A grape is a fruit, botanically a berry, of the deciduous woody vines of the flowering plant genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten fresh as table grapes or they can be used for making wine, juice, grape seed extract, raisins and grape seed oil. Grapes are a non-climacteric type of fruit occurring in clusters; the cultivation of the domesticated grape began 6,000–8,000 years ago in the Near East. Yeast, one of the earliest domesticated microorganisms, occurs on the skins of grapes, leading to the discovery of alcoholic drinks such as wine; the earliest archeological evidence for a dominant position of wine-making in human culture dates from 8,000 years ago in Georgia. The oldest known winery was found in Armenia, dating to around 4000 BC. By the 9th century AD the city of Shiraz was known to produce some of the finest wines in the Middle East, thus it has been proposed that Syrah red wine is named after Shiraz, a city in Persia where the grape was used to make Shirazi wine. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics record the cultivation of purple grapes, history attests to the ancient Greeks and Romans growing purple grapes for both eating and wine production.
The growing of grapes would spread to other regions in Europe, as well as North Africa, in North America. In North America, native grapes belonging to various species of the genus Vitis proliferate in the wild across the continent, were a part of the diet of many Native Americans, but were considered by early European colonists to be unsuitable for wine. In the 19th century, Ephraim Bull of Concord, cultivated seeds from wild Vitis labrusca vines to create the Concord grape which would become an important agricultural crop in the United States. Grapes are a type of fruit that grow in clusters of 15 to 300, can be crimson, dark blue, green and pink. "White" grapes are green in color, are evolutionarily derived from the purple grape. Mutations in two regulatory genes of white grapes turn off production of anthocyanins, which are responsible for the color of purple grapes. Anthocyanins and other pigment chemicals of the larger family of polyphenols in purple grapes are responsible for the varying shades of purple in red wines.
Grapes are an ellipsoid shape resembling a prolate spheroid. Most grapes come from cultivars of Vitis vinifera, the European grapevine native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Minor amounts of fruit and wine come from American and Asian species such as: Vitis amurensis, the most important Asian species Vitis labrusca, the North American table and grape juice grapevines, sometimes used for wine, are native to the Eastern United States and Canada. Vitis mustangensis, found in Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma Vitis riparia, a wild vine of North America, is sometimes used for winemaking and for jam, it is native to the entire Eastern U. S. and north to Quebec. Vitis rotundifolia used for jams and wine, are native to the Southeastern United States from Delaware to the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 75,866 square kilometers of the world are dedicated to grapes. 71% of world grape production is used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit, 2% as dried fruit. A portion of grape production goes to producing grape juice to be reconstituted for fruits canned "with no added sugar" and "100% natural".
The area dedicated to vineyards is increasing by about 2% per year. There are no reliable statistics, it is believed that the most planted variety is Sultana known as Thompson Seedless, with at least 3,600 km2 dedicated to it. The second most common variety is Airén. Other popular varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Tempranillo and Chardonnay. Commercially cultivated grapes can be classified as either table or wine grapes, based on their intended method of consumption: eaten raw or used to make wine. While all of them belong to the same species, Vitis vinifera and wine grapes have significant differences, brought about through selective breeding. Table grape cultivars tend to have large, seedless fruit with thin skin. Wine grapes are smaller seeded, have thick skins. Wine grapes tend to be sweet: they are harvested at the time when their juice is 24% sugar by weight. By comparison, commercially produced "100% grape juice", made from table grapes, is around 15% sugar by weight.
