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Aim: How much did geography affect ancient Mediterranean civilizations?. Period 1: Technological and Environmental Transformations, to c. 600 B.C.E. Key Concept 1.3. The Development and Interactions of Early Agricultural, Pastoral, and Urban Societies. The Phoenicians.

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aim how much did geography affect ancient mediterranean civilizations
Aim: How much did geography affect ancient Mediterranean civilizations?

Period 1: Technological and Environmental Transformations, to c. 600 B.C.E.

Key Concept 1.3. The Development and Interactions of Early Agricultural, Pastoral, and Urban Societies

the phoenicians
The Phoenicians

The Phoenicians were a Semitic people, descended from the Canaanites of the Bible. Skilled seafarers who founded colonies all across the Mediterranean. *Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt may have hired the Phoenicians to circumnavigate (sail around) Africa in 600 BCE. They completed the mission in 3 years.Each colony was its own city-state (it governed itself). Famous for their purple dyed textiles, made from the murex snail. Created the alphabet. Modern day Semitic people include Jewish and Muslim Arabs. In August 2009 the Phoenician Ship Expedition Project launched a replica Phoenician ship from Syria, with the goal to sail completely around Africa by way of the Red Sea. In Oct 2010, the ship had made it!

tyrian purple dye
“Tyrian Purple” Dye

The famous Phoenician purple dye was made from the mucus of the murex snails.

phoenician ships
Phoenician Ships

In August 2009 the Phoenician Ship Expedition Project launched a replica Phoenician ship from Syria, with the goal to sail completely around Africa by way of the Red Sea. In Oct 2010, the ship had made it!

what did the phoenicians look like
What did the Phoenicians look like?

This is the reconstruction of a 19-24 year old man’s skeleton from Carthage. He was 5ft6” tall.

ii geography of greece
II Geography of Greece

A) Part of the Balkan Peninsula

B) Mountains divide the peninsula into isolated valleys

C) The southernmost part of mainland Greece is called the Peloponnesus

greece geography continued
Greece Geography Continued…

D) There are many archipelagos in the Mediterranean Sea

  • Crete is the largest island in Greece
  • Only 20% of land in ancient Greece was suitable for farming. Ancient farmers grew olives (for eating and oil), grapes (for eating and wine) and figs. They also herded sheep (for meat and wool). Fish was and is a main natural resource.
iii minoan civilization 1750 1500 bce
III Minoan Civilization 1750 – 1500 BCE
  • Minoans created a civilization on the island of Crete. Its name is derived from “Minos”, from the myth of the minotaur.

The wife of King Minos of Crete fell in love with a bull and gave birth to the minotaur, a monster that ate children. King Minos had Daedalus build a labyrinth to house the monster, which was fed on child slaves from Athens. Theseus, a young Athenian, was sent to Crete to be the Minotaur’s lunch. However, the daughter of King Minos fell in love with him, and gave him string so he could find his way out of the labrynth, after killing the minotaur. Theseus did kill the minotaur, and became a hero.

Bones of 4 children from 1450 BCE have cut and scrape marks on them. Is this evidence of child sacrifice that may have inspired the myth of the minotaur?

minoan bull art
Minoan Bull Art

What is happening in this fresco (painting on wet cement)? What may it have to do with the legend of the minotaur?

minoan civilization continued
Minoan civilization continued…

2. Developed bronze tools and weapons

3. The palace at Knossos was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans. It had plumbing and toilets!

4. The Minoans, as a sea-faring culture, were in contact with foreign peoples throughout the Aegean, as is evidenced by the Near East and Egyptian influences in their early art, and also in trade. They exchanged pottery and foodstuffs such as oil and wine in return for precious objects and materials such as copper from Cyprus and ivory from Egypt.

what happened to the minoans
What happened to the Minoans?

In 1450 BCE the Minoan civilization was mostly destroyed, possibly due to a tsunami caused by a volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Thira.

Some historians believe that the Minoans were the basis for the mythical story of Atlantis, an advanced civilization that sunk under the ocean.

iv mycenaean civilization 1600 1200 bce
IV Mycenaean Civilization 1600 – 1200 BCE
  • The Mycenaeans conquered the Minoans and mainland Greece, with their capital at Mycenae.
  • Developed Linear B, the first form of the Greek language.
  • Most of what we know about the Mycenaeans comes from Homer’s epic The Iliad and Odyssey. These great works were about the Trojan War, between the Mycenaeans and Troy, a city in Asia Minor.
lion s gate
Lion’s Gate

The Lion’s Gate was the entrance to the great city of Mycenae!

the real city of troy
The Real City of Troy?

