What was the northernmost region/city in the Roman Empire that spoke Greek as the native language?

What was the northernmost region/city in the Roman Empire that spoke Greek as the native language?

My understanding is that prior to the migrations/invasions of the Goths, Huns and Sklavenoi into the Balkan peninsula, Greek and Latin where the most common native languages, alongside other steadily declining languages such as Thracian and Illyrian. Also, I'm aware of the "Jireček Line" which is the theoretical line that divided the Balkans into the areas with Greek influence from those with Latin influence

My question is, do we know what was the most northern native Greek speaking colony in the Balkans? I'm assuming such a place would be located on the coast of the Black Sea? What about inland Balkans? (Also, I am aware of the status of Greek and Latin as lingua franca's during Rome's imperial period, but I'm mainly concerned with the use of Greek as a native language.)

Definitely, Crimea (Chersonesos) or some place in its surrounding. Crimea's south coast was part of Roman Empire in 47 BC - 330 AD, and also a part of the Byzantine Empire later. Greek colonists settled the area much before Rome.

Update. I have found some more relevant information. During the Roman times the area at the North-East of the Black Sea (East of mentioned above Chersonesos) was ruled by the Bosphorus kingdom, which was a Roman client state to the extent that the king had Roman citizenship and a Roman name "Tiberius Julius" (plus personal name) and was protected by the Roman legions stationed there.

In 62 AD emperor Nero deposed the king and decided to incorporate the kingdom as part of Roman province Asia Minor. But in 68 AD the kingdom was restored. So the area was officially a part of Roman Empire in 63 AD-68 AD, about five years.

The most North-East part of the kingdom was the city of Tanais. The city was a Greek colony so Greek language was most likely the main language there.

So the most northern part of Roman empire (albeit only for 5 years) was this city.

This Map of Greek Colonies in the Adriatic shows that the most northerly posts were Pharos and Issos halfway up the coast. These were secondary settlements from Syracuse and Ionian cities, though. If you eliminate those you are down in Albania.

The town of Novigrad may be the most northern town of Greek origin. Reputedly it was originally founded by the Greeks as Neapolis (new city).

The Romanian Black Sea coastal site of Istria, was probably the most Northern most Greek speaking territory within the Roman Empire. The Greeks settled throughout many parts of the Black Sea region and even during Roman times, Greek was widely spoken in the greater Balkan and Black Sea regions as the primary language.

There is also the Croatian island of Hvar in the Adriatic Sea which was also settled by the Ancient Greeks. Although the Romans had a far greater colonial influence on Croatia's Dalmatian coast-(i.e. Split, Salonae and Pulia) and the larger Adriatic region, the Greeks did have some territorial influence in this region centuries before the Roman Empire. It is possible that the small, relatively obscure island of Hvar, may have also been the most Northern most Greek speaking territory, both during the heyday of Magna Graeca, as well as during the Roman Empire.

Rome’s Early Rivals: Who Were the Samnites?

Taking control of Italy was far from easy for the Romans. For centuries they found themselves opposed by various neighbouring powers: the Latins, the Etruscans, the Italiote-Greeks and even the Gauls. Yet arguably Rome’s greatest rivals were a warlike people called the Samnites.

‘Samnites’ was the name given to a confederation of native Italiote tribes. They spoke the Oscan language and lived in the interior of southern-central Italy in a region dominated by the Apennine Mountains. The Romans dubbed the region Samnium after these people.

Samnium’s harsh terrain helped forge these tribesmen into some of the most hardened warriors on the Italian Peninsula.

The region of Samnium in Central Italy.

The Augustan Reform

The reader of the Gospels knows that Rome ruled the Mediterranean world and that the emperor ruled Rome. But who was emperor? Prior to the crucifixion, the priests cried, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15.) A title rather than a person, Caesar refers to several different emperors in the New Testament.

Civil wars had plagued the Roman republic during the century before Christ. In a generation of strong men, Julius Caesar rose to sole power, was assassinated, and bequeathed his family name and the loyalty of his soldiers to his great-nephew, Octavian. With a blend of ruthlessness and caution, Octavian finally defeated all rivals and ushered in the era of the Roman Empire by transforming his military machine into a paternalistic dictatorship that respected civil rights. He also fostered the use of his family name, Caesar, as a title, which his successors bore like the modern adaptations “Kaiser” and “Tsar.” But Octavian also favored the personalized name “Augustus,” which had the more elevated meaning of “dignified” or “majestic.” In the development of imperial nomenclature, even “Augustus” was later applied to successors.

The Roman government established by Augustus loosely resembled modern federalism. Conquered areas were administered either through Roman governors or client kings, all subordinated to a central administration. Augustus controlled the executive powers, many of which he wrested forcibly from the more chaotic Roman senate. He regularized provincial government, made local governors accountable for maladministration, and brought peace to the older and more civilized sections of the empire. Luke suggests that it was Augustus’ taxation decree that caused Joseph and Mary to go to their ancestral Bethlehem, where Christ was born. (See Luke 2:1.)

Roman executive government throughout the Mediterranean meant the introduction of Roman courts upholding Roman law, providing a source of stability, security, and basic respect for civil rights. This was advertised by the first emperor as the Augustan peace (pax Augusta), followed by the pax Romana of successors. In the main, the first Christian century was a time of increased security for most citizens, including safer travel by land and absence of piracy at sea. These conditions directly affected the development of Christianity. For instance, the Roman presence held in check the Jewish enemies of Jesus for years and repeatedly protected Paul against mobs and plots.

Thus, secular history developed the right conditions at the right time for fostering the new religion of Christ. What one writer called “the New Deal in Old Rome” established a superior political and legal climate for the spread of a new revelation among competing religions. And this generally favorable situation continued throughout most of the first century A.D. with the successors of Augustus.

Emperors After Augustus

Jesus was a teenager when Tiberius succeeded Augustus in A.D. 14. Although Tiberius was introverted and incapable of confident communication with his peers, he ruled the empire well and with such concern for the masses that he rebuked governors proposing tax increases with the injunction to “shear the sheep” and not to “skin” them. (Seutonius, Tiberius 32.) Private inscriptions from many lands mirror the official slogans of Roman patriotism in this era.

Nor did Jesus quarrel with national loyalty, for when the question of paying taxes came to him, he held up the imperial denarius (the proper Latin and Greek term instead of the translated “penny”). The emperor’s image (probably that of Tiberius), was on the coin, and Jesus emphasized the duty to comply with the edicts both of the emperor and of God. (See Matt. 22:17–21.) Even though Christ was unlawfully crucified with the approval of an appointee of Tiberius, Christian leaders stressed civil obedience as a gospel duty, Paul stating that “higher powers” were assigned by God (Rom. 13:1) and Peter naming both the emperor and his governors as appointed by God to maintain order in society. (See 1 Pet. 2:13–14.) Thus Christianity was revolutionary, but on a moral, not a directly political, level.