Seedless cultivars now make up the overwhelming majority of table grape plantings. Because grapevines are vegetatively propagated by cuttings, the lack of seeds does not present a problem for reproduction, it is an issue for breeders, who must either use a seeded variety as the female parent or rescue embryos early in development using tissue culture techniques. There are several sources of the seedlessness trait, all commercial cultivators get it from one of three sources: Thompson Seedless, Russian Seedless, Black Monukka, all being cultivars of Vitis vinifera. There are more than a dozen varieties of seedless grapes. Several, such as Einset Seedless, Benjamin Gunnels's Prime seedless grapes and Venus, have been cultivated for hardiness and quality in the cold climates of northeastern United States and southern Ontario. An offset to the improved eating quality of seedlessness is the loss of potential health benefits provided by the enriched phytochemical conten
Wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol, carbon dioxide, heat. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine; these variations result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the terroir, the production process. Many countries enact legal appellations intended to define qualities of wine; these restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production. Wines not made from grapes include rice wine and fruit wines such as plum, pomegranate and elderberry. Wine has been produced for thousands of years; the earliest known traces of wine are from Georgia and Sicily although there is evidence of a similar alcoholic drink being consumed earlier in China. The earliest known winery is the 6,100-year-old Areni-1 winery in Armenia. Wine reached the Balkans by 4500 BC and was consumed and celebrated in ancient Greece and Rome.
Throughout history, wine has been consumed for its intoxicating effects. Wine has long played an important role in religion. Red wine was associated with blood by the ancient Egyptians and was used by both the Greek cult of Dionysus and the Romans in their Bacchanalia; the earliest archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence for grape wine and viniculture, dating to 6000–5800 BC was found on the territory of modern Georgia. Both archaeological and genetic evidence suggest that the earliest production of wine elsewhere was later having taken place in the Southern Caucasus, or the West Asian region between Eastern Turkey, northern Iran; the earliest evidence of a grape-based fermented drink was found in China, Georgia from 6000 BC, Iran from 5000 BC, Sicily from 4000 BC. The earliest evidence of a wine production facility is the Areni-1 winery in Armenia and is at least 6100 years old. A 2003 report by archaeologists indicates a possibility that grapes were mixed with rice to produce mixed fermented drinks in China in the early years of the seventh millennium BC.
Pottery jars from the Neolithic site of Jiahu, contained traces of tartaric acid and other organic compounds found in wine. However, other fruits indigenous to the region, such as hawthorn, cannot be ruled out. If these drinks, which seem to be the precursors of rice wine, included grapes rather than other fruits, they would have been any of the several dozen indigenous wild species in China, rather than Vitis vinifera, introduced there 6000 years later; the spread of wine culture westwards was most due to the Phoenicians who spread outward from a base of city-states along the Mediterranean coast of what are today Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. The wines of Byblos were exported to Egypt during the Old Kingdom and throughout the Mediterranean. Evidence includes two Phoenician shipwrecks from 750 BC discovered by Robert Ballard, whose cargo of wine was still intact; as the first great traders in wine, the Phoenicians seem to have protected it from oxidation with a layer of olive oil, followed by a seal of pinewood and resin, similar to retsina.
Although the nuragic Sardinians consumed wine before the arrival of the Phoenicians The earliest remains of Apadana Palace in Persepolis dating back to 515 BC include carvings depicting soldiers from Achaemenid Empire subject nations bringing gifts to the Achaemenid king, among them Armenians bringing their famous wine. Literary references to wine are abundant in Homer and others. In ancient Egypt, six of 36 wine amphoras were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun bearing the name "Kha'y", a royal chief vintner. Five of these amphoras were designated as originating from the king's personal estate, with the sixth from the estate of the royal house of Aten. Traces of wine have been found in central Asian Xinjiang in modern-day China, dating from the second and first millennia BC; the first known mention of grape-based wines in India is from the late 4th-century BC writings of Chanakya, the chief minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. In his writings, Chanakya condemns the use of alcohol while chronicling the emperor and his court's frequent indulgence of a style of wine known as madhu.
