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A look at Ancient Civilizations of the Mycenaeans and Phoenicians. A visit to the heart of the first great civilizations between the Euphrates and the Agean Sea takes us to the pre-Hellenic cities of Mycenae, Tiryns, and the legendary Babylonian city of Troy where archeological findings have confirmed existence of the world of heroes that Homer depicted in his epic poems. We will even visit the site of the classic battle between Hector and Achilles.
Part 2 starts at 23:15 Phoenecians, the ancient inhabitants of modern-day Lebanon, were known to be expert sailors. Through the eyes of one these seaworthy Phoenecians, we will visit the ancient ports of Byblos, Rhodes, Tharros, Motya, and the famous Roman naval base at Carthage.
Ancient Civilizations offers a comparative analysis of the field, including both old world and new civilizations, and explores the connections between all civilizations around the earth.The volume provides a jargon-free introduction to ancient civilizations from the first civilizations, and the great powers in the Near East, to the first Aegean civilizations, the Mediterranean world in the first millennium, Imperial Rome, northeast Africa, divine kings in southeast Asia, and empires in East Asia, as well as early states in the Americas and Andean civilization.For those interested in ancient civilizations.
Today’s civilizations owe an immense debt to the powerful empires and mighty cities of antiquity. Their inventions, techniques and concepts enabled the advancement of humankind and lay the foundation for life in the modern world.
Explore Ancient History, including videos, pictures, and articles on cultures such as Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and more.
If you want to discover the captivating history of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, then keep reading.
Five captivating manuscripts in one book:
Carthage: A Captivating Guide to the Carthaginian Empire and Its Conflicts with the Ancient Greek City-States and the Roman Republic in the Sicilian Wars and Punic WarsMinoans: A Captivating Guide to an Essential Bronze Age Society in Ancient Greece Called the Minoan CivilizationThe Phoenicians: A Captivating Guide to the History of Phoenicia and the Impact Made by One of the Greatest Trading Civilizations of the Ancient WorldThe Mycenaeans: A Captivating Guide to the First Advanced Civilization in Ancient GreeceThe Etruscans: A Captivating Guide to the Etruscan Civilization of Ancient Italy That Preceded the Roman Republic
The first part of the book is about Carthage and here are some of the topics covered:
A New City in the WestBecoming a Mediterranean PowerFighting for Control over SicilyFrom Allies to EnemiesSuccumbing to the WoundsThe Carthaginian Society and GovernmentArmy of the Carthaginian RepublicThe Punic CivilizationAnd much, much more!
The second part of the book is about the Minoans and here are some of the topics included:
Where and When Did the Minoans Live?Known History of the Minoans before the MycenaeansSociety, Culture, and Daily LifeTrade and Shipbuilding on the Mediterranean SeaLanguage and Linear AThe Potential Predecessors of Greek ReligionArtArchitectureTheories about the Collapse of CivilizationAnd much, much more!
The third part of the book is about the Phoenicians and here are some of the topics covered:
OriginsThe World of the PhoeniciansPolitical and Legal StructuresDaily LifeBeauty and ApparelAn Unwritten Early HistoryVassal to the EmpiresTrade and the EconomyLanguage and AlphabetReligionWarfareArtistry in Multiple MediumsAnd much, much more!
The fourth part of the book is about the Mycenaeans and here are some of the topics included:
Political and Military OrganizationCulture and Daily LifeEconomy and TradeThe Shaft Grave Era, c. 1600 - 1450 BCEThe Koine Era, c. 1450 - 1250 BCEThe Collapse, c. 1250 - 1100 BCEThe Caroline War (1369-1389)The Precursors of Greek ReligionArt and ArchitectureAnd much, much more!
The fifth part of the book is about the Etruscans and here are some of the topics included:
Politics, Government, and Social StructureHow an Individual LivedThe Origin of the EtruscansThe Etruscan Orientation, c. 600-400 BCEThe Roman Conquest, c. 400-20 BCEMythology and ReligionArt and MusicThe Etruscan Language and WritingArchitectureSurviving Text and LiteratureAnd much, much more!
So if you want to learn more about ancient Mediterranean civilizations, scroll up and click the "add to cart" button!
- The Mycenaean civilization started to collapse from 1200 BC. Archaeology suggests that around 1100 BC, the palace centres and outlying settlements of the Mycenaeans' highly organized culture began to be abandoned or destroyed, and by 1050 BC, the recognizable features of Mycenaean culture had disappeared, and the population had decreased significantly.  Many explanations attribute the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the Bronze Age collapse to climatic or environmental catastrophe, combined with an invasion by Dorians or by the Sea Peoples, but no single explanation fits the available archaeological evidence.  The idea of systems collapse has gained popularity among some academics. 
- The Mycenaean Civilization was focused on large palatial complexes that were the centers of religion, politics and economics. The disruption of a Mycenaean palace could result to a general disruption of many Mycenaean palaces. In addition, a division among leading figures could have destroyed the Mycenaean order. Lack of attention to religious details or internal warfare could disrupt the vital international trade market and especially the copper trade from Anatolia. Robert Drews in 1993 noted the lack of skeletal remains at numerous sites, this suggests that the destruction was anticipated and the locals abandoned them. 
Around this time large-scale revolts took place in several parts of the eastern Mediterranean and attempts to overthrow existing kingdoms were made as a result of economic and political instability by surrounding people, who were already plagued with famine and hardship. Part of the Hittite kingdom was invaded and conquered by the so-called Sea Peoples, whose origins, perhaps from different parts of the Mediterranean such as the Black Sea, the Aegean and Anatolian regions, remain obscure. The 13th- and 12th-century inscriptions and carvings at Karnak and Luxor are the only sources for "Sea Peoples", a term invented by the Egyptians themselves and recorded in boastful accounts of Egyptian military successes.  For these so-called Sea Peoples, there is little more evidence than these inscriptions.
The foreign countries . made a conspiracy in their islands. All at once the lands were on the move, scattered in war. No country could stand before their arms . Their league was Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen and Weshesh. 
A similar assemblage of peoples may have attempted to invade Egypt twice, once during the reign of Merneptah, about 1208 BC, and again during the reign of Ramesses III, about 1178 BC.
With the collapse of the palatial centres, no more monumental stone buildings were built and the practice of wall painting may have ceased writing in the Linear B script ceased, vital trade links were lost, and towns and villages were abandoned. Writing in the Linear B script ceased particularly because the redistributive economy had crashed, and there was no longer a need to keep records about commerce.  The population of Greece was reduced,  and the world of organized state armies, kings, officials, and redistributive systems disappeared. Most of the information about the period comes from burial sites and the grave goods contained within them.
