What Race Was Ancient Greece?

Ancient Greece has been a topic of discussion for centuries and one of the most debated topics is the race of the ancient Greeks. Were they white, black, or something else entirely?

The answer is not straightforward and requires a deeper understanding of history, culture, and genetics. In this article, we will explore the different views on the race of ancient Greeks.

What is Race?

Before we delve into the topic, it’s important to define what we mean by ‘race’. Race refers to a social construct that categorizes people based on physical characteristics such as skin color, hair texture, and facial features. These categories are not based on biological or genetic differences but rather on cultural perceptions and stereotypes.

The Ancient Greeks

The ancient Greeks were a group of people who lived in Greece from around 800 BC to 600 AD. They are known for their contributions to philosophy, art, literature, and politics. However, their physical appearance has been a matter of debate for centuries.

Views on Ancient Greek Race

There are three main views on the race of ancient Greeks – they were white, black or a mixture of both.

White: The traditional view is that ancient Greeks were white-skinned people with European features such as fair hair and blue eyes. This view has been perpetuated in art and literature throughout history.

Black: Some historians have argued that ancient Greeks had African ancestry due to their geographic location and trade routes with Africa. They claim that ancient Greek sculptures depict African features such as broad noses and thick lips.

  • Evidence: Skeletal remains found in Greece show evidence of African ancestry.
  • Counterargument: It’s possible that these remains belonged to slaves or other non-Greek individuals.

Mixture: Another view is that ancient Greeks were a mixture of different races due to their interactions with neighboring civilizations such as the Egyptians and Persians.

The Genetics of Ancient Greeks

In recent years, DNA analysis has shed new light on the topic of ancient Greek race. Studies have shown that modern Greeks share genetic similarities with other Mediterranean populations such as Italians, Turks, and Albanians. This suggests that ancient Greeks were likely a mixture of different populations rather than a distinct race.


In conclusion, the race of ancient Greeks is a complex topic with no clear answer. While traditional views depict them as white-skinned Europeans, evidence suggests that they may have had African ancestry and were likely a mixture of different populations. It’s important to remember that race is a social construct and should not be used to define individuals or groups based on physical characteristics.