The Info List - Modern Greek

Modern Greek
Modern Greek
(Νέα Ελληνικά [ˈnea eliniˈka] or Νεοελληνική Γλώσσα [neoeliniˈci ˈɣlosa] "Neo-Hellenic", historically and colloquially also known as Ρωμαίικα "Romaic" or "Roman", and Γραικικά "Greek") refers to the dialects and varieties of the Greek language
Greek language
spoken in the modern era. The end of the Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
period and the beginning of Modern Greek is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic modern features of the language arose centuries earlier, between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries AD. During most of the period, the language existed in a situation of diglossia, with regional spoken dialects existing side by side with learned, more archaic written forms, as with the demotic and learned varieties ( Dimotiki and Katharevousa) that co-existed throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries.


1 Varieties

1.1 Demotic 1.2 Katharevousa 1.3 Pontic 1.4 Cappadocian 1.5 Mariupolitan 1.6 Southern Italian 1.7 Yevanic 1.8 Tsakonian

2 Phonology and orthography 3 Syntax and morphology

3.1 Differences from Classical Greek

4 Sample text 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

Varieties[edit] Main article: Varieties of Modern Greek Varieties of Modern Greek
Varieties of Modern Greek
include several varieties, including Demotic, Katharevousa, Pontic, Cappadocian, Mariupolitan, Southern Italian, Yevanic and Tsakonian. Demotic[edit] Main article: Demotic Greek Strictly speaking, Demotic (Δημοτική) refers to all popular varieties of Modern Greek
Modern Greek
that followed a common evolutionary path from Koine and have retained a high degree of mutual intelligibility to the present. As shown in Ptochoprodromic and Acritic poems, Demotic Greek was the vernacular already before the 11th century and called the "Roman" language of the Byzantine Greeks, notably in peninsular Greece, the Greek islands, coastal Asia Minor, Constantinople, and Cyprus.

The distribution of major modern Greek dialect areas.[8]

Today, a standardised variety of Demotic Greek is the official language of the Hellenic Republic (Greece) and Cyprus, and is referred to as "Standard Modern Greek", or less strictly simply as "Modern Greek" or "Demotic". Demotic Greek comprises various regional varieties with minor linguistic differences, mainly in phonology and vocabulary. Due to the high degree of mutual intelligibility of these varieties, Greek linguists refer to them as "idioms" of a wider "Demotic dialect", known as "Koine Modern Greek" (Koini Neoelliniki - 'common Neo-Hellenic'). Most English-speaking linguists however refer to them as "dialects", emphasising degrees of variation only when necessary. Demotic Greek varieties are divided into two main groups, Northern and Southern. The main distinguishing feature common to Northern variants is a set of standard phonological shifts in unaccented vowel phonemes: [o] becomes [u], [e] becomes [i], and [i] and [u] are dropped. The dropped vowels' existence is implicit, and may affect surrounding phonemes: for example, a dropped [i] palatalizes preceding consonants, just like an [i] that is pronounced. Southern variants do not exhibit these phonological shifts. Examples of Northern dialects are Rumelian (Constantinople), Epirote, Macedonian,[9] Thessalian, Thracian, Northern Euboean, Sporades, Samos, Smyrna, and Sarakatsanika. The Southern category is divided into groups that include:

Old Athenian-Maniot: Megara, Aegina, Athens, Cyme (Old Athenian) and Mani Peninsula
Mani Peninsula
(Maniot) Ionian-Peloponnesian: Peloponnese
(except Mani), Ionian Islands, Attica, Boeotia, and Southern Euboea Cretan-Cycladian: Cyclades, Crete, and several enclaves in Syria and Lebanon Southeastern: Chios, Ikaria, Dodecanese, and Cyprus.