The fragmented, localized, and autonomous cultures lacked cultural and aesthetic cohesion and are noted for their diversity of material cultures in pottery styles (e.g. conservative in Athens, eclectic in Knossos), burial practices, and settlement structures. The Protogeometric style of pottery was stylistically simpler than earlier designs, characterized by lines and curves. Generalizations about the "Dark Age Society" are considered simplifications, because the range of cultures throughout Greece at the time cannot be grouped into a single "Dark Age Society" category.  Tholos tombs are found in early Iron Age Thessaly and in Crete but not in general elsewhere, and cremation was the dominant rite in Attica but nearby in the Argolid, it was inhumation.  Some former sites of Mycenaean palaces, such as Argos or Knossos, continued to be occupied the fact that other sites experienced an expansive "boom time" of a generation or two before they were abandoned has been associated by James Whitley with the "big-man social organization", which is based on personal charisma and is inherently unstable: he interprets Lefkandi in this light. 
Some regions in Greece, such as Attica, Euboea and central Crete, recovered economically from these events faster than others, but life for common Greeks would have remained relatively unchanged as it had done for centuries. There was still farming, weaving, metalworking and pottery but at a lower level of output and for local use in local styles. Some technical innovations were introduced around 1050 BC with the start of the Protogeometric style (1050–900 BC), such as the superior pottery technology that included a faster potter's wheel for superior vase shapes and the use of a compass to draw perfect circles and semicircles for decoration. Better glazes were achieved by higher temperature firing of clay. However, the overall trend was toward simpler, less intricate pieces and fewer resources being devoted to the creation of beautiful art.
The smelting of iron was learned from Cyprus and the Levant and was exploited and improved upon by using local deposits of iron ore previously ignored by the Mycenaeans: edged weapons were now within reach of less elite warriors. Though the universal use of iron was one shared feature among Dark Age settlements,  it is still uncertain when the forged iron weapons and armour achieved superior strength to those that had been previously cast and hammered from bronze. From 1050, many small local iron industries appeared, and by 900, almost all weapons in grave goods were made of iron.
The distribution of the Ionic Greek dialect in historic times indicates early movement from the mainland of Greece to the Anatolian coast to such sites as Miletus, Ephesus, and Colophon, perhaps as early as 1000, but the contemporaneous evidence is scant. In Cyprus, some archaeological sites begin to show identifiably Greek ceramics,  a colony of Euboean Greeks was established at Al Mina on the Syrian coast, and a reviving Aegean Greek network of exchange can be detected from 10th-century Attic Protogeometric pottery found in Crete and at Samos, off the coast of Asia Minor. 
Cyprus was inhabited by a mix of "Pelasgians" and Phoenicians, joined during this period by the first Greek settlements. Potters in Cyprus initiated the most elegant new pottery style of the 10th and 9th centuries, the "Cypro-Phoenician" "black on red" style  of small flasks and jugs that held precious contents, probably scented oil. Together with distinctively Greek Euboean ceramic wares, it was widely exported and is found in Levantine sites, including Tyre and far inland in the late 11th and 10th centuries. Cypriot metalwork was exchanged in Crete.
It is likely that Greece during this period was divided into independent regions organized by kinship groups and the oikoi or households, the origins of the later poleis. Excavations of Dark Age communities such as Nichoria in the Peloponnese have shown how a Bronze Age town was abandoned in 1150 BC but then reemerged as a small village cluster by 1075 BC. At this time there were only around forty families living there with plenty of good farming land and grazing for cattle. The remains of a 10th century building, including a megaron, on the top of the ridge have led to speculation that this was the chieftain's house. This was a larger structure than those surrounding it but it was still made from the same materials (mud brick and thatched roof). It was perhaps also a place of religious significance and of communal storage of food. High status individuals did in fact exist in the Dark Age, but their standard of living was not significantly higher than others of their village.  Most Greeks did not live in isolated farmsteads but in small settlements. It is likely that, as at the dawn of the historical period two or three hundred years later, the main economic resource for each family was the ancestral plot of land of the oikos, the kleros or allotment without this a man could not marry. 
Lefkandi on the island of Euboea was a prosperous settlement in the Late Bronze Age,  possibly to be identified with old Eretria.  It recovered quickly from the collapse of Mycenaean culture, and in 1981 excavators of a burial ground found the largest 10th-century building yet known from Greece.  Sometimes called "the heroon", this long narrow building, 50 metres by 10 metres, or about 150 feet by 30 feet, contained two burial shafts. In one were placed four horses and the other contained a cremated male buried with his iron weapons and an inhumed woman, heavily adorned with gold jewellery.  The man's bones were placed in a bronze jar from Cyprus, with hunting scenes on the cast rim. The woman was clad with gold coils in her hair, rings, gold breast plates, an heirloom necklace (an elaborate Cypriot or Near Eastern necklace made some 200 to 300 years before her burial) and an ivory-handled dagger at her head. The horses appeared to have been sacrificed, some appearing to have iron bits in their mouths. No evidence survives to show whether the building was erected to house the burial, or whether the "hero" or local chieftain in the grave was cremated and then buried in his grand house whichever is true, the house was soon demolished and the debris used to form a roughly circular mound over the wall stumps.
Between this period and approximately 820 BC, rich members of the community were cremated and buried close to the eastern end of the building, in much the same way Christians might seek to be buried close to a saint's grave the presence of imported objects, notable throughout more than eighty further burials, contrast with other nearby cemeteries at Lefkandi and attest to a lasting elite tradition.
The archaeological record of many sites demonstrates that the economic recovery of Greece was well underway by the beginning of the 8th century BC. Cemeteries, such as the Kerameikos in Athens or Lefkandi, and sanctuaries, such as Olympia, recently founded in Delphi or the Heraion of Samos, first of the colossal free-standing temples, were richly provided with offerings - including items from the Near East, Egypt, and Italy made of exotic materials including amber and ivory. Exports of Greek pottery demonstrate contact with the Levant coast at sites such as Al-Mina and with the region of the Villanovan culture to the north of Rome. The decoration of pottery became more elaborate and included figured scenes that parallel the stories of Homeric Epic. Iron tools and weapons improved renewed Mediterranean trade brought new supplies of copper and tin to make a wide range of elaborate bronze objects, such as tripod stands like those offered as prizes in the funeral games celebrated by Achilles for Patroclus.  Other coastal regions of Greece besides Euboea were once again full participants in the commercial and cultural exchanges of the eastern and central Mediterranean and communities developed governance by an elite group of aristocrats rather than by the single basileus or chieftain of earlier periods. 