The ancient Romans planted vineyards near garrison towns so wine could be produced locally rather than shipped over long distances. Some of these areas are now world-renowned for wine production; the Romans discovered that burning sulfur candles inside empty wine vessels kept them fresh and free from a vinegar smell. In medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic Church supported wine because the clergy required it for the Mass. Monks in France made wine for years. An old English recipe that survived in various forms until the 19th century calls for refining white wine from bastard—bad or tainted bastardo wine; the English word "wine" comes from the Proto-Germanic *winam, an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or " vine", itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem *win-o-. The earliest attested terms referring to wine are the Mycenaean Greek me-tu-wo ne-wo, meaning "in" or " of the new wine", wo-no-wa-ti-si, meaning "wine garden", written in Linear B inscriptions. Linear B includes, inter alia, an ideogram for wine
Antigonus III Doson
Antigonus III Doson was king of Macedon from 229 BC to 221 BC. He was a member of the Antigonid dynasty. Antigonus III Doson was a half-cousin of Demetrius II Aetolicus. Doson's father was Demetrius the Fair, the son of Demetrius Poliorcetes and his third wife, Ptolemaïs, daughter of Ptolemy I Soter and Eurydice, daughter of Antipater; as such, Demetrius the Fair was, on his father's side, a younger half-brother of Demetrius II's father, Antigonus II Gonatas, the son of Poliorcetes by his first wife, another of Antipater's daughters. According to Eusebius, Doson's own mother was a Thessalian noblewoman, daughter of Pauliclitus of Larissa. Antigonus had a brother named Echecrates, whose son, named Antigonus after Doson himself, was put to death by Perseus on the latter's accession to the throne of Macedon. Doson's father, Demetrius the Fair, died sometime around 250 BC, as a result of events that occurred after being summoned from Macedonia to Cyrene to marry Berenice II, the daughter and heir of Magas of Cyrene.
Rather than contenting himself with his young bride, Demetrius became the lover of her powerful mother, Apama II. So the jealous bride took her revenge by having him assassinated, it is unclear. Antigonus' by-name, Doson, is Greek for "going to give." The meaning of this is uncertain. According to Plutarch it "implied that he was given to promising but did not perform his engagements", though the exact meaning of this is unclear; when Demetrius II died in battle in 229 BC, his son and would-be successor, the Philip V, was only nine years old. According to Plutarch, both the Macedonian army and nobility thought the political situation too volatile to wait for Philip V to mature enough to assume command; as a consequence, the Macedonian nobility turned to Doson, subsequently made regent of the kingdom and married his predecessor's widow and the mother of Philip, Chryseis. However, it was only after Doson demonstrated his leadership abilities by succeeding in defeating the Dardanii invaders and in putting down a rebellion by the Thessalians, showing his rule to be moderate and good, that he was given the title of king.
Unlike his Antigonid ancestors, he had no viable rivals to challenge his right to rule. Yet as king he envisioned himself as caretaker for his cousin's son, Philip V; as king, Antigonus III proved to be as much a master of tactical diplomacy as of military strategy. In less than a decade of rule he not only secured the borders of his nation, he re-established Macedon as the dominant power in the region. Unlike previous Macedonian rulers who attempted direct dominion over their fiercely independent neighbours to the West and South, he formed alliances with Epirus and the Achaean League; when Sparta, under Cleomenes III, attempted to establish hegemony over the whole Peloponnese, Aratus of Sicyon - long the leader of Greek opposition to Macedonian domination - invited Antigonus to intervene. Establishing his base on the heights above Corinth, Antigonus reconstituted a broad-based Hellenic league under his leadership before launching his attack on Sparta; the Spartan forces, outmatched by the larger, better equipped Macedonian army, were so overwhelmed in the Battle of Sellasia that Cleomenes only managed to escape with a few horsemen, had to seek refuge in Egypt.