Tiberius was succeeded in A.D. 37 by Caligula, an arbitrary egotist who violated the dignity of his office. Yet even under bad emperors, the extensive Roman bureaucracy was administered well. In A.D. 41, Claudius restored responsibility to the imperial office, reigning until A.D. 54. These were the years of the dramatic missions of Paul to Asia Minor and Greece. (See Acts 13–18.) The book of Acts indicates that Paul’s main enemies then were Jewish conservatives who stirred up mobs and assaulted the successful Christian missionaries. Such agitation brought Paul before city governments and even provincial governors such as Gallio in Corinth. Secular history verifies this climate, for Claudius wrote in one stern letter to Alexandria bitter complaints against Jewish disorders, and the historian Seutonius reported Jewish-instigated riots involving Christians: “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.” (Claudius 25.) This is evidently the same Jewish expulsion reported in Acts 18:1.

The era of open toleration of Christianity was seriously impaired in the administration of Nero, who ruled from A.D. 54 to 68. Early sources consistently claim that Peter and Paul were put to death in the final years of Nero’s reign. 1 Personally immature and dangerous, he sought to stop a public rumor about himself by blaming the Christians for a severe fire in the center of Rome. A later senator, Tacitus, detested Nero, and preserved both the story and the upper-class snobbishness about the Christians that it implied. Peter and Paul were still alive when the following events of A.D. 64 took place:

“Therefore, to scotch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs or they were fastened on crosses, and when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.” (Annals 15:44, translated by C. Moore.)

Nero’s incompetence caused the armies to revolt. At Nero’s death the commander of the east was Vespasian, who was then suppressing the Jewish revolt. After delegating the Jerusalem campaign to his son, Titus, Vespasian successfully marched on Rome. The decade of his administration was marked by revival of solid Roman values and common sense. After Titus reigned for a few years, the Empire passed into the hands of Vespasian’s younger son, Domitian, who again was arbitrary and often savage toward any supposed rival. Domitian ruled for 15 years (A.D. 81–96) and, according to Christian history, exiled the apostle John to Patmos, where Revelation was written at the close of Domitian’s reign. (See Rev. 1:9.) After Domitian died, John was free to resume his ministry, and he did so among the cities of Asia Minor around Ephesus. 2

One striking theme of Revelation is the martyrdom of the faithful—the “souls of them that were slain” found reward and rest “until their fellowservants also and their brethren … should be killed as they were.” (Rev. 6:9, 11.) This precise atmosphere is noted about 15 years after the close of Domitian’s reign in the remarkable correspondence of the younger Pliny with the Emperor Trajan. Domitian’s cruelty brought about his own assassination, with a rejuvenation of constitutional rule, temporarily at first by Nerva and then by the prestigious general Trajan, who trusted senator Pliny and finally sent him as an imperial legate to regulate the northern Asia Minor provinces. There Pliny was troubled over the paradox of the Christians under his government. On the one hand he found that the faithful would not sacrifice to Roman gods, or to the emperor’s “image,” a new provincial practice of the first century. On the other hand, he inquired severely (including inferrogating two female Christians under torture) and found that nothing subversive went on in their meetings, where they bound themselves “by oath” never to commit “fraud, theft, or adultery.” Thus the governor’s conscience was troubled, and he asked instructions in a letter to Trajan.

Although Pliny’s harsh measures had already caused large numbers to abandon Christianity and had revived sagging temple sacrifices, he could see that those who were “really Christians” would die rather than sacrifice to pagan gods, and he sought to avoid large-scale executions. Trajan replied with a similarly troubled conscience, commending Pliny for the carefulness and forcefulness of his measures and admitting that he had no alternative but to put to death known Christians who did not recant. Trajan further advised Pliny that Christians “are not to be sought out.” 3 Thus the final New Testament period and early apostasy are confirmed by secular history.


reek and Latin were the most important languages in the ancient Mediterranean world. Both languages belong to the family of Indo-European languages, a group of languages with a common root, thought to have originated some 6,000 years ago in a region of Eurasia near the Black Sea. As people migrated from this region, they took their language with them, and different languages developed from their native tongue. Almost all the modern languages of Europe, including English, are considered part of this linguistic* group, as well as some of the languages of India and Persia, such as Hindi and Persian. Today, a modern form of Greek is spoken in Greece and a few other places, including the southern tip of Italy. Latin, although now used only for official communication within the Roman Catholic Church, gave rise to the Romance languages of Europe, including Italian, French, Spanish, Portugese, and Romanian.

It is not known for certain when Greek-speaking peoples first arrived in Greece, but it may have been as early as 2000 B.C. Five major dialects* of Greek were spoken in different regions of Greece as early as 1000 B.C. The dialects may have arisen from different waves of settlement in Greece, or they may have evolved in different classes of Greek society. The five dialects are commonly classified into two groups: East Greek and West Greek. East Greek included Arcado-Cyprian, spoken in Arcadia and Cyprus Aeolic, spoken in Boeotia, Thessaly, and part of Asia Minor, including Lesbos and Attic-Ionic, spoken in Attica, the Ionic islands of the Aegean, and Asia Minor. West Greek included Doric, spoken in the Peloponnese*, the Doric islands of the Aegean, such as Crete and Rhodes, parts of North Africa, and Sicily and Northwest Greek, spoken in the northern part of the Greek mainland, including Aetolia and Epirus, and also in Achaea in the Peloponnese.

The early Greek writers, regardless of their own spoken dialects, used different ones for composing various forms of literature. For example, Homer used the Ionic dialect in his poetry, as did Herodotus and Hippocrates in their writings. Each city-state* also developed its own version of one of the five major dialects. Having its own dialect gave each city-state a sense of independence as a political unit.

Originally, Attic was the dialect spoken in Athens. Starting in the 400s B.C., as Athens grew in importance, the Attic dialect spread throughout the Aegean area. Philip II, king of Macedonia, chose Attic as the official dialect of his court, and it came to be the dialect of philosophers* and orators. As Athens became more dominant, the dialects of the other city-states disappeared. This occurred more quickly in the cities and towns than it did in the countryside. Speaking one of the old dialects became a sign of a rural background or a lack of education.

* linguistic related to the study of the development and structure of language

* dialect form of speech characteristic of a region that differs from the standard language in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar

* Peloponnese peninsula forming the southern part of the mainland of Greece

* city-state independent state consisting of a city and its surrounding territory

* philosopher scholar or thinker concerned with the study of ideas, including science

Eventually, Attic spread throughout the entire Greek world and evolved into a common dialect called koine. After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 300s B.C., koine became the common dialect of educated people throughout the entire Hellenistic* world. Koine was also adopted as the language of Christianity and of the later Byzantine* Empire. It continues as the language of the Greek world to this day.

The importance of the Greek language in the ancient world is inestimable. It provided the Greek people with their main unifying bond, and it transmitted their culture to many other parts of the Mediterranean world. The Greeks considered anyone who did not speak their language to be a barbarian (barbaros)&mdashsomeone who spoke nonsense or babbled. They made no attempt to learn the languages of the peoples with whom they had contact. Thus, everywhere Greeks went, their language went, too.

