History of Greece till Roman conquest in 146 BC

Greece is famous as birthplace of democracy and cradle of western civilization. Today it is a parliamentary democracy but till 1974 it was being ruled by right-wing military dictatorship known as Greek junta or regime of the colonels. It is a developed country just like most other European countries. It experienced record economic growth between 1950 and 1970. Historical legacy of Greece is remarkable and is mirrored in 18 UNESCO world heritage sites. Greece boasts not only of a rich history but also remarkable prehistory. Skull of Homo heidelbergensis found in Macedonia, believed to be oldest human remains found in Greece, dates back to around 250–300,000 years ago, although dating estimate is not accepted as absolute. Some have suggested that oldest remains of modern humans found outside Africa are remains found in Apidima caves in southern Greece but many experts have contested this claim suggesting that the remains in question are of archaic humans. All three stages of Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic) are prominently represented in Greek prehistory. Neolithic settlements of Greece dating back to 7th millennium BC are regarded as oldest in Europe and Greece is believed to be home to first advanced civilizations of Europe.


Pre-Paleolithic period

Fossils of Graecopithecus, possibly direct ancestors of all humans, were found in Greece. Fossils of earliest pre-humans have also been found here. Discovery of 5.7 million year old footprints on Greek island of Crete is suggestive of the fact that hominin evolution didn’t happen only in Africa.

Paleolithic period (3.3 million BC to 13000 BC)

Traditionally, focus of research has been later parts of Greek prehistory (Neolithic and bronze age) and hence Paleolithic period remained understudied for considerable time. But now sites of lower (350,000–100,000 BP), middle (100,000–35,000 BP) and upper Palaeolithic (35,000–11,000 BP) periods have come to the fore. Most sites are of middle and upper Palaeolithic periods but some sites of lower Palaeolithic period are also present.

Mesolithic period (13000-7000 BC)

Mesolithic sites in Greece are quite limited and most are located near the coast. Theopetra, Franchthi cave, Asprochaliko cave and Kalamakia cave are most significant Mesolithic sites of Greece.

Neolithic period to Bronze age (7000-1100 BC)

Neolithic revolution reached Europe around 7000–6500 BC when agriculturalists from the near east arrived in Greek peninsula from Anatolia hopping islands in Aegean sea. Earliest known European Neolithic sites dating back to 8500-9000 BP have been discovered in Greece. In late Neolithic and early Bronze a material culture called Cycladic culture flourished. In middle Bronze Age Minoan civilization flourished in Crete. Mycenaean Greeks expanded into Crete after fire devastated Minoan palaces. Mycenaean civilization flourished during early and middle Helladic periods in mainland Greece. Mycenaean Greece provided the setting for epics of Homer and development of Greek mythology and religion. After collapse of Mycenaean civilization around 1100-1050 BC Greek dark age started.

Ancient Greece (1100-146 BC)

This refers the period of Greek history that starts with Greek dark ages and includes Iron age (1100-800 BC), Archaic period, Classical period and Hellenistic period. In Iron Age iron replaced bronze for manufacture of tools and weapons. First Greek city-states emerged during Iron age in 9th century BC. In 8th century BC Greek dark ages ended and archaic period started. During classical period Greek culture gained autonomy from Persian empire. Classical period was followed by Hellenistic period. Hellenistic period started after death of Alexander the great in 323 BC and continued till Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC.

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