history of athens


  • [29] Middle Ages Byzantine Athens[edit] Further information: Byzantine Empire, Byzantine Greece, and Hellas (theme) The city was threatened by Saracen raids in the 8th–9th
    centuries—in 896, Athens was raided and possibly occupied for a short period, an event which left some archaeological remains and elements of Arabic ornamentation in contemporary buildings[31]—but there is also evidence of a mosque existing
    in the city at the time.

  • [25] The Macedonian astronomer Andronicus of Cyrrhus subsequently designed the Tower of the Winds for the Roman forum, which mostly survives to the present day Under Roman
    rule, Athens was given the status of a free city because of its widely admired schools.

  • Late Antiquity In the early 4th century AD, the eastern Roman empire began to be governed from Constantinople, and with the construction and expansion of the imperial city,
    many of Athens’s works of art were taken by the emperors to adorn it.

  • Almost all of the most important Middle Byzantine churches in and around Athens were built during these two centuries, and this reflects the growth of the town in general.

  • Along with rest of Byzantine Greece, Athens was part of the series of feudal fiefs, similar to the Crusader states established in Syria and on Cyprus after the First Crusade.

  • Athens thus came under Roman rule.

  • Following a period of sharp decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens re-emerged in the 19th century as the capital of the independent and self-governing Greek

  • In this dialogue, a story is told about information given to Athenian leader Solon from Egyptian priests of the goddess Neith while he visited Egypt, according to which a
    well advanced Athenian state was established 9,000 years prior to his time that preceded Egypt’s oldest kingdom by a thousand years.

  • Roman Athens[edit] Main articles: Roman Greece and Roman Empire The ruins of the Roman Agora, the second commercial centre of ancient Athens During the First Mithridatic War,
    Athens was ruled by Aristion, a tyrant installed by Mithridates the Great.

  • Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BC, and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BC laid the
    foundations of Western civilization.

  • [18] Subsequently, the conquests of Alexander the Great widened Greek horizons and made the traditional Greek city state obsolete.

  • [29] The emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) banned the teaching of philosophy by pagans in 529,[30] an event whose impact on the city is much debated,[29] but is generally taken
    to mark the end of the ancient history of Athens.

  • [29] In the great dispute over Byzantine Iconoclasm, Athens is commonly held to have supported the iconophile position, chiefly due to the role played by Empress Irene of
    Athens in the ending of the first period of Iconoclasm at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

  • But then the Greek cities (including Athens and Sparta) turned against Thebes, whose dominance was stopped at the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC) with the death of its military-genius
    leader Epaminondas.

  • In the later Roman period, Athens was ruled by the emperors continuing until the 13th century, its citizens identifying themselves as citizens of the Roman Empire (“Rhomaioi”).

  • Founding myths[edit] According to legend, Athens was formerly ruled by kings, a situation which may have continued up until the 9th century BC.

  • [12] This position may well have resulted from its central location in the Greek world, its secure stronghold on the Acropolis and its access to the sea, which gave it a natural
    advantage over inland rivals such as Thebes and Sparta.

  • Ancient Athens, in the first millennium BC, occupied a very small area compared to the sprawling metropolis of modern Greece.

  • [7] Geographical setting There is evidence that the site on which the Acropolis (‘high city’) stands was first inhabited in the Neolithic period, perhaps as a defensible settlement,
    around the end of the fourth millennium BC or a little later.

  • Classical Athens[edit] Main article: Classical Athens Further information: Classical Greece Roman statuette of Athena, copy of the Phidias statue, created for the Parthenon
    in 447 BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens Early Athenian military history and Persian era[edit] Main articles: Ionian Revolt and Graeco-Persian Wars Prior to the rise of Athens, Sparta considered itself to be the leader (or hegemon)
    of the Greeks[citation needed].

  • Athens and the rise of Macedon[edit] Main article: Rise of Macedon By the mid-4th century BC, however, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was becoming dominant in Athenian

  • The conflict was a drawn out one that saw Sparta control the land while Athens was dominant at sea, however the disastrous Sicilian Expedition severely weakened Athens and
    the war eventually ended in an Athenian defeat following the Battle of Aegospotami which ended Athenian naval supremacy.

