Aegina was a very important Greek city-state that is almost totally forgotten today. Partially because they were a big player in Greece before Athens, and most of what we know about Aegina is from Athenian records and archaeological studies.
As an island, Aegina was situated between Attica and the Peloponnese, making it a useful island for traders since prehistoric times. There is archaeological evidence of Minoan and Mycenaeans trading with or living on the island. It was really during Archaic Greek period (900s BCE – 480 BCE) that the city-state became a naval powerhouse. It was the first mainland European power to mint its own coins, within 30 or 40 years of the invention of coinage in Asia Minor by the Ionian Greeks or the Lydians (around 630 BCE). It was one of just three city-states, and the only mainland Greek one, trading at and owning a share of the mighty emporium of Naucratis in Egypt. It was a hub for grain from the Pontus region – food always wins, and Pontic grains was so important that Athens would later enforce a monopoly on it.
But to really understand how much of a big-time Aegina was, look at its weights system. The Aeginetic standard of weights and measures (developed during the mid-600s) was one of the two standards in general use in the Greek world. It is like the British Empire making other countries measure in pounds and miles.
ANDROMACHE is a Greek tragedy written by Euripides (c. 484- 407 BCE), one of only 19 plays (out of 92) to survive. The play is actually in two parts, and like Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, it has no central character. The first part of the play deals with the plight of Andromache. Now the slave of Neoptolemus, the former wife of the Trojan prince Hector, she is threatened by Hermione, the young wife of her master. Together with her father, King Menelaus of Sparta, she threatens to kill Andromache and her young son.
Luckily, she and her son are saved by King Peleus, father of Achilles and grandfather of Neoptolemus. The second part is concerned with Hermione – the daughter of Menelaus and Helen – who fears the return of her husband from Delphi. He will most certainly kill her when he hears of her plan. Miraculously, Orestes, son of Agamemnon, arrives and saves the day with plans to kill her husband. The play ends with King Peleus, although grieving for his dead grandson, promised immortality by the goddess Thetis.
In Laconia, the district around Sparta, and specifically in Maina, now Mani Peninsula, the inaccessible middle finger of the Peloponnese, there were people who worshipped the Greek gods until the 800s CE.
They finally began converting to Christianity under Byzantine Emperor Basil I (867–886 CE). However they were still having to be re-converted for generations, which we know because the Orthodox preacher (and eventual saint) Nikon the Metanoeite did missionary work in Maina around the 950s.
INTRODUCING: Imperiums: Greek Wars, a historical 4X turn-based strategy game set in the time of Philip II of Macedon. Explore the ancient world and open it up to your people. Survive, expand, conquer… and win!
Crete started to become a trading power around 3000 BCE. By the middle of the 2000s BCE, it was the heart of a large trading network, with connections to Syria, Egypt, the many Aegean islands, and mainland Greece.
The Minoan people followed their ships, and established settlements throughout the Mediterranean world. When the Greeks did the same in the 700s and 500s BCE, their settlements were called “colonies.” And just like the later Greek colonies, these Minoan settlements spread Minoan language, arts, and textiles. Even urban planning: far-flung Minoan settlements were laid out just like Minoan towns back home.
IN the trilingual MOOC (English, French, German) “Disovering Greek & Roman Cities”, an international team of experts from six different universities will explore the many facets of Greek and Roman cities. They will discuss mega cities like Rome, centres of international commerce like the Greek city of Delos and Palmyra in the Syrian Desert, regional centres of production like Pompeii, and frontier towns like Dura Europos on the Euphrates.
Athletes in ancient Greece smeared olive oil on their bodies before a competition. The oil made their skin more supple and made them appear, as classical writers described, “like gleaming statues of the gods.”
Historians generally believe that ancient Greek girls did not have as much access to education as ancient Greek boys. But they must have had some, sometimes, because we know of a number of educated women such as Sappho of Lesbos and Diotima, a philosopher and contemporary of Socrates. The lack of documentation on women’s lives in classical Greece makes it difficult to determine exactly how much education girls received, however.
Evidence comes from those women who are mentioned in the records, and from art historians. A handful of artworks depict females studying! A kylix from the 400s BCE depict a female student carrying a tablet and stylus, used to write notes during a teacher’s lectures. A vase from the same century shows a woman reading from a papyrus (above), meaning she had been taught how to read. A water vessel from the 500s BCE show two young girls being taught to dance by a female teacher. Such limited and fragmentary evidence is all historians have to attempt to understand how girls and women were educated in ancient Greece.
THERE are at least a thousand reasons to visit Sicily, the great island – indeed the largest in the Mediterranean – that forms the triangular football to the boot that is the Italian peninsula. They are all very good reasons, including amazing landscapes, a uniquely complex and delicious cuisine, a history that is diverse and multifaceted beyond belief, excellent wines, a vast array of archaeological sites, an even vaster one of historical towns and villages. But one key reason to visit the island is missing from the list above: Greek temples!
Greek temples are one of the earliest well-defined expressions of what we now recognise as the Western tradition in architecture, and one of the most influential ones by a vast margin to this day. They go back to the 8th or 7th centuries BCE, and, as the name entails, they are indeed a key achievement of the Archaic Greeks. They originated in what is the south of modern Greece, namely the Peloponnese and Central Greece, where Greek temple architecture appears to have its main roots, probably derived from local wooden predecessors.
The Greek mainland’s architectural style is the Doric one, considered to be the most austere and ‘male’ in character. The eastern Aegean and Asia Minor were famous for their own development, the more elegant and ‘female’ Ionic style, conceived about a century after the Doric one. Its most prominent examples at Samos, Ephesus, and Didyma (much better preserved than the other two) are also marked by their vast monumental size. What is so remarkable about the Greek temples of Sicily then?