The Greek language even spread to the western provinces* of the Roman Empire, where Greek was taught in schools, as it was in Rome and throughout Italy. From the first century B.C., educated Romans were bilingualspeaking both Latin and Greek&mdashand Greek was the language of culture. The Greek language also continued to be the common language of the eastern Mediterranean world even after the Roman Empire came to dominate the region. Latin was used only in the army and in the courts of law.

Then, from about the A.D. 200s, as Latin gained importance, the Greekspeaking world gradually began to shrink. By the A.D. 300s, Greek was taught only to the families of the Roman aristocracy*, and it was almost unknown in the western provinces of the Roman Empire. Greek was also steadily overtaken by Latin in the Christian church. By the A.D. 500s, the Greek-speaking world comprised only southern Italy, Greece, the Aegean islands, and the coast of Asia Minor, including Byzantium, which continued to be a Greek-speaking center throughout the Middle Ages.

* Hellenistic referring to the Greek-influenced culture of the Mediterranean world during the three centuries after Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C.

* Byzantine referring to the Eastern Christian Empire that was based in Constantinople

* province overseas area controlled by Rome

* aristocracy privileged upper class

The Latin language takes its name from Latium, the region of central Italy in which the city of Rome is located. The earliest written evidence of the Latin language comes from Roman inscriptions dating to the 500s B.C. However, inscriptions in Latin were not common until the 200s B.C., a period that coincides with the date of the earliest surviving Latin literature.

Latin was just one of several Indo-European languages in Italy at this time. As a group, these languages are sometimes referred to as Italic languages. The other Italic languages include Faliscan, which is most closely related to Latin, as well as Oscan, Umbrian, and Venetic.

As Rome came to dominate Italy, Latin began to spread, and by the A.D. 100s, the other Italic languages were no longer written. Soon after that, they disappeared altogether, having been replaced by Latin. Indeed, the spread of the Latin language&mdashlike the earlier spread of Greek&mdashwas the primary means by which Roman culture spread throughout the Mediterranean world. The areas where Latin was spoken expanded with Rome&rsquos rising political fortunes and widening imperial* borders, at least in the western part of the empire.

As Latin spread, it was changed by the other languages with which it came in contact. Roman soldiers returning from campaigns in foreign lands brought many foreign words with them. Many other words were borrowed from Greek. Even the alphabet used for Latin was adapted from the Greek ALPHABET.

* imperial pertaining to an emperor or empire

Like Greek, the Latin language also evolved into several dialects: Colloquial Latin, Vulgar Latin, and Classical Latin. Colloquial Latin was the everyday spoken language of educated people. It was also used in writing popular literature and personal letters. Vulgar (meaning &ldquocommon&rdquo) Latin was the spoken language of uneducated Italians and people who lived in the provinces. It was rarely written except as dialogue in plays, although some examples survive in inscriptions and graffiti. Classical Latin was a highly cultivated written form of Latin, based on Greek literary models. It evolved over many years and was refined by the Roman statesman and writer Cicero. Classical Latin was very artificial and was only written, never spoken.

Although Classical Latin was the language of culture and learning, it was the spoken forms of Latin that eventually evolved into the Romance languages of Europe. Although all of the Romance languages were derived from Latin, they differ considerably from one another. The differences are due to the timing of the conquest of the region by Rome, the speed with which Latin was adopted, and the characteristics of the native languages.


English, like Latin, is an Indo-European language. Although English is not a Romance language, derived directly from Latin, it was nonetheless greatly influenced by Latin. A few words crept into Old English when the Romans conquered Britain around A.D. 50, and when Britain was converted to Christianity in the A.D. 600s. But the biggest influx of Latin came with the Norman invasion in A.D. 1066, when the French-speaking Normans conquered England. With them, thousands of new words entered the English language, especially in the fields of religion, law, and science. Castle, royalty, nobility, felony, and attorney are all English words derived from Latin through French.


The most striking feature of the development of language in the ancient Mediterranean region is the speed and completeness with which language after language was replaced by Greek in the East and Latin in the West. The only other ancient written languages from this region that have survived to the present are Hebrew and Coptic, both of which are associated with major religions that have strong scholarly traditions. Many other languages survived for a time as spoken languages, especially in more inaccessible, less urbanized regions, but only three ancient languages&mdashAlbanian, Basque, and Berber&mdashare still spoken today.

Although neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a deliberate policy of eliminating the native languages in the areas they ruled, Greek and Latin were the languages used in schools, literature, government, trade, commerce, and military service. It is not surprising, then, that Greek and Latin came to be widely spoken and understood wherever Greeks or Romans governed. (See also Classical Studies Dorians Education and Rhetoric, Greek Education and Rhetoric, Roman Ionians Literature, Greek Literature, Roman Migrations, Early Greek Migrations, Late Roman Peoples of Ancient Greece and Rome.)

Campanians practice Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicism. The Christian belief that Campanians are most known for is Marianism. Marianism is the Christian practice of devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. There are many rituals and festivals that are held in Campania that are centered around Marianism.

Campania is an extremely coastal region with many ports and waterways that the area has used to its advantage over time. The land has hills from the southern region of three mountain ranges, and those hills turn into plains and a coastline. The geography gave way to agriculture that the people of Campania used to make a living. Today, Campania is a moderately-sized region with the third-largest population.

The Campania region is in the South of Italy and stretches along the Tyrrhenian sea from the mouth of the Garigliano River to the Gulf of Policastro. This region along the Tyrrhenian coast is widely celebrated for its climate, the fertile land, spectacular views, and beautiful landscapes.

The Amalfi Coast is a 50-kilometer stretch along the coastline of this southern city in the Campania region as well and has cliffs, a rugged shoreline, small fishing villages, and small beaches.

What about Hebrew?

Hebrew was certainly spoken in first-century Palestine. The key questions are: 1) by whom, and 2) how much?

We know that most religious documents were written in Hebrew in the centuries after the Babylonian exile. Most of the documents from the Qumran community—including nearly all of the Dead Sea Scrolls—are written in Hebrew. Much deutero-canonical literature is also in Hebrew, including 1 Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus. Shmuel Safrai has noted that “all of the inscriptions found in the temple” are written in Hebrew. 7

This alone doesn’t tell us Hebrew was spoken. It only tells us it was written.

However, several documents from the Bar-Kokhba revolt show some evidence of slang terms, abbreviations, and “other characteristics of everyday speech.” 8 So it seems Hebrew was spoken as well.

Additional evidence pointing to Hebrew as a living, spoken language comes, again, from Josephus. In AD 69, with the Romans approaching Jerusalem, Titus asked Josephus to deliver a message to John of Giscala, who had previously captured the city. Josephus delivered this message in Hebrew.

We’ve already seen that Josephus was a priest, so it’s no surprise he knew Hebrew. But his choice to use Hebrew in this public way is telling. Josephus writes (in the third person):

Upon this, Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language. 9

It appears that, a generation after Jesus, Hebrew was still widely enough understood that not only could Josephus speak it, but he could do so knowing a large crowd would understand him.

