Greek War of Independence 1821 in Art 

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The Ionians were one of the four main ancient Greek phyla or tribes, linked by their use of the Ionic dialect of the Greek language. The other three groups were the Achaeans, the Dorians and the Aeolians. They were known collectively as Hellenes. The Athenians, in the peninsula of Attica, were the only Ionians on the Greek mainland. The Greeks of the Aegean islands, however, were almost entirely Ionian, the main exception being the Aeolians of Lesbos and the Dorians of Rhodes and the islands among the Dorian Hexapolis. The northern shores of the Aegean Sea, in Thrace, were also home to Greek colonists of Ionian descent and the French city of Marseille was founded by Ionians from Phocaea in Ionia.

The middle section of the Greek-speaking western coast of Asia Minor was actually called "Ionian" and its inhabitants so outshone the other Asian Greeks, the southern Dorians and northern Aeolians, that Asians used the term "Ionian" (Assyrian "Yamanni") to refer to all Greeks. This is still the case - Greece/Greek is Hunastan/Huyn in Armenian, Yūnān/Yūnāniyy in Arabic and Yāwān/Yəwānī in Hebrew (appearing in the English Bible as Javan).

According to semi-historical Greek legend, Ionia was colonised by refugees from mainland Greece expelled by the invading Dorians in the Heroic Age, leaving Attica as the only European outpost of the Ionian race. According to myth, the Ionians were descended from the hero Ion, son of Xuthus, son of Hellen (the mythical progenitor of all the Hellenes, whose other two sons were Aeolus and Dorus).

During the sixth century BC Ionian coastal towns such as Miletus and Ephesus became the focus of a revolution in approaches to traditional thinking about Nature. Instead of explaining natural phenomena by recourse to traditional myth, the cultural climate was such that men began to form hypotheses about the natural world based on ideas gained from both personal experience and deep reflection. These men - Thales and his successors - were called physiologoi, those who discoursed on Nature. They were sceptical of religious explanations for natural phenomena and instead sought purely mechanical and physical explanations. They are credited as being of critical importance to the development of the 'scientific attitude' towards the study of Nature. (see Ionian school)

The etymology of the word is uncertain. Its Mycenaean Greek reconstruction is Iawones, a name that seems to have been in general use; that is, "Athenians," "Chians," "Chalcidians" and so on, are more local names adopted by the original Iawones. Most derivations postulate that it evolved into Greek from some preceding name, either Indo-European or Pelasgian (pre-Greek).


Ionian Dialect

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Hellenica World