,,Ancient Greece was not one country like it is today. Instead, it was made up of city-states that were independent of each other. These city-states shared a language and a religion but they had different laws, governments, and currency. 

The two most powerful city-states were Athens and Sparta. Athens was the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and theatre, and Sparta was a city-state focused on war.


Athens was in an ideal location for trade, so even though it was not a fertile area, Athens became a powerful city-state. Athens built a fleet of trading ships and imported all their grain from the Mediterranean, using trade to gain wealth and influence. By the 5th century B.C., Athenian coins were used all over the Mediterranean, and Athens was the head of a Greek alliance against Persia.

At the height of its power, a huge marble temple, called the Parthenon, was constructed in Athens on the acropolis. It was dedicated to the city’s patron, Athena, goddess of wisdom.

Athens had many different types of government over the centuries, but it is most well known for its democracy. Citizens were chosen randomly for positions in the government and any citizen could vote on issues in a meeting called the Assembly.

Education was valued in Athens, but school was not free, so only wealthy Athenians were educated. Many ideas that came from Athens went on to influence Western civilization, like democracy, philosophy, architecture and theatre.


Find more reading passages and activities about Athens and other Ancient Greek City-States in our free pdf download, available from our shop on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Ancient Greek City States

Ancient Greece was made up of independent city-states that shared a language and a religion but had different laws, governments and currency. This resource has reading passages about city-states, types of governments in Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta. The information is followed up with worksheets and activities.

Pages: 10 (including 3 answer sheets)


  • 2 Information Handouts
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Polis Expert Activity
  • Compare Athens and Sparta Activity
  • Make Your Own Polis Activity
  • Answer Sheets 

This resource is part of our Ancient Greece bundle.

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