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        The Greeks Colonize the Mediterranean

        The ancient Greeks were sailors and explorers, settling regions around the Mediterranean Sea.

        The Greeks began founding colonies as far back as 900 to 700 B.C.E. These colonies were founded to provide a release for Greek overpopulation, land hunger, and political unrest. Iron tools and new farming techniques allowed the Greeks to farm larger pieces of land. But as farms got bigger, they got more crowded. Soon there was not enough land for everyone living in Greece. Colonies were a solution to this problem.

        Most of the Greek colonies were founded on the shores of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. These colonies were relatively easy to reach for the seafaring Greeks. And since the climate and land was similar to that of Greece, the colonists could lead a life very similar to the one they would have had back home. 

        This set of images and artifacts provide background information on this movement. Students should consider these resources when analyzing the reasons behind Greek colonization of the Mediterranean region.

        Greece and Its Colonies in the Sixth Century

        This map of the ancient Mediterranean shows Greek colonies and the climatic regions of the region. Note how most colonies remained tied to the seas and had a similar climate.

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        Greek Writing

        This is a photograph of Greek writing carved on a gate in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus located along the Mediterranean coast of modern Turkey. The city of Ephesus was a Greek colony established by the Greeks in the 10th century BCE.

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        Classical Greek Ship

        This is a painting of a Classical Greek ship created by artist Albert Sebille (1874-1953). Sailing ships resembling this one would have plied the waters of the Mediterranean for centuries, carrying Greeks on their journeys of exploration, trade, and colonization.

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        Greek Farmer, 7th- to 6th-Century BCE

        This is a 7th- to 6th-century BCE ancient Greek statue of a farmer plowing his fields discovered in Boeotia, Greece. The discovery of better farming tools led to more demand for farmland in ancient Greece. This was one of the major reasons for colonization.

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