon and Cleophon, there was a brief reaction against democracy, aided by the Spartan army (the rule of the Thirty Tyrants). In 403, democracy was restored by Thrasybulus and an amnesty declared.

Corinthian War and the Second Athenian League (395–355 BC) Edit

Sparta's former allies soon turned against her due to her imperialist policies, and Athens's former enemies, Thebes and Corinth, became her allies. Argos, Thebes and Corinth, allied with Athens, fought against Sparta in the decisive Corinthian War of 395–387 BC. Opposition to Sparta enabled Athens to establish a Second Athenian League. Finally Thebes defeated Sparta in 371 in the Battle of Leuctra. However, other Greek cities, including Athens, turned against Thebes, and its dominance was brought to an end at the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC) with the death of its leader, the military genius Epaminondas.

Athens under Macedon (355–322 BC) Edit

By mid century, however, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was becoming dominant in Athenian affairs. In 338 BC the armies of Philip II defeated Athens at the Battle of Chaeronea, effectively limiting Athenian independence. During the winter of 338–37 BC Macedonia, Athens and other Greek states became part of the League of Corinth. Further, the conquests of his son, Alexander the Great, widened Greek horizons and made the traditional Greek city state obsolete. Antipater dissolved the Athenian government and established a plutocratic system in 322 BC (see Lamian War and Demetrius Phalereus). Athens remained a wealthy city with a brilliant cultural life, but ceased to be an independent power.

Overview Edit

Athens was in Attica, about 30 stadia from the sea, on the southwest slope of Mount Lycabettus, between the small rivers Cephissus to the west, Ilissos to the south, and the Eridanos to the north, the latter of which flowed through the town. The walled city measured about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) in diameter, although at its peak the city had suburbs extending well beyond these walls. The Acropolis was just south of the centre of this walled area. The city was burnt by Xerxes in 480 BC, but was soon rebuilt under the administration of Themistocles, and was adorned with public buildings by Cimon and especially by Pericles, in whose time (461–429 BC) it reached its greatest splendour. Its beauty was chiefly due to its public buildings, for the private houses were mostly insignificant, and its streets badly laid out. Towards the end of the Peloponnesian War, it contained more than 10,000 houses, [10] which at a rate of 12 inhabitants to a house would give a population of 120,000, though some writers make the inhabitants as many as 180,000. Athens consisted of two distinct parts:

  • The City, properly so called, divided into The Upper City or Acropolis, and The Lower City, surrounded with walls by Themistocles.
  • The port city of Piraeus, also surrounded with walls by Themistocles and connected to the city with the Long Walls, built under Conon and Pericles.

City walls Edit

The city was surrounded by defensive walls from the Bronze Age and they were rebuilt and extended over the centuries.

In addition the Long Walls consisted of two parallel walls leading to Piraeus, 40 stadia long (4.5 miles, 7 km), running parallel to each other, with a narrow passage between them and, furthermore, a wall to Phalerum on the east, 35 stadia long (4 miles, 6.5 km). There were therefore three long walls in all but the name Long Walls seems to have been confined to the two leading to the Piraeus, while the one leading to Phalerum was called the Phalerian Wall. The entire circuit of the walls was 174.5 stadia (nearly 22 miles, 35 km), of which 43 stadia (5.5 miles, 9 km) belonged to the city, 75 stadia (9.5 miles, 15 km) to the long walls, and 56.5 stadia (7 miles, 11 km) to Piraeus, Munichia, and Phalerum.

Acropolis (upper city) Edit

The Acropolis, also called Cecropia from its reputed founder, Cecrops, was a steep rock in the middle of the city, about 50 meters high, 350 meters long, and 150 meters wide its sides were naturally scarped on all sides except the west end. It was originally surrounded by an ancient Cyclopean wall said to have been built by the Pelasgians. At the time of the Peloponnesian war only the north part of this wall remained, and this portion was still called the Pelasgic Wall while the south part which had been rebuilt by Cimon, was called the Cimonian Wall. On the west end of the Acropolis, where access is alone practicable, were the magnificent Propylaea, "the Entrances," built by Pericles, before the right wing of which was the small Temple of Athena Nike. The summit of the Acropolis was covered with temples, statues of bronze and marble, and various other works of art. Of the temples, the grandest was the Parthenon, sacred to the "Virgin" goddess Athena and north of the Parthenon was the magnificent Erechtheion, containing three separate temples, one to Athena Polias, or the "Protectress of the State," the Erechtheion proper, or sanctuary of Erechtheus, and the Pandroseion, or sanctuary of Pandrosos, the daughter of Cecrops. Between the Parthenon and Erechtheion was the colossal Statue of Athena Promachos, or the "Fighter in the Front," whose helmet and spear was the first object on the Acropolis visible from the sea.