By the mid-to late-8th century BC, a new Greek alphabet system was adopted from the Phoenician alphabet by a Greek with first-hand experience of it. The Greeks adapted the abjad used to write Phoenician (a Semitic language used by the Phoenicians), notably introducing characters for vowel sounds and thereby creating the first truly alphabetic writing system. The new alphabet quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean and was used to write not only the Greek language but also Phrygian and other languages in the eastern Mediterranean. As Greece sent out colonies west towards Sicily and Italy (Pithekoussae, Cumae), the influence of their new alphabet extended further. The ceramic Euboean artifact inscribed with a few lines written in the Greek alphabet referring to "Nestor's Cup", discovered in a grave at Pithekoussae (Ischia), dates from c. 730 BC it seems to be the oldest written reference to the Iliad. The Etruscans benefited from the innovation: Old Italic variants spread throughout Italy from the 8th century. Other variants of the alphabet appear on the Lemnos Stele and in the alphabets of Asia Minor. The previous Linear scripts were not completely abandoned: the Cypriot syllabary, descended from Linear A, remained in use on Cyprus in Arcadocypriot Greek and Eteocypriot inscriptions until the Hellenistic era.
Some scholars have argued against the concept of a Greek Dark Age, on grounds that the former lack of archaeological evidence in a period that was mute in its lack of inscriptions (thus "dark") has been shown to be an accident of discovery rather than a fact of history. 
ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS : Mycenaeans and Phoenicians - History
The Mycenaeans are named after the city-state of Mycenae, a palace city and one of the most powerful of the Mycenaean city-states. The Mycenaean civilization was located on the Greek mainland, mostly on the Peloponnese, the southern peninsula of Greece. The Mycenaeans are the first Greeks, in other words, they were the first people to speak the Greek language.
The Mycenaean civilization thrived between 1650 and 1200 BC. The Mycenaeans were influenced by the earlier Minoan civilization, located on the island of Crete. This influence is seen in Mycenaean palaces, clothing, frescoes, and their writing system, called Linear B.
Linear B tablets were first found on the island of Crete, the writing was similar to the Minoan Linear A. Arthur Evans credited the writing system to the Minoans. A young schoolboy named Michael Ventris saw the Linear B tablets while touring the British Museum. Young Ventris was fascinated by the script, and when Arthur Evans told the class that the script had not been deciphered, young Ventris asked Evans to repeat what he had just said. Hearing these words a second time, Ventris decided that day, that he would be the one to decipher this ancient script.
Ventris became an architect, but never lost his passion for Linear B. Ventris could speak many different languages fluently, and could pick up a new language quickly. In 1939, Carl Blegen, an American archaeologist, found several tablets of Linear B on the Greek mainland in the Mycenaean ruins of Pylos. Assuming that the language of Linear B was Greek, Ventris made a break through in the early 1950s with the help of others working on the script, including American archaeologist, Alice Kober. This made Arthur Evans angry, because he was certain it was a Minoan script (Evans died in 1941, however he was unhappy with any theory, up until then, that Linear B was anything but Minoan writing). The Mycenaeans used Linear B to keep records of their trading and economy, unfortunately, the writing was not used to tell stories or show feelings.
How the later Greeks felt about the Mycenaeans
The later Greeks told stories about the Mycenaeans who preceded them, like the poet Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. In the eyes of the later Greeks, the Mycenaeans were larger than life. One reason for this belief comes from the ruins of the Mycenaean city-states. The walls around these palaces are massive, made from blocks of stone weighing several tons and carried to the mountain-top settlements. The later Greeks called these walls cyclopean walls, named after the one-eyed giant race, because the later Greeks felt only giants could move the stones. A walled mountain or hilltop settlement is called a citadel.
Heinrich Schliemann, discoverer of the Mycenaean Civilization
Like the Minoans, the Mycenaeans were a civilization lost to the modern world. No evidence of the Mycenaeans (whom Homer called the Achaeans) or the city of Troy, also talked about in the Iliad, was to be found. However, in the 1800's, a German amateur archaeologist, by the name of Heinrich Schliemann, was convinced that the Trojans and Achaeans actually existed. He was fascinated by the Iliad with his copy in hand, along with his wife, Schliemann set out to find ancient Troy. Based on a description in the Homer's Iliad, Schliemann found a hill in modern Turkey that fit this description of the location of Troy. Amazingly, as Schliemann dug, ancient Troy was revealed. Feeling he was on a roll, Schliemann then went to Greece in 1876, where he uncovered artifacts of lost civilization of the Mycenaeans at Mycenae, high in the mountains. The Mycenaean palaces proved the wealth of the kings who ruled them. The Palaces included a large meeting hall, called a Megaron, and kings were buried in deep shaft graves along with their riches. Later tombs, called tholos, or beehive tombs, were built with massive stones and covered with earth.
The major Mycenaean city-states included Mycenae, home of the legendary King Agamemnon from the Iliad, Tiryns, the home of Heracles (Hercules) from Greek mythology, and Pylos, the home of old King Nestor from the Iliad. Pylos, located close to the sea, was the only city-state that did not have cyclopean walls, therefore, it was not a citadel like Mycenae and Tyrins. Since Greece is mountainous, the best form of transportation is by the sea. The Mycenaeans were seafaring people, all of the city-states were close to the sea, but far enough way that, should the city be attacked, the inhabitants would have time to react.
The Mycenaeans were bellicose by nature, attacking others, especially by sea, and fighting among themselves. Though they all spoke Greek, and worshipped the same gods, the Mycenaeans were separated into independent city-states, each with its own king. The Mycenaeans made weapons and armor from Bronze, giving this age its name: The Bronze Age. The Mycenaeans often settled battles between city-states by one-on-one combat, with each city-state taxiing their champion to battle by chariot.
The Iliad and the Odyssey
The Iliad tells about the attack on the citadel of Troy, in Asia Minor, by the Achaeans (Greeks). It is very possible that the Mycenaeans were these Greeks. The story tells of Helen, queen of the Mycenaean city-state of Sparta, who is kidnapped and brought to Troy by the Trojan prince, Paris. The Greek city-states reacted by sending a large fleet to attack Troy in an attempt to bring Helen back home. Being a citadel, Troy was very difficult to attack, and the war lingered on for ten years. Finally, Odysseus, a Greek and the King of Ithaca, devised a trick by leaving a large wooden horse behind as the Achaeans pretended to sail away in defeat. The Trojans, thinking the horse was a gift from the defeated Greeks, moved the horse into the city. After a celebration, Odysseus and others Greeks, hiding in the horse, opened the gates for the other Achaeans to enter. The Achaeans razed the city of Troy and Helen was returned to Sparta.
