Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Agriculture was the foundation of the Ancient Greek economy. Nearly 80% of the population was involved in this activity.[1] Agricultural Products Farm During the early time of Greek history, as shown in the Odyssey, Greek agriculture – and diet – was based on cereals (sitos, though usually translated as wheat, could in fact designate any type of cereal grain). Even if the ancients were[…]

The Celtic Invasion of Ancient Greece

While in the Balkans, Celtic tribes managed to conquer several Greek, Illyrian, and Thracian armies, carving out territories in short order. By Jeffrey KingHistorian Introduction Between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, Celtic tribes moved en masse into southern Europe, intent on seizing land and wealth to feed their swelling numbers. As these tribes began[…]

Ancient Greek Temples of Sicily

Greek temples are one of the earliest well-defined expressions of what we now recognize as the Western tradition in architecture. Introduction There are at least a thousand reasons to visit Sicily, the great island – indeed the largest in the Mediterranean – that forms the triangular football to the boot that is the Italian peninsula. They are all[…]

Santorini Volcano: Scientists Learn More about the Bronze Age Monster

Geophysicists use sound waves to build a picture of the magma and rock beneath this active volcano, most of which is underwater. It’s like CT scanning the Earth. Introduction The island of Santorini in the Mediterranean has attracted people for millennia. Today, it feels magical to watch the sun set from cliffs over the deep[…]

Exploring Western Crete’s Ancient Minoan Archaeological Treasures

Remainders of Crete’s extraordinary past are scattered all over the island. Introduction As the cradle of European Civilization and a meeting place of diverse cultures, Crete is a magical island that stands apart in the heart of the Mediterranean sea. Its prominent place in world history dates back to the mysterious and fascinating Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans, who were building lavish labyrinth-like[…]

The Battle of Issus: Alexander’s Rematch with Darius

Darius took personal command of his army for this encounter and led them to a resounding defeat. Introduction The Battle of Issus (also Issos) occurred in southern Anatolia, on November 5, 333 BC between the Hellenic League led by Alexander the Great and the Achaemenid Empire, led by Darius III, in the second great battle[…]

Battle of the Granicus: Alexander the Great’s Opening Move on Persia

It was here, against all odds, that Alexander defeated the forces of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor. Introduction The Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire. Fought in northwestern Asia Minor, near the site of Troy,[…]

The Ancient Macedonian Conquest of Persia

The conquest of Persia was not preordained and those living within its vast empire could never foresee its fall. Introduction In the year 356 BC, the Persian Empire still stood strong and seemed as if it would last another hundred years. However, on the 20th of July a sign was sent that brought the men of[…]

Was the Real Socrates More Worldly and Amorous than We Knew?

The typically idealized picture of Socrates is not the whole story, and it gives us no indication of the genesis of his ideas. Socrates is widely considered to be the founding figure of Western philosophy – a thinker whose ideas, transmitted by the extensive writings of his devoted follower Plato, have shaped thinking for more[…]

The Ancient Samaritans and Greek Culture

In a gradual process of Hellenization, the Samaritans developed their own variant of Hellenism. When Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East, including ancient Palestine, in 332 BCE, that conquest brought about profound changes in the entire region. From then onwards, all countries in that area (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Palestine) underwent a[…]

Ennea Hodoi: The ‘Nine Ways’ of Ancient Amphipolis

Exploring the settlement of the Thracian tribe of the Edones. Human occupation of the area of Amphipolis dates back to prehistoric times. In the sixth century BCE, it was a settlement of the Thracian tribe of the Edones, favorably situated on a hilltop (“hill 133”) on the east bank of the river Strymon. Ennea Hodoi[…]

Alexander the Great’s Defeat of Darius at the Battle of the Granicus River, 334 BCE

The attack had been six years in the making, and still, the Persians were not fully prepared. War between the Persians and Macedonians had become inevitable when Persia had supported the Perinthians’ resistance against Macedonian aggression in 340. When the Macedonian king Philip II had secured his rear in the battle of Chaeronea (338), he wanted to launch a campaign east of[…]

The Extremism of King Creon in the Greek Tragedy ‘Antigone’

Political and moral views are framed in terms of a fight between patriot and traitor, law and conscience, and chaos and order. In a Greek tragedy written in the middle of the fifth century B.C., three teenagers struggle with a question that could be asked now: What happens when a ruler declares that those who[…]

The Bacchanalia: A Greek Dionysian Mystery Cult in Ancient Rome

The Bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. Introduction The Bacchanalia seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian peninsula. They were almost certainly associated with Rome’s native cult of Liber, and probably arrived in Rome itself around 200 BC. However, like[…]

Mystery Cults in the Greek and Roman World

Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. Shrouded in secrecy, ancient mystery cults fascinate and capture the imagination. A pendant to the official cults of the Greeks and Romans, mystery cults served more personal, individualistic attitudes toward death and the afterlife. Most were based on sacred stories (hieroi logoi) that often[…]

