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The Classical Age in Greece is usually described as the period between the Persian Wars, in which first Athens and then a Hellenic League repelled invasions by the Persians, and the death of Alexander the Great, which marks the beginning of the Hellenistic Age. These divisions are, to a certain extent, arbitrary. Though the Greek victories in the Persian Wars did help to unleash the creative energies that produced classical scultpure, literature, and architecture, the process had already begun in the Archaic Age, preceeding the Persian Wars. At the other end, the conquests of Philip of Macedon, Alexander's father, had already ended the era of independent Greek city-states; the age of large, monarchical political arrangements had begun and would extend through the Roman era--and on to the Turkish conquest of the Greek world in the Middle Ages.
Thus, unlike the break at the end of the Bronze Age, when the collapse of the Mycenaean citadels led to cultural decline, a Dark Age that would give way only after centuries, there is significant historical and cultural continuity from the Archaic through the Roman Ages. Sites will, therefore, include remains from various periods. Even at Corinth, where the Greek city was destroyed by the Romans and eventually rebuilt as a Roman colony, the most impressive monument is still the Archaic temple to Apollo.
We can, however, place sites in historical context in terms the periods of primary importance in our on-site examinations:
It is just as important to understand the sites in terms of their function. Some sites, e.g., Corinth, Ephesus, and Delos, are whole cities, including remains from civic, religious, and economic activities. Other sites served more specific roles: the Athenian Agora was the civic and economic heart of the city; the Athenian Acropolis served a fundamental religious role, as a site for the gods, but this extended to civic functions, e.g., in housing the treasury of the Delian League; Epidavros was a healing sanctuary; and Delphi was an oracular site.
CLASSICAL AGE MAP
A QUICK TOUR OF THE ATHENIAN ACROPOLIS
Plan of Acropolis
A QUICK TOUR OF APOLLO'S DELPHI
Plan of Delphi and surrounding area
A QUICK TOUR OF THE ATHENIANAGORA
Plan of the Classical Agora
ARCHAIC, CLASSICAL, HELLENISTIC SOURCES
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