Athens is one of the world’s oldest and recognized cities that existed from ancient times. The ancient Athenians claimed that the city was founded by the mythical Greek goddess Athena. This particular Greek deity supposedly held a contest against the sea god Poseidon over the city of Athens. Whoever gave the city the best gift would be given the honor of naming this acropolis. Athena gave the city an olive tree and proved to be the victor. The city was instantly named after her and she became its chief deity. It’s culture thrived from 700 to 500 BC which is where it appears on the Bible Timeline Chart with World History.
The area where Athens is situated is also known as Attica. The early inhabitants of Attica lived in tribal groups. The early inhabitants of Athens considered themselves to be from the original Greek settlers known as the Ionians. After being identified as Athens the Ionian tribal groups that resided in ancient Athens began to form into a city state around 800 B.C. Athens began to conquer many of the other tribes and started to absorb them into their city and by 700 B.C. the city had become a major economic, political and military center.
Since Athens was located in the Attica region which is positioned in the southeastern part of modern day Greece; it was strategically positioned for trade with other major kingdoms and empires throughout the Mesopotamian and Middle Eastern areas of the world. Places such as Egypt, Carthage, Iberia and Tyre had all traded with the Athenians at one point or another between 700 B.C. and 500 B.C. The city also had a powerful navy to protect the homeland and its oversea trade routes. Though the city of Athens fought in some major conflicts they were not a people known for their superior fighting skills they were renown for their establishing government and political systems that would influence major world empires such as Rome and even the United States.
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The city of Athens was originally governed by ruling monarchs. Eventually the monarchy form of government was replaced by a council of nobles. The nobles were the high council of government and they organized the middle class citizens into a secondary ruling class. They were called the “eclesia” and they were tightly controlled by the nobles. Civil unrest was a common aspect of Athens society throughout the 7th century B.C. This particular type of civil unrest made the conditions within Athens at the time favorable for tyrants. Many other Greek city states were being ruled by tyrants during the 7th century B.C. Because of this type of threat the council enacted some important legislation to protect the city from tyrants and to keep people from rebelling.
The ruling classes had so much power that they were literally enslaving the other members of Athenian society. Many lower class citizens who couldn’t meet their financial obligations had their land taken away from them and they were forced to work off their debts. This particular practice had become widespread and many people suffered under this system. So laws were passed that canceled out the debt and forbade people from trading in their freedom in order to pay off a debt. Wealthy landowners were also limited with how much property they could control. Higher level offices were now controlled by powerful landholders and a council of lower level citizens was created as well. These set of laws would be used to help form the concept of democracy. These laws were established by a man named Cylon.
Another man named Draco became the ruler during the 6th century B.C. His laws were extremely hard and harsh against the aristocratic members of his society. His punishments for crimes, especially murder, were enforced. His set of laws is remembered throughout the ages for being harsh and cruel.
Though the city state of Athens had many challenges between the years 700 B.C. to 500 B.C. they were able to grow their kingdom into an economic and political power.Much of the history of Athens has been recorded and preserved throughout the ages by its people, historians and its conquerors. These historical accounts reveal how Athenian politics, laws and society have come to strongly influence western civilization in modern times.
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