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Ancient Greece is the term used to describe the Greek-speaking world in ancient times. It refers not only to the territory of the present Greek state, but also to those areas settled in ancient times by Greeks: Cyprus, the Aegean coast of Turkey (then known as Ionia), Sicily and southern Italy (known as Great Greece), and the scattered Greek settlements on the coasts of what are now Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Libya, Spain, and Ukraine.
There are no fixed or universally agreed dates for the beginning or the end of the Ancient Greek period. In common usage it refers to all Greek history before the Roman Empire, but historians use the term more precisely. Some writers include the periods of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations (from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC), while others argue that these civilisations, while Greek-speaking, were so different from later Greek cultures that they should be classed separately.
Traditionally, the Ancient Greek period was taken to begin with the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, but most historians now extend the term back to about 1000 BC. The traditional date for the end of the Ancient Greek period is the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. The following period is classed Hellenistic.
These dates are historians' conventions and some writers treat the Ancient Greek civilisation as a continuum running until the advent of Christianity in the third century AD.
Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western Civilization, although this view has come under more critical scrutiny in recent decades. Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilisation has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and America.
Page Updated: Mon Sep 27 21:04:11 2004
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