The ancient Greeks lived in separate city states, from Turkey to the south of France, but shared the same language and religion. Sometimes they fought each other, and sometimes they worked together to fight other enemies.
The history of ancient Greece can be organized into periods (or ages):
The Bronze Age 3200 – 1100 BC
The Mycenaean Age (Late Bronze Age, aka Age of Heroes) 1600 – 1100 BC
Archaic Period 600 – 480 BC
Classical Period (Golden Age, ending with Alexander the Great) 480 – 323 BC
Hellenistic Period (after the death of Alexander the Great) 323 – 31 BC
The Mycenaean Age was named after the village of Mycenae, the first of its period to be discovered and excavated by archaeologists.
The Mycenaean Age is considered the age of heroes because this is when all the epic events took place, which Homer wrote about - the battle of Troy, and the return of Odysseus.
Art of the Mycenaean Age consisted mostly of pottery, with simple, geometric figures and designs. Greek ceramics had distinct shapes, based on function:
Amphora - were mostly wine jugs (for storing wine). Also used as urns.
Hydria - were water jugs.
Oinochoe - were wine jugs (for pouring at the table)
Kraters - were jugs for mixing wine and water.
Kylix & Kantharos - were drinking cups.
Lekythos - a jug for olive oil.
Pyxis - for women's cosmetics & jewellery.
Greek Pottery can also be divided into stylistic periods:
Proto Geometric 1050 – 900 BC
Geometric 900 – 700 BC
Oriental 800 – 600 BC
Black Figure 620 – 480 BC
Red Figure 520 – 320 BC
White Ground around 500 BC
The greatest art of the Archaic Period were marble statues of young men (Kouroi) and women (Korai). The women were dressed in elegant gowns, but the men were nude. These statues were life-size and free-standing, and were used to mark gravestones. They had arrogant, aristocratic facial expressions.
The Classical Period was Greece's Golden Age, when they produced their most famous art, architecture, theatre, poetry, and philosophy. This period began with the defeat of the invading Persians (present day Iran).
The Parthenon in Athens was built in the Classical Period.
Greeks also began the production of gold and silver coins in the Classical Period.
Hellenistic Greece began with the death of Alexander the Great, and the division of his empire. It ended with the Roman invasion.
The greatest artworks of Hellenistic Greece were statues, for example Nike of Samothrake, and Laocoön and His Sons.
Alexander the Great was so famous, that he started a fashion trend - a clean-shaven ruler. Greek and Roman rulers copied this for 500 years, up until the Roman Emperor Hadrian grew a beard.