School in a Book: History of Europe

This School in a Book section is in progress.

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Ancient Greece: The area of Europe and the Middle East that formed around 3000 BCE as a collection of individually governed city-states, but that were culturally related. Ancient Greece included modern-day Greece, Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea, Crete and more. Greece was mountainous, not in a river basin like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Therefore, land was highy valued. Also, Greeks were more isolated from each other and the rest of the ancient world and developed many unique ways. Each city was very proud of itself. Citizens referred to themselves by their first names and the name of their city (polis).

Major aspects of the Greek influence: Democracy, philosophy, rhetoric/oratory, rationalism, individualism, theater, and much more. As a fringe society, Greece assimilated cultural ideas from the larger, more vibrant Mesopotamian civilizations, then built on them.

Minoans: Lived on the island of Crete from about 1700 to 1450. A lost civilization. A palace complex that was the center of city life. Disappeared by 1500 for unknown reasons.

King Minos: The king of the Minoans that was said to be the stepfather of the fabled monster called the Minotaur. Palace called Kuossos (?). Large and elaborate, with a labrynth? Language called Linear A. NOT a predecessor of the Greek language. Large bureauocracy. First people to create indoor plumbing. First great artists. Huge, amazing architecture. Great traders, especially with Egypt. Rich. Peaceful. Since they lived on an island, wealth was directed at cultural achievement rather than protection.

Myceaneans: Linear B, which we know how to decipher. This was the precursor to Greek. Lived in Mycenae. Inhabitants there were called in Homer the “Acheans,” though we call them Myceneans. A very impressive city. Graves filled with gold, silver, ivory, weapons. Warlike. Ruled by kings, including King Agamemnon.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)


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