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The Classical Age – 2000 BC to 500 AD Part 2
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  2/13/12
By: Yona Williams

In the Classical Age of ancient Greece, the Dorians were quite different than the Greeks that came before and after them. They preferred a more nomadic way of life. After they took over the land for hundreds of years, the inhabitants of Sparta and Athens took Greece into a Golden Age.

The Dorians

The Dorians, known for their tribal and nomadic ways overcame the Mycenaeans in 1100 BC and brought Greece into a period of decline that lasted more than 300 years. This time period is referred to the Dark Ages. The arts and literature suffered during this time and the script that the Myceaneans used to record history and write had disappeared. The Dorians spent their time concentrating on living the lives of shepherds and hunters. With the Dorians, they also put an end to the Bronze Age, as they used weapons that were fashioned out of the more durable material of iron.

Some of the differences that the Dorians displayed within their culture included:

•    They spoke a Doric dialect of Greek and throughout their colonies, they kept the characteristics of their Doric calendar, which revolved around a cycle of festivals where certain flowers were especially significant to the people.

•    Dorian women wore different dresses from the other ladies of their time. It was commonplace to pin dresses with a brooch – many Hellenistic women did so. However, Dorian women wore a plain dress called a tunic that did not need any pins. The Ionian women adopted a new dress that made use of a brooch.

•    The Dorians had an order of architecture that created a tradition that Vitruvius set into motion. The Doric column was one of the features that came out of this style – it was noted for its uncomplicated design and strength.

•    The Dorians created the Dorian mode in the music world, which involved eight notes and two tetrachords (four-note segments) that were separated by a whole tone.

The Spartans and Athenians

From about 500 to 300 BC, Greece entered the Golden Age, which produced a great deal of influential philosopher, monuments, art works, architecture and literature. At the center of the progress was Athens (the center of the arts, education and democracy) and Sparta (which offered their strengths in military).

When the Dark Ages ended in classical Greek civilization around 800 BC, the Dorians had become more settled and started to engage in trade. Culture on mainland Greece ended a period of revival. This brought about city-states that would govern themselves.

With the changes that followed the Dark Ages, certain cities became more powerful and influential. An organized military center was situated in Sparta. Athens became the center for democracy, education and the arts. These changes marked the start of the great Hellenic period of classical Greek civilization. A significant turning point happened during the middle of 400 BC, as Athens helped Greece enter the Golden Age. This time period is marked by many achievements in philosophy, monuments, art, architecture and literature.

Right in the thick of everything during this time was the Athenians and the Spartans. They were the most well-known out of all the city-states and great rivals. However, the ancient world benefited for the distinct strengths that both city-states possessed.


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