Demotic Greek has officially been taught in monotonic Greek script since 1982. Polytonic script remains popular in intellectual circles. Katharevousa[edit] Main article: Katharevousa Katharevousa (Καθαρεύουσα) is a semi-artificial sociolect promoted in the 19th century at the foundation of the modern Greek state, as a compromise between Classical Greek
Classical Greek
and modern Demotic. It was the official language of modern Greece
until 1976. Katharevousa is written in polytonic Greek script. Also, while Demotic Greek contains loanwords from Turkish, Italian, Latin, and other languages, these have for the most part been purged from Katharevousa. See also the Greek language
Greek language
question. Pontic[edit] Main article: Pontic Greek

Anatolian Greek dialects until 1923. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian Greek
Cappadocian Greek
in green, with green dots indicating individual Cappadocian Greek
Cappadocian Greek
villages in 1910.[10]

Pontic (Ποντιακά) was originally spoken along the mountainous Black Sea coast of Turkey, the so-called Pontus region, until most of its speakers were killed or displaced to modern Greece
during the Pontic genocide
Pontic genocide
(1919–1921), followed later by the population exchange between Greece
and Turkey
in 1923. (Small numbers of Muslim speakers of Pontic Greek escaped these events and still reside in the Pontic villages of Turkey.) It hails from Hellenistic and Medieval Koine and preserves characteristics of Ionic due to ancient colonizations of the region. Pontic evolved as a separate dialect from Demotic Greek as a result of the region's isolation from the Greek mainstream after the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
fragmented the Byzantine Empire into separate kingdoms (see Empire of Trebizond). Cappadocian[edit] Main article: Cappadocian Greek Cappadocian (Καππαδοκικά) is a Greek dialect of central Turkey
of the same fate as Pontic; its speakers settled in mainland Greece
after the Greek genocide
Greek genocide
(1919–1921) and the later Population exchange between Greece
and Turkey
in 1923. Cappadocian Greek
Cappadocian Greek
diverged from the other Byzantine Greek
Byzantine Greek
dialects earlier, beginning with the Turkish conquests of central Asia Minor in the 11th and 12th centuries, and so developed several radical features, such as the loss of the gender for nouns.[11] Having been isolated from the crusader conquests (Fourth Crusade) and the later Venetian influence of the Greek coast, it retained the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
terms for many words that were replaced with Romance ones in Demotic Greek.[11] The poet Rumi, whose name means "Roman", referring to his residence amongst the "Roman" Greek speakers of Cappadocia, wrote a few poems in Cappadocian Greek, one of the earliest attestations of the dialect.[12][13][14][15] Mariupolitan[edit] Main article: Rumeíka Rumeíka (Ρωμαίικα) or Mariupolitan Greek is a dialect spoken in about 17 villages around the northern coast of the Sea of Azov
Sea of Azov
in southern Ukraine
and Russia. Mariupolitan Greek is closely related to Pontic Greek and evolved from the dialect of Greek spoken in Crimea, which was a part of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
and then the Pontic Empire of Trebizond, until that latter state fell to the Ottomans in 1461.[16] Thereafter, the Crimean Greek state continued to exist as the independent Greek Principality of Theodoro. The Greek-speaking inhabitants of Crimea
were invited by Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
to resettle in the new city of Mariupol
after the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74)
Russo-Turkish War (1768–74)
to escape the then Muslim-dominated Crimea.[17] Mariupolitan's main features have certain similarities with both Pontic (e.g. the lack of synizesis of -ía, éa) and the northern varieties of the core dialects (e.g. the northern vocalism).[18] Southern Italian[edit]