The Science and Biology of Aristotle

Aristotle studied developing organisms, among other things, in ancient Greece, and his writings shaped Western philosophy and natural science for greater than two thousand years. By Dorothy Regan Haskett, Valerie Racine, and Joanna Yang Aristotle spent much of his life in Greece and studied with Plato at Plato’s Academy in Athens, where he later established[…]

French Identity and Immigration to Constantinople and Greece in the 13th Century

After capturing Constantinople in 1204, the Fourth Crusaders established several states in former Byzantine territory. Starting from the captured imperial center, westerners moved into Thrace, Greece, the Aegean islands, and even Asia Minor. These campaigns of conquest had varied success, with the greatest and longest lasting in southern Greece.[1][2] The Fourth Crusaders had struck out[…]

The Delian League: Revenge and Hellenic Liberation

The alliance’s name derives from the island of Delos, where the League originally housed its treasury. By Christopher PlaneauxLecturer in Classical StudiesIndiana University Origins Down to the Battle of Eurymedon Introduction The modern term Delian League refers to the primarily maritime συμμᾰχία or symmachy (offensive-defensive alliance) among various Greek poleis, which emerged after the second Mede invasion of the[…]

The Peloponnesian League and Spartan Dominance

The League gave Sparta protection from uprisings within its own borders and eventually secured its dominance in the region. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Peloponnesian League (c. 550 BCE – c. 366 BCE) was a loose confederation of Greek city-states led by Sparta. The League was the oldest and longest-lasting political association in the ancient[…]

The Spartan Krypteia: A Form of Ancient Guerrilla Warfare

The nature of the krypteia very much reflects the roots of its name. By Brandon D. Ross Introduction The night was still, the moon hanging with translucent beauty in the blackness of the sky. Wraiths emerged stealthily from the shadows, swooping down upon the unsuspecting peasants on the beaten path. The moonlight glistened on the[…]

Thucydides on Brasidas: The Most Athenian of Spartans

Thucydides placed Brasidas’s Homeric ending in a singularly admirable light. By Nathan A. JenningsNATO Planner, Afghanistan In his seminal work, The Peloponnesian War, the ancient historian Thucydides employs numerous characters from the storied conflict as devices to reveal competing aspects of human nature. Among the varied personalities exposed by the tensions of war, the Spartan commander[…]

New Clues about Mysterious Ancient Greek Sculptures of Mourning Women

Scientific analysis of four rare sculptures of mourning women furthers understanding of South Italian funerary art. Introduction For the first time, four terracotta statues of mourning women that have long been in storage have gone on display, and are on view at the Getty Villa through April 1. Bringing these figures—made in the town of[…]

Revenge for Athens: Alexander the Great and the Burning of Persepolis

After looting its treasures, Alexander burned the great palace and surrounding city to the ground, as Xerxes had done to Athens. In the year 330 BCE Alexander the Great conquered the Persian capital city of Persepolis, and after looting its treasures, burned the great palace and surrounding city to the ground. Persepolis had been known in antiquity as Parsa (`The City of[…]

The Achaean League: The Best Effort at a NATO in Ancient Greece

The League represents the most successful attempt by the Greek city states to develop a collective government and security apparatus. Introduction The Achaean League (Greek: Κοινὸν τῶν Ἀχαιῶν, Koinon ton Akhaion ‘League of Achaeans’) was a Hellenistic-era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese. The league was named after the region of Achaea in the[…]

The Delian League: A Tool of Athenian Imperial Ambition

Athens’s heavy-handed control of the Delian League ultimately prompted the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. Introduction The Delian League, founded in 478 BC,[1] was an association of Greek city-states, with the number of members numbering between 150 and 330[2][3][4]under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the[…]

Draco’s Law Code in Ancient Athens

The laws aided and legitimized the political power of the aristocracy and allowed them to consolidate their control of the land and poor. By Antonios Loizides Introduction Draco was an aristocrat who in 7th century BCE Athens was handed the task of composing a new body of laws. We have no particular clues concerning his[…]

Mystery Cults in the Graeco-Roman World

Mystery religions formed one of three types of Hellenistic religion. Introduction Mystery religions, sacred mysteries or simply mysterieswere religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiates(mystai).[1] The main characterization of this religion is the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the ritual practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. The most famous mysteries[…]

The Lyceum: Aristotle and Beyond

The Lyceum had been used for philosophical debate long before Aristotle and stood long after. Introduction The Lyceum (Ancient Greek: Λύκειον, Lykeion) or Lycaeum was a temple dedicated to Apollo Lyceus (“Apollo the wolf-god”[1]). It was best known for the Peripatetic school of philosophy founded there by Aristotle in 334 / 335 BCE. Aristotle fled Athens in 323 BCE, but the school[…]

Plato and Liberal Education

Plato conceived education as an art of perfecting human beings. By Br. Francis Maluf What Is Education? Plato conceived education as an art of perfecting man. According to this view, education is possible because man is a perfectible being. Nobody ever talks about perfecting God, because God is not perfectible, but perfect; nor do we[…]