Hebrew in Galilee

We have seen that Hebrew was understood among the Qumran community and by many in Jerusalem. What about in Galilee?

Extrabiblical rabbinic literature testifies to a Galilean dialect. Safrai notes:

There is a statement in rabbinic literature that the Judeans retained the teachings of the Torah scholars because they were careful in the use of their language, while the Galileans, who were not so careful with their speech, did not retain their learning (b. Eruv. 53a–b y Ber. 4d, et. al.). While this saying is sometimes considered to be evidence for the dominance of Aramaic over Hebrew . . . it actually only refers to the Judeans’ feeling that Galileans mispronounced the guttural letters ח and צ and dropped the weak letters א and ה. 10

Was this a distinct Aramaic-Galilean dialect, or a Hebrew-Galilean dialect? We can't be sure, but the dialect is noted twice in the Gospels:

  1. The first account of the distinct Galilean Hebrew dialect is found in the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus. As Peter sits in the courtyard of the high priest in Jerusalem, bystanders detect similarities in the accent between Jesus and Peter. Matthew’s account tells us that “those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them your accent gives you away.’” (Matthew 26:73). In Mark and Luke, the bystanders say “surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean” (Mark 14:70).
  2. The second account is found in Acts 2:7, when, at Pentecost, Jesus’s followers were identified as Galileans by their accent: “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’”

If this was a Hebrew dialect, it wasn’t common, and it wasn’t the dialect spoken in Jerusalem.

Whatever the case, it's likely Jesus did speak Hebrew, but, like Greek, not as his first language.

We’ll discover more about how and when he may have spoken Hebrew in a moment. But first, let’s examine the third language of first-century Palestine, Aramaic.

Learn to read the Bible in the original languages

Imagine opening a copy of the Greek New Testament or the Hebrew Bible and being able to understand what it says in the original languages. When you complete the new Biblical Languages Certificate Program, you’ll be able to do exactly that.

By signing up for the Biblical Languages Certificate Program, you’ll learn the basics of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—everything you need to begin working with the text of the Bible in the original languages.

Africa, Numidia and Mauretania

Rome established its first African colony, Africa Vetus, in the most fertile part of what was formerly Carthaginian territory, and established Utica as the administrative capital. The remaining territory was left in the domain of the Numidian client King Massinissa. At this time, the Roman policy in Africa was simply to prevent another great power to rise on the far side of Sicily. Therefore, great freedom of rule was granted to Massinissa and his descendents. Upon his death in 148 BCE, the territory was divided among his heirs into several smaller client kingdoms.

The freedom of rule eventually gave rise to an illegitimate Numidian prince, Jugurtha, and the onset of the Jugurthine War. In 118 BCE, Jugurtha attempted the reunification of the smaller kingdoms under his rule. Having served in the Legions and with many allies in the senate, Rome was indifferent to the politics of Numidia, until Jugurtha sacked the city of Cirta in 112 BCE. The sacking included the death of many Roman settlers and Rome had no choice but to go to war. The war lasted 6 years and ended in the capture and death of Jugurtha in 106 BCE, by Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla.

Upon his death, much of Jugurtha's territory was placed in the control of the Mauretanian client King Bocchus, and the veterans of Marius' Legions were given land and settled all along the Numidian territory. The Romanization of Africa was now firmly rooted.

The civil war between Caesar and Pompey briefly brought North Africa into the Roman spotlight once again. King Juba of Numidia was a client of Pompey and resisted the rule of Caesar. Caesar defeated Juba at the battle of Thapsus in 46 BCE, and with this victory, all of North Africa was firmly and permanently in the control of Rome. Several political and provincial reforms were implemented by Augustus and later Gaius (Caligula), but Claudius finalized the territorial divisions into official Roman provinces.

Thereafter, and until later reforms by Septimius Severus after 192 CE, North Africa was divided into several provinces: Mauretania Tingitana, Mauretania Caesariensis, Numidia and Africa Proconsularis (or Africa Nova and Vetus). The region remained a part of the Roman Empire until the great Germanic migrations of the 5th century AD. The Vandals overran the area by 429 AD and Roman administrative presence came to an end.

Within Roman occupied Africa, the bulk of the population of was composed of three major population groups: the Berber tribes (such as Numidians, Gaetulians and Maurusiani), the ancient Carthaginians of Phoenician origin and Roman colonists. The Berbers were a dark skinned native African people that spoke a common language and shared ethnic characteristics. Besides the Afri in the regions controlled by Carthage, the tribes that took part in the wars against the Romans were the Lotophagi, the Garamantes, the Maces, the Nasamones, the Misulani or Musulamii, the Massyli and the Massaesyli.

Berber opposition to the Roman presence in Africa was nearly constant. The Roman emperor Trajan (CE 98-117) established a frontier in the south by encircling the mountain ranges and built a line of forts from Vescera (modern Biskra) to Ad Majores (Hennchir Besseriani) to the south east. The defensive works extended at least as far as Castellum Dimmidi (modern Messaad). Romans settled and developed the area around Sitifis in the second century, but the influence of Rome beyond the original Carthaginian territories, the coastal regions and areas easily accessable by road was slow to develop.

The Roman military presence in North Africa was relatively small, consisting of about 28,000 total troops, mostly auxiliaries in Numidia and the two Mauretanian provinces. Legio III Augusta was stationed in Africa and protected the borders for over 4 centuries, still being present in the early 5th century AD.

The prosperity of most towns depended on agriculture. Called the "granary of the empire," North Africa, according to one estimate, produced 1 million tons of cereals each year, one-quarter of which was exported. Other crops included fruit, figs, grapes, and beans. By the second century AD, olive oil rivaled cereals as an export item.

In addition to the cultivation of slaves, and the capture and transporting of exotic wild animals, the principal production and exports include the following for each province:

Roman Gaul

Roman Gaul is an umbrella term for several Roman provinces in western Europe:

Cisalpine Gaul or Gallia Cisalpina, comprised a territory situated in the northernmost part of the Italian peninsula ranging from the Apennines in the west northward to the Alps, specifically the plains of the Po River. It was an area that most Romans did not consider to be part of Italy to them, Italy only extended to the foothills of the Apennines. The territory was conquered following the capture of Mediolanum (Milan) in 222 BCE, however, it was not until the Social War that the established colonies were organized into a province.


Further north, across the Alps, was Transalpine Gaul or Gallia Transalpina. It spread from the Pyrenees, a mountainous range along the northern border of Roman-controlled Spain, northward to the English Channel - much of modern-day France and Belgium. As the home to a number of Celtic people, many Roman citizens viewed the area with fear and wonder it was a land of barbarians. The area to the far south from the Mediterranean Sea to Lake Geneva - the closest to Roman Spain (land acquired in the Punic Wars) - had been formed into a province in 121 BCE. In 58 BCE, the future dictator-for-life Julius Caesar would march into Transalpine Gaul, subjugating the whole territory after a decade-long campaign.

