History of Greece: Archaic

The next period of Greek History is described as Archaic and lasted for about two hundred years from (700 – 480 BCE). During this epoch Greek population recovered and organized politically in city-states (Polis) comprised of citizens, foreign residents, and slaves. This kind of complex social organization required the development of an advanced legal structure that ensured the smooth coexistence of different classes and the equality of the citizens irrespective of their economic status. This was a required precursor for the Democratic principles that we see developed two hundred years later in Athens.

Greek city-states of the Archaic epoch spread throughout the Mediterranean basin through vigorous colonization. As the major city-states grew in size they spawn a plethora of coastal towns in the Aegean, the Ionian, Anatolia (today’s Turkey), Phoenicia (the Middle East), Libya, Southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and as far as southern France, Spain, and the Black Sea. These states, settlements, and trading posts numbered in the hundreds, and became part of an extensive commercial network that involved all the advanced civilizations of the time. As a consequence, Greece came into contact and aided in the exchange of goods and ideas throughout ancient Africa, Asia, and Europe. Through domination of commerce in the Mediterranean, aggressive expansion abroad, and competition at home, several very strong city-states began emerging as dominant cultural centers, most notably Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, Syracuse, Miletus, Halicarnassus among other.

Next: Classical Greece