What Was the Average Life Expectancy in Ancient Greece?

The life expectancy of people in ancient Greece was significantly lower than it is today. Although there are no accurate records to determine the exact average lifespan of ancient Greeks, historians have estimated that it was around 30-35 years old. This was due to various factors such as poor hygiene, lack of medical knowledge, and frequent wars.

Poor Hygiene:
In ancient Greece, sanitation practices were not well-established and people had limited access to clean water. This led to the spread of diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, and cholera. Poor hygiene also meant that people were more likely to contract infections and illnesses that could lead to premature death.

Lack of Medical Knowledge:
Ancient Greeks had limited knowledge about medicine and healthcare. The practice of medicine was often based on superstitions and religious beliefs rather than scientific knowledge.

For instance, it was believed that diseases were caused by a punishment from the gods or evil spirits. This lack of understanding meant that doctors were unable to accurately diagnose or treat illnesses.

Factors Contributing to Low Life Expectancy

Aside from poor hygiene and lack of medical knowledge, there were several other factors contributing to low life expectancy in ancient Greece:

  • Infant Mortality: Infant mortality rates were high due to poor maternal health care during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Poor Nutrition: Many ancient Greeks suffered from malnutrition due to poverty and limited access to food.
  • Frequent Wars: Wars were a common occurrence in ancient Greece which led to many deaths on the battlefield as well as famine and disease outbreaks.
  • Social Inequality: Only wealthy individuals had access to quality healthcare services while the poor could not afford medical treatment.


In summary, the average life expectancy in ancient Greece was significantly lower than it is today. Poor hygiene, lack of medical knowledge, and frequent wars were among the major factors contributing to premature death. Today, we have access to modern medicine and better sanitation practices which have contributed to increased life expectancy.