The Mycenaeans originated in Central Asia. As their population grew, they began to spread into the Balkan Peninsula. By around 1400 B.C., the Mycenaeans had overrun the Minoans and began to rule as the dominant culture in the area.
In order to protect their people, the Mycenaeans built large fortresses astride the hills and mountain tops of their villages. These fortresses offered a place of refuge during times of danger.
By 1100 B.C., the Mycenaean civilization came to an end. Historians are not sure what happened to their civilization, but one theory is they were over-run by a group of people known as the Dorians. Read more about the Mycenaean civilization and what may have happened to them on the next page.
After conquering the region, the Dorians fell into a ‘Dark Age.’ Poverty became wide-spread, and important skills such as reading and writing were lost. This dark age lasted for about 300 years.
Then, around 750 B.C., a group known as the Ionians brought many elements of culture, including reading, writing and art, back into the region. This began a new era of civilization referred to as the Hellenic Period. During this period, the Greeks rose to become one of the most powerful civilizations anywhere in the world.