Greece is considered the birthplace of Western civilization, beginning with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea. The ancient Greeks also were one of the first civilizations to create a writing system; the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This created a period known as the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent. The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BCE, the year of the first Olympic Games. Homer also published the Lilad and the Odyssey at around this time. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula. These states and their colonies reached great levels of prosperity, which resulted in ancient Greek culture as the world knows it today; expressed in architecture, drama, philosophy, and more. Greece is also the home of the first democratic government system in history, located in Athens. By 500 BCE, Persia had conquered much of the Greek city states, as well as parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Attempts by some of the Greek city-states of Asia Minor to overthrow Persian rule all failed, but in 492 BCE, Persia was forced to withdraw after invading the states of mainland Greece in the famous Battle of Marathon. Another occasion occurred in 480, however Persia occupied nearly half of Greece. Led by Athens and Sparta, the Greek victories in the Greco-Persian Wars are considered a pivotal moment in world history, as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as Golden Age of Athens, a period which laid the groundwork for Western civilization. In 334 BCE, Alexander III, more famously known as Alexander the Great, assumed leadership of the Greek state of Macedonia, and launched an invasion of the Persian Empire, going undefeated in battle. His empire split into several kingdoms upon his death, the most famous of which were the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and Africa.
Roman & Medieval periods
After a period of confusion following Alexander's death, the Antigonid dynasty, descended from one of Alexander's generals, established its control over Macedon and most of the Greek city-states by 276 BCE. From around 200 BCE onwards, Roman interest in Greece drew dramatically; in 146 BCE Macedonia was annexed as a proince by Rome and the rest of Greece became a protectorate. The process was completed in 27 BC when the Roman Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Greece and constituted it as the senatorial province of Achaea. Greek-speaking communities of the Hellenized East were instrumental in the spread of early Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and early Christian leaders were mostly Greek speaking. The New Testament was written in Greek. Despite this, much of Greece held on to paganism, but ancient Greek religious practices were outlawed by the Roman emperor in either 391 or 392 CE. The last recorded Olympic games were held in 393, and many temples and monuments were destroyed in the following centuries. The closure of the Neoplatonic Academy of Athens by the emperor Justinian in 529 is considered by many to mark the end of antiquity, although there is evidence that the Academy continued its activities for some time after that. The Roman Empire in the east, following the fall of the Empire in the west in the 5th century, is conventionally known as the Byzantine Empire. It had a large foothold in Greece, though its capital was Constantinople. Its language and literary culture was Greek and the majority of its population was East Orthodox. During the 11th and 12th centuries a return of stability resulted in the Greek peninsula after invasions from Slavs, benefiting from strong economic growth much stronger than that of the Anatolian territories of the Empire.
Ottoman period and modern Greece
While most of mainland Greece and the Aegean islands was under Ottoman control by the end of the 15th century, Cyprus and Crete remained Venetian territory and didn't become Ottoman until the 1600s. The only part of the Greek-speaking world that never became Ottoman were the Ionian Islands, which remained Venetian until their conquer by France. Much of mainland Greece suffered economic failure after the Ottoman conquest, though Greeks in the Ionian Islands and Constantinople remained wealthy and powerful. Heavy taxes were enforced, and in later years the Ottoman Empire enacted a policy of creation of hereditary estates, effectively turning the rural Greek populations into serfs. The Ottomans considered the Greek Orthodox Church the authority of the empire's entire Orthodox population, whether Greek or not. Although the Ottoman state did not force non-Muslims to convert to Islam, Christians faced several types of discrimination intended to highlight their inferior status in the empire. In 1814, a secret organization called the Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) was founded with the aim of liberating Greece, planning on starting revolution in the Peloponnese, the Danube, and even Constantinople. The war ended with a Greek victory, creating the modern-day kingdom. Greece also fought in the World War, on the side of the Central Powers, which most of the other south European and Slavic states fought on. Greece didn't have a large role in the war, so they didn't lose any territories. Greece today is a wealthy, democratic state with an economy greatly benefitting from tourism.