However, in a magnanimous gesture, Antigonus restrained his soldiers from plundering Sparta, saying it was Cleomenes, not Sparta, his enemy. Antigonus did not long survive this victory. For, while his forces were campaigning in the southern Peloponnese, Illyrians invaded Macedonia from the north. Antigonus had to rush north to repel this new threat. On his way, Antigonus passed through Tegea and Argos, his arrival at the latter coinciding with the beginning of the Nemean Games, where he was honoured by the Achaean League and various other cities, his death occurred soon after, when he engaged the Illyrian army. Antigonus III Doson entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
The pandura or pandore, an ancient string instrument, belonged in the broad class of the lute and guitar instruments. Akkadians played similar instruments from the 3rd millennium BC. Ancient Greek artwork depicts such lutes from the 4th century BC onward; the ancient Greek pandoura was a medium or long-necked lute with a small resonating chamber, used by the ancient Greeks. It had three strings: such an instrument was known as the trichordon, its descendants still survive as the Greek tambouras and bouzouki, the North African kuitra, the Eastern Mediterranean saz and the Balkan tamburica and remained popular in the near east and eastern Europe, too acquiring a third string in the course of time, since the fourth century BCE. Renato Meucci suggests that the some Italian Renaissance descendants of Pandura type were called chitarra italiana, mandore or mandola. Information about Roman pandura-type instruments comes from ancient Roman artwork. Under the Romans the pandura was modified: the long neck was preserved but was made wider to take four strings, the body was either oval or broader at the base, but without the inward curves of the pear-shaped instruments.
The word pandura was rare in classical Latin writers. Lute-class instruments were present in Mesopotamia since the Akkadian era, or the third millennium BCE. There were at least two distinct varieties of pandura. One type was pear-shaped, used in Persia. In this type the body had graceful inward curves which led up from base to neck; these curves changed at the bottom end off the instrument to a more sloping outline, an elongated triangle with the corners rounded off. The oval type, a favourite instrument of the Egyptians, was found in ancient Persia and among the Arabs of North Africa. From the ancient Greek word pandoura, a comparable instrument is found in modern Chechnya and Ingushetia, where it is known as phandar. In Georgia the panduri is a three-string fretted instrument; the modern Georganian panduri instrument is in the tanbur class. Phandar Tambouras Panduri Baglamas Mandora Bandura Tanbur Bouzouki Mandolin Citations Bibliography McKinnon, J. W.. "Pandoura". In Sadie, S; the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
3. London: Macmillan Press. P. 10. Picture of a pandura published 1947 in the book The Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors by David Talbot Rice. Henry George Farmer calls the instrument "a three-stringed pandoura" in his 1949 article An Early Greek Pandore. Website that has a history of Pandura with some good photos
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the greatest museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide, it is situated in the Exarcheia area in central Athens between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street and Tositsas Street while its entrance is on the Patission Street adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic university. The first national archaeological museum in Greece was established by the governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias in Aigina in 1829. Subsequently, the archaeological collection was relocated to a number of exhibition places until 1858, when an international architectural competition was announced for the location and the architectural design of the new museum; the current location was proposed and the construction of the museum's building began in 1866 and was completed in 1889 using funds from the Greek Government, the Greek Archaeological Society and the society of Mycenae.
Major benefactors were Eleni Tositsa who donated the land for the building of the museum, Demetrios and Nikolaos Vernardakis from Saint Petersburg who donated a large amount for the completion of the museum. The initial name for the museum was The Central Museum, it was renamed to its current name in 1881 by Prime Minister of Greece Charilaos Trikoupis. In 1887 the important archaeologist Valerios Stais became the museum's curator. During World War II the museum was closed and the antiquities were sealed in special protective boxes and buried, in order to avoid their destruction and looting. In 1945 exhibits were again displayed under the direction of Christos Karouzos; the south wing of the museum houses the Epigraphic Museum with the richest collection of inscriptions in the world. The inscriptions museum expanded between 1953 and 1960 with the architectural designs of Patroklos Karantinos; the museum has an imposing neo-classical design, popular in Europe at the time and is in accordance with the classical style artifacts that it houses.
