Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, 88th-largest island in the world and the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Crete and a number of surrounding islands and islets constitute the region of Crete, the capital and the largest city is Heraklion. As of 2011, the region had a population of 623,065, Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits. It was once the centre of the Minoan civilization, which is regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC, repeated in Neo-Assyrian records and it was known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting a similar Minoan name for the island. The current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B, through the words
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya. Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it formed part of the Roman province of Crete and Cyrenaica, divided into Libya Pentapolis, during the Islamic period, the area came to be known as Barqa, after the city of Barca. In a wider sense, still in use, Cyrenaica includes all of the part of Libya. Cyrenaica borders on Tripolitania in the northwest and on Fezzan in the southwest, the region that used to be Cyrenaica officially until 1963 has formed several shabiyat, the administrative divisions of Libya, since 1995. The 2011 Libyan Civil War started in Cyrenaica, which came largely under the control of the National Transitional Council for most of the war. Geologically, Cyrenaica rests on a mass of Miocene limestone that tilts up steeply from the Mediterranean Sea and this mass is divided into two blocks. The Jebel Akhdar extends parallel to the coast from the Gulf of Sidra to the Gulf of Bomba, there is no continuous coastal plain, the longest strip running from the recess of Gulf of Sidra past Benghazi to Tolmeita.
Thereafter, except for deltaic patches at Susa and Derna, the shore is all precipitous, a steep escarpment separates the coastal plain from a relatively level plateau, known as the Marj Plain, which lies at about 300 meters elevation. Above the Marj Plain lies a plateau at about 700 meters elevation. The Jebel Akhdar and its adjacent coast are part of the Mediterranean woodlands and forests ecoregion, the plant communities of this portion of Cyrenaica include forest, maquis, garrigue and oak savanna. Small areas of maquis are found on north-facing slopes near the sea, juniperus phoenicea, Pistacia lentiscus, Quercus coccifera and Ceratonia siliqua are common tree and large shrub species in the maquis. Areas of red soil are found on the Marj Plain, which has borne abundant crops of wheat, plenty of springs issue on the highlands. Wild olive trees are abundant, and large areas of oak savanna provide pasture to the flocks, historically large areas of range were covered in forest. The forested area of the Jebel Akhdar has been shrinking in recent decades, a 1996 report to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that the forested area was reduced to 320,000 hectares from 500,000 hectares, mostly cleared to grow crops.
The Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority estimates that the area decreased from 500,000 hectares in 1976 to 180,000 hectares in 2007. The lower Jebel el-Akabah lies to the south and east of the Jebel Akhdar, the two highlands are separated by a depression. This eastern region, known in ancient times as Marmarica, is drier than the Jebel Akhdar. Historically, salt-collecting and sponge fishing were more important than agriculture and Tobruk have good harbors
The Vandals are believed to have migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula rivers during the 2nd century BC and to have settled in Silesia from around 120 BC. They are associated with the Przeworsk culture and were possibly the people as the Lugii. Around 400 the Vandals were pushed westwards again, this time by the Huns, in 409, the Vandals crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, where their main groups, the Hasdingi and the Silingi, settled in Gallaecia and Baetica respectively. In 429, under king Genseric, the Vandals entered North Africa, by 439 they established a kingdom which included the Roman province of Africa as well as Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. They fended off several Roman attempts to recapture the African province and their kingdom collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–4, in which Justinian I managed to reconquer the province for the Eastern Roman Empire. Renaissance and Early Modern writers characterized the Vandals as barbarians and looting Rome and this led to the use of the term vandalism to describe any senseless destruction, particularly the barbarian defacing of artwork.