  • Athens remained a wealthy city with a brilliant cultural life, but ceased to be a leading power.

  • [29] The sack of the city by the Herules in 267 and by the Visigoths under their king Alaric I (r. 395–410) in 396, however, dealt a heavy blow to the city’s fabric and fortunes,
    and Athens was henceforth confined to a small fortified area that embraced a fraction of the ancient city.

  • The Florentines had to dispute the city with the Republic of Venice, but they ultimately emerged victorious after seven years of Venetian rule (1395–1402).

  • The new system laid the foundations for what eventually became Athenian democracy, but in the short-term it failed to quell class conflict and after twenty years of unrest
    the popular party, led by Peisistratos, seized power.

  • [citation needed] However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years following this.

  • During Michel Fourmont’s visit in the city in the 1720s, he witnessed much construction going on, and by the time the Athenian teacher Ioannis Benizelos wrote an account of
    the city’s affairs in the 1770s, Athens was once again enjoying some prosperity, so that, according to Benizelos, it “could be cited as an example to the other cities of Greece”.

  • It did not become Greek in government again until the 19th century.

  • This process of synoikismos – the bringing together into one home – created the largest and wealthiest state on the Greek mainland, but it also created a larger class of people
    excluded from political life by the nobility.

  • After Thebes became a possession of the Latin dukes, which were of the Burgundian family called De la Roche, it replaced Athens as the capital and seat of government, although
    Athens remained the most influential ecclesiastical centre in the duchy and site of a prime fortress.

  • The leading statesman of the mid-fifth century BC was Pericles, who used the tribute paid by the members of the Delian League to build the Parthenon and other great monuments
    of classical Athens.

  • Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is unclear whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event traditionally attributed to a Dorian
    invasion (though now commonly attributed to a systems collapse, part of the Late Bronze Age collapse).

  • [28] Under Ottoman rule, Athens was denuded of any importance and its population severely declined, leaving it as a “small country town” (Franz Babinger).

  • Peloponnesian War[edit] Main article: Peloponnesian War The resentment felt by other cities at the hegemony of Athens led to the Peloponnesian War, which began in 431 BC and
    pitted Athens and its increasingly rebellious overseas empire against a coalition of land-based states led by Sparta.

  • Peisistratos was in fact a very popular ruler, who made Athens wealthy, powerful, and a centre of culture.

  • In the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), Philip II’s armies defeated an alliance of some of the Greek city-states including Athens and Thebes, forcing them into a confederation
    and effectively limiting Athenian independence.

  • Classical period[edit] During the 1st millennium BC, Athens succeeded in bringing the other towns of Attica under its rule.

  • Iron Age burials, in the Kerameikos and other locations, are often richly provided for and demonstrate that from 900 BC onwards Athens was one of the leading centres of trade
    and prosperity in the region; as were Lefkandi in Euboea and Knossos in Crete.

  • Two other major religious sites, the Temple of Hephaestus (which is still largely intact) and the Temple of Olympian Zeus or Olympeion (once the largest temple in mainland
    Greece but now in ruins) also lay within the city walls.

  • As the empire became increasingly anti-pagan, Athens became a provincial town and experienced fluctuating fortunes.

  • Further information: Duchy of Athens and Frankokratia From 1204 until 1458, Athens was ruled by Latins in three separate periods, following the Crusades.

  • Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for perhaps 5,000 years.

  • However, this medieval prosperity was not to last.

  • [36] In 1759 the new pasha, a native Muslim, destroyed one of the pillars of the Temple of Olympian Zeus to provide material for a fifth mosque for the city—an illegal act,
    as the temple was considered the Sultan’s property.

  • In 88–85 BC, most Athenian fortifications and homes were leveled by the Roman general Sulla after the Siege of Athens and Piraeus, although many civic buildings and monuments
    were left intact.

