The Greek peninsula has been culturally linked with the Aegean Islands, and the west coast of Asia Minor since the Neolithic Age. The numerous natural harbors and close-lying islands lead to a unified, maritime civilization. However cultural unity did not produce political unity. Mountain ranges and deep valleys separated the peninsula into small economic and political units. Constant feuding between cities and surrounding empires for political power made Greece the sight of many battles.
Archeological evidence shows that a primitive Mediterranean people, closely related to races of northern Africa, lived in the southern Aegean area as far back as the Neolithic Age.
A cultural progression from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age started about 3000 BC. This civilization, during the Bronze Age was divided into two main cultures. One on these, called Cretan or Minoan was centered on the island of Crete. The other culture, Helladic (who became Mycenaean) populated mainland Greece.
The Minoan culture dominated trade until 1500 BC when the Mycenaeans took control.
During the third millennium BC a series of invasions from the north began. The most prominent of the early invaders, who were called the Achaeans, had, in all probability, been forced to migrate by other invaders. They overran southern Greece and established themselves on the Peloponnesus. Many other, vaguely defined tribes, were assimilated in the Helladic culture.
Gradually, in the last period of Bronze Age Greece, the Minoan civilization fused with the mainland. By 1400 BC the Achaeans were in possession of the island itself, and soon afterward gained control of the mainland. The Trojan War, described by Homer in the Iliad, began about 1200 BC and was probably one of a series of wars waged during the 12th and 13th centuries BC. It may have been connected with...