Some of the gods, having picked sides in this conflict, felt that Odysseus had cheated in victory. Odysseus set sail for Ithaca, but a trip that should have taken a few weeks ended up taking ten years, as the gods created obstacles in his path. All the while, his faithful wife, Penelope, waited patiently for his return. This part of the story is called the Odyssey, an odyssey is a word now used for any long and difficult journey.
Fall of the Mycenaeans
Around 1200 BC, we have evidence that the Mycenaeans increased the size of the walls around their cities. Something was threatening the civilization. Perhaps there was increased fighting among the Mycenaean cities, or perhaps there was a foreign invasion from the north of Greece. Maybe the long war with Troy took its toll on the civilization. Whatever the reason, the Mycenaean civilization collapsed around 1100 BC. There is evidence that the great palace cities were burned by those who replaced the Mycenaeans.
The Dark Ages (from the fall of the Mycenaeans to the first use of the Greek alphabet)
After the fall of the Mycenaeans, Greece went into a Dark Age. A Dark Age is a time when there are no historical records (writing) and also a time of fear, uncertainty, and violence. Those who replaced the Mycenaeans are called the Dorians, Greeks from the north who, as the story goes, were the sons of Heracles (whom the Romans called Hercules). These sons of Heracles had been driven out of the Mycenaean world, but vowed to return some day.
The Dorians used iron weapons, and Mycenaean bronze, though more beautiful and artful, was no match for Dorian iron. Iron replaced bronze during the Dark Age. The Dorians had no need for the Mycenaean palaces and burned them down.
The Dorians were now the masters of Greece. It was a simpler time, and a time without written history. Many Mycenaeans fled from the Dorians across the Aegean Sea to Asia Minor. Surprisingly one Mycenaean city, called Athens, was unaffected by the Dorian invasion. People in Athens carried on many Mycenaean traditions. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the Phoenicians had developed the world's first alphabet.
We will learn more about Athens and the effect of the Phoenician alphabet on the Greek world in the next chapter.
The Lion Gate entrance of Mycenae creates a backdrop as a champion is taxied to battle by chariot. Upon returning from Troy, King Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra. This murder was pay back because Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia, so the gods would grant winds to the sails of the Greek boats leaving Aulis in Greece for Troy.
Mycenaean civilization originated and evolved from the society and culture of the Early and Middle Bronze Age in mainland Greece under influences from Minoan Crete.   These Bronze Age Greeks establish themselves as political units sometime around 1600. The Mycenaeans quite possibly lived under Minoan dominance until around 1400, when they conquered Crete.
Conflicts with Minoans Edit
The Mycenaeans are often cited as one of the contributing factors to the rapid decline of Minoan civilization. The Minoans lived on the Aegean island of Crete and had a naval influence that likely subjugated the Mycenaeans. Around the year 1600 BCE, it is believed that a volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini near Crete devastated the Minoans. The resulting weakness is thought to have allowed the Mycenaeans to overthrow the Minoans and replace them as the dominant culture of the region.
The Iliad Edit
The Classical poet called Homer wrote the Iliad and Odyssey in the 8th or 7th century BCE, long after the Mycenaeans had vanished as a recognizable civilization. Because of this centuries-long gap in time, most scholars agree that Homer's epics cannot be viewed as accurate accounts of Mycenaean culture. It has been verified, however, that many of the places referred to in the Iliad and Odyssey were actual Mycenaean sites, including Troy.
Decline and collapse Edit
Scholars today still do not know the exact reason as to why the Mycenaean civilization collapsed but there are several theories. A common theory used to be that the Dorians invaded the Mycenaeans, however this theory is not believed anymore due to the fact that archeologists have found absolutely no evidence of Dorians in the area. This was mostly a mythical theory which the Greeks came up with. Another theory is the invasion by the "sea people" which was written about many times throughout history by different cultures but this theory also has problems to it because the "sea people" were not a united people they were from many different places. Other theories that are more plausible include: economic collapse, climate change (drought), or internal uprisings. There may not just be one theory to explain the collapse but it could be a combination of these theories. The aftermath of the collapse allowed the written Mycenaean language (Linear B) to be forgotten (possibly due to a decrease in writing as literature was only used for administrative purposes for the Mycenaeans and a decrease in trade/the manufacturing of supplies meant that nothing needed to be written down anymore), forcing the Greeks to reinvent their writing system centuries later during the Greek Revival period (Late Dark Age). The Greek Revival period also brought a new style of pottery called "sub-Mycenaean pottery" (it was called this because it was very similar to Mycenaean pottery but the craftsmanship was not as good) and later on "geometric pottery" which included geometric designs and was very well-crafted.
Not a great deal is known about the Mycenaean religion. It has been observed, however, that it was influenced to some degree by that of the Minoans. Many of the Mycenaean gods are recognizable to us as the well-known Classical gods, such as Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Ares, Athena, Dionysus, and Hermes. Notable absences are Apollo, Aphrodite, and Hades.
Mycenaean artwork was influenced, like nearly all other aspects of their civilization, by the Minoans. Pottery, statues, and paintings make up the majority of Mycenaean art. Mycenaeans developed advanced bronze-working techniques, creating swords, shields, and suits of armor.
In contrast to the Minoans, the Mycenaean leaders built fortresses — enormous walled structures that contained a megaron like the Minoan palace, but were primarily fortifications for defense. The walls of these structures often stood forty or fifty feet high, and were composed of enormous blocks of stone weighing two to three tons, fitted together without mortar. Fortresses at Tiryns and at Mycenae are considered the best examples of these military structures.
Unlike the Minoans, the Mycenaeans are not known to have built many religious shrines. A sacrificial site on Mount Lykaon sacred to Zeus in the Classical period has recently been found to pre-date Mycenaean occupation of the Greek peninsula or the Peloponnese, but no substantial structures of a religious nature have been identified at Mycenaean sites. Such buildings may have been incorporated into the palace-fortresses, but they are not specifically identified as such.
A Mycenaean common house has been located and identified. Dating from late in the Mycenaean period, it consists of a long, narrow building of posts with wattle-and-daub curtain walls and likely a thatched roof. One end of the house held an entry porch, while the opposite end was rounded and held the likely sleeping quarters. The interior was divided into two rooms, the aforementioned sleeping area farthest from the entrance, and a living area that contained a rudimentary hearth and a food-preparation area. The presence of sheep feces and wool fibers in the porch area suggest that the front entrance was used as a pen for holding animals.