However, modern historians tend to regard the Vandals during the period from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages as perpetuators, not destroyers. The connection would be that Vendel is the homeland of the Vandals prior to the Migration Period. Further possible homelands of the Vandals in Scandinavia are Vendsyssel in Denmark, the etymology of the name may be related to a Germanic verb *wand- to wander. The Germanic mythological figure of Aurvandil shining wanderer, dawn wanderer, evening star, much has forwarded the theory that the tribal name Vandal reflects worship of Aurvandil or the Dioscuri, probably involving an origin myth that the Vandalic kings were descended from Aurvandil. Some medieval authors applied the ethnonym Vandals to Slavs, Wends and it was once thought that the Slovenes were the descendants of the Vandals, but this is not the view of modern scholars. The Vandals are believed to have migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula somewhere in the 2nd century BC, and to have settled in Silesia from around 120 BC.
The earliest mention of the Vandals is from Pliny the Elder, tribes within this category who he mentions are the Burgundiones, Varini and the Gutones. Most archaeologists and historians identify the Vandals with the Przeworsk culture, the bearers of the Przeworsk culture mainly practiced cremation, with occasional inhumation. The Lugii have been identified by historians as the same people as the Vandals. The Lugii are mentioned by Strabo and Ptolemy as a group of tribes living between the Vistula and the Oder. Neither Strabo, Tacitus or Ptolemy mentions the Vandals, while Pliny the Elder mentions the Vandals, according to John Anderson, the Lugii and Vandili are designations of the same tribal group, the latter an extended ethnic name, the former probably a cult-title. By the end of the 2nd century, the Vandals were divided in two main groups, the Silingi and the Hasdingi, with the Silingi being associated with Silesia
Al-Andalus, known as Muslim Spain or Islamic Iberia, was a medieval Muslim territory and cultural domain occupying at its peak most of what are today Spain and Portugal. At its greatest geographical extent in the century, southern France—Septimania—was briefly under its control. Rule under these kingdoms led to a rise in cultural exchange, a number of achievements that advanced Islamic and Western science came from al-Andalus including major advances in trigonometry, surgery and other fields. Al-Andalus became an educational center for Europe and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea as well as a conduit for culture. For much of its history, al-Andalus existed in conflict with Christian kingdoms to the north, after the fall of the Umayyad caliphate, al-Andalus was fragmented into a number of minor states and principalities. Attacks from the Christians intensified, led by the Castilians under Alfonso VI, the Almoravid empire intervened and repelled the Christian attacks on the region, deposing the weak Andalusi Muslim princes and included al-Andalus under direct Berber rule.
In the next century and a half, al-Andalus became a province of the Berber Muslim empires of the Almoravids and Almohads, the Christian kingdoms in the north of the Iberian Peninsula overpowered the Muslim states to the south. In 1085, Alfonso VI captured Toledo, starting a gradual decline of Muslim power, with the fall of Córdoba in 1236, most of the south quickly fell under Christian rule and the Emirate of Granada became a tributary state of the Kingdom of Castile two years later. In 1249, the Portuguese Reconquista culminated with the conquest of the Algarve by Afonso III, finally, on January 2,1492, Emir Muhammad XII surrendered the Emirate of Granada to Queen Isabella I of Castile, completing the Christian Reconquista of the peninsula. The toponym al-Andalus is first attested to by inscriptions on coins minted by the new Muslim government in Iberia, the etymology of the name has traditionally been derived from the name of the Vandals. A number of proposals since the 1980s have contested this, Vallvé proposed a corruption of the name Atlantis, halm derives the name from a Gothic term *landahlauts.
Bossong suggests derivation from a pre-Roman substrate and they crossed the Pyrenees and occupied Visigothic Septimania in southern France. Most of the Iberian peninsula became part of the expanding Umayyad Empire and it was organized as a province subordinate to Ifriqiya, so, for the first few decades, the governors of al-Andalus were appointed by the emir of Kairouan, rather than the Caliph in Damascus. Visigothic lords who agreed to recognize Muslim suzerainty were allowed to retain their fiefs, resistant Visigoths took refuge in the Cantabrian highlands, where they carved out a rump state, the Kingdom of Asturias. In the 720s, the al-Andalus governors launched several raids into Aquitaine. At the Battle of Poitiers in 732, the al-Andalus raiding army was defeated by Charles Martel, in 734, the Andalusi launched raids to the east, capturing Avignon and Arles and overran much of Provence. In 737, they climbed up the Rhône valley, reached as far as Burgundy, Charles Martel of the Franks, with the assistance of Liutprand of the Lombards, invaded Burgundy and Provence and expelled the raiders by 739.
