Aegean Sea

Aegean Sea

Overview

The Aegean Sea[p]  is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 located between the southern Balkan
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

n peninsula
Peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

s, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 by the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

 and Bosporus
Bosporus
The Bosphorus or Bosporus , also known as the Istanbul Strait , is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles...

. The Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

 are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

. The Aegean Region consists of nine provinces in southwestern Turkey, in part bordering on the Aegean sea.

The sea was traditionally known as Archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

(in Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, Αρχιπέλαγος, meaning "chief sea"), but in English this word's meaning has changed to refer to the Aegean Islands and, generally, to any island group.

The Aegean Sea covers about 214000 square kilometres (82,625.9 sq mi) in area, and measures about 610 kilometres (379 mi) longitudinally and 300 kilometres (186.4 mi) latitudinally.
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Encyclopedia

The Aegean Sea[p]  is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 located between the southern Balkan
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

n peninsula
Peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

s, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 by the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

 and Bosporus
Bosporus
The Bosphorus or Bosporus , also known as the Istanbul Strait , is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles...

. The Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

 are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

. The Aegean Region consists of nine provinces in southwestern Turkey, in part bordering on the Aegean sea.

The sea was traditionally known as Archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

(in Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, Αρχιπέλαγος, meaning "chief sea"), but in English this word's meaning has changed to refer to the Aegean Islands and, generally, to any island group.

Geography


The Aegean Sea covers about 214000 square kilometres (82,625.9 sq mi) in area, and measures about 610 kilometres (379 mi) longitudinally and 300 kilometres (186.4 mi) latitudinally. The sea's maximum depth is 3543 metres (11,624 ft), east of Crete. The Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

 are found within its waters, with the following islands delimiting the sea on the south (generally from west to east): Kythera, Antikythera
Antikythera
Antikythera or Anticythera is a Greek island lying on the edge of the Aegean Sea, between Crete and Peloponnese. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Kythira island....

, Crete, Kasos
Kasos
Kasos is a Greek island municipality in the Dodecanese. It is the southernmost island in the Aegean Sea, and is part of the Karpathos peripheral unit. As of 2001, its population was 990. The island has been called in , .-Geography:...

, Karpathos
Karpathos
Karpathos is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Together with the neighboring smaller Saria Island it forms the municipality Karpathos, which is part of the Karpathos peripheral unit. From its remote position Karpathos has preserved many...

 and Rhodes.

The Aegean Islands, which almost all belong to Greece, can be divided into seven groups:
  1. Northeastern Aegean Islands
  2. Euboea
    Euboea
    Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

  3. Northern Sporades
    Sporades
    The Sporades are an archipelago along the east coast of Greece, northeast of the island of Euboea, in the Aegean Sea. It consists of 24 islands, of which four are permanently inhabited: Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.-Administration:...

  4. Cyclades
    Cyclades
    The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

  5. Saronic Islands
    Saronic Islands
    The Saronic Islands or Argo-Saronic Islands is an archipelago in Greece, named after the Saronic Gulf in which they are located, just off the Greek mainland. The main inhabited islands of this group are Salamis , Aegina, Angistri, and Poros...

     (or Argo-Saronic Islands)
  6. Dodecanese
    Dodecanese
    The Dodecanese are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. Τhis island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the Southern Sporades island group...

     (or Southern Sporades), with the exclusion of Kastelorizo
    Kastelorizo
    Kastelorizo, , is a Greek island and municipality located in the southeastern Mediterranean. It lies roughly off the south coast of Turkey, about 570 km southeast of Athens and east of Rhodes, almost halfway between Rhodes and Antalya and to Cyprus...

  7. Crete
    Crete
    Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...



The word archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

was originally applied specifically to the Aegean Sea and its islands. Many of the Aegean Islands, or chains of islands, are actually extensions of the mountains on the mainland. One chain extends across the sea to Chios
Chios
Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

, another extends across Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 to Samos
Samos Island
Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, south of Chios, north of Patmos and the Dodecanese, and off the coast of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by the -wide Mycale Strait. It is also a separate regional unit of the North Aegean region, and the only municipality of the regional...

