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Greece » Sterea » Attica » Athens » Athens History » Athens in Prehistory (5000-1500 b.C.)
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Athens in Prehistory (5000-1500 b.C.)

Athens is situated in a unique geographic position, although not much favored by nature. Acropolis and the low hills around are found at the center of a small basin, surrounded by mountains with defiles to the North and West, whereas at the South it is found the sea, Saronicos Bay. Acropolis is an ideal natural fort and has several springs of potable water. The mountains around, Hymettus at the East and South, Pendeli at the Northeast, the higher mountain of Parnitha at the North and Egaleo at the West protect and isolate Athens and Attica, leaving only one way of access, that of the sea. The mountains also offer to the people several products as first quality marble, timber for building, excellent honey and other; they also form three or four torrents who flow all year round, although they have not the same amount of water in all seasons. The most important and well known torrents are Kifissos and Ilissos, but there are also Iridanos and Kyklovoros.

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Due to these features, human settlements in the area are dated as early as the 5th millennium b.C. Traces of the first settlements have been detected on the Acropolis and around it. The Neolithic settlement of Acropolis is similar to the ones found elsewhere in Attica, as in Rafina, Marathon, Spata, Thoricos, Vravrona and in other places. Settlements on and around Acropolis continued to exist in the Bronze Age. In these periods people is not of Greek origin and are referred to with the mythic name Pelasgi. In early 2nd millennium b.C. Greeks arrive in Attica; they are those that later on were known by the name Ionians. Ionians spoke Greek; they settled peacefully in Athens and were blended with Pelasgi, the previous residents.

The pre-Hellenic tribes have left their traces in some words, mainly in many toponyms; the names Kifissos, Ilissos, Ardittos and Ymittos (Hymettus), all ending in –ttos or –ssos are thought to be of pre-Hellenic origin. The same stands true for the words “melissa” (bee), “meli (honey), “thalassa” ( sea), “eirini” (peace), as well as for the name of the city (Athenae) which is of unknown origin, but not of Greek etymology.

Archaeological finds of prehistoric Athens are displayed in the museums of the city: in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, in the Archaeological Museums of Piraeus, of Eleusina and of Vravrona, as well as in the Museums specialized in the history of Athens, that is to say, the Museums of Ancient Agora, the Museum of the City of Athens and of course in the New Museum of Acropolis which opened in June 2009.
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