Archaic Period (8th-6th Centuries B.C.)

Archaic Period (8th-6th Centuries B.C.)

Important events that characterize the Archaic Period in Athens are the reformations of Solon (as the antecedents of Athenian Democracy), the tyranny of Peisistratos and his sons, as well as the reforms of Cleisthenes that ultimately consolidated Athenian Democracy.

800-700 B.C.
Nobility disregards the kings' power and assumes control. Therefore, the custom changes from hereditary monarchy to aristocracy. At the end of the 8th Century B.C. begins the conflict between the aristocrats and the traders, artisans and farmers who were soliciting for access to power.

683/682 B.C.
We have the first list of the archons of Athens. The administration of the city is assumed by nine archons of noble lineage: 1) the archon eponymous which is the chief magistrate; 2) the polemarch is the head of the armed forces; 3) the archon basileus who was responsible for the civic religious arrangements and; 4) the six thesmothetes who deal with the judicial matters. At the same time, the Areopagus (law court) officiates and replaces the old noblemen council of monarchy and supervises the work of the archons.


636 or 635 B.C.
Failed effort of Cylon (one of the Athenian nobles and a previous victor of the Olympic Games), to establish tyranny in Athens.

624 or 621 B.C.
First codification of the law by Draco (of whom modern historical research has shown was more than likely a mythical person) after strong citizen demand. The Areopagus gains great power. Secured borrowing is maintained - with the borrower being the guarantor and in the case he was not able to pay back his debt, he became a subordinate of the lender. The laws remain well known for their stiffness. The laws are an expression of the privileges of the noble state.

594/593 B.C.
Solon is elected arbitrator between the aristocracy and the rural population. With this "Seisachtheia" all farmers΄ debts are written off and loss of personal freedom due to debt is abolished. But the request for redistribution of land is not accomplished by the system of government. Citizens are divided into four political classes according to assessable property, which designate their involvement in authority. The participation of the people in political matters becomes a law. The citizens can, through the ecclesia, elect dignitaries and make decisions regarding even the most important issues. The Court of Heliaia created with 6,000 members and those who had served previously as archons have seats on the Areopagus. Probably it was also founded a Council of 400. The private and penal law are more than likely revised at this time.

566/565 B.C.
The Festival of the Great Panathenaia originates.

546-527 B.C.
This is the period of the government of Peisistratos, who establishes tyranny as the system of government. This is a period of prosperity due to Peisistratos΄ policies that assist the farmers economically, promotes trade and the handcrafts, re-seizes and colonizes anew the Sigeio, accomplishes many important projects and favors the growth of education and arts. From the monuments that were created with Peisistratos΄ initiative, the Temple of Athena on the Acropolis stands out and is estimated to have been located on the spot where the Parthenon Temple sits today. Moreover, during the third quarter of the 6th Century B.C., the Altar of Zeus Agoraios and the Temple of Apollon Patroos are built on the west side of the Ancient Agora.

527-507 B.C.
The sons of Peisistratos, Hipparchus and Hippias, assume governorship. Harmodius and Aristogeiton murder Hipparchus in 514 B.C. Tyranny ends after the armed intervention of the Spartan King, Cleomenes, who wants to extend the influence of Sparta by promoting his favored, Isagoras. Victorious, though, in the internal power struggle for Athens is Cleisthenes of the Alcmaeonid clan. The sons of Peisistratos tried, without success, to build the Temple of the Olympian Zeus while Hippias constructs a new Telesterium in Elefsina. Between the periods 525 - 520 B.C. or 510 - 500 B.C. is when the building of the Temple of Athena is attributed to have been built. The Tritopatreion (shrine of the Tritopatres) are built during the 6th Century on the northwest side of the Sacred Gate. Three gymnasiums are also built: 1) the Academy Gymnasium on the northwest side of the city; 2 - the Lyceum northeast of Athens and 3) the Cynosarges Gymnasium on the left bank of the Ilisos River. Also, on the south side of the Acropolis, the Temple of Dionysos Eleftherios is built and, on the northwest side the Elefsinion, the Enneakrounos (fountain with nine water-spouts) at the spring Kallirhoe and the Orchestra are constructed on Agora Square. Finally, in 525 B.C., Aeschylus is born. He is the first great playwright (father of the tragedy), who will build the foundation for the development of ancient drama and poetic art. From the almost 90 works that he had written, only 7 exist today.

507 B.C.
Consolidation of Democracy through Cleisthenes' reforms. The new organization of tribes (phyle) is instituted with the creation of ten new tribes that simultaneously comprise the organizational units of the military. The Council of Five Hundred (Boule) is created, which brings issues for discussion or proposes laws to the Ecclesia. The Court of Heliaia and the Areopagus is maintained. High-level military commanders are designated as generals΄ titles that, at the same time, have significant political importance. Also, the ostracism is introduced to protect the legislative system from prospective tyrants.

▶︎ Neolithic Era (4000-3000 B.C.)
▶︎ Bronze Age (3000-1100 B.C.)
▶︎ Archaic Period (8th-6th Centuries B.C.)
▶︎ Classical Era / Classical Greece (5th-4th Centuries B.C.)
▶︎ The Peloponnesian War (431-335 B.C.)
▶︎ Hellenistic Era (323-30 B.C.)
▶︎ Roman Era (29 B.C.-324 A.D.)


▶︎ More: Ancient Period of Athens, Figures of Ancient Period, Byzantine Period of Athens, Figures of Byzantine Period, Modern History of Athens, Figures of the 19th Century, Figures of the 20th Century, Greek Mythology, Historical Specials