Why was trade important to ancient Greece

Ancient Greece

Athens Castle in Ancient Greece, the Acropolis. After excavations and rebuilding, it looks like this today.

Ancient Greece existed in ancient times. People who spoke Greek lived in many countries around the Mediterranean at that time. They left us with a lot of knowledge and works of art. Even after these lands were conquered by the Roman Empire, Greek remained an important language.

Greece got its German name from the Romans: They thought of a certain landscape in Greece called "Graecia". The Greeks called themselves "Hellenes". They did not have a single state, but lived in many cities and kingdoms.

Greek thinkers laid the foundations of today's science in Europe. The first great story in Europe comes from the Greek poet Homer: The "Iliad" about the war for the city of Troy. In art, too, people are still interested in what the ancient Greeks created.

Who were the first Greeks?

Two fighters with shields and spears. This Greek vase was painted around 500 years before Christ.

There were high cultures in southern Europe very early on, especially the Minoan culture on the island of Crete and the Mycenaean culture in Greece. These people spoke early Greek. It is about 3000 years ago.

The Mycenaean culture takes its name from the city of Mycenae. People already lived there in the Stone Age. Mycenae became a wealthy city that also had settlements in the area. But around 1200 BC, other peoples destroyed much of it. The Romans only knew Mycenae as ruins.

What is the history of ancient Greece?

Real Ancient Greece did not begin until around 800 BC. It was then that the “Archaic Time” began. The first great Greek writers, such as Homer and Herodotus, came from this period. At that time, Greeks sailed across the Mediterranean and founded settlements. It is because of these colonies that one speaks of the Great Colonization. Since then there have been Greeks not only in Greece, but also in what is now Turkey and on almost all coasts and on the large islands of the Mediterranean.

The classical period lasted roughly from 500 to 330 BC. The most important city in Greece was Athens, another important city was Sparta. Greek cities and other areas allied to defend themselves against the Persians. In this classical period the economy flourished, but also art, culture and science.

After the classical period came Hellenism. A king from northern Greece, Alexander the Great, conquered large parts of the then known world: his army came as far as India. Since then, Greek has been an important language in many of these areas, especially for trade and science.

When did ancient Greece end?

Jesus Christ as ruler over everything. This picture is a mosaic and dates from the Middle Ages. You can see it in Hagia Sophia, which was an Orthodox church at the time. The Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian had it built.

About 200 years before Christ, the Roman Empire managed to conquer the Greek cities and empires. Even so, many Romans continued to learn Greek: there was much important to read in this language. When traveling in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, it was good to know Greek, just as one spoke Latin in the western part.

The Roman Empire was divided several times, finally around AD 400. The western part soon went under. The eastern part, on the other hand, remained a Roman Empire and was called that, even though Greek was spoken there. For a long time the capital was called Byzantium, which is why this part is called the Byzantine Empire. This empire was Christian, it is already counted in the Middle Ages and no longer in Ancient Greece.

This empire existed until 1453, when the Ottomans conquered the capital Byzantium and soon the entire Byzantine Empire.

What do you remember from that time?

This photo comes from the Pergammon Museum in Berlin. An old altar has been set up here, as it might have looked. Remains of an altar were found in the former Greek city of Pergamon. There Greeks had prayed to their gods about 200 years before Christ.

The area we know today as Greece was long occupied by the Turks. Their language has changed over the centuries: today's Greeks speak modern Greek. You have to go to great lengths to understand ancient Greek. Ancient Greek is still taught in schools around the world, though not as often as Latin.

This church in Paris dates from 1845 and is called La Madeleine. It is reminiscent of a Greek temple.

Ancient Greece was the land of philosophy. A philosopher is someone “who loves wisdom”. The most important were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The Greek philosophers were widely read also in the Middle Ages and afterwards.

They were the forerunners of today's European scientists. Politics, mathematics, historiography, physics: almost everything has its roots in ancient Greece. This also applies to the script: Our Latin letters originally come from the Greek alphabet. Archimedes and Euclid were great mathematicians from ancient Greece. Her findings and writings are a basis of mathematics to this day.

The ancient Greeks also remained known for art and culture, for example for their statues. Even the ancient Romans admired it very much. In Europe it was only towards the end of the Middle Ages that statues were able to look so lifelike again.

The time around 1500, when antiquity and especially ancient Greece were rediscovered, is called the Renaissance. Even after that, the Greeks were imitated again and again. In the 19th century, museums, universities and other buildings that look very Greek were built in Europe and elsewhere.

  • On the island of Crete: A Minoan temple has been partially rebuilt.

  • A vase from the Hellenistic period

  • The Antikythera Mechanism: This device was used to calculate the movement of the sun, moon and planets.


There is also an article on "Old Greece" for beginners on MiniKlexikon.de and further search results from Blinde Kuh and Ask Finn.

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