Areas in Southern Italy
where the Griko
and Calabrian dialects are spoken

Southern Italian or Italiot (Κατωιταλιώτικα) comprises both Calabrian and Griko
varieties, spoken by around 15 villages in the regions of Calabria
and Apulia. The Southern Italian dialect is the last living trace of Hellenic elements in Southern Italy
that once formed Magna Graecia. Its origins can be traced to the Dorian Greek settlers who colonised the area from Sparta
and Corinth
in 700 BC. It has received significant Koine Greek
Koine Greek
influence through Byzantine Greek colonisers who re-introduced Greek language
Greek language
to the region, starting with Justinian's conquest of Italy
in late antiquity and continuing through the Middle Ages. Griko
and Demotic are mutually intelligible to some extent, but the former shares some common characteristics with Tsakonian. Yevanic[edit] Main article: Yevanic language Yevanic is a recently extinct language of Romaniote Jews. The language was already in decline for centuries until most of its speakers were killed in the Holocaust. Afterward, the language was mostly kept by remaining Romaniote emigrants to Israel, where it was displaced by modern Hebrew. Tsakonian[edit] Main article: Tsakonian language Tsakonian (Τσακωνικά) is spoken in its full form today only in a small number of villages around the town of Leonidio
in the region of Arcadia
in the Southern Peloponnese, and partially spoken further afield in the area. Tsakonian evolved directly from Laconian (ancient Spartan) and therefore descends from Doric Greek. It has limited input from Hellenistic Koine and is significantly different from and not mutually intelligible with other Greek varieties (such as Demotic Greek and Pontic Greek). Some linguists consider it a separate language because of this. Phonology and orthography[edit] Main articles: Modern Greek
Modern Greek
phonology, Greek orthography, and Greek alphabet A series of radical sound changes starting in Koine Greek
Koine Greek
has led to a phonological system in Modern Greek
Modern Greek
that is significantly different from that of Ancient Greek. Instead of the rich vowel system of Ancient Greek, with its four vowel-height levels, length distinction, and multiple diphthongs, Modern Greek
Modern Greek
has a simple system of five vowels. This came about through a series of mergers, especially towards /i/ (iotacism). Modern Greek
Modern Greek
consonants are plain (voiceless unaspirated) stops, voiced stops, or voiced and unvoiced fricatives. Modern Greek
Modern Greek
has not preserved length in vowels or consonants.

Greek alphabet

Αα Alpha Νν Nu

Ββ Beta Ξξ Xi

Γγ Gamma Οο Omicron

Δδ Delta Ππ Pi

Εε Epsilon Ρρ Rho

Ζζ Zeta Σσς Sigma

Ηη Eta Ττ Tau

Θθ Theta Υυ Upsilon

Ιι Iota Φφ Phi

Κκ Kappa Χχ Chi

Λλ Lambda Ψψ Psi

Μμ Mu Ωω Omega


Archaic local variants

Diacritics Ligatures


ϛ (6) ϟ (90) ϡ (900)

