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|Era||c. 500–300 BC; evolved into Koine|
Attic Greek is the main Greek dialect that was spoken in ancient Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek and is the standard form of the language that is studied in ancient-Greek language courses. Attic Greek is sometimes included in the Ionic dialect. Together, Attic and Ionic are the primary influences on Modern Greek.
The earliest written records in Greek date from the 16th to 11th centuries BC and exist in an archaic writing system, Linear B, which belongs to the Mycenaean Greeks. The distinction between Eastern and Western Greek is believed to have arisen by Mycenaean times or before. Mycenaean Greek represents an early form of Eastern Greek, a main branch to which Attic also belongs. Because of the gap in the written record between the disappearance of Linear B, around 1200 BC, and the earliest inscriptions in the later Greek alphabet, around 750 BC, the further development of dialects remains opaque. Later Greek literature wrote about three main dialects: Aeolic, Doric, and Ionic. Attic was part of the Ionic dialect group. "Old Attic" is used for the dialect of Thucydides (460-400 BC) and the dramatists of 5th-century Athens; "New Attic" is used for the language of later writers.
Attic Greek persisted until the 3rd century BC, when it was replaced by its similar but more universal offspring, (ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος (hē koinē diálektos)) "the common dialect". The cultural dominance of the Athenian Empire and the later adoption of Attic Greek by king Philip II of Macedon (382-336 BC), father of the conqueror, Alexander the Great, were key to the eventual victory of Attic over other Greek dialects and the spread of Koine Greek, throughout Alexander's Hellenic empire. The rise of Koine is conventionally marked by the accession in 285 BC of Greek-speaking Ptolemy II, who ruled from Alexandria, Egypt and launched the Alexandrian period, when the city of Alexandria and its expatriate Greek-medium scholars flourished.
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