Greece is poor in minerals. Clay for pottery comes from particular local sources. Sometimes limestone has become crystalline under great pressure; hence the marbles of Paros, Naxos, Thasos, and of Pentelicon in Attica. Small deposits of iron ore are frequent, but tin and most of the copper for making bronze had to be imported. The silver‐mines of Laurium were essential to the economy of Athens.
Greece has a sharply seasonal Mediterranean climate. The winter rainy season (typically October–May) is warm, seldom frosty, and the time of activity and growth. The dry season of summer is hot, rainless, relentlessly sunny, and is the dead season. The mountains intercept rain‐bearing depressions, producing a disparity between the wet west of Greece and the dry east. The west coast of Asia Minor is again well watered in winter. Summer temperatures sometimes reach 40°C (104°F), esp. inland, but are tolerable because of north winds and dry air. Mountain areas, as in Arcadia in central Peloponnese, are always difficult to live in because there are cold winters as well as dry summers: the growing season is very short, and frost‐sensitive crops, esp. olives, cannot be grown. Traditional Greek agriculture was based on cereals, olives, vines, and herding animals. It involved seasonal hard work, ploughing, sowing, picking olives, and tending vines; an unhurried harvest; and long periods of relative leisure.
It was seldom difficult to make roads between the fertile basins. Seafaring called for great skill: the coasts are wild and terrible with cliff‐bound promontories, and razor‐edged reefs. There were few good harbours, and no tide to help in getting in or out. Sailors feared the sea in winter, and land travel was then difficult because of flooded fords. See landscapes (ancient greek).
Subjects: Classical Studies.