Agora (lower city) Edit

The lower city was built in the plain around the Acropolis, but this plain also contained several hills, especially in the southwest part. On the west side the walls embraced the Hill of the Nymphs and the Pnyx, and to the southeast they ran along beside the Ilissos.

Gates Edit

There were many gates, among the more important there were:

  • On the West side: Dipylon, the most frequented gate of the city, leading from the inner Kerameikos to the outer Kerameikos, and to the Academy. The Sacred Gate, where the sacred road to Eleusis began. The Knight's Gate, probably between the Hill of the Nymphs and the Pnyx. The Piraean Gate, between the Pnyx and the Mouseion, leading to the carriage road between the Long Walls to the Piraeus. The Melitian Gate, so called because it led to the deme Melite, within the city.
  • On the South side: The Gate of the Dead in the neighbourhood of the Mouseion. The Itonian Gate, near the Ilissos, where the road to Phalerum began.
  • On the East side: The Gate of Diochares, leading to the Lyceum. The Diomean Gate, leading to Cynosarges and the deme Diomea.
  • On the North side: The Acharnian Gate, leading to the deme Acharnai.

Districts Edit

  • The Inner Kerameikos, or "Potter's Quarter," in the west of the city, extending north as far as the Dipylon gate, by which it was separated from the outer Kerameikos the Kerameikos contained the Agora, or "market-place," the only one in the city, lying northwest of the Acropolis, and north of the Areopagus.
  • The demeMelite, in the west of the city, south of the inner Kerameikos.
  • The deme Skambonidai, in the northern part of the city, east of the inner Kerameikos.
  • The Kollytos, in the southern part of the city, south and southwest of the Acropolis. , a district in the southwest of the city.
  • Limnai, a district east of Melite and Kollytos, between the Acropolis and the Ilissos. , a district in the east of the city, near the gate of the same name and the Cynosarges.
  • Agrai, a district south of Diomea.

Hills Edit

  • The Areopagus, the "Hill of Ares," west of the Acropolis, which gave its name to the celebrated council that held its sittings there, was accessible on the south side by a flight of steps cut out of the rock.
  • The Hill of the Nymphs, northwest of the Areopagus.
  • The Pnyx, a semicircular hill, southwest of the Areopagus, where the ekklesia (assemblies) of the people were held in earlier times, for afterwards the people usually met in the Theatre of Dionysus.
  • The Mouseion, "the Hill of the Muses," south of the Pnyx and the Areopagus.

Streets Edit

Among the more important streets, there were:

  • The Piraean Street, which led from the Piraean gate to the Agora.
  • The Panathenaic Way, which led from the Dipylon gate to the Acropolis via the Agora, along which a solemn procession was made during the Panathenaic Festival.
  • The Street of the Tripods, on the east side of the Acropolis.

Public buildings Edit

  • Temples. Of these the most important was the Olympieion, or Temple of Olympian Zeus, southeast of the Acropolis, near the Ilissos and the fountain Callirrhoë, which was long unfinished, and was first completed by Hadrian. The Temple of Hephaestus, located to the west of the Agora. The Temple of Ares, to the north of the Agora. Metroon, or temple of the mother of the gods, on the west side of the Agora. Besides these, there was a vast number of other temples in all parts of the city.
  • The Bouleuterion (Senate House), at the west side of the Agora.
  • The Tholos, a round building close to the Bouleuterion, built c. 470 BC by Cimon, which served as the Prytaneion, in which the Prytaneis took their meals and offered their sacrifices.
  • Stoae, or Colonnades, supported by pillars, and used as places of resort in the heat of the day, of which there were several in Athens. In the Agora there were: the Stoa Basileios, the court of the King-Archon, on the west side of the Agora the Stoa Eleutherios, or Colonnade of Zeus Eleutherios, on the west side of the Agora the Stoa Poikile, so called because it was adorned with fresco painting of the Battle of Marathon by Polygnotus, on the north side of the Agora.
  • Theatres. The Theatre of Dionysus, on the southeast slope of the Acropolis, was the great theatre of the state. Besides this there were Odeons, for contests in vocal and instrumental music, an ancient one near the fountain Callirrhoë, and a second built by Pericles, close to the theatre of Dionysius, on the southeast slope of the Acropolis. The large odeon surviving today, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was built in Roman times. , south of the Ilissos, in the district Agrai, where the athletic portion of the Panathenaic Games were held.
  • The Argyrocopeum (mint) appears to have been in or adjoining the chapel (heroon) of a hero named Stephanephorus.