The language spoken by the Mycenaeans was an ancestor of modern Greek as shown on the Linear C tablet (the Minoan script from the Linear A tablet). Linear B was deciphered in the early 1950's, and proved to be an ancient form of the modern Greek language. This orthography resembled modern Japanese, in that it was syllabic instead of alphabetic. This form of writing, however, was forgotten during the Dark Ages, leading the Greeks of the classical era to develop a system of writing from the Phoenician model, allowing the alphabetic system to come into use.
A substantial number of Linear B texts, deal with matters of economic concern — inventories of possessions and lists of goods being brought to and from the palaces or sent out from the palaces. One of the most famous, used in the process of cracking Linear B as a language, lists provisions for the coast guard: apparently the so-called "Palace of Nestor" mounted a seaward watch on the approaches to its landfall, and paid the watchers in food and goods. These records suggest that the palaces were the principal economic engines of the era. They took in raw materials into workshops, where trained artisans produced finished goods, that would then be exchanged with other palaces for the best products of their local regions.
2 Answers 2
- Greeks came not into the empty space. There were older, Minoan and even more old civilizations on this place before.
- I think, the very important influence was from the Crete civilization, that was very original. Look at their pictures.
- Of course, there was also influence from barbarians. All waves of Greek population were barbarians themselves sometimes.
- Influence from the cultures and civilizations of smaller islands in Egeian sea could be important, too. Lesbos, for example.
- They sailed Mediterranean and surely, knew Etruscan civilization and Tartess, too.
- Herodotes starts his history with tales on Lidian state and other Asia Minor states. The first coins, Creusus and so on. Before Persians came they were with Greeks the parts of one greater cultural entity. For example, they used the same Oracul.
- The states around Greece, as Macedonia and Epir, were considered non-Greek, but they always belonged to the common culture and made their investments in it, too.
All of these external influences and Greek own work within made what we know as classic Greek Civilization.
Protoclassical civilization - it was Greek civilization before 500BC, apparently? They built their culture for centuries. Classical period - it is only 5th and 4th centuries. The term proto(-)classical is not commonly accepted. 8-6 centuries in Greece history are called Archaic Greece.
There were many civilizations during, "classical antiquity". Should we focus primarily on the Greeks? If so, why then should we exclude their counterparts, such as, the Romans, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, as well as many others?
If one wants to solely focus on the origins of Classical Greek Antiquity, then that is another question altogether.
The earliest evidence of Greek civilization dates back to the town of Mycenae in the Northeastern Peloponnese-(about 100 miles West of Athens). Around 1600 BC/ BCE-(in the wake of the massive volcanic explosion on the island of Santorini, as well as the gargantuan Tsunami which followed and subsequently, destroyed the Minoan civilization on Knossos in Crete), Mycenae emerged as a major power. The Greco-Mycenaeans sailed to a devastatingly beleaguered Crete and essentially, Hellenized the island and much of its surviving population-(assuming, that the Minoan Cretans were not originally of Hellenic descent). However, the Greco-Mycenaeans also absorbed some elements of Minoan Cretan culture as well.
Mycenae, was the first Greek city-(1000 years before the rise of Athens and many other Greek city-states). It is the oldest city in Greece and is perhaps the 2nd oldest city in Europe-(or Urban settlement) behind Knossos. Today of course, Mycenae, like Knossos, are archaeological sites and are currently, very distant from their urban heyday.
The proliferation of Greco-Mycenaean culture can be found throughout Greece-(primarily in the Peloponnese, the Ionian islands of Western Greece, the aforementioned Crete and yes, their influence can be found in Athens). About 1000 years before the construction of The Parthenon, the Mycenaeans built a fort and when touring the Parthenon, as well as examined very closely, one can find scattered remnants of the Mycenaean fort.
Homer's famed, "Iliad", is, to a great extent, a Mycenaean historical narrative. When we study "The Iliad", it is usually read from a poetic or literary context. However, if read and studied from a historical and archaeological context, the central Greek characters include, Mycenaeans, specifically, the King of Mycenae, Agamemnon. The Greek soldiers and Officers fighting in the REAL-(and not mythologized) Trojan War during the 1190's BC/BCE, were primarily comprised of Mycenaeans-(along with Spartans, as well as Greeks from other regions).
Mycenaean Greece was born around 1600 BC/BCE and flourished for about 500 years. However, due to various invasions from other parts of Europe and Asia, as well as perhaps for other (presently unknown) reasons, Mycenae vanished almost overnight. From 1100 BC/BCE-800 BC/BCE, a so-called, "Dark Ages" followed and was widespread throughout Greece. By 800 BC/BCE, the Poet Homer enters and "The Iliad" was born on the Aegean island of Chios.
If one looks at Greco-Mycenaean culture, one can find an impressively well preserved ancient city, followed by a collection of jewelry and pottery throughout the ancient site-(though most of its collection is in the National Museum in Athens). The city's architecture appears to have little outside influence and looks to be quite original. Admittedly, it may not be as impressive looking as other ancient cities, such as, Pompeii, Ostia, the Forum in Rome or The Agora in Athens. However, Mycenae's impressiveness is not necessarily related to its aesthetics, rather, Mycenae's impressiveness is rooted in its longevity and fine preservation.
Background of the Mycenaeans
Modern archaeologists and philologists have been able to identify the cultural and linguistic origins of the Mycenaeans as Indo-Europeans, similar to their contemporaries the Hittites and the ancient ancestors of most modern Europeans. The ancestors of the Mycenaeans split off from the Indo-European homeland north of the Caucasus Mountains and began a long trek west and southward until they entered Greece around 2,200 BC. Once in Greece, they quickly established their martial reputation by attacking, pillaging, and displacing other peoples’ settlements as they moved further south. 
Around 1500 BC the Mycenaeans built the first cities in continental Europe. Today, the ancient Mycenaean cities are known by their classical Greek names because it is unknown what the Mycenaean names were. In fact, even the name “Mycenaean” is a modern convention that has been applied to the entire Bronze Age Greek culture, although more specifically it refers to the Greek Bronze Age city of Mycenae, which was rebuilt during the classical period. The three largest and best known of the Mycenaean cities were Mycenae, Tiryns, and Pylos, with the latter probably being the most important. Mycenaean cities were markedly different than classical Greek cities in that temples were practically nonexistent and they were instead dominated by large circular tombs and heavily fortified walls in terms of architecture.  Although the classical Greeks may not have been influenced by Mycenaean architectural styles, there were plenty of other elements of Mycenaean culture that the later Greeks adopted.
