Geography of Ancient Greece Document Based Question

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Geography of Ancient Greece

Document Based Question

The question is based on the accompanying documents on the following pages. This question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. Some of these have been edited for the purpose of this task. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of the document and any point of view that may be presented in the document.


  • Analyze the documents and answer the questions that follow each document.

  • Read the essay question and plan your essay using two column notes.

  • Write a well-organized essay that includes an introductory paragraph, a body with several paragraphs explaining and supporting your answer, and a concluding paragraph.

  • Use evidence from the documents to support your essay.

  • Include specific related outside information in your essay.

Historical Context:

Geography has always had a great influence on Greece and its inhabitants. The mountains that split the Greek lands are a major barrier to their unity as a nation. The struggle for communication by land and the significant presence of the sea have made mariners out of Greeks for numerous generations. The unique geography of ancient Greece has affected virtually every aspect of their society.

For Part A, read each document carefully and answer the question or questions after each document. Then read the directions for Part B and write your essay.
For Part B, use your answers from Part A, information from the documents, and your knowledge of social studies to write a well-organized essay. In the essay you will be asked to:

  • Explain two positive effects geography had on the Ancient Greek civilization.

  • Explain two negative effects geography had on the Ancient Greek civilization.


The documents that follow relate information about Greece. Examine each document carefully and then answer the question(s) that follow it using complete sentences. These answers will help you in Part B.

Document 1

Mountains cover most of Greece, and the land is rocky with little fertile soil. A Greek legend tells that God sifted the earth through a strainer while making the world. He made one country after another with the good soil that sifted through, and threw away the stones left in the strainer. According to the legend, these stones became Greece.

The mountains of Greece were difficult to cross; therefore, the sea became the Greeks' highway. They settled on the town and sailed from town to town in order to trade their goods. They sailed the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas to trade their olive oil and wool. No part of Greece is more than about forty miles from the sea: a couple of days walking. These merchants and traders developed a sense of freedom and independence not seen before.

1. What landform covers most of Greece? ____________________________________

2. How did the sea serve as Ancient Greece's highway? ________________________
3. Where are most of the ancient trading cities located and why? __________________

Document 2

Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece. It rises 9,570 feet (2,917 meters) at the eastern edge of the ridge that divides Thessaly from Macedonia. The mountain's summit is usually covered with snow and hidden in clouds. In Greek mythology, the entrance to Olympus was a great gate of clouds, kept by the Seasons. The peak of Mount Olympus was the site of the magnificent palace of Zeus, king of the gods, who was also god of thunder, lightning, and rain. In the palace, the Olympians enjoyed fine banquets and music but had occasional family quarrels. The Muses, nine daughters of Zeus, were thought to live on the slopes of the mountain. According to the ancient Greeks, their gods controlled every part of daily life--the weather, crops, love, money and business, phases of the moon, earthquakes, and even whether a loaf of bread burned in the oven.

Jon D. Mikalson Ph.D., Professor of Classics, Univ. of Virginia.

1. What is the highest mountain range in Greece? _____________________________

  1. What is one likely reason the ancient Greeks believed the gods lived on Mount

Olympus? __________________________________________________________


  1. Name one positive effect the Ancient Greek’s religion had on their civilization.



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