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Dorians, people of ancient Greece. Their name was mythologically derived from Dorus, son of Hellen. Originating in the northwestern mountainous region of Epirus and SW Macedonia, they migrated through central Greece and into the Peloponnesus probably between 1100 and 950 B.C., defeating and displacing the Achaeans. They rapidly extended their influence to Crete and established colonies in Italy, Sicily, and Asia Minor. Sparta and Crete are generally considered as having had the most typical form of Dorian rule—the invaders maintained their separate societies and subjected and enslaved the conquered population. The arrival of the Dorians marked the disruption of the earlier Greek culture and the beginning of a period of decline. Although the cultural level of the Dorians was below that of the Achaeans, the Dorians did contribute to the culture of Greece, e.g., in drama, poetry, sculpture, and especially in the huge stone buildings that marked the beginning of the Doric style of architecture.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the principal ancient Greek tribes. Originally the Dorians inhabited northern and central Greece. At about the beginning of the 12th century B.C., they migrated to southwestern Greece, where they dealt crushing blows to the weakened centers of Achaean Greece—Mycenae, Tiryns, and Pylos. The Dorians, joined by other tribes, brought under their rule Laconia, Messenia, Cynuria, Argolis, Megara, and Corinth on the isthmus. Later, the Dorians colonized the islands of Rhodes, Crete, Thera, Melos, Cos, Calimnos, and the coast of Caria (the cities of Cnidus, Halicarnassus). As early as the eighth to sixth centuries B.C. states similar in both culture and social organization (Sparta, the city-states of Crete, and Argos) were established on the territory settled by the Dorians. These states were characterized by a slaveholding mode of production and by the preservation of numerous survivals of the clan system.


Shmidt, R. V. “Antichnoe predanie o doriiskom pereselenii.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1938, no. 2 [3].
Kazamanova, L. N. Ocherk sotsial’no-ekonomicheskoi istorii Krita v V-IV vv. do n.e. Moscow, 1964.
Kolobova, K. M. Iz istorii rannegrecheskogo obshchestva (o. Rodos IX-VII vv. do n.e.). Leningrad, 1951.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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