  • The Turkish community numbered several families established in the city since the Ottoman conquest; and their relations with their Christian neighbours were friendlier than
    elsewhere, as they had assimilated

  • In addition, no evidence exists of any possible cultural or other ties between Egypt and any part of present-day Greece at such early a date.

  • The city of Athens was twice captured and sacked by the Persians within one year after Thermopylae.

  • The poorest class, the Thetai, (Ancient Greek ) who formed the majority of the population, received political rights for the first time and were able to vote in the Ecclesia

  • (Later the Southern Italian city of Paestum was founded under the name of Poseidonia at about 600 BC.)

  • Corinthian War and the Second Athenian League[edit] Sparta’s former allies soon turned against her, due to her imperialist policy, and soon Athens’ former enemies Thebes and
    Corinth had become her allies; they fought with Athens and Argos against Sparta in the indecisive Corinthian War (395 – 387 BC).

  • The hill of the Pnyx, where the Athenian Assembly met, lay at the western end of the city.

  • Early modern period Ottoman Athens[edit] Leonardos Philaras (c. 1595–1673) was a Greek scholar, born in Athens,[32] and an early supporter of Greek liberation.

  • During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then recovered under the later Byzantine Empire and was relatively prosperous during the period of the Crusades
    (12th and 13th centuries), benefiting from Italian trade.

  • [16] Athens then took the war to Asia Minor.

  • The period following the death of Alexander in 323 BC is known as Hellenistic Greece.

  • One of the most important religious sites in ancient Athens was the Temple of Athena, known today as the Parthenon, which stood on top of the Acropolis, where its evocative
    ruins still stand.

  • However, after losing the fleet one year prior, Polyperchon had to flee Macedon when in 316 BC Cassander secured control of Athens.

  • [33] The first Ottoman attack on Athens, which involved a short-lived occupation of the town, came in 1397, under the Ottoman generals Yaqub Pasha and Timurtash.

  • This system remained remarkably stable and, with a few brief interruptions, it remained in place for 170 years, until Philip II of Macedon defeated Athens and Thebes at the
    Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC.

  • Athens and the rise of the Roman empire[edit] After the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC) Rome asserted its hegemony over Magna Graecia and became increasingly involved in Greece and
    the Balkans peninsula.

  • Antiquity Origins and early history[edit] Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the fourth millennium BC, or over 5,000 years.

  • Hellenistic Athens[edit] Further information: Hellenistic Greece, Lamian War, Phocion, Demetrius of Phalerum, Chremonidean War, Second Macedonian War, and First Mithridatic
    War Shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, Antipater and Craterus became joint generals of Greece and Macedonia.

  • Athenian coup of 411 BC[edit] Main article: Athenian coup of 411 BC The Karyatides statues of the Erechtheion, constructed 421–406 BC on the Acropolis Due to its poor handling
    of the war, the democracy in Athens was briefly overthrown by a coup in 411 BC; however, it was quickly restored.

  • [36] Its Greek population possessed a considerable degree of self-government, under a council of primates composed of the leading aristocratic families, along with the city’s
    metropolitan bishop.

  • A sacred olive tree said to be the one created by the goddess was still kept on the Acropolis at the time of Pausanias (2nd century AD).

  • Artists and philosophers[edit] Main articles: Greek philosophy and Greek theatre See also: Attic Greek The modern Academy of Athens, with Apollo and Athena on their columns,
    and Socrates and Plato seated in front The period from the end of the Persian Wars to the Macedonian conquest marked the zenith of Athens as a center of literature, philosophy, and the arts.

  • [13] This story is not supported by any scholarly evidence, as no Athenian state is known to have existed during the 10th millennium BC.

  • [29] Invasion of the empire by the Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and the ensuing civil wars, largely passed the region by and Athens continued its provincial
    existence unharmed.

  • From later accounts, it is believed that these kings stood at the head of a land-owning aristocracy known as the Eupatridae (the ‘well-born’), whose instrument of government
    was a Council which met on the Hill of Ares, called the Areopagus and appointed the chief city officials, the archons and the polemarch (commander-in-chief).

  • The Greeks saw this as a symbol that Athena still had her mark there on the city.


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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tusnelda/9159362388/’]