Suburbs Edit

  • The Outer Kerameikos, northwest of the city, was the finest suburb of Athens here were buried the Athenians who had fallen in war, and at the further end of it was the Academy, 6 stadia from the city.
  • Cynosarges, east of the city, across the Ilissos, reached from the Diomea gate, a gymnasium sacred to Heracles, where the CynicAntisthenes taught.
  • Lyceum, east of the city, a gymnasium sacred to Apollo Lyceus, where Aristotle taught.

The period from the end of the Persian Wars to the Macedonian conquest marked the zenith of Athens as a center of literature, philosophy (see Greek philosophy) and the arts (see Greek theatre). Some of the most important figures of Western cultural and intellectual history lived in Athens during this period: the dramatists Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides and Sophocles, the philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, the historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon, the poet Simonides and the sculptor Phidias. The leading statesman of this period was Pericles, who used the tribute paid by the members of the Delian League to build the Parthenon and other great monuments of classical Athens. The city became, in Pericles's words, an education for Hellas (usually quoted as "the school of Hellas [Greece].") [11]


Bronze Age “Saint-Bélec slab” Edit

The Saint-Bélec slab discovered in 1900 by Paul du Châtellier, in Finistère, France, is dated to between 1900 BCE and 1640 BCE. A recent analysis, published in the Bulletin of the French Prehistoric Society, has shown that the slab is a three-dimensional representation of the River Odet valley in Finistère, France. This would make the Saint-Bélec slab the oldest known map of a territory in the world. According to the authors, the map probably wasn’t used for navigation, but rather to show the political power and territorial extent of a local ruler’s domain of the early Bronze age. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Babylonian Imago Mundi (ca. 6th c. BCE) Edit

A Babylonian world map, known as the Imago Mundi, is commonly dated to the 6th century BCE. [5] The map as reconstructed by Eckhard Unger shows Babylon on the Euphrates, surrounded by a circular landmass including Assyria, Urartu (Armenia) [6] and several cities, in turn surrounded by a "bitter river" (Oceanus), with eight outlying regions (nagu) arranged around it in the shape of triangles, so as to form a star. The accompanying text mentions a distance of seven beru between the outlying regions. The descriptions of five of them have survived: [7]

  • the third region is where "the winged bird ends not his flight," i.e., cannot reach.
  • on the fourth region "the light is brighter than that of sunset or stars": it lay in the northwest, and after sunset in summer was practically in semi-obscurity.
  • The fifth region, due north, lay in complete darkness, a land "where one sees nothing," and "the sun is not visible."
  • the sixth region, "where a horned bull dwells and attacks the newcomer"
  • the seventh region lay in the east and is "where the morning dawns."

Anaximander (c. 610 – 546 BCE) Edit

Anaximander (died c. 546 BCE) is credited with having created one of the first maps of the world, [8] which was circular in form and showed the known lands of the world grouped around the Aegean Sea at the center. This was all surrounded by the ocean.

Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 550–476 BCE) Edit

Hecataeus of Miletus (died c. 476 BCE) is credited with a work entitled Periodos Ges ("Travels round the Earth" or "World Survey'), in two books each organized in the manner of a periplus, a point-to-point coastal survey. One on Europe, is essentially a periplus of the Mediterranean, describing each region in turn, reaching as far north as Scythia. The other book, on Asia, is arranged similarly to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea of which a version of the 1st century CE survives. Hecataeus described the countries and inhabitants of the known world, the account of Egypt being particularly comprehensive the descriptive matter was accompanied by a map, based upon Anaximander's map of the Earth, which he corrected and enlarged. The work only survives in some 374 fragments, by far the majority being quoted in the geographical lexicon the Ethnica, compiled by Stephanus of Byzantium.

Eratosthenes (276–194 BCE) Edit

Eratosthenes (276–194 BCE) drew an improved world map, incorporating information from the campaigns of Alexander the Great and his successors. Asia became wider, reflecting the new understanding of the actual size of the continent. Eratosthenes was also the first geographer to incorporate parallels and meridians within his cartographic depictions, attesting to his understanding of the spherical nature of the Earth.