, and a third extends across the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

 and Crete to Rhodes, dividing the Aegean from the Mediterranean.

The bays and gulfs of the Aegean beginning and the South and moving clockwise include on Crete, the Mirabelli, Almyros, Souda
Souda Bay
Souda Bay is a bay and natural harbour on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete. The bay is about 15 km long and only two to four km wide, and a deep natural harbour. It is formed between the Akrotiri peninsula and Cape Drapano, and runs west to east...

 and Chania
Gulf of Chania
The Gulf of Chania is an embayment of the Sea of Crete in the northwestern region of the island of Crete in present day Greece. One headland forming the Gulf of Chania is the promontory known as the Akrotiri Peninsula.-Ancient history:...

 bays or gulfs, on the mainland the Myrtoan Sea
Myrtoan Sea
The Myrtoan Sea is a subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between the Cyclades and the Peloponnesos. It is described as the part of the Aegean Sea south of Euboea, Attica, and Argolis. Some of the water mass of the Black Sea reaches the Myrtoan Sea, via transport through the Aegean...

 to the west, the Saronic Gulf
Saronic Gulf
The Saronic Gulf or Gulf of Aegina in Greece forms part of the Aegean Sea and defines the eastern side of the isthmus of Corinth. It is the eastern terminus of the Corinth Canal, which cuts across the isthmus.-Geography:The gulf includes the islands of; Aegina, Salamis, and Poros along with...

 northwestward, the Petalies Gulf
Petalies Gulf
The Petalies Gulf is a gulf that connects with the South Euboean Gulf near Agia Marina and to the north. The total length is approximately 50 to 60 km long from north to south and is approximately from 6 to 8 km wide in the north to about 40 to 50 km in the south from east to west...

 which connects with the South Euboic Sea
Gulf of Euboea
The Gulf of Euboea, Euboean Gulf, Euboic Sea or Euboic Gulf is an arm of the Aegean Sea between the island of Euboea and the Greek mainland . Trending diagonally northwest-southeast, the gulf is divided by the narrow Strait of Euripus, at the town of Chalcis...

, the Pagasetic Gulf
Pagasetic Gulf
The Pagasetic Gulf is a rounded gulf in the prefecture of Magnesia that is formed by the Mount Pelion peninsula. It is connected with the Euboic Sea...

 which connects with the North Euboic Sea
Gulf of Euboea
The Gulf of Euboea, Euboean Gulf, Euboic Sea or Euboic Gulf is an arm of the Aegean Sea between the island of Euboea and the Greek mainland . Trending diagonally northwest-southeast, the gulf is divided by the narrow Strait of Euripus, at the town of Chalcis...

, the Thermian Gulf northwestward, the Chalkidiki Peninsula including the Cassandra and the Singitic Gulfs, northward the Strymonian Gulf
Strymonian Gulf
The Strymonian or Strymonic Gulf in [Greece]] is a branch of the Thracian Sea—itself part of the Aegean Sea—lying east of the Chalcidice peninsula and south of Serres...

 and the Gulf of Kavala and the rest are in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

; Saros Gulf, Edremit Gulf, Dikili Gulf, Çandarlı Gulf, İzmir
Izmir
Izmir is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia. The metropolitan area in the entire Izmir Province had a population of 3.35 million as of 2010, making the city third most populous in Turkey...

 Gulf, Kuşadası
Kusadasi
Kuşadası is a resort town on Turkey's Aegean coast and the center of the seaside district of the same name in Aydın Province. Kuşadası lies at a distance of to the south from the region's largest metropolitan center of İzmir, and from the provincial seat of Aydın situated inland. Its primary...

 Gulf, Gulf of Gökova
Gulf of Gökova
Gulf of Gökova or Gulf of Kerme , is a long , narrow gulf of the Aegean Sea between Bodrum Peninsula and Datça Peninsula in south-west Turkey.Administratively, Gulf of Gökova coastline includes portions of the districts of, clockwise, Bodrum, Milas,...

