“Classical Greeks” – Geslowitz

Ancient Greece developed into rich and innovative culture.  Greece developed the way it did due to the h\geography of the region.  Mainland Greece was rich in iron, lumber and other important resources.  However, each valley of fertile soil could only support a limited population.  This limited food supply created the need for trade with other civilizations to feed a growing population.  Greece was separated into a collection of city states each with their own set of rules and culture.

The constant rivalry between cities allowed for the invention and improvement of military tactics.  The Greeks adopted the trireme from the Phoenicians.  The teamwork used by the oarsmen on a trireme was the inspiration for the phalanx.  This military tactic was a unit of soldiers that moved as one while wielding spears and shields.  This wall of soldiers was very effective on flat terrain and even against mounted units.

Because of the city-states’ separation, idea for government, military and civilian life were drastically different.  Sparta and Athens are the best example of these regional differences.  Sparta developed a society of warriors that were controlled by the state.  All citizens were trained in the military arts.  The boys were adopted by the state at a young age to be bred into perfect soldiers.  Athens developed a society based in democracy.  All citizens, freeborn men older than 20 years of age, voted in all matters of the state including declarations of war.  However, these rivalries ended when there was a common enemy to Greece, the Persian Empire.  The Greeks and the Persians fought a series of wars lasting almost 40 years.  In the end, the Greeks were able to defeat the Persians by banding together and using their better military tactics and advanced technology.

Not all Greek innovation was involved in wartime efforts.  As a Greek city-state grew in wealth a culture of art, science and philosophy.  The Greeks adopted Egyptian sculpture and pottery.  The Greeks also implemented the Phoenician alphabet, which caused the literacy of Greece to skyrocket.  the use of written language allowed many great writers to create some of the greatest literary works of that age, for example Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.  Drama and theater were also born out of this.

The upper class began to explore philosophy, natural science and mathematics.  The Greeks focused on pure philosophy, which was understanding for the sake of understanding.  The great philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle often purposed questions just for its own sake. In the field of science, it was never applied science such as engineering.  The wanted to explain the world without the use of a higher power.  the Greeks also refined many architectural technologies and perfected craftsmanship.

Greece owes its widespread legacy to Alexander the great.  Alexander and his father before him were able to expand the Greek sphere of influence as far as modern-day Afghanistan.  Even after Alexander’s death, the formerly conquered regions were divided among the high-ranking military leader of Greece.  Eurasia was ruled by those who followed Classical Greek culture.  The Hellenistic empire allowed the extensive spread of ideas from both ends of the known world. 


“History of Greece: Hellenistic”

Alexander the Great took the local Greek culture and transformed it into a vibrant culture that spread from the Mediterranean to southwest Asia.  After the death of Alexander the Great there was no heir to the empire, so the generals of his army and split the once great empire into three.  yet the individual city-states still grew in influence.  however no other city could rival the influence of Alexandria in Egypt.  This region was joined through this conflict but many great outcome came of this, especially int he fields of science and mathematics.



When – and why – did people first start using money?- Kusimba


Ever since the exchange of good began, currency has been a vital component to fair trade.  Humans have used a form of currency for over 40,000 years.  Before currency’s conception people used a barter system.  Two parties would make direct deals of multiple types of goods.  The amount was agreed upon by both parties. However, there was no set exchange rate.  Many times, one party would receive the short end of the stick, so to speak. 

Once a need rose for a cash currency to enabling of gift giving, debt payment and a standard measure of trade.  At first, people started using natural objects such as shells, but later moved on to using coins.  This need rose due to enabling of gift giving, debt payment and a common measure of trade.  Objects that rarely occur naturally served well as an early currency.  The earliest known currency is the Mesopotamian shekel.  The elites of this civilization would exchange wealth in the form of stamped gold or silver pieces. 

The Mesopotamian shekel was the first of many coins used in many civilizations from all over Europe, Asia and North Africa.  Coinage gained worldwide popularity due to its portability, resilience, and intrinsic worth; political leaders were also able to control the inflation through control of currency production.  Political control also extended to taxes to support public works and military protection.  Furthermore, coins helped to connect distant civilizations.  Kusimba explained how merchants view the variety of their currency to be a source of pride.  The more currencies a merchant has the more successful he is in worldwide trade.

Today currency is becoming digital through credit cards and services like PayPal, yet our ancient ancestors will still understand its purpose and use.


Related Reading: https://www.ancient.eu/coinage/                                                            Jan van der Crabben, April 28, 2011

This article gives more detail on different types of coins from the ancient world.  The true origin of coins in uncertain and because of this every early civilization claimed theirs to be the first.  Many famous ancient scholars like Aristotle claim the first currencies were found in Greece and were minted by monarchs like the king Pheidon or Argos or Demodike of Kyrme.  This article also includes how coins were spread around the entire known world.  At the end of the article the author included a video of the history of Rome told through their coins.



Brandon Walter (wc: 390)