A Land of Barbarians

While the Romans were busy displacing a king and building a republic, a number of tribes of Celtic people, who were said to have a warrior aristocracy, migrated across the Alps into the Po Valley. While historical descriptions are scant (Livy wrote briefly of it), archaeological accounts verify the arrival of a number of these tribes: the Insubres in the 6th century BCE, the Cenomani, Boii, Lingones, and lastly the Senones in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. By the end of the 4th century BCE, while making occasional raids across the Apennines into Italy, the Celts completely displaced the Etruscans of Etruria, a small territory located in central Italy, north of Rome. Etruria turned to Rome for help. Unfortunately, Rome's response would bring unrest to the small emerging republic.


From the founding of the Republic through the 3rd century BCE, while the city's government coped with a number of internal political issues, Rome had grown to become a principal power on the Italian peninsula, so it was natural for the Etruscans to appeal to the city for help against the invading Celts. Around 386 BCE (dates vary), the Celts pushed through Etruria and into the heart of the unwalled city of Rome. However, this raid on Rome was not completely without provocation. 15,000 men - Rome's entire army - were sent to face an army twice its number. Sending a small delegation to meet the Celts, Rome hoped for a peaceful solution. Unfortunately, a Celtic delegate was killed by a Roman. In retaliation, the now defenseless Rome was sacked.

According to ancient sources (Roman of course), people quickly fled the city as the last defenders fought heroically, eventually seeking refuge on Capitoline Hill. Senators were butchered where they stood. Forced to pay tribute, the city was torched. There were many who wanted to completely abandon Rome and move to Veii, a city to the northwest, but wiser heads prevailed. Under the leadership of Marcus Furius Camillus, who had assumed the position of dictator, the city was quickly rebuilt. The Celtic raids would continue until the Romans prevailed at the Battle of Telamon in 225 BCE. The destruction, however, had a two-fold effect on the citizens of Rome: the incentive to build the Servian Wall and an intense loathing for the Celts and Gaul, a hatred Julius Caesar would later use as a ploy for his invasion.

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The first Roman colonies

From Telamon, the confident Romans, together with their allies, advanced into Cisalpine Gaul in a three-year campaign capturing Mediolanum (Milan) in 222 BCE. In 218 BCE, Roman colonies were established at Placentia and Cremona on the banks of the Po River. Unfortunately, further advancement was halted during the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE) when Hannibal Barca and his army of 30,000 infantry, 9,000 cavalry, and 37 elephants crossed the Alps, advancing towards Rome. His invasion prompted many of the newly conquered Celts to join him however, following the defeat of Carthage at Zama in 202 BCE, the Romans would resume their attack against Cisalpine Gaul, ending with the both the massacre of the fiercest of all Gallic tribes, the Boii, in 191 BCE and the rebuilding of Placentia and Cremona. Other colonies were soon built at Bononia, Parma, and Mutina. Gradually, after the Social War in the early 1st century BCE, residents from the southern peninsula began to move into the area. Although much of the Gallic culture would remain, Romanization had begun. Cisalpine Gaul would soon become a Roman province with its southern border extending to the Rubicon.

From the relative safety behind the walls of Rome, its citizens looked across the Alps into Transalpine Gaul, the vast region from the Pyrenees northward to the English Channel. After Julius Caesar returned from his decade-long subjugation in 49 BCE, the entire area would become Roman. His adopted son and heir, Emperor Augustus, would divide the vast territory into four provinces: Narbonensis in the southeast, Lugdunensis lying just north of the Pyrenees, Aquitania in the center and to the north, and Belgica - present-day Belgium. Although mostly Celtic in culture, Transalpine Gaul included several native tribes: Ligurians and Iberians to the south (an area heavily influenced by Greek colonization) and Germans to the northeast. Not all of the territory was alien to Rome. The area to the far south from the Mediterranean Sea to Lake Geneva - the closest to Roman Spain (land acquired in the Punic Wars) - had been formed into a province in 121 BCE with its capital at Narbo. It would become the province of Gallia Narbonensis. This area, especially the city of Massalia, had served as a corridor for trade and travel from Spain to the Italian peninsula and Rome.


Still, much of Gaul was fairly unknown to Rome and simply labeled Gallia Comata or long-haired Gaul. In the opinions of many Romans, all of Gaul was barbaric, but, of course, most Romans saw anyone who was not Roman to be a barbarian. Oddly, when Julius Caesar arrived, he did not find a land of barbarians. While there may have been few roads and no aqueducts, there were walled urban or administrative centers called oppida, built on hills for easy defense. Needless to say, these centers were unlike the cities one would find in other Roman territories there were no public baths, forums, or gladiatorial contests. The people of Gaul were excellent metalworkers, great horsemen, and skilled mariners. However, everything was soon to change, for Gaul would never experience anything like Julius Caesar again. For ten long years, the future dictator would march across Gaul earning himself both fame and fortune, returning to Rome a conquering hero.

Caesar & The Gallic War

After his one-year term as consul had ended, he was appointed the governor - on Pompey's urging - of Cisalpine Gaul, Illyricum, and Transalpine Gaul. In 58 BCE Julius Caesar and his army crossed the Alps into Transalpine Gaul on a five-year campaign it would be extended for another five years in 56 BCE. Caesar had alienated many in the Senate during his year as consul, especially his archenemy Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Younger). The Roman Senate conservatives who had no love for Caesar had hoped he would serve quietly in Rome after his consulship, but he chose otherwise. During his long campaign through Gaul, he would write a series of dispatches to the Senate. Written in the third person, these dispatches would become his Commentaries on the Gallic War. In the opinion of many of his contemporaries and later historians of the period, they were an attempt to rationalize his abuses, demonstrating his talents as a general and his role as a loyal servant of the Republic.

Despite his support from the Roman people and a few in the Senate, there were others who believed he only wanted to justify his brutal tactics. In an appeal to the people, he reminded them of the savagery of the Gallic people and their invasion and sacking of Rome decades earlier. The historian Suetonius wrote in his The Twelve Caesars about a number of discussions held in the Senate while he was in Gaul. Caesar may have been disliked by many in the Senate but the people loved him. Suetonius wrote,


…some speakers went so far as to recommend that Caesar should be handed over to the enemy. But the more successful his campaigns, the more frequent the public thanksgivings voted and the holidays that went with them were longer than any general before him had ever earned. (19)

Whatever the Senate may have believed, Caesar had a good reason - at least in his mind - to advance into Gaul. The Helvetii, a Gallic tribe from southern Germany, were planning to migrate into eastern Gaul, a plan that would threaten the safety of the region. The Helvetii marched through land occupied by the Aedui who wisely appealed to Caesar for aid. Quick to act, Caesar and his army defeated the Helvetii at the Battle of Bibracte in 58 BCE, forcing them to retreat.

