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While there were a number of developments during the Archaic Age, perhaps the most valuable lessons that can be drawn from Greek civilization and from the formation and evolution of the Greek poleis. While the Poleis were not the first forms of city-states to emerge, they were more than a political institution. Communities of citizens with their own customs and laws and after B. Each Polis also included the surrounding countryside, which was essential in providing food to support the economy of the polis.

Most people lived within the polis itself and would travel to the fields where they would work, and return to their homes at night. Other features of the polis included the acropolis an elevated location for temples, alters, etc.

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Each polis counted on its citizens for protection rather than having a standing army. Sparta and Athens were two particular poleis that rose to distinctive prominence in the Greek mainland.

  • The Greek polis.
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Sparta became the leading military power within Greece and expanded their territory by conquering Messenia, after which they turned the conquered Messenians into helots unfree residents who were forced to work the lands of the state , until they rose up in a rebellion, which spurred significant political change for Sparta. All citizens were made legally equal, and Sparta was led by two kings fulfilled the role of military leaders, a council of nobles, and five ephors who were elected by the citizens.

The Helots continued to work the land, while Spartan citizens devoted themselves to military training that began at the age of 7. Athens also faced important changes at the time, but reacted much differently than Sparta. The Athenians created a democracy.

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In B. While the Archaic Age may be over, the valuable lessons that can be drawn from Greek civilization and from the formation and evolution of the Greek poleis can still be seen today in many major modern governments and their political systems including our democratic government in the United States. Oxford: Oxford UP, Cartledge, Paul. Finley, M. New York: Norton, Freeman, Charles. McKay, John P. Tenth ed. Martin's, Poleis , therefore, became less significant in terms of independent political power but continued to be significant as providers of civic pride based on fine public buildings and the cultivation of the arts and sciences.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Cartwright, M.


Ancient History Encyclopedia. Cartwright, Mark. Last modified June 06, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 06 Jun This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.

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Lynette G. Mitchell & P.J. Rhodes (Ed.), The Development of the polis in Archaic Greece - Persée

In practice, whatever the political system adopted, political power was dominated by a few aristocratic families. Bibliography Boys-Stones et al. The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies. Burn A. The Penguin History of Greece.

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Penguin Books, Hornblower S. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Kinzl K. A Companion to the Classical Greek World. Wiley-Blackwell, About the Author Mark Cartwright. Mark is a history writer based in Italy.

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His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. Related Content Filters: All.


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