Use in other languages

Bactrian Coptic Albanian

Related topics

Use as scientific symbols

Book Category


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Modern Greek
Modern Greek
is written in the Greek alphabet, which has 24 letters, each with a capital and lowercase (small) form. The letter sigma additionally has a special final form. There are two diacritical symbols, the acute accent which indicates stress and the diaeresis marking a vowel letter as not being part of a digraph. Greek has a mixed historical and phonemic orthography, where historical spellings are used if their pronunciation matches modern usage. The correspondence between consonant phonemes and graphemes is largely unique, but several of the vowels can be spelt in multiple ways.[19] Thus reading is easy but spelling is difficult.[20] A number of diacritical signs were used until 1982, when they were officially dropped from Greek spelling as no longer corresponding to the modern pronunciation of the language. Monotonic orthography
Monotonic orthography
is today used in official usage, in schools and for most purposes of everyday writing in Greece. Polytonic orthography, besides being used for older varieties of Greek, is still used in book printing, especially for academic and belletristic purposes, and in everyday use by some conservative writers and elderly people. The Greek Orthodox Church continues to use polytonic and the late Christodoulos of Athens[21] and the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece[22] have requested the reintroduction of polytonic as the official script. The Greek vowel letters and digraphs with their pronunciations are: ⟨α⟩ /a/, ⟨ε, αι⟩ /e/, ⟨η, ι, υ, ει, οι, υι⟩ /i/, ⟨ο, ω⟩ /o/, and ⟨ου⟩ /u/. The digraphs ⟨αυ⟩, ⟨ευ⟩ and ⟨ηυ⟩ are pronounced /av/, /ev/, and /iv/ respectively before vowels and voiced consonants, and /af/, /ef/ and /if/ respectively before voiceless consonants. The Greek letters ⟨φ⟩, ⟨β⟩, ⟨θ⟩, and ⟨δ⟩ are pronounced /f/, /v/, /θ/, and /ð/ respectively. The letters ⟨γ⟩ and ⟨χ⟩ are pronounced /ɣ/ and /x/, respectively. Before mid or close front vowels (/e/ and /i/), they are fronted, becoming [ʝ] and [ç], respectively, which, in some dialects, notably those of Crete and the Mani, are further fronted to [ʑ] or [ʒ] and [ɕ] or [ʃ], respectively. Μoreover, before mid or close back vowels (/o/ and /u/), ⟨γ⟩ tends to be pronounced further back than a prototypical velar, between a velar [ɣ] and an uvular [ʁ] (transcribed ɣ̄). The letter ⟨ξ⟩ stands for the sequence /ks/ and ⟨ψ⟩ for /ps/. The digraphs ⟨γγ⟩ and ⟨γκ⟩ are generally pronounced [ɡ], but are fronted to [ɟ] before front vowels (/e/ and /i/) and tend to be pronounced [ɡ̄] before the back vowels (/o/ and /u/). When these digraphs are preceded by a vowel, they are pronounced [ŋɡ] and [ɲɟ] before front vowels (/e/ and /i/) and [ŋ̄ɡ̄] before the back (/o/ and /u/). The digraph ⟨γγ⟩ may be pronounced [ŋɣ] in some words ([ɲʝ] before front vowels and [ŋ̄ɣ̄] before back ones). The pronunciation [ŋk] for the digraph ⟨γκ⟩ is extremely rare, but could be heard in literary and scholarly words or when reading ancient texts (by a few readers); normally it retains its "original" pronunciation [ŋk] only in the trigraph ⟨γκτ⟩, where ⟨τ⟩ prevents the sonorization of ⟨κ⟩ by ⟨γ⟩ (hence [ŋkt]). Syntax and morphology[edit] Main article: Modern Greek
Modern Greek

Street sign in Rethymno
in honor of Psara
island: Psaron (in genitive) Street, historic island of the 1821 Revolution

Modern Greek
Modern Greek
is largely a synthetic language. Modern Greek
Modern Greek
and Albanian are the only two modern Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
that retain a synthetic passive (the North Germanic passive is a recent innovation based on a grammaticalized reflexive pronoun). Differences from Classical Greek[edit] Modern Greek
Modern Greek
has changed from Classical Greek
Classical Greek
in morphology and syntax, losing some features and gaining others. Features lost:

dative case optative mood infinitive dual number participles (except the past participle) third person imperative.

Features gained:

gerund modal particle θα (a contraction of ἐθέλω ἵνα → θέλω να → θε' να → θα), which marks future and conditional tenses auxiliary verb forms for certain verb forms aspectual distinction in future tense between imperfective (present) and perfective (aorist)

Modern Greek
Modern Greek
has developed a simpler system of grammatical prefixes marking tense and aspect, such as augmentation and reduplication, and has lost some patterns of noun declension and some distinct forms in the declensions that were retained. Most of these features are shared with other languages spoken in the Balkan peninsula (see Balkan sprachbund), although Greek does not show all typical Balkan areal features, such as the postposed article. Because of the influence of Katharevousa, however, Demotic is not commonly used in its purest form. Archaisms are still widely used, especially in writing and in more formal speech, as well as in some everyday expressions, such as the dative εντάξει ('OK', literally 'in order') or the third person imperative ζήτω! ('long live!'). Sample text[edit] The following is a sample text in Modern Greek
Modern Greek
of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(by the United Nations):

