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Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role

Ionia is located on western coast of peninsula of Asia Minor and on eastern coast of Aegean Sea. In classical era, there were 12 city-states, including Miletus, known in history as "Twelve Ionian City-States". . Historically, it was located far from Greek peninsula and was site of spread of Greek colonization. However, Ionia has been cultural center of Greece since "Dark Ages", with Thales (the first Greek philosopher), Anaximander (the creator of cartography), Heracles Special, Pythagoras, Araksagoras (proposed theory of atom), Herodotus (the father of Western historiography), Hippocrates (the father of Western medicine), Sappho (famous Greek poetess), Aristarchus (the earliest Greek astronomer), Hipparchus and other famous cultural figures. Therefore, it is worth studying reasons for cultural prosperity of Ionia.

First, Ionia inherited civilization of Mycenae.

About 1100 BC Greek peninsula was captured by northern Dorians, Mycenaean civilization was destroyed, and society returned to era of tribal society. People call this era of Dorian invasion "Dark Ages". The Greek civilization of this era undoubtedly suffered a heavy blow. But Mycenaean culture and customs were preserved thanks to great migration.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role

Distribution of Greek city-states: red part - Ionian city-states, yellow - Ionian city-states

Before Dorians invaded, Greek peninsula was inhabited by Ionians and Ionians, as well as by earlier Pilaski people. When Dorians went south, a large number of Ionians and Ionians decided to migrate from Greek peninsula and reached some of islands around Aegean and Asia Minor. Those who reached Asia Minor were collectively called Ionia. For Greeks, climate of Ionia was very pleasant. Herodotus called it "the region with most beautiful climate and seasons ... Whether it is north, south, east or west, it is not like love." Eventually, twelve larger city-states were founded by Greek immigrants, as well as several smaller city-states or settlements.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role

Ruins of Theater of Miletus

The Ionians brought Greek culture and customs to Asia Minor. For example, 4 of 6 tribes in Miletus are tribal names for original Attica, while other two come from Thessaly and Boeotia in northern Greece; patron saint of Miletus is still Athena; a large number of traditions, customs and religions around Attica. Therefore, in Middle Ages, Ionians migrated to Asia Minor, which to a certain extent preserved culture of Mycenae and prepared later rise of Ionia.

About 9th century BC, heyday of Ionian culture began, and in this era famous Homeric epic appeared. After Trojan War, some stories and legends about this event were spread in Asia Minor, and it is said that in Middle Ages these stories and legends were taken apart by Homer and made up early Homeric epic.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role


In addition to epic poems of Homer, another literary giant, Hesiod, also appeared in Ionia. He wrote two important works "Work and Day" and "Theogony". He is "father of Greek prescriptive poetry" in Greece. Myths and legends have formed a certain system. In ancient times, such celebrities as Aesop and Sappho appeared here. Aesop is a famous fabulist, it is said that earliest version of Aesop's Fables was written by him. Sappho is first female poet in Greece.

Secondly, importance of geographical location and prosperity of industry and trade.

The geographical position of Ionia is very special. It is located at westernmost tip of Asia, and in ancient times was a necessary place for communication between Asia and Europe. At same time, it guards sea route from Mediterranean to Black Sea. The excellent transport position allowed industry and trade of Ionia to flourish rapidly. Even in era of Mycenaean civilization, city of Troy in Asia Minor was civilized for some time due to prosperity of industry and trade. At that time, Troy became a city "rich in gold and bronze" by taxing ships passing through Turkish straits.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role

Ruins of Troy

After founding of city-states of Ionia, they enjoyed benefits of past Troy. Miletus, Ephesus, and Pokeia are located at mouths of rivers Meander, Kester, and Herma, respectively, controlling traffic from Aegean to interior of Asia Minor. Among them, Miletus and Ephesus were also distribution centers for goods in Italy and Greek peninsula. Chios and Samos control coastal routes from north to south. Among twelve city-states of Ionia, Miletus has most developed trade. There are 4 seaports here, and each seaport can receive a fleet. It can be said that advantage of maritime transport is quite obvious.

During colonial period of Archaic Era, city-states of Ionia actively established colonies in Turkish Straits and on dark coast to further control points of communication between Asia and Europe. Among them most active were Milesians. In 5th century BC, Greeks founded 90 colonies on Black Sea, most of which belonged to Miletus. These cities are most famous Istres at mouth of Danube, Polysthenes at mouth of Dnieper, Olvia at mouth of Bug and Tiras at mouth of Dniester. The earliest colonies in Turkish Straits were also founded by Milesians.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role

Ruins of Ephesus

With such advantages, Ionians are mainly engaged in navigation, trade, shipbuilding and fishing. Residents on land can also deal in grain, olives, grapes, etc., and animal husbandry is developed in mountainous regions. From 8th century BC to 7th century BC Miletus became a manufacturing center for textile, dyeing, metallurgical and shipbuilding industries. In 7th century BC, Miletus, Pokeia, and Ephesus began minting currency to accommodate development of a commodity economy.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role


The prosperity of industry and trade is basis of prosperity of Ionian culture. Thales, first Greek philosopher, founded famous Milesian school, and he himself came from a merchant family. He can predict price of olives in Athens from sky to prove that he is good at business. Pythagoras also came from a merchant family, while Herodotus and Heraclitus came from noble families. Excellent family conditions allow them to devote more energy to cultural creativity and scientific research, and at same time provide financial security for their long-distance travels in Mediterranean.

Third, absorbing achievements of other civilizations

Due to special geographical position of Ionia and prosperity of industry and trade, inhabitants here have more opportunities to get in touch with outstanding achievements of such civilizations as glorious Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Greek civilization itself is a derivative civilization, and it is a maritime civilization created by absorbing foundations of two main civilizations. Science, religion, art, and writing in Greece were influenced by ancient countries such as Egypt, Phoenicia, Babylon, Assyria, and Hittites.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role

Thales, first Greek philosopher, traveled in early years of his life in Western Asia and North Africa, learned Babylonian knowledge of observing solar and lunar eclipses and measuring distance of ships in sea, and also understood Phoenician thinking about study of material elements, Recognized distribution and rules of ancient Egypt for measuring land. Most of his mathematical knowledge came from ancient Egypt and Lianghe, and six plane geometry theorems he proposed later are his sublimation of this mathematical knowledge.

Pythagoras, following Thales, once studied hieroglyphics and Egyptian mythology, history and religion in Ancient Egypt; Heraclitus of school of Ephesus once taught in a Persian palace; It was once beneficial for Asia Minor, coast of Caspian Sea and North Africa, and absorbed medical knowledge of many countries, which is why he is called a master. Herodotus and others had experience of traveling in the East, which undoubtedly broadened his horizons and enriched his knowledge.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role


Herodotus is known as "the father of Western historiography". His "History of Hippo War" covers entire Mediterranean and Black Sea world, showing history, customs and geography of more than 20 countries and peoples. The geography of Ancient Greece was very developed, and geography of Ancient Greece originated in Ionia, which is associated with the vast travel area of ​​the Ionians.

Why did Ionia become cultural center of early Greece? Geography plays a key role


Ionia's cultural prosperity cannot be separated from its special geographic location. However, after Hippo-Persian War, city-states of Asia Minor were mostly ravaged and occupied by Persian Empire, and many literati returned to Athens, former residence of Ionians, with rich cultural knowledge. Since then, Athens has replaced Ionia as center of Greek culture. However, after collapse of Persian Empire, advantages of Asia Minor region reappeared. In Hellenistic era, well-known scientific and philosophical figures appeared here, such as Aristarchus, Hypakos, Epicurus.

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