Learning about Greece - Ancient Greece Quick Facts
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The Thera volcano erupted around 1646 BC.  The explosion was the most powerful of any volcano in the last 10,000 years, about 200 times as powerful as the explosion of Mount St. Helens in the U.S. 
7 cubic miles of magma were released in the initial explosion and the column of ash from the eruption was likely about 23 miles high.  The boom was so loud, people heard it in Sweden.
The eruption destroyed temples throughout the Greek isles and the resulting tsunami's devastation may have contributed to the demise of the Minoan civilization on Crete.
Akrotiri had a population of about 5,000 to 20,000 before the explosion, who lived on the rim of what became a giant caldera.  All the town's buildings were buried under layers of pumice and ash.
In 1967, excavations of Akrotiri were begun by archeological professor Spyridon Marinatos, whose student, Christos Doumas, continues the work today - but only about 1/30th of the city has been unearthed.
Archeologists have not turned up any human remains in Akrotiri, suggesting that the population either escaped the island before the explosion or huddled in camps away from Akrotiri.
The wall paintings from Akrotiri are some of the best-preserved remains of early Aegean cultures.
Some historians believe Santorini may have been the source of the fabled Atlantis legend.


The construction of the Parthenon was started in approximately 447 BC and took approximately ten years to complete.  It was designed by the architects Itkinos and Callicrates with the help of leading sculptor Phidias.
The building was constructed out of Pentelic marble, using approximately 13,400 stones.
There are no absolute straight lines in the design of the Parthenon, giving it a very organic feeling.
The Parthenon rises to 64 feet high and was 230 feet long.  It contains 46 Doric columns.
Parthenon literally means "virgin's place" and was a temple for the Goddess Athena.
The vividly painted statue of Athena was 42 feet tall and took the sculptor Phidias about 9 years of work.  More than 1,000 KG of gold was used to create the gold and ivory statue.
The statue of Athena was first looted by the Greek tyrant Lachares who stripped off the gold plates and used the metal to pay his army.  Later, in the 5th Century AD, the statue was carted away to Constantinople by the Byzantines and is believed to have been destroyed during the Crusades.
The frieze of the Parthenon is one of the first to depict common people along with the Gods, reflecting the Greek love and belief in democratic principles.


7000-3000 B.C.

Neolithic Period:  The first settlements appear in Greece, started by arriving nomads, and the first evidence of seafaring is found

1700-1100 B.C.

Bronze Age:  The advanced Minoan and Mycenean Civilizations arise in the Greek Isles

1646 B.C.
The most massive volcanic explosion known to mankind explodes on Thera (today Santorini), setting off tidal waves and likely changing the tide of Minoan history
1100-750 B.C.

Known as the “Dark Ages” of Ancient Greece because few written records remain of this time.

800 B.C.
Greeks begin communicating with other civilizations of the Mediterranean
750 B.C.-500 B.C.

The Archaic Period:  The first city-states are formed, the Greeks begin trading with Asia and Greeks begin emigrating to islands across the Mediterranean

776 B.C.
The first Olympic Games are held
700 B.C.
Homer writes The Odyssey
508 B.C.
Democracy begins in Athens
500-336 B.C.
The Classical Age or "The Golden Age" of Greece is in full swing:  tremendous advances in art, science, politics and culture take place in 100 to 200 years
472-410 B.C.

Theatre arrives in Athens and many of the most famous Greek plays are written during this period

438 B.C.
The Parthenon, devoted to the Goddess Athena and one of the greatest architectural works of all time, is completed after nearly 10 years of construction
431 B.C.
War between Athens and Sparta (the Peloponnesian War) breaks out
404 B.C.
Sparta claims victory over Athens
399 B.C.
Socrates, the self-educated stonemason who became one of Greece’s greatest philosophers, is condemned to death for his teaching methods
356 B.C.
Philip II becomes King of Macedonia and Macedonia soon after defeats Athens
336 B.C.

Phillip II is assassinated and Alexander the Great becomes King of Macedonia, ushering in the Hellenistic Age

146 B.C.
Rome conquers Greece and Greece becomes part of the Roman Empire
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