The civilization of Greece and Rome prospered along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From the city of Athens, Greek civilization developed an amazing legacy.
As the Greeks founded cities throughout thd Mediterranean Sea, they spread their ideas far beyond their homeland.
Fix your eyes on the greatness of Athens as you have it now before you day by day... and when you feel her greatness, remember that it was won by men with courage, and knowledge of their duty. For you now it remains to rival what they have done.
The Aegean is a sea lying north of the eastern and of the great Mediterranean Sea. This was the site of ancient Greece. Its land were very different from the river valley civilizations.
The "Aegean World" includes the shores of two continents-- Europe and Asia. As you will learn, the history of Greece was influenced by this fact. Its history was also shaped by the fact that the "Aegean World" is made up of countless peninsulas and islands. A peninsula is land that is surrounded by water on three sides.Attica and the hilly Peloponnesus are major peninsulas. Crete and Rhodes are the largest if the Aegean islands.
Sea travel gradually linked ancient Greece to other societies. The Greek islands were like steppingstones across the Aegean sea. Even in small ships and without compasses, Greek sailors could go from one island to another and thus reach the older, richer civilizations in Asia and Africa.
By 800 B. C. the Greeks has become accomplished sailors. The major sailing vessel, a trireme, was powered by three banks od oarsmen.
Triremes enabled the early Greeks to sail far and wide. Greek merchants traveled all around the Mediterranean Sea. Triremes sailed to the Black Sea for fish, to Cyprus for timber, to the Nile Delta for grains, and to the Italian peninsula for meat. In exchange for these goods, Greece traded grapes, wine, olives, olive oil, wool, pottery, tiles, marbles, and works of art.
The Greeks were not the only seafaring traders in the Mediterranean Sea in ancient times. The people if Phoenicia also had learned the advantages of sea travel. The Phoenicians had become great sailors because their homeland also stretched along Mediterranean shores. Both Greeks and the Phoenicians sailed in search of goods that their lands could not supply.
The Greeka and the Phoenicians sent groups of their people to settle in new lands. Such a settlement, or colony, helped trade. Greek and Phoenician colonies were set up throughout the Mediterranean region. By 750 B.C. there were colonies in Asia Minor, along the shores of the Black Sea, in North Africa, along the Italian and Iberian peninsulas, and on many Mediterranean islands. Often the Greeks and Phoenicians competed for control of useful places.