This video is part of a series of 16 animated maps.

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Migration and languages

This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of Ancient Greece.

In the 7th millennium BC, the Neolithic revolution was already taking place, as shepherds and farmers began to cultivate vines and olive trees and to establish sea links with the Cyclades.


At the end of the 3rd millennium, began a long period of migration from the north. Around 2000 BC, there were already Minoans living on the island of Crete and developing a complex society and several different forms of writing.


Between 2000 and 1600 BC, three waves of migrants arrived in Greece:

- Ionians moving into Attica and the Cyclades;

- Aeolians settling in Thessaly;

- Achaeans. This was the largest group in the Peloponnese. It gave birth to the so-called Mycenaean civilization. They were traders, pirates and warriors, and it is possible that they were also responsible for the destruction of Troy.

- The Dorians arrived during the Iron Age, towards the end of the 12th century BC. They settled in the Isthmus of Corinth, the Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes, and the southwestern areas of Asia Minor. Their arrival was probably the reason why groups of Aeolians and Ionians migrated to the Aegean islands and Asia Minor. 

These waves of migrants led to the emergence of various dialects across the Hellenic world:

-Aeolian and Ionian on both sides of the Aegean Sea;

-Dorian in a large area in the Peloponnese, the islands to the south and part of Asia Minor;

- And Achaean or Arcado-Cypriot in the centre of the Peloponnese, in Cyprus, and on the southern coast of Asia Minor.From the 4th century BC, the language spoken by the Athenians became the literary language shared by the Greeks. Nevertheless, this literary language was quite different from the common spoken language, koine, which retained elements of other Ionian dialects.