Posidonius (c. 150–130 BCE) Edit

Posidonius (or Poseidonius) of Apameia (c. 135–51 BCE), was a Greek Stoic philosopher [10] who traveled throughout the Roman world and beyond and was a celebrated polymath throughout the Greco-Roman world, like Aristotle and Eratosthenes. His work "about the ocean and the adjacent areas" was a general geographical discussion, showing how all the forces had an effect on each other and applied also to human life. He measured the Earth's circumference by reference to the position of the star Canopus. His measure of 240,000 stadia translates to 24,000 miles (39,000 km), close to the actual circumference of 24,901 miles (40,074 km). [11] He was informed in his approach by Eratosthenes, who a century earlier used the elevation of the Sun at different latitudes. Both men's figures for the Earth's circumference were uncannily accurate, aided in each case by mutually compensating errors in measurement. However, the version of Posidonius' calculation popularised by Strabo was revised by correcting the distance between Rhodes and Alexandria to 3,750 stadia, resulting in a circumference of 180,000 stadia, or 18,000 miles (29,000 km). [12] Ptolemy discussed and favored this revised figure of Posidonius over Eratosthenes in his Geographia, and during the Middle Ages scholars divided into two camps regarding the circumference of the Earth, one side identifying with Eratosthenes' calculation and the other with Posidonius' 180,000 stadion measure.

Strabo (c. 64 BCE – 24 CE) Edit

Strabo is mostly famous for his 17-volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places from different regions of the world known to his era. [13] The Geographica first appeared in Western Europe in Rome as a Latin translation issued around 1469. Although Strabo referenced the antique Greek astronomers Eratosthenes and Hipparchus and acknowledged their astronomical and mathematical efforts towards geography, he claimed that a descriptive approach was more practical. Geographica provides a valuable source of information on the ancient world, especially when this information is corroborated by other sources. Within the books of Geographica is a map of Europe. Whole world maps according to Strabo are reconstructions from his written text.

Pomponius Mela (c. 43 CE) Edit

Pomponius is unique among ancient geographers in that, after dividing the Earth into five zones, of which two only were habitable, he asserts the existence of antichthones, people inhabiting the southern temperate zone inaccessible to the folk of the northern temperate regions due to the unbearable heat of the intervening torrid belt. On the divisions and boundaries of Europe, Asia and Africa, he repeats Eratosthenes like all classical geographers from Alexander the Great (except Ptolemy) he regards the Caspian Sea as an inlet of the Northern Ocean, corresponding to the Persian (Persian Gulf) and Arabian (Red Sea) gulfs on the south.

Marinus of Tyre (c. 120 CE) Edit

Marinus of Tyre's world maps were the first in the Roman Empire to show China. Around 120 CE, Marinus wrote that the habitable world was bounded on the west by the Fortunate Islands. The text of his geographical treatise however is lost. He also invented the equirectangular projection, which is still used in map creation today. A few of Marinus' opinions are reported by Ptolemy. Marinus was of the opinion that the Okeanos was separated into an eastern and a western part by the continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). He thought that the inhabited world stretched in latitude from Thule (Shetland) to Agisymba (Tropic of Capricorn) and in longitude from the Isles of the Blessed to Shera (China). Marinus also coined the term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle. His chief legacy is that he first assigned to each place a proper latitude and longitude he used a "Meridian of the Isles of the Blessed (Canary Islands or Cape Verde Islands)" as the zero meridian.

Ptolemy (c. 150) Edit

Surviving texts of Ptolemy's Geography, first composed c. 150 , note that he continued the use of Marinus's equirectangular projection for its regional maps while finding it inappropriate for maps of the entire known world. Instead, in Book VII of his work, he outlines three separate projections of increasing difficulty and fidelity. Ptolemy followed Marinus in underestimating the circumference of the world combined with accurate absolute distances, this led him to also overestimate the length of the Mediterranean Sea in terms of degrees. His prime meridian at the Fortunate Isles was therefore around 10 actual degrees further west of Alexandria than intended, a mistake that was corrected by Al-Khwārizmī following the translation of Syriac editions of Ptolemy into Arabic in the 9th century. The oldest surviving manuscripts of the work date to Maximus Planudes's restoration of the text a little before 1300 at Chora Monastery in Constantinople (Istanbul) surviving manuscripts from this era seem to preserve separate recensions of the text which diverged as early as the 2nd or 4th century. A passage in some of the recensions credits an Agathodaemon with drafting a world map, but no maps seem to have survived to be used by Planude's monks. Instead, he commissioned new world maps calculated from Ptolemy's thousands of coordinates and drafted according to the text's 1st [14] and 2nd projections, [15] along with the equirectangular regional maps. A copy was translated into Latin by Jacobus Angelus at Florence around 1406 and soon supplemented with maps on the 1st projection. Maps using the 2nd projection were not made in Western Europe until Nicolaus Germanus's 1466 edition. [16] Ptolemy's 3rd (and hardest) projection does not seem to have been used at all before new discoveries expanded the known world beyond the point where it provided a useful format. [16]

