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.
A 110-foot-long courtyard surrounded by a majestic Minoan building have been found at Sissi on Crete’s northern coast. It was built around 1700 BCE and with its fine plastered floors, the site is similar in size and opulence to other palaces on the island from the same period. But Sissi lacks many typical palace features. It has no storage rooms, no administrative materials, and no industrial areas. A variety of ritual objects have been found, suggesting that it was used for religious purposes more than governmental ones.
Nearby, a tomb of a woman dating to about 1400 BCE has also been found. The lady was buried with an ivory-handled bronze mirror, a necklace of gold beads, and bone and bronze pins which held her clothing. The tomb is typical Mycenaean, making it the first such grave found so far east on Crete. Her grave is contemporary with a Mycenaean-era complex constructed around 1400 BCE and abandoned around 1200 BCE.
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.
Two incomplete craniums, found in Greece’s Apidima Cave in the 1970s, has long been a bit mysterious. Dating them was difficult because first, they are incomplete, and to make matters more difficult, they were distorted by the process of fossilization, and found without any additional paleontological or archaeological evidence. One has now been identified as the oldest Homo Sapiens in Eurasia.
Recent analyses on the skull date it to at least 210,000 years ago. The oldest modern humans in Eurasia were previously in Israel, between 130,000 and 100,00 years ago, although recent evidence from Mlsliya, Israel, was dated to the even older 180,000 years ago. But if the new analysis holds up, Apidima’s human is even older.
“Kleptomania” and “kleptocracy” come from the same Greek word,
kléptein, “to steal.” Another descendant of kléptein
In modern Greek, Kléftis
were highwaymen turned self-appointed anti-Ottoman insurgents. They were descendants of
Greeks who retreated into the mountains during the 1400s after the Ottomans conquered the Greek-speaking world, and they maintained a war of harassment against the Ottomans until the 1800s and Greek’s independence. Being an insurgent was a family tradition!
THE Seven Ancient Wonders of the World were known in Greek as Themata or ‘things to be seen’ which is now referred to as ‘must see’ sites. Watch our new video to learn more about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!
A clay tablet, found near the ruined Temple of Zeus in the ancient city of Olympia, Greece, could be the oldest written record of The Odyssey. The tablet was uncovered by archaeologists and tentatively dated to the Roman-era 200s CE.
It is engraved with 13 verses from the Odyssey’s fourteenth book,
in which Odysseus speaks to his lifelong friend Eumaeus, the first person he sees on his return from his decade away from home.