Άρθρο 1: Όλοι οι άνθρωποι γεννιούνται ελεύθεροι και ίσοι στην αξιοπρέπεια και τα δικαιώματα. Είναι προικισμένοι με λογική και συνείδηση, και οφείλουν να συμπεριφέρονται μεταξύ τους με πνεύμα αδελφοσύνης. —  Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in Greek alphabet

Arthro 1: Oloi oi anthropoi genniountai eleutheroi kai isoi stin axioprepeia kai ta dikaiomata. Einai proikismenoi me logiki kai syneidisi, kai ofeiloun na symperiferontai metaxy tous me pneuma adelfosynis. —  Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in Roman Transliteration, faithful to script

Árthro 1: Óli i ánthropi yeniúnde eléftheri ke ísi stin aksioprépia ke ta dhikeómata. Íne prikizméni me loyikí ke sinídhisi, ke ofílun na simberiféronde metaksí tus me pnévma adhelfosínis. —  Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in Transcription, faithful to pronunciation

[ˈarθro ˈena ‖ ˈoli i ˈanθropi ʝeˈɲunde eˈlefθeri ce ˈisi stin aksioˈprepia ce ta ðiceˈomata ‖ ˈɪne priciˈzmeni me loʝiˈci ce siˈniðisi ce oˈfilun na simberiˈferonde metaˈksi tuz me ˈpnevma aðelfoˈsinis] —  Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in IPA

Article 1: All the human beings are born free and equal in the dignity and the rights. Are endowed with reason and conscience, and have to behave between them with spirit of brotherhood. — Gloss, word-for-word

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. — Translation, grammatical


^ Nationalencyklopedin
"Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007 ^ Jeffries 2002, p. 69: "It is difficult to know how many ethnic Greeks there are in Albania. The Greek government, it is typically claimed, says there are around 300,000 ethnic Greeks in Albania, but most Western estimates are around the 200,000 mark ..." ^ "Greek in Hungary". Database for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Public Foundation for European Comparative Minority Research. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.  ^ "Italy: Cultural Relations and Greek Community". Hellenic Republic: Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 9 July 2013. The Greek Italian community numbers some 30,000 and is concentrated mainly in central Italy. The age-old presence in Italy
of Italians of Greek descent – dating back to Byzantine and Classical times – is attested to by the Griko dialect, which is still spoken in the Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
region. This historically Greek-speaking villages are Condofuri, Galliciano, Roccaforte del Greco, Roghudi, Bova and Bova Marina, which are in the Calabria
region (the capital of which is Reggio). The Grecanic region, including Reggio, has a population of some 200,000, while speakers of the Griko dialect
Griko dialect
number fewer that 1,000 persons.  ^ Tsitselikis 2013, pp. 294–295. ^ "Language Use in the United States: 2011" (PDF). United States Census. Retrieved 17 October 2015.  ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). " Modern Greek
Modern Greek
(1453–)". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Based on: Brian Newton: The Generative Interpretation of Dialect. A Study of Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Phonology, Cambridge 1972, ISBN 0-521-08497-0 ^ Dimitriadis, Alexis. "On Clitics, Prepositions and Case Licensing in Standard and Macedonian Greek". In Alexiadou, Artemis; Horrocks, Geoffrey C.; Stavrou, Melita. Studies in Greek Syntax.  ^ Dawkins, R.M. 1916. Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://archive.org/details/moderngreekinas00hallgoog ^ a b Dawkins, R.M. 1916. Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ^ Δέδες, Δ. 1993. Ποιήματα του Μαυλανά Ρουμή. Τα Ιστορικά 10.18–19: 3–22. (in Greek) ^ Meyer, G. 1895. Die griechischen Verse in Rabâbnâma. Byzantinische Zeitschrift 4: 401–411. (in German) ^ "Greek Verses of Rumi
& Sultan Walad". Archived from the original on 8 October 2017.  ^ The Greek Poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi ^ Dawkins, Richard M. "The Pontic dialect of Modern Greek
Modern Greek
in Asia Minor and Russia". Transactions of the Philological Society 36.1 (1937): 15–52. ^ "Greeks of the Steppe". The Washington Post. 10 November 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2014.  ^ Kontosopoulos (2008), 109 ^ cf. Iotacism ^ G. Th. Pavlidis and V. Giannouli, " Spelling
Errors Accurately Differentiate USA-Speakers from Greek Dyslexics: Ιmplications for Causality and Treatment" in R.M. Joshi et al. (eds) Literacy Acquisition: The Role of Phonology, Morphology and Orthography. Washington, 2003. ISBN 1-58603-360-3 ^ ""Φιλιππικός" Χριστόδουλου κατά του μονοτονικού συστήματος". in.gr News. Retrieved 2007-02-23.  ^ "Την επαναφορά του πολυτονικού ζητά η Διαρκής Ιερά Σύνοδος". in.gr News. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 

