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The Achaeans is the name given to the people who migrated into Greece around the 17th century BC. The name Achaean was applied by Homer in his Iliad to describe Achilles' people and the followers of Agamemnon. Some Hittite texts also mention a nation in western Anatolia called Ahhiyawa; what its relationship to the Achaeans beyond a similarity in pronounciation is hotly debated by scholars.

The Achaeans were organized into kingdoms centered around small walled towns. Around 1550 BC, the city of Mycenae, located in the northeast Peloponnesus, appears to have dominated the rest of Achaeans. From this evidence, archeologists have named the culture of this time the Mycenaean Civilization. (See also: Minoan Civilization.)

The Achaeans have been termed "militaristic agriculturalists". They prayed to the mountain gods and earth goddess. Chariots formed the backbone of their armies and around 1400-1300 BC, the Mycenaeans overpowered the Minoans of Crete.

Around 1200 BC occupation of most of the Mycenaean citadels ended, as happened to other cities across the near east, and their civilization faded away; later Dorians occupied many of their strongholds in the Peloponnesus and elsewhere in Greece, and the Hellenic civilization preserved fragments of information about these people in their legends and myths.

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