, Güllük
Güllük
Güllük, is a small harbor town with own municipality within the district of Milas, situated north of Bodrum in Muğla Province of Turkey. It is a small Turkish town and growing holiday destination, with the town being pleasantly developed with a range of tourist amenities. The Town centre is...

 Gulf.

Extent


The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the Aegean Sea as follows:

On the South. A line running from Cape Aspro (28°16'E) in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

, to Cum Burnù (Capo della Sabbia) the Northeast extreme of the Island of Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

, through the island to Cape Prasonisi
Prasonisi
Prasonisi cape is a part of the island of Rhodes. It is located 92 km from Rhodes town; 40 km from Lindos, at the southern-west part of Rhodes....

, the Southwest point thereof, on to Vrontos Point (35°33'N) in Skarpanto [Karpathos
Karpathos
Karpathos is the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Together with the neighboring smaller Saria Island it forms the municipality Karpathos, which is part of the Karpathos peripheral unit. From its remote position Karpathos has preserved many...

], through this island to Castello Point, the South extreme thereof, across to Cape Plaka (East extremity of Crete), through Crete to Agria Grabusa, the Northwest extreme thereof, thence to Cape Apolitares in Antikithera
Antikythera
Antikythera or Anticythera is a Greek island lying on the edge of the Aegean Sea, between Crete and Peloponnese. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Kythira island....

 Island, through the island to Psira Rock (off the Northwest point) and across to Cape Trakhili in Kithera
Kythira
Cythera is an island in Greece, once part of the Ionian Islands. It lies opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is administratively part of the Islands regional unit, which is part of the Attica region , Greece.For many centuries, while naval travel was the only means...

 Island, through Kithera to the Northwest point (Cape Karavugia) and thence to Cape Santa Maria (36°28′N 22°57′E) in the Morea
Morea
The Morea was the name of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. It also referred to a Byzantine province in the region, known as the Despotate of Morea.-Origins of the name:...

.

In the Dardanelles

Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

. A line joining Kum Kale (26°11'E) and Cape Helles
Cape Helles
Cape Helles is the rocky headland at the south-westernmost tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey. It was the scene of heavy fighting between Turkish and British troops during the landing at Cape Helles at the beginning of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915....

.

Hydrography



Aegean surface water circulates in a counter-clockwise gyre, with hypersaline Mediterranean water moving northward along the west coast of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, before being displaced by less dense Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 outflow. The dense Mediterranean water sinks below the Black Sea inflow to a depth of 23–30 m (75.5–98.4 ), then flows through the Dardanelles Strait and into the Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara
The Sea of Marmara , also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis , is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black...

 at velocities of 5–15 cm/s. The Black Sea outflow moves westward along the northern Aegean Sea, then flows southwards along the east coast of Greece.

The physical oceanography of the Aegean Sea is controlled mainly by the regional climate, the fresh water discharge from major rivers draining southeastern Europe, and the seasonal variations in the Black Sea surface water outflow through the Dardanelles Strait.

Analysis of the Aegean during 1991 and 1992 revealed 3 distinct water masses:
  • Aegean Sea Surface Water – 40–50 m (131.2–164 ) thick veneer, with summer temperatures of 21–26 °C and winter temperatures ranging from 10 °C (50 °F) in the north to 16 °C (60.8 °F) in the south.
  • Aegean Sea Intermediate Water – Aegean Sea Intermediate Water extends from 40–50 m to 200–300 m (656.2–984.3 ) with temperatures ranging from 11–18 °C.
  • Aegean Sea Bottom Water – occurring at depths below 500–1000 m with a very uniform temperature (13–14 °C) and salinity (39.1–39.2%).

Etymology


In ancient times, there were various explanations for the name Aegean. It was said to have been named after the Greek town of Aegae
Aegae (Achaea)
Aegae or Aigai was an ancient settlement in Achaea located northwest of modern Aigeira.Founded by the Pelasgian settleres and following the history of all of ancient Achaea, the Ionians invaded and settled the area and after the Lacedaemonian Achaea...