Cicero's Dream of Scipio described the Earth as a globe of insignificant size in comparison to the remainder of the cosmos. Many medieval manuscripts of Macrobius' Commentary on the Dream of Scipio include maps of the Earth, including the antipodes, zonal maps showing the Ptolemaic climates derived from the concept of a spherical Earth and a diagram showing the Earth (labeled as globus terrae, the sphere of the Earth) at the center of the hierarchically ordered planetary spheres. [17] [18]

Tabula Peutingeriana (4th century) Edit

The Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table) is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. It is a 13th-century copy of an original map dating from the 4th century, covering Europe, parts of Asia (India) and North Africa. The map is named after Konrad Peutinger, a German 15th-16th-century humanist and antiquarian. The map was discovered in a library in Worms by Conrad Celtes, who was unable to publish his find before his death, and bequeathed the map in 1508 to Peutinger. It is conserved at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Hofburg, Vienna.

History of Athens - Ancient Greece History

Here you will have the opportunity to take a quick glance at all the important historical events which took place from the past till recently in Athens. This historical overview will transfer us to the Neolithic Era, when, according to the archaeological findings, the first efforts for the organization of Athens city were attempted. Pelasgoi were the first habitants and in 1400 BC they started fortifying the rock of the Acropolis with walls, till Copper Age and 800 BC when the final unification of Attica in one united state took place. At that time we see Panathenaea, the big feast of Athens taking place in honor of Goddess Athena who was worshipped by many people. She was admired at such an extent that Athens, the capital of Greece to its name after her.

The last king of Athens was Kodros, in 1068 BC and then there was the appearance of the four tribes to which the people of Athens were separated during the 8th and 7th century. In 636 BC Kylon, unsuccessfully, tried to take over the control through tyranny.

In 624 BC the legislative practices of Drakontas took place and in 594 BC Solon was chosen to govern by both quarreling groups of the rich and poor. Then history moved on with the tyranny of Peisistratos in the middle of the sixth century, the murder of Ipparchos in 514 BC and the important reformations of Kleisthenis in 508 BC which set the basis for the Athenian Democracy to emerge.

The anger of the king of Persia after Athens sent help to the revolutionary cities of Ionia in 500 BC and the bravery of the Athenians during the battles of Marathon in 490 BC and Artemisio in 180 BC, the magisterial character of Athens in 478 BC and the victory of Evrydamantas which lead to the liberation of the Greek cities from the Persian domination are a few more of the important events which took place in the past.

The Golden Age of the Athenian Democracy is taking place during the fifth century BC after Pericles became the leader of the democratic party (490-429 BC) and the end of the first Peloponnesian war. Then the monuments of the Acropolis were built, in a period of time when Socrates, the Sophists and other great men culminated the day of the city.

Because of the second Peloponnesian war (431-421 BC and 416-404 BC) the development of the arts, literature and other sciences was stopped and later on the degrading loss of the Athenians in Sicily by the Lakedaimones took place along with the blooming of the Macedonian dynasty, the Roman domination during which the temple of Olympian Zeus was completed under the reign of Hadrian (117-138 BC). The aqueduct saved until today and a library were built at the same period.

An important point in history is 53 AC when Apostle Paul taught Christianity in Areios Pagos, the high Court in front of Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. A bad era in the history of Athens is 396 AC when Athens has fallen in the hands of Goth invaders.

Ioustinianos becoming an emperor in 482-565 played a very important role in the prevention of the ancient Greek world. From the era of emperor Herakleitos (574-640) a long period of obscurity and rapacious invasions started for Athens. In 1204 the crusaders entered inside the fort of the Acropolis. The domination of the Franks was maintained in the city until 1308.

Following the course of Constantinople, Athens was occupied in 1456 by the Turks.