At first, many of the Gallic tribes welcomed Caesar however, they soon realized that the Romans were not rescuers but there to stay their warm greeting was soon replaced by a cold shoulder. Tribe after tribe fell to the Romans. As the dispatches reached Rome, people eagerly began to follow Caesar's exploits. The Senate could no longer object, although many still believed his conquest to be nothing more than genocide. Caesar continued across Gaul with little opposition, exploiting the rivalries among the various tribes. He defeated the Germanic king Ariovistus, routed the Germans at Alsace, marched against the Belgae in 57 BCE, and crushed the Veneti of Brittany. In 55 BCE, he looked across the English Channel and chose to invade Britain. Initially, Caesar said he wanted to interrupt Belgae trade routes, but some maintain it was his ego that brought the commander across the Channel in both 55 and 54 BCE. Nevertheless, Caesar's initial contact with the Britons went poorly. In his second invasion, he pushed northward across the Thames River but soon feigned growing problems in Gaul and returned to the European mainland.


In 52 BCE, under the leadership of Vercingetorix, the once loyal Arverni challenged Caesar, eventually defeating him at Gergovia. The king's victory was due to a number of old-fashioned maneuvers: the scorched-earth policy, basic guerilla tactics, and a simple knowledge of the terrain. Later in the same year, the two armies would meet again at Alesia with different results. As the king sat behind the well-fortified walls of the city, Caesar and his army waited patiently outside, planning to starve the Gauls out. With his reinforcements defeated by Caesar, Vercingetorix had little choice but to surrender. Many of the defeated Arverni soldiers were sold into slavery. The beaten king would spend the remainder of his life in Rome as a prisoner only to be put to death in 46 BCE.


This final victory spelled the end of the Gallic War in which over 1,000,000 were killed or enslaved. Caesar proudly announced that Gaul had been pacified. With Caesar returning to Rome, Romanization of Transalpine Gaul began, Latin was introduced, and many of the old settlements in Gaul were abandoned with new towns of 'brick and stone' being built, something that made for easy access and not for defense. These new cities were very Roman with bath houses, temples, and amphitheaters. Veterans of the war were granted land which caused agriculture to flourish, much appreciated by a growing Rome. New roads were built allowing for increased commerce. Although there was the occasional rebellion - one in 21 CE led by the Treveri and Aedui, and another in 69-70 CE led by the Batavian Julius Civilis - Gaul would demonstrate little resistance. However, while stability reigned for several decades in Gaul, chaos soon disrupted the peace and quiet.

Postumus & the Gallic Empire

The 3rd century CE brought disorder the Alemanni raided Gaul and Italy while the Franks moved into Spain, destroying Tarraco. The Pax Romana - Roman Peace - was gone. Emperor after emperor rose to power through the military only to fall victim to his own troops. In a fifty-year period from 235 to 285 CE, there were at least twenty emperors with the majority either dying in battle or through assassination. In 260 CE, a military commander and governor of Germania Inferior and Germania Superior (Lower and Upper Germany) Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus (whose family was Gallic in origin) rose up against the Roman emperor Gallienus, seizing power, killing the emperor's son and protector, and establishing himself as the new emperor in Gaul, Britain, and Spain Spain would later rebel and rejoin Rome.

Although Gallienus marched against Postumus, direct conflict was eventually aborted. While Postumus was opposed by imperial forces and suffered defeat, he and Gallienus would never meet in serious battle. The emperor was forced to withdraw, having received a serious wound. Afterwards, the new emperor of the so-called Gallic Empire would establish his capital and residence at Augusta Treverorum complete with a senate. Surprisingly, he made no attempt to march on Rome. The new empire (260 – 274 CE) would last through four emperors: Laelianus, Marius, Victorinus, and Tetricus. In 269 CE, Roman Emperor Claudius II sent a small expeditionary force against Victorinus but chose not pursue a full confrontation. In 274 CE, Emperor Tetricus and his son marched against Roman Emperor Aurelian at Chalons-sur-Marne and were defeated. Gaul and Britain were reunited with Rome.

Fall of the Roman Empire

However, the next few years proved to be no better for Gaul. Emperor Probus (276 to 282 CE) saw devastation in both Gaul and the Rhineland by the Franks, Vandals, and Burgundians. It would take over two years to restore order. Two decades later the area would fall under the leadership of the future emperor in the East, Constantine. With his death in 337 CE, his eldest son Constantine II received control of Gaul, Britain, and Spain. Upon his death at Aquileia, his brother Constans took sole leadership only to fall to a palace conspiracy and yield the throne to his brother Constantius II in 353 CE. He eventually divided his power with his cousin Julian the Apostate. In 406 CE, Vandals were among many 'barbaric' tribes to cross the Rhine and ravage Gaul. Visigoths were next, and then there was Attila the Hun. By the fall of the western half of the empire in 476 CE, Gaul had already fallen into the hands of the Franks, Burgundians, and Visigoths.

Both Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul proved to be of great value to both the Republic and the Empire, providing agricultural goods and soldiers for the Roman army. Unfortunately, over time, Rome was unable to maintain its borders against invasions from the north and east. By this time, like the rest of the empire, Christianity was flourishing, becoming the recognized religion of the empire. The fragile economy of the western half of the empire was in serious decline - Rome was no longer the city it once had been, even the emperor would not live there. The empire's economic and cultural dominance was in the east at Constantinople. Eventually, Gaul, Spain, and the other provinces in the west fell to a number of invading tribes, the Franks, the Burgundians, the Vandals, and Visigoths. In 476 CE Rome was sacked and the empire, at least in the west, was no more.

Post-Roman Gaul

Roman Gaul became Visigothic Gaul until Clovis came to the throne as king of the Franks in 481 CE. Clovis would eventually drive the Visigoths into Spain, defeat the Burgundians and Alemanni, and thereby consolidate all of Gaul. In November 511 CE, Clovis died leaving a kingdom to his sons, which was a combination of Roman and Germanic culture, language, religion, and law. By the time of his death, he had extended his authority from the north and west, southward to the Pyrenees. He is considered by many to be of both the founder of Merovingians dynasty and France.

History Of Asia Minor

Asia Minor is considered as one of the important regions where the evolution of human who settled in the region during the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods. Ancient kingdoms that ruled in Anatolia include Akkadian Empire, Assyrian Empire, the Hittite kingdom, and neo-Hittite and neo-Assyrian kingdoms. The Greek kingdom under Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire occupied Asia Minor during the classical period. The Ottoman Empire emerged as a powerful dynasty in the 15th century resulting in the spread of Islam in the region. The area of Asia Minor was established as Turkey in 1923 after the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire following the Turkish war of independence between 1919 and 1923.

Main Article

Aegean Age

Aegean Cultures
Pre-Palace age
ca. 3000-2000 BC
Palace age
ca. 2000-1400 BC
Mycenaean age
ca. 1400-1200 BC
Crete Minoan culture Minoan civilization Mycenaean civilization
Cyclades Cycladic culture
mainland Greece Early Helladic culture rise of Mycenaean civilization

The Aegean Sea is the arm of the Mediterranean that lies between Greece and Asia Minor. The Aegean region (the land within and around the Aegean Sea) was the cradle of European civilization. Aegean culture drew much from Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture thus, the very deepest roots of the West lie among the ziggurats and the pyramids.