Mycenaean Language and Writing
Besides building the first cities in Europe, the Mycenaeans, along with the Minoans, were the first people to develop a written script in Europe. The Mycenaeans’ writing system, known today as Linear B script, was influenced by the slightly older Linear A script of the Minoans. Although first rediscovered in the nineteenth century, it was not deciphered until 1952 by Englishman Michael Ventris, who determined that the actual language was an early form of Greek.  Later studies of Aegean culture demonstrated that the Linear A script was used from about 1600 until 1450 BC on Crete, while Linear B surpassed the earlier form of writing after 1450 on Crete and from approximately 1400 until 1200 BC on mainland Greece. 
After the Bronze Age collapse, which began around 1200 BC, Linear B script fell quickly out of use and writing would not reemerge in Greece until the classical period several hundred years later. The form of writing that the classical Greeks used was based on the Phoenician alphabet, but the idea of writing that was initiated by the Minoans and Mycenaeans may have lingered on during ancient Greece’s archaic period. And although the Mycenaeans may not have directly imparted their knowledge of writing to the classical Greeks, the language that such great classical Greek orators and philosophers spoke was essentially the same as the Mycenaeans.
The Mycenaeans and Classical Greek Religion
The ruins of Pylos have provided modern scholars with the single largest cache of Linear B tablets, many of which are related to early Aegean religion. The tablets show that like many of their contemporaries in the Bronze Age Near East, the Mycenaeans practiced a ritual based religion that was led by a sizable priest class who owned land and probably exercised a considerable amount of political power.  The influence that the Mycenaeans imparted on later classical Greek religion is not so apparent in terms of the ritual aspects of their religion, but more so with the actual pantheon.
The Pylos tablets show that the Mycenaeans worshipped Zeus, who of course was at the head of the classical Greek pantheon, while Poseidon also played a key role according to tablets from both Pylos and the Cretan city of Knossos.  Although the classical Greeks may have worshipped in a different manner than their Mycenaean ancestors, the Linear B tablets show that they followed the same deities. Other evidence also suggests that Mycenaean funerary games were the inspiration for the well-known sporting culture of the classical Greeks.
As mentioned above, the largest architectural structures the Mycenaeans built were the large, circular tholos tombs where their kings were interred. Some modern scholars have suggested that the tombs served not only as the final resting place of Mycenaean kings, but also as the grounds where elaborate funerary games were held in honor of the deceased.  Although the Linear B tablets are silent on this subject and the archaeological evidence is sparse at best, many modern scholars point to Book 23 of Homer’s Iliad as evidence of the Mycenaean sporting tradition. Despite living centuries after the Mycenaean period, Homer’s epic was about events that took place in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and can be considered a primary source of Mycenaean culture, within reason.
In Book 23, the Mycenaeans/Greeks held eight sporting events – a chariot race, boxing, wrestling, a foot race, armed combat, an iron toss, archery, and a javelin toss – to memorialize the life and death of the hero Patroclus. Some of the events were no doubt anachronistic – it would have been impossible to have an iron toss during the Bronze Age – but it is believed that the Mycenaeans probably participated in most of the games, although with some slight differences. For instance, the Mycenaean funerary games were done clothed, unlike the later classical Greeks who competed in the nude.  The focus of the Bronze Age events was also apparently more so on the spirit of competition than the defeat of an opponent or prizes. Homer’s account of the wrestling event demonstrates this point:
“Both champions, belted tight, stepped into the ring and grappling each other hard with big burly arms, locked like rafters a master builder bolts together, slanting into a pitched roof to fight the ripping winds. . . No more struggling – don’t kill yourselves in sport! Victory goes to both. Share the prizes. Off you go, so the rest of the men can have a crack at contests.” 
Although the context in which the classical Greeks performed their sports was different than that of the Mycenaeans, the idea of athletic competition and physical fitness originated with their Bronze Age ancestors.
The classical Greeks were known throughout the world, and today, just as much for their merchant and trade activities as they were for their martial abilities. They traded with other non-Greek peoples throughout the Mediterranean, much like their Mycenaean ancestors did hundreds of years prior. The Mycenaeans were able to take land by force in the Aegean region, but they eventually expanded their influence directly to Anatolia and Egypt through trade, incorporating their culture into the Bronze Age system from about 1400 BC until its collapse around the year 1200 BC.
The Mycenaeans first built their trade networks within Greece by constructing the first roads in Europe to bring wheat from Thessaly and oil from Attica to the primary Mycenaean cities of Mycenae, Pylos, and Tiryns on the Peloponnese peninsula.  Once the Mycenaeans developed extensive trade routes within the Aegean region, they established long-distance routes throughout the Mediterranean basin. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Mycenaeans imported more foreign goods than they exported: metal from Cyprus and Anatolia was imported to make weapons while grain was imported from the Black Sea and Egypt.  Although the Mycenaeans exported far fewer goods, their vases were in high demand in a number of Bronze Age kingdoms, especially Egypt. During the reign of the Egyptian King Akhenaten (ruled ca. 1364-1347 BC), the Mycenaeans exported the highest number of vases and other goods to Egypt, which demonstrates that Mycenaeans played a vital role in the Late Bronze Age economic system.  The ever industrious and economically inclined classical Greeks no doubt inherited some of these traits from their Mycenaean ancestors.
The classical Greeks are rightfully remembered today for being cultural torch bearers who brought civilization to Europe after the collapse of the Bronze Age system. Unfortunately, often overlooked and even forgotten are the classical Greeks’ Bronze Age ancestors, the Mycenaeans, who were part of one of the most impressive and vibrant civilizations of the Bronze Age. The Mycenaeans’ profound influence on the classical Greeks can be seen in their language, religion, sporting culture, and economics.
Ancient Civilizations Cities: The Oldest Cities in the World
Beijing, China (1000 BC)
There are different theories about the origin of Beijing as an urban settlement. It is known that around 10,000 BC there were settlements of some sort in Ancient China, but they were not big enough to be officially called a city. The Chinese government considers the year 1045 BC to be the official year of the birth of today’s Eastern capital. It is, in all likelihood, the oldest city in East Asia.
To date, the Chinese capital is one of the largest cities on the planet, and one of the major economic and financial centers of East Asia. Beijing has grown so much it has become shaped by its demographic expansion and by the architectural rigors of Chinese communism, in a radical transformation that, nevertheless, is coherent with its traditional position of relevance and power in the region.