Relations between Arabs and Berbers in al-Andalus had been tense in the years after the conquest
Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great, known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was a Roman Emperor from 306 to 337 AD. Constantine was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman Army officer and his father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west, in 293 AD. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under the emperors Diocletian, in 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia. As emperor, Constantine enacted many administrative, social, the government was restructured and civil and military authority separated. A new gold coin, the solidus, was introduced to combat inflation and it would become the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, at which the Nicene Creed was adopted by Christians, in military matters, the Roman army was reorganised to consist of mobile field units and garrison soldiers capable of countering internal threats and barbarian invasions.
The age of Constantine marked an epoch in the history of the Roman Empire. He built a new residence at Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople after himself. It would become the capital of the Empire for over one thousand years and his more immediate political legacy was that, in leaving the empire to his sons, he replaced Diocletians tetrarchy with the principle of dynastic succession. His reputation flourished during the lifetime of his children and centuries after his reign, the medieval church upheld him as a paragon of virtue while secular rulers invoked him as a prototype, a point of reference, and the symbol of imperial legitimacy and identity. Beginning with the Renaissance, there were more critical appraisals of his due to the rediscovery of anti-Constantinian sources. Critics portrayed him as a tyrant, trends in modern and recent scholarship attempted to balance the extremes of previous scholarship. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on his orders at the site of Jesus tomb in Jerusalem.
The Papal claim to power in the High Middle Ages was based on the supposed Donation of Constantine. He is venerated as a saint by Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics, though Constantine has historically often been referred to as the First Christian Emperor, scholars debate his actual beliefs or even his actual comprehension of the Christian faith itself. Constantine was a ruler of major importance, and he has always been a controversial figure, the fluctuations in Constantines reputation reflect the nature of the ancient sources for his reign. These are abundant and detailed, but have strongly influenced by the official propaganda of the period. There are no surviving histories or biographies dealing with Constantines life, the nearest replacement is Eusebius of Caesareas Vita Constantini, a work that is a mixture of eulogy and hagiography
Theme (Byzantine district)
The themes or themata were the main administrative divisions of the middle Byzantine Empire. The theme system reached its apogee in the 9th and 10th centuries, as older themes were split up and the conquest of territory resulted in the creation of new ones. The original theme system underwent significant changes in the 11th and 12th centuries, during the late 6th and early 7th centuries, the Eastern Roman Empire was under frequent attack from all sides. The Sassanid Empire was pressing from the east on Syria, Egypt and Avars raided Thrace, Macedonia and Greece and settled in the Balkans. The Lombards occupied northern Italy, largely unopposed and these developments overturned the strict division of civil and military offices, which had been one of the cornerstones of the reforms of Diocletian. This trend had already featured in some of the reforms of Justinian I in the 530s. However, in most of the Empire, the old system continued to function until the 640s, the rapid Muslim conquest of Syria and Egypt and consequent Byzantine losses in manpower and territory meant that the Empire found itself struggling for survival.
In order to respond to this crisis, the Empire was drastically reorganized. The origin and early nature of the themes has been disputed amongst scholars. The very name thema is of uncertain etymology, but most scholars follow Constantine Porphyrogennetos, the date of their creation is uncertain. For most of the 20th century, the establishment of the themes was attributed to the Emperor Heraclius, according to Ostrogorsky, this shows that the process of establishing troops in specific areas of Asia Minor has already begun at this time. This view has been objected to by other historians however, and more recent scholarship dates their creation later, to the period from the 640s to the 660s, tied to the question of chronology is the issue of a corresponding social and military transformation. The traditional view, championed by Ostrogorsky, holds that the establishment of the themes meant the creation of a new type of army. In his view, instead of the old force, heavily reliant on foreign mercenaries, each of the new themes encompassed several of the older provinces, and with a few exceptions, seems to have followed the old provincial boundaries.
