Greek Timeline

An Era-by-Era Timeline of Ancient Greece

Browse through this ancient Greek timeline to examine more than a millennium of Greek history.

The beginning is prehistory. Later, Greek history combined with the history of the Roman Empire. During the Byzantine Period Greek and Roman Empire history were back in geographically Greek hands, again.

Greece is conventionally divided into periods based on archaeological and art historical terms. The exact dates vary.

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Mycenaean Period and Dark Ages of Greece (1600-800 B.C.)

Prince of Lilies
Prince of Lilies: Reproduction fresco on reconstructed wall at Palace of Minos, Knossos, Crete. Public Domain Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the Mycenaean period, the Greeks learned various arts and skills, like gate-building and golden mask-making. This was the palatial period when people at least like -- if not the actual -- Trojan War heroes lived. The Mycenaean period was followed by the "Dark Age," which is called dark because of a lack of written records. It is also called the Early Iron Age. Linear B inscriptions stopped. Between the palatial urban civilizations of the Mycenaean period and the Dark Age, there may have been environmental disasters in Greece, as well as elsewhere in the Mediterranean world.

The end of the Mycenaean period/Dark Age is characterized by geometric design on pottery and the emergence of Greek alphabetic writing.

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Archaic Age of Greece (800-500 B.C.)

Large late Geometric Attic amphora, c. 725 B.C. - 700 B.C., at the Louvre.
Large late Geometric Attic amphora, c. 725 B.C. - 700 B.C., at the Louvre. Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.

During the Archaic Age, the city-state political unit known as the polis developed; someone whom we call Homer wrote down the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, Greeks colonized Asia Minor to the east and Megale Hellas to the west, men and women (like Sappho) experimented with musical poetry, and statues, influenced by Egyptian and Near Eastern (aka "orientalizing") contact, took on a realistic and characteristically Greek flavor.

You may see the Archaic period dated to the first Olympics, traditionally, 776 B.C. The Archaic Age ended with the Persian Wars.

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Classical Age of Greece (500 - 323 B.C.)

Parthenon from the West
Parthenon from the West. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Classical Age was characterized by most of the cultural wonders that we associate with ancient Greece. It corresponds with the period of the height of democracy, the flowering of Greek tragedy in the hands of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and the architectural marvels, like the Parthenon, at Athens.

The Classical Age ends with the death of Alexander the Great.

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Hellenistic Greece (323 - 146 B.C.)

The Macedonian Empire, The Diadochi 336-323 B.C. Insets: Leagues, Tyre
The Macedonian Empire, The Diadochi 336-323 B.C. Insets: Leagues, Tyre Shepherd, William. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. PD Shepherd Atlas

The Hellenistic Age in Greece followed the Classical Age and preceded the incorporation of the Greek empire within the Roman. During this time the language and culture of Greece spread throughout the world. It officially starts with the death of Alexander. Some of the major Greek contributors to science lived during this time, including Euclid and Archimedes. Moral philosophers started new schools.

The Hellenistic Age ended when Greece became part of the Roman Empire.

Learn more through the Hellenistic Greece Timeline.

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Gill, N.S. "Greek Timeline." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 26). Greek Timeline. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Greek Timeline." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).