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A Time For Change: The Archaic Age

1243 words - 5 pages

Ancient Greece, which is Greece before they were conquered by the Romans, was a civilization rich in culture and history. Like any other ancient civilization, it is marked with specific events that break the history up into eras or ages. For instance, the use of Bronze weapons marks what historians call the Bronze Age. The Archaic Age in Greek history spanned from 800 B.C. to about 500 B.C. While every new age usually brings about some sort of change to a civilization, the Archaic Age stands out because of the significance of the changes it brought and their impact on subsequent Greek culture. One of the areas where there was significant change was what's known as the Five Bases of Power. Those five bases are monopolies on each of the following: Economy, Warfare, Government, Courts, and Religion. The monopoly on economy dealt with the controlling of land-based trade. Usually, the need for a written record in a civilization stems from increased trade. During the period of time prior to the Archaic Age called the Dark Age, widespread trade had diminished so the need for writing and having written records had also diminished. The Archaic Age begins with return of the written record; since trade was established on a larger scale than the previous age, and the need for keeping track of trade and inventories created the need for a writing system. With trade comes prosperity and they way Greeks tracked one another's prosperity and wealth was through the ownership of land. Since the use of coinage wasn't introduced until the end of the Archaic Age, the invention of which helping to spawn the Classical Age, owning land was the only way one could be considered "rich". In part because of this, during the Archaic Age, different kinds of Poli (meaning "cities") start to emerge. Up until this point, new Poli were settled by groups of people called vir sacrum. Vir sacrum, meaning "spring sacred", were children over the age of eighteen who were trained in all professions and sent out together to settle new areas. Other than those settled by the vir sacra, two new Poli emerged: Sympolitera and Synoikismos. Sympolitera, roughly meaning "cities come together", were formed by several Poli in close proximity joining together to form one big Polis. A great example of this is the City-State of Sparta. Synoikismos, roughly meaning "households come together", were formed by large families/households joining together to form one big Polis. Mantinea is an example of a pure Synoikismos while Athens exemplifies a mix of the two. All three types of Poli helped Greece to grow and become a substantial trading power in the ancient world. Two of the five bases are somewhat related: the monopoly on Government and the monopoly on the Courts. Politically, there were two major impulses that prevailed in government: the Aristocracy and the Monarchy. The word Aristocracy means "rule of best" whereas Monarchy means "rule of one". While the two simultaneously exist, monarchy starts to...

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