The first four themes were those of the Armeniacs and Thracesians, the Armeniac Theme, first mentioned in 667, was the successor of the Army of Armenia. It occupied the old areas of the Pontus, Armenia Minor and northern Cappadocia, the Anatolic Theme, first mentioned in 669, was the successor of the Army of the East. It covered southern central Asia Minor, and its capital was Amorium, these two themes formed the first tier of defence of Byzantine Anatolia, bordering Muslim Armenia and Syria respectively. The Thracesian Theme, first mentioned clearly as late as c,740, was the successor of the Army of Thrace, and covered the central western coast of Asia Minor, with its capital most likely at Chonae
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, until the Tetrarchy, largest territorial and administrative unit of the empires territorial possessions outside of Italy. The word province in modern English has its origins in the used by the Romans. Provinces were generally governed by politicians of senatorial rank, usually former consuls or former praetors and this exception was unique, but not contrary to Roman law, as Egypt was considered Augustus personal property, following the tradition of earlier, Hellenistic kings. The territory of a people who were defeated in war might be brought under various forms of treaty, the formal annexation of a territory created a province in the modern sense of an administrative unit geographically defined. Republican provinces were administered in one-year terms by the consuls and praetors who had held office the previous year, Rome started expanding beyond Italy during the First Punic War. The first permanent provinces to be annexed were Sicily in 241 BC, militarized expansionism kept increasing the number of these administrative provinces, until there were no longer enough qualified individuals to fill the posts.
The terms of provincial governors often had to be extended for multiple years,241 BC – Sicilia taken over from the Carthaginians and annexed at the end of the First Punic War. 237 BC – Corsica et Sardinia, these two islands were taken over from the Carthaginians and annexed soon after the Mercenary War, in 238 BC and 237 BC respectively. 197 BC – Hispania Citerior, along the east coast of the,197 BC - Hispania Ulterior, along the southern coast of the, part of the territories taken over from the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War. 147 BC – Macedonia, mainland Greece and it was annexed after a rebellion by the Achaean League. 146 BC – Africa, modern day Tunisia and western Libya, home territory of Carthage and it was annexed following attacks on the allied Greek city of Massalia. 67 BC – Creta et Cyrenae, Cyrenaica was bequeathed to Rome in 78 BC, however, it was not organised as a province. 58 BC – Cilicia et Cyprus, Cilicia was created as a province in the sense of area of command in 102 BC in a campaign against piracy.
The Romans controlled only a small area, in 74 BC Lycia and Pamphylia were added to the smal Roman possessions in Cilicia. Cilicia came fully under Roman control towards the end of the Third Mithridatic War - 73-63 BC, the province was reorganised by Pompey in 63 BC. Gallia Cisalpina was a province in the sense of an area of military command, during Romes expansion in Italy the Romans assigned some areas as provinces in the sense of areas of military command assigned to consuls or praetors due to risks of rebellions or invasions. This was applied to Liguria because there was a series of rebellions, Bruttium, in the early days of Roman presence in Gallia Cisalpina the issue was rebellion. Later the issue was risk of invasions by warlike peoples east of Italy, the city of Aquileia was founded to protect northern Italy form invasions
Kos or Cos is a Greek island, part of the Dodecanese island chain in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the Anatolian coast of Turkey. Kos is the third largest of the Dodecanese by area, after Rhodes and Karpathos, it has a population of 33,388, making it the second most populous of the Dodecanese, after Rhodes. The island measures 40 by 8 kilometres, and is 4 km from the coast of the ancient region of Caria in Turkey, Kos constitutes a municipality within the Kos regional unit, which is part of the South Aegean region. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Kos town, the name Kos is first attested in the Iliad, and has been in continuous use since. Other ancient names include Meropis and Nymphaea, the similar Istanbul, and Stimpoli, Crete. Under the rule of the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes, it was known as Lango or Langò, in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, the author misunderstands this, and treats Lango and Kos as distinct islands. In Italian, the island is known as Coo, a person from Kos is called a Koan in English.
