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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