The history of Athens
One of the longest History of Athens Greece of any city in Europe and the world is that of Athens. Over the course of more than 3,000 years, people have lived in Athens, which became the most important city in Ancient Greece in the first millennium BC. The foundations of western civilization were laid by its cultural achievements in the 5th century BC. Its infrastructure is comparable to that of ancient Greece.
During the Middle Ages, the city went through periods of decline before recovering under the Byzantine Empire. During the Crusades, the city was relatively prosperous and benefited from Italian trade. Athens reemerged as the capital of the independent Greek state in the 19th century after a lengthy period of decline under Ottoman rule.
Origins and Setting
In the Neolithic, Athens was a hill fort on top of the Acropolis, or “high city,” sometime in the turn between the fourth and third millennia BC. The natural defensive position of the Acropolis commands the plains that surround it. The settlement was in the middle of the Cephisian Plain, a fertile valley surrounded by rivers, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) inland from the Saronic Gulf. Mount Hymettus is to the east, and Mount Pentelicus is to the north.
The ancient city of Athens was traversed by the River Cephisus, which was once a part of the city. In comparison to the sprawling metropolis of contemporary Athens, ancient Athens occupied a very small area. The ancient city, which was surrounded by walls, had a radius of about 2 kilometers from east to west and about the same from north to south. However, at its greatest, the city had suburbs that extended well beyond these walls. Just south of the center of this walled area was the Acropolis. The city’s commercial and social hub, the Agora, was located in the Monastiraki neighborhood, about 400 meters (1,312 feet) north of the Acropolis. The Athenian Assembly convened on the Pnyx hill, which was located at the western end of the city.
The Temple of Athena, which is now known as the Parthenon, was one of the most important religious sites in ancient Athens. It was on top of the Acropolis, where its striking ruins still stand. Within the city walls are two additional significant religious sites: the Temple of Hephaestus, which is still largely intact, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus or Olympeion, which was once Greece’s largest temple but is now in ruins.
When exactly did Greek mythopoeia begin?
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact beginning of Greek Mythology. Over the years, details of the ancient tales have been discovered on everything from stone statues and temples to pottery.
However, the Mycenaeans of Crete, a Greek island, are believed to have established the first Ancient Greek civilisations* nearly 4000 years ago (approximately 1600 BC). In 800 BC, the Greeks began to divide their land into city-states, each with its own laws, customs, and rulers, as the Ancient Greek Empire spread across Europe.
The first written description of Greek mythology
Greek mythology was provided in Hesiod’s Theogony, which was written around 700 BC. A family tree of elements, Gods, and Goddesses who emerged from Chaos and descended from:
• Gaia (earth)
• Ouranos (sky)
• Pontos (sea)and
• Tartaros (underworld)
The epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, written by Homer, are the two oldest surviving examples of Greek literature. They describe the Trojan War, a conflict between the Greeks and the city of Troy that took place nearly 1200 years before the Common Era.
History of Athens Greece