The word is an adjective, as in Koan goods, Kos is in the Aegean Sea. Its coastline is 112 kilometres long and it extends from west to east, in addition to the main town and port, called Kos, the main villages of Kos island are Kardamena, Tingaki, Mastihari and Pyli. Smaller ones are Zia, Platani and Asfendiou, tourism is the main industry in Kos, the islands beaches being the primary attraction. The seaside village of Kardamena is a resort for young holidaymakers and has a large number of bars. Farming is the principal occupation, with the main crops being grapes, figs, olives. Cos lettuce may be here, but the name is unrelated. In Homers Iliad, a contingent of Koans fought for the Greeks in the Trojan War, in classical mythology, the island was visited by Heracles. The island was colonised by the Carians. The Dorians invaded it in the 11th century BC, establishing a Dorian colony with a contingent of settlers from Epidaurus. The other chief sources of the islands lay in its wines and, in days.
Its early history–as part of the religious-political amphictyony that included Lindos, Ialysos and Halicarnassus, at the end of the 6th century, Kos fell under Achaemenid domination but rebelled after the Greek victory at the Battle of Mycale in 479
It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empires Greek East and Latin West divided. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empires official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed. Finally, under the reign of Heraclius, the Empires military, the borders of the Empire evolved significantly over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Maurice, the Empires eastern frontier was expanded, in a matter of years the Empire lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arabs. This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia, the Empire recovered again during the Komnenian restoration, such that by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city.
Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. Its remaining territories were annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 finally ended the Byzantine Empire, the term comes from Byzantium, the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantines capital. This older name of the city would rarely be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts. The publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, and in 1680 of Du Canges Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of Byzantine among French authors, however, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world. The Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the Roman Empire, the Empire of the Romans, the Roman Republic, and as Rhōmais. The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and Graikoi, and even as late as the 19th century Greeks typically referred to modern Greek as Romaika and Graikika.
The authority of the Byzantine emperor as the legitimate Roman emperor was challenged by the coronation of Charlemagne as Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III in the year 800. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known primarily as Rûm, the Roman army succeeded in conquering many territories covering the entire Mediterranean region and coastal regions in southwestern Europe and north Africa. These territories were home to different cultural groups, both urban populations and rural populations. The West suffered heavily from the instability of the 3rd century AD
Strategos or Strategus, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean military general. In the Hellenistic world and the Byzantine Empire the term was used to describe a military governor. In the modern Hellenic Army it is the highest officer rank, the ten were of equal status, and replaced the polemarchos, who had hitherto been the senior military commander. At Marathon in 490 BC they decided strategy by majority vote, at this date the polemarchos had a casting vote, and one view is that he was the commander-in-chief, but from 486 onwards the polemarchos, like the other archontes, was appointed by lot. The annual election of the strategoi was held in the spring, if a strategos died or was dismissed from office, a by-election might be held to replace him. This system continued at least until ca, 356/7 BC, but by the time Aristotle wrote his Constitution of the Athenians in ca.330 BC, the appointments were made without any reference to tribal affiliation. Hence, during the Hellenistic period, although the number of the tribes was increased, as political power passed to the rhetores in the 5th century, the strategoi were limited to their military duties.
Originally, the strategoi were appointed ad hoc to various assignments and this was generalized in Hellenistic times, when each strategos was given specific duties. One of them, the strategos epi ta hopla, ascended to major prominence in the Roman period, the Athenian people kept a close eye on their strategoi. If the vote went against anyone, he was deposed and as a rule tried by jury, the strategos as an office is attested at least for Syracuse from the late 5th century BC, and in the koinon of the Arcadians in the 360s BC. The title of strategos autokrator was used for generals with broad powers, thus Philip II of Macedon was elected as strategos autokrator of the League of Corinth. g. In the Hellenistic empires of the Diadochi, notably Lagid Egypt, for which most details are known, in Egypt, the strategoi were originally responsible for the Greek military colonists established in the country. Quickly, they assumed a role in the administration alongside the nomarches, the governor of each of the nomes.
