Greek chronology

ouzo on the rocks

apartment, excursions and art historical guide

Peloponnese, Greece

Greek Chronology



early-paleolithic (early stone age)

2.500.000 – 300.000 BC

2.5 million years ago to 300,000 years ago characterized by the very simple tools (such as hand axes). Probably at the end of this period people also started using wooden spears.

middle-paleolithic (middle stone age)

300.000 – 33.000 BC

Era of the Neanderthals. An important innovation is the technique in which processed core stone flakes were repulsed and served as a tool, and just before that time the core was used as tool.

late-paleolithic (late stone age)

33.000 – 8.000 BC

During this period man is about to produce swords and daggers. Furthermore, the development of the cultural momentum. It is the period of the cave art, eg. at Franchthi (Argolida).


8000 – 6000 BC

This period begins after the end of the last Ice Age around 10,500 BC in Northern Europe. Hunting, fishing and gathering are the livelihood of the nomadic hunter-gatherers; settlements are rare and usually temporary. The technique to manipulate stone is refined and religious (or magical) use become in vogue. In Greece we speak of Epipaleolithic as the criterion for the transition from Paleolithic to Mesolithic (end of ice age) is missing here. (Epi = after)


6000 – 3200 BC

Technical and social changes characterize this period. Man goes from hunting and gathering to agriculture and animal husbandry. Instead of wandering they build settlements. They will build up stocks for bad times. The main innovations are: tools of polished stone, pottery, copper processing, the invention of the wheel.

bronze age or helladic times

3200 – 1100 BC

Bronze gradually replaced flint as the main material for tools and weapons and it is also used for jewelry and some exceptional images. The oldest surviving artifacts of bronze are mainly axes, and some daggers, halberds and jewelry like bracelets. Bronze is slowly becoming generally used, and more and more species are used for metal objects.

early helladic I

3200 – 2500 BC

Period is characterized by a peasantry that use basic techniques for editing sources (which they have copied from Asia Minor to their pottery. Important early Helladic settlements include Lerna and Tiryns in Argolida. This period also shows Oriental features and it is clear they are using a potter's wheel.

early helladic II

2500 – 2200 BC

The megaron is introduced, a large hall with columns supporting the roof, a fireplace in the middle and a throne on the side; used for political and religious gatherings.

early helladic III

2200 – 2000 BC

First palaces are being built (rise of Minoan culture on Crete)

middle helladic

2000 – 1550 BC

Settlements are built closer together and more often on the top of a hill. Volcano eruption on Santorini puts an end to the Minoan supremacy. First shaft tombs dating from about 1650 BC.

late helladic I

1550 – 1500 BC

Pottery from Lerna, inter alia, show the first decorations. Pottery from Mycenaean settlements such as Mycenae, Tiryns and Midea show influences from Crete (Minoan)

late helladic II

1500 – 1400 BC

Less Minoan influence Minoïsche invloeden. Pottery from Tiryns, Midea and Asini. Mycenaeans in Knossos.

late helladic III A

1400 – 1300 BC

Pottery from Mycenae and Asini. Treasury of Atreus (Mycenae). Introduction of new forms of pottery with standard decorations. Introduction of the Lineair B writing.

late helladic III B

1300 – 1200 BC

Lion Gate (Mycenae), Tiryns and Midea.

late helladic III C

1200 – 1100 BC

Fall of Troy and the decline of Mycenae.

period of decay

1177 – 900 BC

'Dark Ages' between the Mycenaean civilization and the emergence of the 'city-states'. Also the period during which among others the Dorians invaded Greece (with violence), but also major natural as possible causes are listed by the end of the Mycenaean civilization.

Eric H. Cline says in his book "1177 BC. The end of civilization" that probably around the year 1177 BC the destruction took place of different civilizations in the Mediterranean; not only the Mycenaean, but also in Egypt and Syria among others

proto geometric

1050 – 900 BC

Period is named after the method of decorating pottery, founded in Athens. Forms are derived from the Mycenaean period, but more accurately than before by a rapidly rotating pottery disk.

early geometric

900 – 850 BC


Geometric motifs (lines) emphasize the shape of the vase (on the neck and bulge). Use of multiple brushes.

middle geometric (full geometric period)

850 – 760 BC

Greek script spreads (derived from the Phoenician). The meander becomes dominant and the entire pot is painted (dark areas).

late geometric

760 – 700 BC

More stylized human and animal figures (like repeating patterns) and representations of ceremonies (funeral).

orientalising period

700 – 600 BC

Life rapids. Ideas from the East are copied and used with Greek insight. First temple to be built. Pottery is decorated with mythological scenes.

early archaic

650 – 580 BC

Doric temples with monumental sculptures. First Kouroi and Korai appear with the archaic smile.

middle archaic

580 – 535 BC

Black figures decorations on pottery (Attica)

late archaic

535 – 480 BC

More folds in the clothing of the Korai

and decorations on red figure pottery, after 500 BC the black figures on pottery fade.


early classic (also rigorous or strict style)

480 – 450 BC

The time around 480 BC marks Greek history through the decisive battles against the Persians. The depiction of the human figure changes to a realistic image. The smile disappeared. Heavy drapes. Example: pediments at Olympia or Discobolos by Myron.

classic period

450 – 330 BC

Pericles in Athens: stability and democracy. In 404 BC Athens lost the Peloponnesian War. In the images: anatomical accuracy and expression. Buildings are rich with images. The Acropolis in Athens is fitted with the Parthenon.

Example: Doryphoros and Diadoumenos of Polyclitus and many stèlai (carved tombstones).

the 4th century

400 – 330 BC

End of the Peloponnesian War; Socrates was sentenced to death in 399 BC, Later emergence of Philip II (359 BC) and his son Alexander (336 BC). Macedonia. Examples of Praxiteles (Hermes and Dionysus, Aphrodite of Knidos) and Lysippus (Apoxymenos).

the hellenistic period

330 – 31 BC

This period: from the death of Alexander to the (decisive) Battle of Actium;

Construction of the theater of Epidaurus

Examples: Venus de Milo, Jockey

Unpainted pottery.

the roman times

146 BC – 426 AD

Beginning of this period shows the destruction of Corinth by Mummius. Greek language and culture remains. Many Greek Classical and Hellenistic sculptures are copied. The end of this period is linked to Byzantium and the division of the Roman Empire.

the Byzantine period

426 AD – 1453

Invasions of various peoples, such as Goths, Vandals, Normans, Slavs and the Huns. In 1054 the Orthodox church separates from Rome. Greece is an insignificant province. Life takes place in Constantinople. From 1200 come the Franks on 'Crusade'.

the Ottoman period

1453 – 1821/1833

Beginning of the period is linked to the capture by the Turks of Constantinople and quickly Greece is invaded. The Turks in Greece regularly battle with the Venetians. In 1821 the Independence battle begins and Greece is an independent state in 1833.

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