History Affairs

Locating Ancient Greece Civilization

Ancient Greece is known as the birthplace of modern civilization, influencing various aspects such as art, politics, and philosophy. But where exactly was it located? This question can be tricky to answer as Ancient Greece evolved and expanded over time, covering a large portion of the world. In this article, we will explore the geography…

Ancient Greece is known as the birthplace of modern civilization, influencing various aspects such as art, politics, and philosophy. But where exactly was it located? This question can be tricky to answer as Ancient Greece evolved and expanded over time, covering a large portion of the world. In this article, we will explore the geography of Ancient Greece during Classical Antiquity, which began in the 8th century BCE after the collapse of the Mycenean Civilization and the Greek Dark Ages. Spanning a period of approximately 800-146 BCE, Ancient Greece continues to captivate and inspire scholars and thinkers. Let’s delve into its geographical scope and how it played a role in its achievements.

Ancient Greece Began Near the Aegean Sea

ancient greece aegean sea

Check out this beautiful view of the Aegean Sea, courtesy of Cruise Greece Yachts! Did you know that the first settlements of Ancient Greece were established in this area? This was around 800 BCE, after a period known as the Greek dark ages. The landscape was full of mountains, so people started building farms in valleys or on islands to stay hidden and safe from enemies. These communities had their own unique dialects and cultural traditions.

Cities, or city-states, emerged in the valleys close to the Aegean Sea

The ruins of the ancient city of Sparta can be seen in this picture from Lonely Planet. Many areas around the Aegean Sea turned into city-states, also known as polis, during Ancient Greek times. These city-states were very territorial and fiercely independent. The rugged landscape of the region helped keep them separate, but some cities also built huge walls for added protection against outside threats. City-states played a crucial role in Ancient Greek society, with each one having its own urban center, surrounding homes, and countryside. Most temples and government buildings were situated on top of a hill, called an acropolis, like the famous Parthenon in Athens that still stands today. Surprisingly, there were over 1,000 different city-states in Ancient Greece (too many to name here!). Some of the most powerful and populous ones were Athens, Sparta, Syracuse, Thebes, and Corinth.

In its Prime, Ancient Greece Covered Islands Throughout the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and Beyond…

ancient city of sparta ruins

This map shows the Greek colonies that existed until 500 BCE, and it is provided by the Oxford Classical Dictionary. You can sign up to receive our weekly newsletter and stay updated with the latest articles.

During the mid-8th century BCE, the Greeks had established settlements all over the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. The borders of Ancient Greece extended to modern-day countries such as Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, and parts of North Africa, with most of their colonies located along the coast. As the Greek philosopher Plato once remarked, they lived around the sea like frogs around a pond. By 600 BCE, Greek colonies had expanded even further, reaching as far as Spain in the west, Cyprus in the east, and covering vast territories in present-day Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, and Libya.

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Ancient Greece extended into present-day Sicily and southern Italy, which was referred to as Magna Graecia

ancient greece map 500 BCE

This cool picture shows the ancient city of Paestum, also known as Poseidonia, in Ancient Greece. It’s from way back in the 6th century BCE and was featured in Architectural Digest. Back then, Sicily and Southern Italy were hot spots for Greek people to settle down, starting in the mid-8th century BCE. They even called it Magna Graecia, which means greater Greece, because there were so many Greeks living there. The area was super popular because of its awesome soil and access to trade routes, which helped the society thrive. The Greeks had a really fancy culture that ended up inspiring and influencing the future Romans.

This Early Civilization Eventually Reached the Middle East

This marble bust, created by Bartolomeo Cavaceppi in the late 18th century, depicts Alexander the Great, the fearless ruler of Macedon from 336 BCE to 334 BCE. During his reign, Ancient Greece expanded its territory to include parts of the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, the Middle East, and even Asia, resulting in a fusion of Greek and Eastern cultures known as Hellenistic. However, Rome eventually took over Greece in 146 BCE, marking the end of their dominance on the world stage. But that’s a story for another time.

young writer Olivia on Greco-civilization
Olivia Reyes
Dr. Olivia Reyes specializes in Medieval European Literature. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Oxford. Formerly a high school teacher, she now works as a freelance writer and editor. In her free time, Sophie enjoys playing the violin and composing music.

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