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Ancient Greece, 2000-30 BCE
Overview, Key Understandings & Questions

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Geography impacts a civilization's ability to communicate and unify
  • Centralization allows for culture to flourish and disseminate
  • Oral history and tradition perpetuate cultural norms and religion
  • Societal celebrations and norms can glorify and support warfare
  • Political structure influences the economic stratification of a society
  • Democratic systems value the rights and opinions of citizens
  • Internal rivalry leads to competitive rather than collaborative systems
  • Art and architecture depict society's values and histories
  • Philosophy, or the love of wisdom, contributes to the betterment of society through academic research, reasoning, and discovery
  • Strong leadership leads to success of political and military campaigns
  • Cultural diffusion can lead to romanticism of past civilizations and culture

Key Questions


  • How did the geography of Crete influence the development of Minoan culture? In what way was Minoan civilization well-situated for participation in trade?
  • What kinds of clues about Minoan society can be found in the civilization's art and architecture?
  • Why is it significant that the Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear B writing systems remain undeciphered? What kinds of information about an ancient society can be found in writing and not necessarily in other sources?
  • Why do you think the cause of Minoan civilization's fall remains uncertain?


  • What role did Homer's epics play in ancient Greek culture? Why do you think those works were so influential?
  • Why was Heinrich Schliemann's discovery so significant? How did it change modern understanding of the Mycenaeans?
  • How did Mycenaean rulers build and express their power? What was the place of warfare in Mycenaean society?


  • How did Solon contribute to the development of Athenian democracy? How did that system differ from the earlier oligarchic government of Athens?
  • How did the Athenians view the rights and responsibilities of citizenship? In what sense was Athenian citizenship more limited than citizenship in modern democracies? How did the lives of non-citizens differ from those of citizens?
  • How were places such as the Acropolis and the agora important to public life in Athens?


  • How did the Spartan state manage the lives of its citizens? How did the state ensure its military strength?
  • In what ways were the lives of Spartans less free than those of Athenians? In what ways were they more free? Why were art and culture less developed at Sparta than they were at Athens?
  • How did the lives of the Helots differ from those of Spartan citizens? Why were the Helots so important to the functioning of Spartan society?
  • Why do you think Sparta was able to become a powerful rival of Athens?

Greek Art and Culture

  • How did the classical Greek sculpture that flourished during the fifth century BCE differ from the style of earlier Greek sculpture?
  • Why did Greek artists portray the gods as human figures? Why do you think athletes were often the subjects of Greek sculpture?
  • How did the classical Greek style in sculpture influence later art?

Greek Philosophy and Science

  • How did the needs of public life help define the structure and focus of education in ancient Greece?
  • How did Socrates encourage his students to seek the truth? Why was Socrates seen as a threat by some Athenians? How do Socrates's ideas continue to influence education today?
  • How did Aristotle challenge the ideas of his teacher, Plato? How did their approaches to attaining knowledge differ?
  • How did Greek philosophers make contributions to early science? Why were these contributions important even though their scientific ideas were often incorrect?

Greece at War

  • How did Greek citizens participate in warfare? Why was it important for the citizens of city-states to provide military service?
  • How did the Greek city-states respond to the Persian invasions? Why is the Greek victory over Persia considered so remarkable?
  • How did the Persian Wars change Athens's status among the other Greek city-states? How might this have contributed to the start of the Peloponnesian War?
  • How did the outcome of the Peloponnesian War affect both Athens and Sparta? What was the long-term effect for the Greek city-states in general?

Alexander the Great

  • How did Alexander the Great's father lay the foundation for him to become a successful commander? How did Alexander's education in Greek culture prove significant?
  • Why do you think Alexander was such a successful conqueror? Why was his defeat of Persian king Darius III so important?
  • What methods did Alexander use to unify his empire? How did his rule influence and change culture throughout his empire?
  • Why did Alexander's empire break up after his death?

The Hellenistic World

  • Why did so many new ideas and cultural developments arise in the Hellenistic world? How did local traditions survive alongside the spread of Greek influences?
  • How did religion interact with the state in Hellenistic kingdoms? Why do you think mystery religions became popular in Hellenistic societies?
  • How did science advance during the Hellenistic age? How was learning encouraged in the Hellenistic kingdoms?
  • How did the Hellenistic world influence later civilizations and cultures?

MLA Citation

"Ancient Greece, 2000-30 Bce." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Display/2158283?cid=246. Accessed 21 Jan. 2020.

Entry ID: 2158283

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