Further reading[edit]

Ανδριώτης (Andriotis), Νικόλαος Π. (Nikolaos P.) (1995). Ιστορία της ελληνικής γλώσσας: (τέσσερις μελέτες) (History of the Greek language: four studies). Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki): Ίδρυμα Τριανταφυλλίδη. ISBN 960-231-058-8.  Vitti, Mario (2001). Storia della letteratura neogreca. Roma: Carocci. ISBN 88-430-1680-6. 

External links[edit]

Wikibooks has more on the topic of: Modern Greek

for the Greek Language (modern & ancient) of the Center for the Greek Language Hellenic National Corpus of the Institute for Language & Speech Processing Audio example of Modern Greek


Online course "Filoglossia" by ILSP Greek online course "Greek by Radio" from Cyprus
radio broadcasting CyBC in English, 105 lessons with Real audio files

Dictionaries and glossaries

Greek–English Dictionary Georgacas for Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Literature Triantafyllides Dictionary for Standard Modern Greek
Standard Modern Greek
(Lexicon of the Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Koine) Modern Greek
Modern Greek
- English glossary English–Greek Dictionary (Modern Greek)


Illustrated Modern Greek
Modern Greek


Official website of the Center for the Greek Language Institute of Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Studies of the Manolis Triandaphyllidis Foundation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Center for the Research of the Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Dialects and Idioms of the Academy of Athens
(modern) The Cyprus
Linguistics Society (CyLing) Institute for Language & Speech Processing

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Greek language

Origin and genealogy

Proto-Greek Pre-Greek substrate Graeco-Armenian Graeco-Aryan Graeco-Phrygian Hellenic languages


Mycenaean Greek
Mycenaean Greek
(c. 1600–1100 BC) Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
(c. 800–300 BC) Koine Greek
Koine Greek
(c. 300 BC–AD 330) Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
(c. 330–1453) Modern Greek
Modern Greek
(since 1453)



Aeolic Arcadocypriot Attic and Ionic Doric Homeric Locrian Pamphylian Macedonian


Jewish Koine Greek




Cretan Cypriot Demotic Himariote Italiot

Greco/Calabrian Griko/Apulian

Katharevousa Maniot Mariupolitan Pontic Tsakonian Yevanic


Ancient (accent/teaching) Koine Standard Modern


Ancient (tables) Koine Greek
Koine Greek
grammar Standard Modern

Writing systems

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History Archaic forms Attic numerals Greek numerals Orthography Diacritics Braille Cyrillization and Romanization



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Promotion and study

Hellenic Foundation for Culture Center for the Greek Language


Exonyms Morphemes in English Terms of endearment Place names Proverbs Greek language
Greek language

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Ages of Greek

C. 3rd millennium BC C. 1600–1100 BC C. 800–300 BC C. 300 BC – AD 330 C. 330–1453 Since 1453