In the beginning of the 19th century, in 1800, Lord Elgin settled in Constantinople as an ambassador of England and violently took parts of the decorations of the temples found on the rock of the Acropolis.

In 1834 Athens became the capital of Greece and after a year the first municipal elections took place, making Anargyros Petrakis the first mayor. In 1843 secret discussions taking place in the house of a great Greek man named Makrygiannis, are a fact referring to the revolution of the people and the guard of Athens having as a result the concession of the constitution. In 1862 kingship of king Othonas is abolished and after one year he is replaced by George the first.

In 1882 and for 15 years Charilaos Trikoupis is the leading figure. In 1896 we have the revival of the Olympic Games and during 1899-1908 many important works were made by Spyros Merkouris who was the mayor at the time.

The newer history has to present us the elements of the actions followed by the greatest political personality of the 20th century, Eleftherios Venizelos, whose work and achievements towards national completion and internal welfare of the country are more than visible.

Around 1928 an English company took over the production of electric energy in the capital and the telephones were operating automatically replacing the telephone centers. In 1928 the first political airport was created in the area of Faliro (Delta Falirou) and the airport of Elliniko was founded in 1934.

Ioannis Metaxas imposed a dictatorship in 1936, a bit later the second world war started, then the agreement of Varkiza took place, the dictatorship of the 21st of April 1967, the student rebellion in 1973 and the change-over period till the 6th of September 1997 when the International Olympic Games Committee gave Athens the organization of the Olympic Games 2004.

Map of Ancient Athens - History

Ancient Greece was a fascinating time and place. Visit it again or for the first time with these links, your gateway to the ancient past.

An Introduction to Ancient Greece
Get the basics on the people and places of ancient Greece. Learn about the birth of democracy, the great advances in math and science, the terrible wars, and the rise of Alexander the Great.

Famous Athenians

Athens: Shining Light, Dark Warning
Trace the development of the most famous Greek city-state, with a focus on government, the arts, and (of course) warfare.

Athens and Sparta: Similar Yet Different
The ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta were similar in several important ways and different in several important ways. This illustrated article explores both.

Lycurgus and Solon: Lawgivers of Ancient Greece
The people of ancient Athens and Sparta revered Solon and Lycurgus as the men who gave them the laws they based their societies on. These men are shrouded in mystery, as is the time when they gave those laws. Find out more about these famous men and how what they said transcended their own time and place.

Ancient Argos
The Greek city-state of Argos predates other more famous centers of power, dating back to before the Trojan War. Argos was also home to many myths.

Corinth: Ancient Greek Powerhouse of Trade and Culture
Corinth was one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient Greek world. Its prime location–on the Isthmus of Corinth, in the middle of the Greek lands, surrounded by fertile plains and natural springs, and boasting two seaports–made it a prime destination for traders. Corinth was also home to many myths.

Delphi: Center of Ancient Greek World
The city-state of Delphi was regarded as the center of Ancient Greece, in more ways than one. It is perhaps most famous as being the home of the mysterious Oracle

Ancient Olympia
Olympia was a city-state in Ancient Greece most famous for two things: the Olympic Games and a Statue of Zeus that was considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

Ancient Rhodes
The island city-state of Rhodes was an important cultural and economic center, one of the Greek world's oldest settlements, dating to the time of Crete's Minoan civilization. Rhodes was also home to fabled Colossus

Syracuse: Shining Light of Ancient Sicily
Syracuse enjoyed many highs and suffered many lows during its prominence as a Greek city-state. It was home to many myths

Thebes: Ancient Greek Power and Mythmaker
Thebes was one of the most powerful of the cities of Ancient Greece and was also the setting for many of that civilization's memorable myths.

The Peleponnesian War
This war was a long time coming. Check out the long chain of events that led to Greek fighting against Greek.

Ancient Greece Glossary
Meet the people, places, and things that made ancient Greece exciting!

Timeline of Ancient Greece
Follow the developments of ancient Greece as it grows from the very beginnings to a great population center and a center of arts, culture, and science. Includes links to definitions of many people, places, and things.

Maps of Ancient Greece
See the many parts of Ancient Greece! How far apart were Athens and Sparta? Where was Marathon? Find answers to these and other questions on these sites.

Persian Wars
The Persians tried several times to conquer Greece. Despite overwhelming advantages in troop numbers, the Persians went home losers every time.

