Ancient Greek Dialects


Map Code: Ax01632

Proto-Greek speakers first migrated into southeastern Europe between 2200 BCE and 1600 BCE. Mycenaean Greek-speakers arrived in the second millennium BCE, settling in the southern part of the Greek mainland and in the Peloponnese. A later wave brought Ionic speakers into Attica as well as other parts of central Greece and the Peloponnese. In the Doric invasions of the 12th century West Greek speakers from the northwest moved into the Peloponnese, leading to end of the Mycenaean civilization and thus to the establishment of a new dialect base in Greece. The small pocket of Arcadian speakers in the central Peloponnese is presumed to be a remnant of a more widespread Arcado-Cypriot-like dialect from the second millennium BC with affinities to Mycenaean Greek. The Dorians moved as well into many of the Aegean islands, including Crete. In the 8th century BCE the Greek language spread all over the eastern Mediterranean, with colonists from the mainland transplanting their dialect abroad. While the Greek dialects still thrived in the Classical era, during which Athens gained political and cultural ascendancy, Attic was increasingly being used as a common language throughout much of Greece.

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