In this period the centre of interest in the growth of civilization shifts to the 2Egean region, where the Hellenic race was gradually emerging from the union of invading Indo Europeans with native Minoans. Doubtless the latter had more than the former to bestow upon their common progeny, the historical Greeks, particularly in religion, in law and social organization, and in the elements of industry and art. .For a long time life was relatively barbarous, represented by the prevailing geo metric art; but in the various excavations, es pecially those of Sparta, Ephesus and Miletus, we can trace the gradual recovery of civiliza tion. Most progressive were the iEolian and Ionian Greeks who had colonized the eastern coast of. the lEgean sea and the neighboring islands. It was they who produced the first European literature—the 'Iliad' (q.v.) and the 'Odyssey' (q.v.). Colonists in a strange country, the Ionians drew their subsistence from grazing, agriculture, and war. With a high degree of refinement, mixed with barbarity, they possessed remarkably virile, elastic minds. In contrast with the slavish Orientals, the Greeks, represented by the Ionians, were in spirit free. To them neither nature nor religion was terrible; their gods were intensely human, gen erally the helpers, never the implacable enemies of man. Combined with this intellectual liberty and boldness was a rare sense of fitness and proportion, manifested in the Homeric poems referred to above. In Greek manhood, virility, freedom, intelligence and taste combined to pro duce a civilization which was already rapidly advancing beyond that of the Orient. The Ionians in fact soon surpassed the Phoenicians in navigation and in the arts. It is now well known that many utensils, art objects and deco rative patterns formerly ascribed to the Phoeni cians belong in truth to the Ionians, who the chief innovators in a material civiliza tion which centred in the lEgean area and extended through commerce to Etruria in one direction and to the Euphrates in the other. Among the most important constructive agencies in the industrial world was the use of iron, introduced from the Hittite country into Crete in the 13th century ec., and extended gradually from that island over the 2E can region and to Italy and Sicily. In the 8th century it was known to the Spartans, and probably still earlier to the more progressive people of the coast and islands. Hardened to steel, it added greatly to the efficiency of weapons and of all cutting instruments.
In Italy the Terremare settlements were abandoned (about 1000 ec.), and the tribes of Indo-Europeans, who had entered the Po Valley a thousand years earlier, began their migrations into the peninsula. As a result the Latins, the Umbrians and the Sabellians took possession of their respective historical countries. Ifere, as • in the €gean region, with the transition from bronze to iron, civilization fell temporarily to a lower level, from which it gradually rose. The Early Iron (Villanova) Age extended from 1000 to 800 B.C. In this period the famous
V. The Fall of Assyria and the Rise of the Persian Empire; in Greece Colonial Ex pansion and the Awakening of a National Consciousness; the Struggle Between Asia and Europe, in which Greece Becomes the Centre of Interest in the World's Politics; in the Central Mediterranean Region the Political Growth of Carthage and Etruria; at Rome the Primitive Kingship and the Be ginning of the Republic, 700-479 B.c.— Early
in the period Lydia became a conquering state, and reached the height of its imperial power under Crcesus (560-546 ec.). who ruled nearly all Asia Minor west of the Halys River. Egypt fell under the Assyrian power (664 a.c.) ; but soon throwing off the yoke, it enjoyed a long period of independence (645-525 ec.). Before the loss of Egypt the Assyrian empire reached from Thebes on the Nile nearly to the Caspian Sea, and from the Persian Gulf nearly to the Black Sea — the greatest extent of country yet united under one ruler. In Nineveh, their new capital, the kings built magnificent palaces of brick, adorned with representations of their wars in sculptured reliefs. They established libraries, too, of Babylonian learning. But they had already ceased to make political progress, and they failed to give their empire an organic unity, and to inspire the conquered nations with loyalty to the central government. Suddenly the empire was overthrown by a combination of the Babylonians and the Medes, who destroyed Nineveh in 606 ec. With this event Assyria disappeared from history.
Two empires — the Median and the Baby lonian — divided between them the Assyrian domain. The former lay in the north of Hither Asia, the latter in the south. Under Neb uchadnezzar (606-562 a.c.) Babylon became the largest and wealthiest city in the world, a brilliant seat of industry and commerce. He destroyed Jerusalem, carried Judah into captiv ity (586 ec.), and conquered Tyre. Of the other empire the ruling people were the Medes, an Indo-European people, who inhabited the plateau between the Tigris Valley and the Caspian Sea. Their sway extended westward, on the north of Babylonia, to the Halys River, and southward over their Persian kinsmen. Both empires, however, were short-lived; in 550 ac. Cyrus, an Elamitic prince, at the head of a Persian revolt, established himself master of the Median realm. This event made the empire Persian. After conquering Lydia (546 ac.) and Babylon (538 ec.), Cyrus proceeded to subdue the countries to the east and north et of Persia ; so that at his death (529 a.c.) hi empire extended from the .2Egean Sea to the Indus River, and from the Persian Gulf to the Jaxartes River — an area perhaps five or six times as great as that of the Assyrian empire. His son and successor, Cambyses, added Egypt (525 a.c.), and Darius, the follow ing king (522-485 ec.), completing an organiza tion begun by Cyrus, divided the empire into 20 satrapies (provinces), each under a governor termed satrap. This magistrate, appointed by the king, exercised full military and civil au thority over his province, subject to royal regu lations and commands. Though checked by the continual presence of a royal secretary and by the occasional visits of the king's (eye* (in spector), the satrap enjoyed the splendor and nearly all the power of a sovereign. Darius also built roads throughout the empire, dis tributed the taxes equitably, and established a system of gold and silver coins. He annexed Thrace to his empire, and made an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Greece.