Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

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The Siege of the Acropolis, by Georg Perlberg (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Ancient Origins Of Modern Greece

Nationhood is a figment of the collective imagination, actualized by a cluster of symbols and ideas – flags, anthems, sports teams, traditional dress (sometimes), a common religion (often), shared values (whether or not they are upheld) – which help to build a sense of collective identity. Of course, a nation state is a geographical entity as well, though it is perfectly possible to be a nation without actually owning any territory. The ancient Hebrews in their years of wandering considered themselves to be what today would be called a nation, long before they acquired a homeland. But in essence the nation state is a relatively recent idea, which came to fruition in the 19th century.

The Byzantine castle of Angelokastro successfully repulsed the Ottomans during the first great siege of Corfu in 1537, the siege of 1571, and the second great siege of Corfu in 1716, causing them to abandon their plans to conquer Corfu (Dr.K. / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Byzantine castle of Angelokastro successfully repulsed the Ottomans during the first great siege of Corfu in 1537, the siege of 1571, and the second great siege of Corfu in 1716, causing them to abandon their plans to conquer Corfu (Dr.K. / CC BY-SA 3.0)

This is certainly true of the Greek nation state, which arrived on the world stage as the result of the War of Independence that the inhabitants of the Greek mainland and the Aegean Islands waged against the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Turks had been in power in the region since 1457 and Greece as an independent country only came into being in 1830, when, as a result of what was called the London Protocol, the Great Powers, notably Britain, France, and Russia, having fought alongside the Greeks, magnanimously (in their eyes, no doubt) bestowed nationhood on the fledgling entity that emerged victorious from the war. It was an entity that was very much the creation of those Great Powers – a romanticized Greece indissolubly bound to its Classical past.


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