The initial plan was conceived by the architect Ludwig Lange and it was modified by Panagis Kalkos, the main architect, Armodios Vlachos and Ernst Ziller. At the front of the museum there is a large neo-classic design garden, decorated with sculptures; the building has undergone many expansions. Most important were the construction of a new east wing in the early 20th century based on the plans of Anastasios Metaxas and the construction of a two-storeyed building, designed by George Nomikos, during 1932–1939; these expansions were necessary to accommodate the growing collection of artifacts. The most recent refurbishment of the museum took more than 1.5 years to complete, during which the museum remained closed. It reopened in July 2004, in time for the Athens Olympics and it included an aesthetic and technical upgrade of the building, installation of a modern air-conditioning system, reorganisation of the museum's collection and repair of the damage caused by the 1999 earthquake; the Minoan frescoes rooms opened to the public in 2005.
On May 2008 the Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis inaugurated the much anticipated collection of Egyptian antiquities and the collection of Eleni and Antonis Stathatos. Today, there is a renewed discussion regarding the need to further expand the museum to adjacent areas. A new plan has been made for a subterranean expansion at the front of the museum; the museum's collections are organised in sections: The prehistoric collection displays objects from the Neolithic era and Mid-Bronze age, objects classified as Cycladic and Mycenaean art. There are ceramic finds from various important Neolithic sites such as Dimini and Sesclo from middle Helladic ceramics from Boeotia and Phthiotis; some objects from Heinrich Schliemann excavations in Troy are on display. Cycladic collection features the famous marble figurines from the Aegean islands of Delos and Keros including the Lutist; these mysterious human representations, which resemble modern art and inspired many artists such as Henry Moore, came from the 3rd millennium BC old cemeteries of Aegean islands along with bronze tools and containers.
Mycenean civilization is represented by stone and ceramic pots, ivory and faience objects, golden seals and rings from the vaulted tombs in Mycenae and other locations in the Peloponnese. Of great interest are the two golden cups from Vafeio showing a scene of the capture of a bull. Mycenean collection includes the magnificent 19th-century finds of Heinrich Schliemann in Mycenae from the Grave Circle A and the earlier Grave Circle B. Most notable are the golden funerary masks which covered the faces of deceased Mycenean nobles. Among them, the most famous is the one, named erroneously as the mask of Agamemnon. There are finds from the citadel of Mycenae including relief stelae, golden containers, glass and amber tools and jewels. Other features include an ivory carving of two goddesses with a child, a painted limestone head of a goddess and the famous warrior's vase dating from the 12th century; the Egyptian collection dates back to the last twenty years of the 19th century. Notable is the donation of the Egyptian government which in 1893 offered nine mummies of the era of the Pharaohs.
However, the Egyptian collection is by two donors, Ioannis Dimitriou and of Alexandros Rostovic. In total the collection includes more than 6000 artifacts, 1100 of which are available presently for the public. Th
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the second-century AD, who lived in the time of Roman emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece, a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from his first-hand observations; this work provides crucial information for making links between classical literature and modern archaeology. Andrew Stewart assesses him as: A careful, pedestrian writer...interested not only in the grandiose or the exquisite but in unusual sights and obscure ritual. He is careless or makes unwarranted inferences, his guides or his own notes sometimes mislead him, yet his honesty is unquestionable, his value without par. Pausanias was born in 110 AD into a Greek family and was a native of Lydia. Before visiting Greece, he had been to Antioch and Jerusalem, to the banks of the River Jordan. In Egypt, he had seen the pyramids. While at the temple of Ammon, he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. In Macedonia, he appears to have seen.