The Aegean age opened with three major non-urban cultures: the Early Helladic culture of mainland Greece, the Minoan culture of Crete, and the Cycladic culture of the Cyclades Islands (a cluster of small islands north of Crete). These three peoples were culturally similar (such that one may speak of an overarching "Aegean culture"), and may have all spoken the same language. 5 By adopting the ingredients of civilized life (e.g. farming, smelting, literacy) from Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Aegean cultures became the most technically advanced societies in Europe.

European civilization was born in the Palace age, when the Minoans blossomed into an urban society. Each Minoan city was organized around a great central palace (hence the term "Palace age") which, in addition to housing nobility, served as a temple, administrative centre, and storage facility. The greatest Minoan city was Knossos. 3,10,60

Throughout the Palace age (ca. 2000-1400 BC), the Minoans flourished as the dominant traders of the eastern Mediterranean. Their influence radiated throughout the Aegean region, drawing the Cycladic islands into the Minoan culture sphere. Like the Egyptians, the Minoans excelled in art and engineering, yet showed relatively little interest in mathematics or science. A85,3,7

Meanwhile, the Mycenaeans arrived in Greece from uncivilized lands to the north, replacing the Early Helladic culture as the dominant people of the Greek mainland once settled, they grew into a mighty civilization. Mycenaean cities included Mycenae (for which the civilization is named), Tiryns, and Pylos. Their culture was strongly Minoan-based, such that the Mycenaeans are remembered primarily as cultural adopters rather than innovators. Surpassing Minoan power ca. 1400 BC, the Mycenaeans ruled the Aegean region (including Crete) for two centuries. A87,5,10

The Mycenaean language is the oldest known form of Greek. 96 The Mycenaeans were thus the first Greeks, and their arrival in the peninsula marks the beginning of Greek history (see Indo-European Languages). Their reign was relatively brief, ending ca. 1200 BC, possibly from civil war. 11 An impoverished, non-urban period known as the Greek Dark Age (ca. 1200-800 BC) ensued throughout the Aegean region. 10

Greek Dark Age

Summary of Ancient Greek History
Greek Dark Age
ca. 1200-800 BC
Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians migrate into Greece and establish settlements,
which grow into the Greek city-states by ca. 800 BC
Archaic age
ca. 800-500 BC
formative age of the Greek city-states
Classical age
ca. 500-330 BC
great age of the Greek city-states
Hellenistic age
ca. 330 BC-0
age of the Diadochi kingdoms

The Greek age (ca. 800 BC-0) featured three European civilizations: Greek , Etruscan , and Roman . Both the Etruscans and Romans were strongly influenced by Greek culture indeed, Greek civilization can be described as the foundation of Roman civilization. The sum of Greek and Roman culture, known as Greco-Roman culture, became the foundation of European civilization.

During the Greek Dark Age (ca. 1200-800 BC), three major Greek tribes immigrated to mainland Greece from barbarian lands to the north (like the Mycenaeans before them): the Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians. Control of the Aegean region passed to these tribes, named for their dialects of Greek (e.g. the Dorians spoke "Dorian Greek"). 10

Each tribe carved out a share of mainland Greece, the Aegean islands, and the coast of Asia Minor (the Asian part of Turkey) the civilization of "ancient Greece" thus extended somewhat beyond the territory of modern Greece. The settlements of the Greek Dark Age would blossom into the Greek city-states ca. 800 BC. Regions colonized by the Dorians include the Peloponnese (aka the Peloponnesus): the large peninsula (nearly an island) that forms the southernmost part of mainland Greece.

The remnants of Mycenaean culture, including a body of Mycenaean legend, were adopted by the freshly-settled Greek tribes. The Mycenaeans (like pre-modern cultures generally) possessed a rich tradition of storytelling, in which myth, history, and religion were often combined stories might be casually recited by the fire, or reenacted in grandiose ceremonies involving music, costumes, and dance. Unlike written works, oral legends constantly evolve, as each teller makes changes (deliberate and unconscious) to the story. A88,K102-03

Two great Mycenaean legends, the Iliad and the Odyssey, were eventually set down in writing by Homer. These works became the most treasured literature of ancient Greece, and served as the foundation of Greek education. Indeed, Homer's poems arguably served as the scripture of ancient Greece, given that they include detailed exploration of ethics and the supernatural world. A106-07

Archaic Age

Summary of Ancient Greek History
Greek Dark Age
ca. 1200-800 BC
Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians migrate into Greece and establish settlements,
which grow into the Greek city-states by ca. 800 BC
Archaic age
ca. 800-500 BC
formative age of the Greek city-states
Classical age
ca. 500-330 BC
great age of the Greek city-states
Hellenistic age
ca. 330 BC-0
age of the Diadochi kingdoms

The rise of Greek cities ca. 800 BC marks the end of the Dark Age and the beginning of the Archaic period (ca. 800-500 BC). 10 Greek civilization, which (like its Aegean predecessor) drew much from Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture, thus emerged ca. 800 BC, restoring urban life to Europe. A120 Two Greek cities would grow to be especially powerful: the Doric city of Sparta (known for its severe militarism) and the Ionic city of Athens (the heart of Greek cultural achievement).

Greek cities tended to remain city-states (politically autonomous cities) rather than uniting into empires. The tribal diversity of the Greeks and the fractured geography of the Aegean region may have contributed to this tendency. Each city-state was typically constructed on a hill for protection, with the highest land (known as the acropolis, literally "peak of the city") reserved for the principal temples. 10

Despite the absence of empire, the city-states shared a common culture (including language, religion, and art), and together they comprised Greek civilization. The Olympic Games, the only event that brought peoples of all Greek cities together on a regular basis (every four years), helped maintain a sense of cultural unity. Moreover, partial multi-city political unity was achieved through alliances. Sparta, the most powerful Greek city of the Archaic age, led the mightiest Archaic-age alliance: the Peloponnesian League . A105,10,35

Though Sparta and Athens came to exceed 100,000 residents, most city-states were much smaller, in the range of tens of thousands. Cities were governed variously by monarchy (rule by a single person), oligarchy (rule by a small group), and eventually democracy (rule by all citizens, though the definition of "citizen" was narrow). The first and most highly-developed ancient Greek democracy was Athens, which featured democratic government for roughly the Classical age (see History of Democracy). 9

Urban growth eventually led to shortages of natural resources and arable land, spurring the founding of new cities outside the Greek heartland (which, as noted earlier, consisted of the Greek mainland, the Aegean islands, and the western coast of Asia Minor). Greek colonization focused on several regions of the Mediterranean Basin (especially southern Italy), as well as the shores of the Black Sea. Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, emerged as the largest overseas Greek city-state. A109,10