Cadiz, Spain (
Founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC, Cadiz is, by all means, the oldest urban settlement in Spain, and perhaps the whole of the Iberian Peninsula (competing only with Lisbon, as we will see below) and one of the most ancient in all Western Europe. Named Gadir in its early days by its Phoenician founders, Gades later on, and finally Cadiz, the city has been a permanent mixture of cultures in a small islet in the Atlantic. Cadiz was used as a trading port of entry for Phoenician and Greek colonies.
Currently, Cadiz is the capital of the province, named after the city, and forms an important piece of the history of modern Spain, due to being the home of the Constitution of 1812.
Lisbon, Portugal, (-1200 BC)
Settlements in Lisbon have been registered before 1200 BC, but there was no urban development worthy of such name until the Phoenicians arrived and created a trading port.
This city has many similarities with Cadiz´s development and competes with Cadiz as being Europe’s most historical Western city.
Despite the destruction Lisbon suffered in the 18th century due to a devastating earthquake, it has a mix of cultures and many notable architectural ruins.
Today, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and has suffered dramatic modifications in its urban appearance due to the fire in the 18th Century, which completely demolished the city center.
Only the neighborhood of Alfama was saved, in the historic center, and the rest was redesigned as the city expanded.
Chania, Greece (1700 BC)
The origins of Chania as an urban settlement go back to one of the ancient Greek civilizations, the Mycenaean, long before the classical splendor of the end of the Bronze Age.
However, it wouldn’t acquire the ranking of city (despite its abstract and questionable nature) precisely until the end of the Bronze Age and the arrival of the Doric invasions, which would ultimately lead to the collapse of the Mycenaean culture. This is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.
Today, Chania is one of many Greek seaside towns that mainly depend on tourism. It also has a rich history due to being part of Crete: there are ruins dating back to the Byzantine Empire, the trading and military powers of Venice and, of course, the extremely long lasting Ottoman Empire.
Varanasi, India (1800 BC)
Mark Twain, in his routine imaginative squandering, named Varanasi the oldest city in the world, even older than places that were already established.
However, this is not entirely true: the city, impressively located around the river Ganges, could undoubtedly be titled the oldest city in India, but it is far from being one of the first and longest-lasting urban settlements of the planet.
These days, Varanasi is a modernized big city and very significant within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Famous for its many monuments on the banks of the river Ganges, which can be accessed by varied and very iconic staircases, Varanasi is also a key component for industry (especially textile) in the region.
Kutaisi, Georgia (2000 BC)
It may be surprising that this city appears on the list. However, the Caucasus has seen the progress of some of the most important civilizations far from the Middle East in history, perhaps precisely due to its proximity to the Fertile Crescent. Kutaisi is considered to be the first capital of the early Kingdom of Georgia, before the Colchis, and fixed urban settlements in the same place as today’s city have been known of since thousands of years ago.
Kutaisi maintains much of its old architectural legacy, although the city has been greatly reformed and transformed since its inception, which is understandable. Despite everything, it has several Human Heritage Monuments, such as Bagrati Cathedral, depicted in the image and built in the early 11th century. Kutaisi would later become the capital of the first Kingdom of Georgia.
Damascus, Syria (2000 BC)
Damascus is occasionally given the pompous title of “oldest city in the world”. The temptation is great and logical too: there are archaeological records of settlements in the area dating back to 9000 BC, which, in effect, would make it an ancient and unique urban record. However, the historical reality is a little more stubborn: it has been agreed that the “city” status of the Syrian capital would be limited to the year 2000 BC, which was approximately when the Arameans came to the area and turned the hamlets into one city.
Today Damascus is not the biggest city in Syria, but it is its capital. Almost entirely controlled by forces loyal to Al-Assad, Damascus has been afflicted during the past five years by the bloody civil war that is slowly breaking Syria apart. Not as damaged as Homs or Aleppo, Damascus also has suffered the consequences of fighting and bombings, and today faces days of uncertainty within a war that seems impossible to solve in the short term.
Kirkuk, Iraq (2200 BC)
Today a city which has little photographic record on the Internet, located halfway between the Arabic and Kurdish sides of Iraq, Kirkuk, just like the ancient Arrapha, has existed in the Middle East for more than four thousand years. Arrapha was Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian. It later ended up buried under the relentless weight of history, but in exchange Kirkuk emerged.
If there is one word that defines Kirkuk today, it is war. Since 2003, the city has been besieged by many bloody conflicts. The invasion of Iraq ended with the construction of a U.S. base and the continued presence of U.S. troops in the surrounding area. Subsequently captured by the Islamic State after its emergence in 2014 and recovered by the Kurdish Peshmerga troops in the subsequent months, Kirkuk today tries to survive the unstable and mined environment that surrounds it.
Erbil, Iraq (2300 BC)
There is evidence of settlements in the current Erbil dating back to 5000 BC, but the existence of a city as such is not commonly accepted until approximately 2300 BC. What used to be the ancient city of Arbela, Erbil today is Kurdistan’s main city. According to UNESCO, the Citadel has more than 8,000 years of continuous human habitation.
Today Erbil is part of the Iraqi state, but it is commonly considered the cultural and political capital of the Iraqi Kurds, and the most important city in the whole of Kurdistan. With around 1,000,000 inhabitants, Erbil has an immense architectural heritage (the Citadel, in the center of the image, is perhaps its most significant historical complex) and a turbulent life, halfway between the final autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan and the constant fight against external threats, such as the Islamic State.
Jaffa, Israel (
A similar case to the ones above. We still don’t know exactly when the settlements around Jaffa, which today is encompassed within the metropolitan giant of Tel Aviv, became a proper urban structure, but it is thought that it was around 2000 BC. The archaeological remains show that human beings continually inhabited the zone up to five thousand years before, developing the ancient Hebrew civilization.
Today Jaffa has lost its independent city status and is located within the municipal district of Tel Aviv, Israel’s large coastal city. With stunning ancient relics, Jaffa has a beautiful port and an intricate historic center. About 54,000 people live in the city.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria (
Another strange case within Europe, just like Georgia: according to some sources, Plovdiv can be considered the oldest city in the world. It is true that there is evidence of settlements dating back to as early as 6000 BC, but more precise sources tend to place its foundation around 4000 BC. Incidentally, its foundation is Thracian, an Indo-European tribe that inhabited the present lands of Bulgaria (and many others from Eastern Europe) before losing their language and culture at the hands of Greeks and Romans.
Today Plovdiv is one of the largest cities in Bulgaria, with more than 300,000 inhabitants. Like many others, it entered a severe and continuing decline in the years following the end of communism, but it has recovered part of its lost pulse after Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union.