“In the Greek poem The Iliad, Prince Paris of Troy steals the gorgeous Helen, of Greece, from her husband, King Menelaus. The act brings the two nations to war, and eventually Greeks led by the warrior Achilles lay siege to Troy. The poet Homer probably wrote the epic in the eighth or ninth century, B.C., several hundred years after the war is supposed to have taken place. Much of it is no doubt fantasy. There is, for example, no evidence that Achilles or even Helen existed. But most scholars agree that Troy itself was a real city, and that the Trojan War indeed happened. Archaeologists who have been digging into the myth of Homer's poem believe the legendary war may have been a process rather than a single event. "The archaeological and textual evidence indicates that a Trojan war or wars took place, and that Homer chose to write about one or more of them by making it into a great ten-year-long saga," said Eric Cline, an archaeologist at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In northwestern Turkey, Heinrich Schliemann excavated the site believed to be Troy in 1870. Schliemann was a German adventurer and con man who took sole credit for the discovery, even though he was digging at the site at the behest of British archaeologist Frank Calvert. The site contains nine cities built on top of each other. There is a citadel in the middle and a town around it. A high wall fortified the town. Eager to find the legendary treasures of Troy, Schliemann blasted his way down to the second city, where he found what he believed were the jewels that once belonged to Helen. As it turns out, the jewels were a thousand years older than the time described in Homer's epic. Today archaeologists believe that the sixth and seventh oldest cities found in layers at Hisarlik are the best candidates for the Troy of The Iliad. Resplendent and strong, city number six looks like Homer's Troy. The problem is that this city's destruction in 1250 B.C. does not appear to have been caused by war but an earthquake.

troy continued
Troy Continued…

In The Iliad, the Greeks breach the city walls by hiding inside a giant horse, which they present as a gift to the Trojans. The Trojan horse could have been a metaphor for Poseidon, a god associated with horses who was both the god of the seas and earthquakes. "The suggestion is that Homer knew that the city he was describing had been destroyed by an earthquake," Cline said. "But that's not how you want to end your monumental saga—with a whimper. So he concocted this idea of a Trojan horse.“ The seventh oldest city at the site, on the other hand, fits the description of a city under siege and destroyed by war in 1175 B.C. Archaeologists have found arrowheads in the streets. But the city itself was not as grand as the one described by Homer. "Homer may have taken the description of Troy 6 and the destruction of Troy 7, and, using poetic license, blurred the two into one ten-year-long war," Cline said. In the late Bronze Age, Troy, if located at the Hisarlik site, would have been a great prize for power-hungry kings. Perched at the entrance to the Black Sea, the city would have been at an international crossroads. The Greek Mycenaean empire would have lain to the west. The Hittite empire, which stretched from Mesopotamia to Syria, would have been to the east. As for its great wealth, Troy may have acquired that by taxing seafarers traveling into the Black Sea. "It would have been a great plum for the Mycenaeans to capture," Cline said. "This war may have been fought for the usual reasons: economic gain, greed, glory, territory, and the control of trade routes." Or the Greeks may not have fought the Trojan War at all. One theory suggests that the lesser known Sea Peoples wrecked Troy. Originally from what is now Italy, the Sea Peoples swept across the Mediterranean Sea from west to east. According to inscriptions found in Egypt, this group came through Troy at the time of the Trojan War, around 1200 B.C. Yet another theory, supported by ancient Hittite texts, suggests an intermittent, 200-year conflict that raged between the Hittite empire and a rebel coalition that included Troy. In this text, the Mycenaeans of Greece actually allied themselves with the Trojans against the Hittites. Archaeologists have found Mycenaean pottery in Troy 6, supporting the suggestion that the two nations were allies… One thing is clear: The wars seem to have ended an age. "Homer is writing a memory of the end of the world," said Diane Thompson, author of The Trojan War: Literature and Legend from the Bronze Age to the Present. "Nostalgia fuels his writing, and it has fueled it ever since.”…” Stefan Lovgren National Geographic 2004

troy continued1
Troy Continued…

Heinrich Schliemann

mycenaean death masks
Mycenaean Death Masks

These masks were made of gold and were placed on the faces of deceased royals.

v dark age of greece
V Dark Age of Greece

“During the Dark Ages of Greece the old major settlements were abandoned (with the notable exception of Athens), and the population dropped dramatically. Within these 300 years, the people of Greece lived in small groups that moved constantly in accordance with their new pastoral lifestyle and livestock needs, while they left no written record behind leading to the conclusion that they were illiterate. Later in the Dark Ages (950 BCE - 750 BCE), Greeks relearned how to write once again, but this time instead of using the Linear B script used by the Mycenaeans, they adopted the alphabet used by the Phoenicians “innovating in a fundamental way by introducing vowels as letters. The Greek version of the alphabet eventually formed the base of the alphabet used for English today.” (Martin, 43) Life was undoubtedly harsh for the Greeks of the Dark ages. However, notable events from this period include the occurrence of the first Olympics in 776 BCE, and the writing of the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey.”

focus questions
Focus Questions
  • How much did geography impact Phoenician, Minoan, and Mycenaean civilizations?
  • What were the main achievements of the Phoenicians, Minoans, and Mycenaeans?
  • Describe 2 of the most plausible explanations for the story of Troy in Homer’s Illiad.
  • What was the impact of the Greek Dark Age?
  • Do the early Mediterranean civilizations share anything in common with Egypt or Mesopotamia? What is your evidence?
key vocabulary
Key Vocabulary



Asia Minor

Balkan Peninsula



Greek Dark Age


Iliad and the Odyssey

King Minos

Linear A

Linear B

Mediterranean Sea



Murex snails


Mycenaean Death Mask

Palace at Knossos


Phoenician alphabet


Heinrich Schliemann

Sea Peoples