Sample Ancient Greece - History (Grades 7-9) Worksheet
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Ancient Greece - History
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
1 Greek legend tells that the Aegean Sea was named after the king of Athens, Aegeus. His son Theseus was one of the great heroes of ancient Greece. He was going to fight the Minotaur, a monster of Crete that had the body of a man and the head of a bull. Theseus promised his father, Aegeus, that on the way home he would replace the black sail on his ship with the white one if the journey were successful. But he forgot his promise; Aegeus saw the black sail far out in the sea and threw himself off a cliff.
2 Washed by the waters of three seas—the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean--Greece was a crossroads for different cultures. Its history began on the island of Crete about 6,000 years ago. Major seaways, power, religion, and law were the basis for Crete's developed commerce and trade. At the heart of that civilization was a huge palace at Knossos--a city in ancient Crete. Knossos was the capital of the legendary King Minos. This civilization of Crete is also called the Minoan civilization because of him.
3 The history and culture of ancient Greece is closely tied to the seas and natural forces. Around 1,500 BC, a terrible earthquake happened not far from Crete and destroyed much of the island. Scientists supposed that was one the main causes of the end of the great Crete civilization. It was not completely gone, though. Art, culture, and traditions of Crete had a very strong influence on those of mainland Greece.
4 The first important civilization on mainland Greece developed around 1,400 BC in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese. Many small kingdoms and fortresses were built, and the most important of them was the city of Mycenae. Mycenaeans were very strong and powerful. They learned to sail as far as Egypt, developed the cult of Olympic gods and the basics of the culture that was later known as the culture of ancient Greece.
5 This period in Greek history is called the Heroic age. It is described in the poems of Homer and Greek myths about Heracles, Theseus, Jason, and others. The culmination of that period was the Trojan War. According to legend, Greece fought the ten-year Trojan War to win back beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaus, who had been abducted by Paris and taken to Troy.
6 You probably know the story about the Greek trick with the wooden horse. Greeks ended the siege of Troy by leaving the horse outside the city and pretending to sail away. The Trojans dragged the horse inside the city walls, not realizing that it was filled with Greek warriors. The solders got out of the horse at night and opened the city gates for the Greek army.
7 The real causes of the war might be different, but the war weakened the country and tribes of wild and uncivilized Dorians took over the Peloponnese. After the invasion, it took Greece a very long time to revive and reestablish its former prosperity. It gradually turned into a new civilization as a mix of Cretians, Mycenaeans, Dorians, and other cultures.
8 The period from 800 to 500 BC is called the archaic age. It was marked with great economic and cultural growth, and the political development of Greece. The country was not united under the same government; it was made up of about 300 separate city-states. Each city-state, called "polis"--that's where the modern word politics came from--had its own laws and government. Athens and Sparta were the two largest and most powerful city-states. They were very different in their lifestyles and laws and often competed with each other.
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