, or after Aegea
Aegea
Aegea is a back-formation from "Aegean", the sea that was named for an eponymous Aegeus in early levels of Greek mythology. The Encyclopaedia Britannica mentioned an Aegea, queen of the Amazons, as an alternative eponym of the Aegean Sea, and Aegea was the name of the wife of the Roman proconsul...

, a queen of the Amazons
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

 who died in the sea, or Aigaion, the "sea goat", another name of Briareus, one of the archaic Hecatonchires, or, especially among the Athenians, Aegeus
Aegeus
In Greek mythology, Aegeus , also Aigeus, Aegeas or Aigeas , was an archaic figure in the founding myth of Athens. The "goat-man" who gave his name to the Aegean Sea was, next to Poseidon, the father of Theseus, the founder of Athenian institutions and one of the kings of Athens.-His reign:Upon the...

, the father of Theseus
Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died.

A possible etymology is a derivation from the Greek word aiges = "waves" (Hesychius
Hesychius of Alexandria
Hesychius of Alexandria , a grammarian who flourished probably in the 5th century CE, compiled the richest lexicon of unusual and obscure Greek words that has survived...

 of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

; metaphorical use of (aix) "goat"), hence "wavy sea", cf. also (aigialos = aiges (waves) + hals (sea)), hence meaning "sea-shore".

History



The current coastline dates back to about 4000 BC. Before that time, at the peak of the last ice age (c. 16,000 BC) sea levels everywhere were 130 metres lower, and there were large well-watered coastal plains instead of much of the northern Aegean. When they were first occupied, the present-day islands including Milos
Milos
Milos , is a volcanic Greek island in the Aegean Sea, just north of the Sea of Crete...

 with its important obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

 production were probably still connected to the mainland. The present coastal arrangement appeared c. 7000 BC, with post-ice age sea levels continuing to rise for another 3,000 years after that.

The subsequent Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 civilizations of Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and the Aegean Sea have given rise to the general term Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization...

. In ancient times, the sea was the birthplace of two ancient civilizations – the Minoans
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 of Crete and the Mycenean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

 Civilization of the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

.

Later arose the city-states of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 among many others that constituted the Athenian Empire and Hellenic Civilization. Plato described the Greeks living round the Aegean "like frogs around a pond". The Aegean Sea was later invaded by the Persians and the Romans
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, and inhabited by the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, the Bulgarians
Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

, the Venetians
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, the Genoeses
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

, the Seljuq Turks, and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The Aegean was the site of the original democracies
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, and its seaways were the means of contact among several diverse civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Economics and politics


Many of the islands in the Aegean have safe harbours and bays. In ancient times, navigation through the sea was easier than travelling across the rough terrain of the Greek mainland (and to some extent the coastal areas of Anatolia). Many of the islands are volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

, and marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 and iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 are mined on other islands. The larger islands have some fertile valleys and plains. Of the main islands in the Aegean Sea, two belong to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 – Bozcaada (Tenedos) and Gökçeada (Imbros); the rest belong to Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Between the two countries, there are political disputes
Aegean dispute
The Aegean dispute is a set of interrelated controversial issues between Greece and Turkey over sovereignty and related rights in the area of the Aegean Sea. This set of conflicts has had a large effect on Greek-Turkish relations since the 1970s. It has twice led to crises coming close to the...

 over several aspects of political control over the Aegean space, including the size of territorial waters, air control and the delimitation of economic rights to the continental shelf
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

.

See also


  • Aegean languages
  • List of traditional Greek place names
  • Thracian Sea
    Thracian Sea
    thumb|250px|Map of the Aegean Sea. Thracian Sea is shown in its top.The Thracian Sea is a sea that is part of the Aegean Sea and forms the northernmost point of the sea. Regions surrounding the sea are Macedonia and Thrace as well as northwestern Turkey. The entire stretch of the sea lies north...


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