Crossing over to Italy, he had seen something of the wonders of Rome. He was one of the first known to write of seeing the ruins of Troy, Alexandria Troas, Mycenae. Pausanias' Description of Greece is in each dedicated to some portion of Greece, he begins his tour in Attica, where the city of its demes dominate the discussion. Subsequent books describe Corinthia, Messenia, Achaea, Boetia and Ozolian Locris; the project is more than topographical. Pausanias digresses from the description of architectural and artistic objects to review the mythological and historical underpinnings of the society that produced them; as a Greek writing under the auspices of the Roman empire, he was in an awkward cultural space, between the glories of the Greek past he was so keen to describe and the realities of a Greece beholden to Rome as a dominating imperial force. His work bears the marks of his attempt to navigate that space and establish an identity for Roman Greece, he is not a naturalist by any means, although from time to time, he does comment on the physical realities of the Greek landscape.
He notices the pine trees on the sandy coast of Elis, the deer and the wild boars in the oak woods of Phelloe, the crows amid the giant oak trees of Alalcomenae. It is in the last section that Pausanias touches on the products of nature, such as the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date palms of Aulis, the olive oil of Tithorea, as well as the tortoises of Arcadia and the "white blackbirds" of Cyllene. Pausanias is most of Delphi, yet in the most secluded regions of Greece, he is fascinated by all kinds of depictions of deities, holy relics, many other sacred and mysterious objects. At Thebes he views the shields of those who died at the Battle of Leuctra, the ruins of the house of Pindar, the statues of Hesiod, Arion and Orpheus in the grove of the Muses on Helicon, as well as the portraits of Corinna at Tanagra and of Polybius in the cities of Arcadia. Pausanias has the instincts of an antiquary; as his modern editor, Christian Habicht, has said, In general, he prefers the old to the new, the sacred to the profane.
Some magnificent and dominating structures, such as the Stoa of King Attalus in the Athenian Agora or the Exedra of Herodes Atticus at Olympia are not mentioned. Unlike a Baedeker guide, in Periegesis Pausanias stops for a brief excursus on a point of ancient ritual or to tell an apposite myth, in a genre that would not become popular again until the early nineteenth century. In the topographical part of his work, Pausanias is fond of digressions on the wonders of nature, the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake, the phenomena of the tides, the ice-bound seas of the north, the noonday sun that at the summer solstice, casts no shadow at Syene. While he never doubts the existence of the deities and heroes, he sometimes criticizes the myths and legends relating to them, his descriptions of monuments of art are unadorned. They bear the impression of reality, their accuracy is confirmed by the extant remains, he is frank in his confessions of ignorance. When he quotes a book at second hand he takes pains to say so.
The work left faint traces in the known Greek corpus. "It was not read", Habicht relates. The only manuscripts of Pausanias are three fifteenth-century copies, full of errors and lacunae, which all appear to depend on a single manuscript that survived to be copied. Niccolò Niccoli had this archetype in Florence in 1418. At his death in 1437, it went to the library of San Marco, Florence it disappeared after 1500; until twentieth-century archaeologists concluded that Pausanias was a reliable guide to the sites they were excavating, Pausanias was la
Greece the Hellenic Republic, self-identified and known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of 11 million as of 2016. Athens is largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, Turkey to the northeast; 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 large number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres; the country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Thrace and the Ionian Islands.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, Western drama and notably the Olympic Games. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, in which Greek language and culture were dominant. Rooted in the first century A. D. the Greek Orthodox Church helped shape 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.
Greece's rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The sovereign state of Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, a high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001, it is a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Greece's unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power, it is the largest economy in the Balkans. The names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages and cultures.
The Greek name of the country is Hellas or Ellada, its official name is the Hellenic Republic. In English, the country is called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia and means'the land of the Greeks'; 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, in the Greek province of Macedonia. All three stages of the stone age are represented for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near East to Europe. Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation, beginning with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete, the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland; these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek.
The Mycenaeans absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This ushered from which written records are absent. Though the unearthed Linear B texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape and can't support the existence of a larger state contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence of a single state under a "Great King" based in mainland Greece; the end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to the year of the first Olympic Games. 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, which spread to the shores of the Black Sea, So