Dipylon Vase of the late Geometric period, or the beginning of the Archaic period, ca. 750 BC.
Political geography of ancient Greece in the Archaic and Classical periodsMainarticle: Archaic period in Greece
In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and Mycenaean scriptforgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet. From about the 9th century BC written records begin to appear. Greece was divided into many smallself-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography, where every island, valley and plain is cut off from its neighbours by the sea or mountain ranges.
The Lelantine War(c.710-c.650 BC) was an ongoing conflict with the distinction of being the earliest documented war of the ancient Greek period. It was fought between the important poleis (city-states) of Chalcis andEretria over the fertile Lelantine plain of Euboea. Both cities seem to have suffered a decline as result of the long war, though Chalcis was the nominal victor.
A mercantile class rose in the first halfof the 7th century, shown by the introduction of coinage in about 680 BC. This seems to have introduced tension to many city-states. The aristocratic regimes which generally governedthe poleis were threatened by the new-found wealth of merchants, who in turn desired political power. From 650 BC onwards, the aristocracies had to fight not to be overthrown and replaced by populisttyrants. The word derives from the non-pejorative Greek τύραννος tyrannos, meaning 'illegitimate ruler', although this was applicable to both good and bad leaders alike.
A growing populationand shortage of land also seems to have created internal strife between the poor and the rich in many city-states. In Sparta, the Messenian Wars resulted in the conquest of Messenia and enserfment...