The Ancient Greek Olympics
The Olympic Games in ancient Greece were a religious festival first and sporting events second. The Greeks also quit fighting for the entire Games period. And the events that they competed in were both similar and different to those today's Olympics offer.

The Panhellenic Games
The Olympic Games were the most famous sporting festival in Ancient Greece, but the Greeks did have others. Together, they were called the Panhellenic Games.

Crete in Ancient Times
Learn more about the island in particular, its history, its culture, its industry, and its myths.

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great changed the world in many ways. Read all about this fascinating larger-than-life figure from ancient history.

Greek Tragedy: The Invention of Drama
This exciting feature traces the beginnings of the drama as we now know it, from its earliest beginnings as satyr plays to the genius of the Big Three Greek tragedists--Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The article is in the form of a play script, complete with illustrations of the principals.

The Life and Death of Socrates
Learn more about the famous philosopher. Includes a link to famous quotes.

Plato: Father of Western Philosophy
Plato is one of the most well-known people in Western history. A philosopher and writer, he is thought by many people to be the father of Western philosophy. He founded a school called the Academy.

Aristotle: Giant of Western Philosophy
Aristotle was one of the most famous people ever to live. A student of Plato, the founder of Western philosophy, Aristotle is thought by many to have surpassed his tutor in fame and influence. He, too, founded a school, called the Lyceum.

Lots of Great Greece Links
Find everything you need in your study of Ancient Greece here, at this wonderful site from KidsKonnect.

Homer: Poet for the Ages
Homer is said to have written The Iliad and The Odyssey, stories of The Trojan War and ancient Greece. But nobody really knows that much about him. This site gives you insight into this shadowy figure.

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Ancient Greeks brought many gifts to the world, including democracy, theatre and of course philosophy. Although ancient philosophical thought may seem irrelevant at first glance, that is really not the case upon closer examination. Greek philosophers were quite advanced for their times, bringing along revolutionary philosophical contributions to politics, science and ethics.


In his work the “Republic” Plato introduces the idea of an ideal political system. Through this philosophical idea he urges people avoid darkness and ignorance, and step into reality and truth. His beliefs couldn’t be more relevant today, in a world saturated with polarization and bias. By accepting that people’s ideas of reality are inevitably filtered by subjectivity and ignorance, Plato encourages us to actively and continuosly seek the truth.

Ethics and critical thinking

Socrates was one of the first philosophers to develop and teach the notion of ethics. To this day, people continue to engage in the debate of the human condition (what is right and wrong, good and evil). As Socrates taught thousands of years ago, by actively listening and participating in intellectual discourse people can avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary arguments. Socrates encourages us to ask questions and think critically.

Aristotle believed that we live in a world made of facts, and in order to perceive knowledge, people need logical and methodical discourse. Logic and reasoning paved the way for modern sciences, including biology, psychology, and physics. Aristotle’s ideas conflict with Plato’s in that not everything in life is subjective and open to interpretation. Instead of finding your truth, he encourages people to find the truth.

A school of thought influenced by the philosophy of Socrates – known as Stoicism – emerged as a way to respond to daily endeavors in human lives with ultimate goal the search and discovery of inner peace and happiness in each individual.

Stoics encouraged people to try and overcome their difficulties, recognize their impulses, and understand what is within their control. Introspective thinking and being present in the moment are the two principles that stand the test of time according to the stoic philosophy.

Ancient Greek tribes

Hellenes were divided into tribes: the Ionians, the Aeolians and the Dorians while special mentioned were the Acheans. According to the myth, Hellen (the ancestor) had 3 sons: Aeolus, Xuthus, and Dorus. Xuthus had two sons, Achaeus and Ion.

Ionians lived in Attica, Euboea and the Cycladic islands in the eastern Aegean islands and in the classical Ionia on the western coast of Asia Minor. According to tradition, the oldest Ionian country was Attica where their roots had Ionians from Asia Minor and the island Ionians. During the Dorian invasion, Ionians in groups migrated to Asia Minor, and with them a small groups of other Greek tribes that were eventually merged with the Ionians. There are two groups of Ionians: Asian and Attica.

Asia Minor Ionians were influenced by more advanced Orient cultural and had been elevated before the other Greeks. They built Miletus, Ephesus, Phocaea, Clazomenae , Teos, Erythrai, Lebedos, Colophon, Priene, Myos.

Those ten cities with two islands form the old federation of Ionian cities (Dodecapolis). Ionians from Attica surpassed in the development tribes in Asia Minor.