Rey, Iran (3000 BC)
Formerly known as Arsacia, Rey is perhaps Iran’s oldest city, but today has been engulfed by the spectacular growth of Tehran, the capital city of the country. Excavations during the 20th century have revealed that this city of great architectural richness has been inhabited as early as 3000 BC. It would have been one of the most important cities of the Parthian Empire.
Today Rey is a city that, like Jaffa, has been buried under the growth of another even bigger city, which in this case is Tehran, the megalopolis that serves as capital for the current state of Iran. It has an important heritage, thanks to its vast history, and numerous archaeological sites.
Jericho, Palestine (3000 BC)
Jericho is anther one of the cities which tends to assume the title of the oldest in the world. It is certain that the existence of Jericho as a city can be traced up to 3000 BC or earlier, but not to 9000 AC which, similar to the case of Damascus, is needed in order to give such a title. The Jericho area has been inhabited since the dawn of humanity and boasts the oldest military fortifications in the world (prior to 6000 BC), but in no way was it considered a “city” until several millennia later.
With a turbulent history beyond the biblical mythology (the Jews returned here after their liberation from slavery in Egypt, led by Moses), Jericho today is a picturesque city at the edge of the Dead Sea*. It was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years. Later it became part of the British Empire, which was given to the British Mandate of Palestine. It is part of Israel, 27 kilometers from Jerusalem, but it belonged to Jordan until 1967, when it was seized after the Six Day War by the Israeli State.
Beirut, Lebanon (3000 AC)
The city that refuses to die, as defined by The Guardian, has already accumulated more than five millennia of existence behind it, and the story continues. The excavations in its interior have revealed traces of urban life initiated around 3000 AC.
To this day, Beirut is a vibrant city, but also under constant threat of war conflict and terrorism. The streets are distributed in a heterogeneous way Christians, Shiite Muslims, and Sunni Muslims creating an ecosystem that is unique throughout the entire Middle East. It is the capital of Lebanon, with around two million inhabitants.
Luxor, Egypt (3200 BC)
Originating from the ancient Egyptian Thebes, today known as Luxor, it is known as one of the most important capitals of the Egyptian Empire, on the banks of the Nile, and can be considered a city since approximately 3200 BC. Today its antiquity draws inexhaustible tourists to the city, thanks to the magnificent and still very well preserved ruins of this great civilization.
Today mainly dedicated to tourism and agriculture, Luxor, before called Thebes, is the largest city in the south of Egypt. With around 400,000 inhabitants, the ruins and archaeological remnants are two essential pillars of its economy, but the passing of time has meant that its inhabitants must live in more ordinary and contemporary buildings, adapted to the needs of a modern city that has never stopped growing, looking back at the ancient splendor of Thebes.
Jerusalem, Israel (
A city among cities, few are as mystical and relevant in the history of so many cultures, as Jerusalem. Its origins lie halfway between mythology and reality, but it is known that there have been urban settlements (vibrant and magnificent) as early as 3000 BC. It was destroyed by the Babylonians and little remains today of its wonders (such as the Temple of Solomon). For millennia, it has been the object of desire of many powers, which is reflected in its archaeological and architectural variation.
Jerusalem today, several millennia later, continues to be an inexhaustible source of religious conflicts. With Israel on one side and Palestine on the other, the city largely belongs to the first. With a population of around one million, it is not the largest city in the region but it is the most symbolic, the most troubled, and the city that holds within it some of the most significant monuments in the whole Jordan Valley.
Athens, Greece (
Human presence in Athens, the current Greek capital, goes back to several millennia before Christ, but its foundation as a city is a little more modest. Several sources indicate that it was constituted as an urban settlement around 4000 BC, making it the current capital of the world’s oldest continent. Like other Greek cities, this commendable fact corresponds to the Mycenae.
Athens today is the capital of Greece, and little remains of its previous splendor and position of superiority in the Mediterranean. On the contrary, it is going through difficult times, and is involved in a huge economic crisis, which dragged the country and the city to permanent gridlock. Densely populated, it is one of the largest cities in the European continent, and also one of the liveliest.
Aleppo, Syria (
Damascus is not the oldest city in the Middle East. It is not even the oldest in Syria. Such honor can be awarded to the now highly degraded and destroyed Aleppo, victim of incessant bombing from the bloody Civil War that has plagued the country since 2011. It is currently living the darkest chapter in its long history, which finds its urban origins in 4000 BC.
7,000 years later, Aleppo went through one of the most delicate moments of its long and ample history. The city has served as stage for some of the fiercest battles of the Syrian Civil War, causing the partial destruction of most of the city. Reduced to ruins, Aleppo today is a ghost town where the only way out for its millions of inhabitants, five years after the conflict began, is to flee.
Argos, Greece (
Europe’s most ancient urban settlement is Argos, in the peninsula of the Peloponnese. Halfway between Europe (nicknamed the Old Continent) and the Middle East, in Argos there are traces of human life dating back to over nine thousand years ago, and it is perhaps the first city worthy of the title. It is a remarkable fact, although today it is only reason why this primitive city appears in this ranking: Argos is a small city, and irrelevant, even inside Greece.
Currently, Argos is a small settlement in the peninsula of the Peloponnese, with little political or economic significance. What it does have is numerous archaeological settlements that bear witness to its ancient character.
Byblos, Lebanon (
At this point, the reader is reminded that all dates included in this article are estimations. And few estimations seem so consistent as those made about Byblos, in Lebanon, which position the city in 5000 AC and beyond, making it possibly the most ancient city of the world that still inhabited today. Essential in the understanding of the origins and the development of the Phoenician culture, Byblos is a World Heritage Site.
Today, Byblos is a beautiful city with around 40,000 inhabitants, with a metropolitan area that exceeds 100,000.
Phoenicia is far less famous than the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. In history, Phoenicia's place was erased because other powers conquered it and its colonies, and its libraries and records were nearly all destroyed after Persia conquered the kingdom. Therefore, Phoenicia's contributions to ancient civilization and history have often not been recognized.
Among their many achievements, the Phoenicians pioneered new commercial networks and introduced urban living into many Mediterranean areas for the first time. The Phoenicians introduced the phonetic alphabet to many societies. This innovation revolutionized many cultures in the Mediterranean and changed the course of the history of world history. Phoenicia was also one of the first civilizations to develop democratic institutions. The Ancient Greeks emulated these. Their colonization of the Mediterranean was important. The Phoenician trading post of Carthage eventually became an Empire that was pivotal in the history of the Classical World.
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