Athens: Facts About the Ancient Greek City State

Here are some facts about Ancient Athens.

  • Ancient Athens spanned several thousand years, from about 6,000 BC to about 322 BC. During this time it grew from a small fishing village to the most important city in the ancient world.
  • Athens was at the centre of an area known as Attica. The area became wealthy and powerful partly because of rich deposits of marble, lead and silver.

  • The first Olympic Games were held in  Athens in 776 BC. They were dedicated to the Greek gods and continued for about 1,200 years, with palm branches given to the winners.
  • The city’s classical period lasted from 500 to 322 BC. During this time, Athens was a major centre for learning, the arts and philosophy as well as a centre for democracy.
  • The city’s famous Parthenon temple was built in 438 BC. It was built to precise dimensions, and over the centuries has been used as a mosque and a store room for ammunition.
  • Plato was one of the most famous people in ancient Athens. He travelled widely, had an advanced knowledge of geometry and founded the world’s first university.
  • Democracy was invented in ancient Athens, although only men could vote. Voters also had the power to banish politicians from the city for 10 years.
  • Just like today, the rich people in ancient Athens paid more in taxes. The city also required that anyone up to the age of 50 had to join the military, for up to a year.
  • Wealthy families had slaves who went shopping, cleaned the house and looked after the children. Women were expected to stay home, rather than go to work.
  • Meat was rarely eaten, and most residents ate cheese, figs and grapes. Children were taught at home, and learned the works of Homer, as well as how to play the lyre.

What next? Discover more facts about Ancient Greece or learn more about Sparta, another important Ancient Greek city state.

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