Map of Ancient Greek dialects

Dorians were great and strong Hellenic tribe. Doric lands represented almost the whole Peloponnese, middle Greece except Boeotia and Attica, the Greek regions of Epirus, the islands of the Ionian Sea, the South Aegean Islands, Crete and southwestern part of Asia Minor. The Spartans were the most famous representatives of the Dorians. All the Dorians were persistent warriors, guardians of tradition, farmers, culturally underdeveloped than the Ionians.
Aeolianswere third-Hellenic tribe. Their native country was Thessaly, which was located under Mount Olympus. Apart from Thessaly, they occupied the Boeotia, northern Aegean islands and the north-western part of Asia Minor.

From Doric migration and the fall of Mycenae to the first Olympics has passed over about 400 years in which the Ionians, the Dorians and Aeolians have expressed their tribal personalities, developed their economic and social life, founded and partly developed their city-states in the Balkan, Asia Minor and on the islands.

4. Socrates (469 BC–399 BC)

Socrates embarked on a whole new perspective of achieving practical results through the application of philosophy in our daily lives, something that was largely missing in the approach of pre-Socratic philosophy. He openly moved away from the relentless physical speculations that previous philosophers had been so busy interpreting and assimilating and attempted to establish an ethical system based on human reasoning rather than various (and often widely debated) theological doctrines.

Instead of regurgitating ideas based solely on his individual interpretations, he would question people relentlessly on their beliefs, and try to find definitions of virtues by conversing with anyone proclaiming to possess such qualities. Socrates became a key figure and amassed numerous followers, but he also made many enemies. Eventually, his beliefs and realistic approach to philosophy led to his execution. But one might argue that his philosophical martyrdom, more than anything else, turned him into the iconic figure that he is today.

Kerameikos Ancient Cemetery of Athens Archaeology Site and Museum

Kerameikos was on the northwest fringe of the ancient city and and is now the outer edge of the areas visited by most travelers. But if you follow Ermou street down from the Monastiraki train station you will easily find it on your right and if you were as lucky as I was and go in the winter or off-season you may have the place to yourself. Kerameikos is named after Keramos, son of Dionysios and Ariadne, hero of potters. The area was used continuously for burials from the twelfth century BC for a thousand years.

When you visit Greece in the summer, the ground around the ancient stones has been baked by the sun and anything that was alive is as brown as the dirt. But in the winter when it rains everything is covered in grass and moss and it gives you a strange feeling like you are in Ireland, in some remains of an ancient Greek or Roman colony . And since the summer crowds are at home you can have places like Kerameikos to yourself.

Between the two gates is the Pompeion, where the preparations were made for the Panathenaic procession which was in honor of Athena. The building was completely destroyed in 88 BC and a 3 aisled building called the Building of the Warehouses was erected in it's place in the 2nd century AD. The church of Agia Triada is in the background. The Eridanos river which once passed through the Sacred gate still flows beneath the site. It was covered by the Romans. On the Street of Tombs you can see replicas of the gravestones of some of Athens most prominent citizens. The originals are in the National Museum . There is a small well organized museum to the left of the site entrance with some really nice pottery, and sculptures. If you can get there in the winter or before the tourist hordes arrive for the summer then go. But even if you come in the summer be sure to take the walk to Kerameikos and hang out for awhile. If you see my (ex)sister-in-law-to-be say hi from me.

Kerameikos is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 3pm. Also check out the new Benaki Museum and the Ceramics Museum all in the same neighborhood. Other places of interest nearby include the Jewish Synogogue and the Hammam (Turkish baths). Unlike the one in the Plaka this is a working Hammam so you can actually take a bath, though it may be the most expensive bath you have ever taken. If is is lunch or later you are within a couple blocks of my favorite restaurants in Psiri and there are a lot more in Gazi at the very bottom of Ermou Street. You can walk from Kerameikos to the Acropolis now and hardly see an automobile just by walking up the pedestrian Ermou and turning right before you reach where the cars are. Be sure to check out the small Byzantine church of Ag Assomaton before you do. It is right there at the intersection.

What are these things?
They are grave-markers, commonly used after a law was passed prohibiting the more elaborate monuments, (with statues, for example) which had previously been in vogue.

Marble Bull in the plot of Dionysious from Kolytos

Don't miss the museum! Lots of great pottery as you might expect from a place called Kerameikos.

See My 2015 Kerameikos Photos

See Corrinne Chandler's Video of Kerameikos

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