Already by the time of Ptolemy II, the strategos was the head of the administration, while conversely his military role declines. Ptolemy V established the office of epistrategos to oversee the individual strategoi, the latter had now become solely civilian officials, combining the role of the nomarches and the oikonomos, while the epistrategos retained powers of military command. In addition, hypostrategoi could be appointed as subordinates, the office largely retained its Ptolemaic functions and continued to be staffed by the Greek population of the country. The Odrysian kingdom of Thrace was divided into strategiai, each headed by a strategos, based on the various Thracian tribes and subtribes. At the time of the annexation into the Roman Empire in 46 AD, there were 50 such districts, which were initially retained in the new Roman province
Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, historically known as Hellas, is a country in southeastern Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2015. Athens is the capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. Greece consists of nine regions, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Crete. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km in length, featuring a vast number of islands, eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as polis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea.
Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming a part of the Roman Empire and its successor. The Greek Orthodox Church shaped modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World, falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence. Greeces rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe, Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. Greeces unique cultural heritage, large industry, prominent shipping sector. It is the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor, the names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages and cultures.
The earliest evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, all three stages of the stone age are represented in Greece, for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries and these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC and this ushered in a period known as the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent. The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, in 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the worlds first democratic system of government in Athens
Gortyn, Gortys or Gortyna is a municipality and an archaeological site on the Mediterranean island of Crete,45 km away from the modern capital Heraklion. The seat of the municipality is the village Agioi Deka, the Roman capital of Creta et Cyrenaica, was first inhabited around 3200 BC. There is evidence of occupation in Gortyn as far back as the Neolithic era. Many artifacts have been found from the Minoan period, as well as some from the Dorian, the city was complimented by Plato and many others. The city of Gortyn surpassed the prominence of Phaistos during the first millennium BC, the period of its great prosperity, coincided with the Hellenistic era. Gortyn had excellent relations with Ptolemy IV of Egypt, and experienced a new period of prosperity during the Roman period. As it had allied with the Romans, it avoided the disaster that happened to many other Cretan cities, Gortyn continued to rise under Roman rule, and became the capital of the joint province of Creta et Cyrenaica. From the 4th century it was the capital of a province of Crete.
The city was destroyed in ca, AD828 by invading Arabs, who established their own state on the island. One of the first Christian temples was built here and the remains of an important Christian cathedral of Crete can still be seen today and this cathedral, dedicated to St. Titus, the first Bishop of Crete, was erected in the 6th century AD. Built with large stones, this cathedral keeps its intended height only in the areas of the Holy Bema. The church structure is a cruciform with a dome which is based on four pillars, excavations of Gortyn were begun in 1884 by the Italian School of Archaeology at Athens. The excavations showed that Gortyn was inhabited from the Neolithic age, ruins of a settlement on the citadel of Gortyn, were discovered and dated back to 1050 BC, their collapse dating to the seventh century BC. Later the area was fortified with a wall, at the top of the hill in the citadel a temple was found dating to the 7th century BC. In this area two embossed plates were found, along several other sculptures and paintings.
Daedalic plastic and many other clay figurines and red figure paintings and plenty of pottery, graves dating to the geometric age were found on the south side of the citadel. Regarding the lower town, the excavation uncovered the position of the Agora and the temple of Pythian Apollo, at the foot of Prophet Elias are traces of a sanctuary of Demeter. 35°3′48″N 24°56′49″E The heart of Roman Gortyn is the Praetorium, the seat of the Roman Governor of Crete, the Praetorium was built in the 1st century AD, but it was altered significantly over the next eight centuries