The first major external threat to ancient Greece was the First Persian Empire (ca. 550-330 BC), which expanded rapidly westward (see History of the Ancient Middle East). The Archaic period concluded with the Persian conquest of Asia Minor, initiating the Persian Wars (ca. 500-450 BC). 36

Classical Age

Summary of Ancient Greek History
Greek Dark Age
ca. 1200-800 BC
Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians migrate into Greece and establish settlements,
which grow into the Greek city-states by ca. 800 BC
Archaic age
ca. 800-500 BC
formative age of the Greek city-states
Classical age
ca. 500-330 BC
great age of the Greek city-states
Hellenistic age
ca. 330 BC-0
age of the Diadochi kingdoms
Summary of the Classical Age
ca. 500-330 BC
Persian Wars
ca. 500-450 BC
interwar period
ca. 450-430 BC
Peloponnesian War
ca. 430-400 BC
decline of Greece to Macedonia
ca. 400-330 BC

In spite of almost constant warfare, the Classical period was the culminating age of Greek civilization. This period also witnessed the unification (ca. 500 BC) and rise of Macedonia, a kingdom that encompassed modern-day Macedonia and northeastern Greece. This kingdom essentially became an extension of Greek civilization (rather than a distinct civilization of its own), as the Macedonians rigorously adopted Greek culture, including language, art, and religion. 10

In the course of the Persian Wars, the Greeks pooled their military resources, giving Sparta control of land forces and Athens command of the navy. Throughout the conflict, mainland Greece was only in true peril from two invasions: the first under Persian emperor Darius the Great (ca. 490 BC), the second under his son Xerxes the Great (ca. 480 BC). Both invasions were repelled, despite mainland Greece being severely outmatched. 36

Following these invasions, Athens emerged as the naval superpower of the Greek world, while Sparta remained supreme on land. Athens formed an alliance with other Ionian city-states (the Delian League ) and spent the remainder of the war defending Asia Minor. 10,38,39,77

As the Persian Wars drew to a close, the foremost statesman in Greek history, Pericles, came to dominate politics in Athens. Pericles brought the Delian League to the height of its power and lavishly patronized the arts, including the rebuilding of the Acropolis, which had been sacked by the Persians. 40 The buildings produced by this reconstruction effort (which took place during the interwar period) comprise the pinnacle of Greek architecture.

Indeed, Greek culture as a whole waxed during the Classical age. An extraordinary body of innovation, sometimes referred to collectively as the Greek awakening (see Greek Awakening), encompassed such fields as government, science, history, and art. The engine of Greek innovation was humanism (see Humanism).

The age of peace following the Persian Wars was not to last. In the absence of a common enemy, tensions grew swiftly between Athens and Sparta (the two primary Greek powers), ultimately sparking the Peloponnesian War (ca. 430-400 BC) between the Delian League and Peloponnesian League. 41,42

Following a prolonged, bloody stalemate, Athens fell to Spartan forces ca. 400 BC. Yet the war had exhausted both cities, leaving Greece with a yawning power vacuum. Meanwhile, as Greek power foundered, the state destined to fill this vacuum stirred in the north: the kingdom of Macedonia. 10,42

Hellenistic Age

Summary of Ancient Greek History
Greek Dark Age
ca. 1200-800 BC
Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians migrate into Greece and establish settlements,
which grow into the Greek city-states by ca. 800 BC
Archaic age
ca. 800-500 BC
formative age of the Greek city-states
Classical age
ca. 500-330 BC
great age of the Greek city-states
Hellenistic age
ca. 330 BC-0
age of the Diadochi kingdoms

The kingdom of Macedonia, united ca. 500 BC, experienced a rapid ascent during the Classical age. The age concluded with the nation's two foremost kings, Philip II (who conquered mainland Greece) and Alexander (who expanded the Macedonian Empire all the way to India). 10

The most devastating fighting force the world had yet seen, the Macedonian army featured deep infantry formations (whose ranks, armed with long spears, could attack simultaneously), large cavalry divisions, and enormous siege weapons. This army enabled Philip II's conquest of mainland Greece, which united the Greek city-states under a single power for the first time. Philip was assassinated by a Macedonian noble, however, thwarting his ultimate ambition to defeat the Persian Empire. 10,15,44

Alexander the Great thus inherited all the might of Macedonia and mainland Greece combined. He swiftly conquered southward across Asia Minor and Egypt, then eastward across Southwest Asia. Serving in his own elite cavalry division, Alexander often personally led charges in the battlefield, and routinely defeated much larger forces. A126,K96-97

Alexander's conquest of the First Persian Empire (ca. 330 BC) marks the beginning of the Hellenistic age (ca. 330 BC-0). The term "Hellenistic" indicates that during this period, the culture of the Hellenes (Greeks) flourished throughout the region spanned by Alexander's empire: Macedonia/Greece, Egypt, and much of Southwest/Central Asia. This included Greek religion, festivals, art, architecture, and language (which became standard for international communication). A126,K132-33

Greek culture did not replace the native cultures of Alexander's empire, however. While a layer of Greek culture (especially among the ruling class) was superimposed over these cultures, they nonetheless continued to thrive, often resulting in hybrid cultural features (e.g. the adoption of Greek deities into native religions). Greek culture was especially strong in the new cities founded by Alexander, which attracted many immigrants from the Greek heartland. A127

Having conquered the entire Persian Empire, Alexander continued to press eastward. He only stopped when, a short distance into India, his army finally refused to continue. After leading his troops back to Mesopotamia, Alexander died of a sudden fever. 15

Following Alexander's death, his empire fractured into a patchwork of smaller states. The leaders of these states consisted of Alexander's top generals and members of the Macedonian royal family. Collectively, these leaders are known as the Diadochi ("successors"), and the nations that succeeded Alexander's empire are known as the Diadochi kingdoms. 10 Mightiest of these kingdoms were the Seleucid Empire (which ruled much of Southwest Asia) and the Ptolemaic Empire (which ruled Egypt). 91

While Athens was the heart of the Classical age, the economic, cultural, and scholarly pinnacle of the Hellenistic world was Alexandria, Egypt (capital of the Ptolemaic Empire). The greatest collection of Greek writings ever assembled was found in the Library of Alexandria , and the golden age of Greek science (which spanned the Hellenistic age and Pax Romana) was centred in this city (see History of Science). A128

The eastward extension of Greek civilization effected by Alexander was matched by an equally vigorous westward diffusion. During the Hellenistic age, the Roman Republic (which, like Macedonia, held a deep appreciation for Greek culture) expanded rapidly across the Mediterranean world. Greek religion, art, and architecture were readily absorbed by this young empire, especially once Greece itself had been conquered.

In fact, were it not for this westward diffusion to the Romans, Greek civilization might have disappeared. Across Southwest and Central Asia, Greek influence faded with the crumbling of Diadochi power, allowing the reassertion of Persian culture. In the Mediterranean Basin, on the other hand, the newly-forged Roman Empire would preserve and build upon Greek civilization, thereby completing the foundation of the West.

Watch the video: Do Modern Greeks Know Ancient Greek? Easy Greek 12 (January 2022).