Dorians, an ancient people who began to overrun Greece about 1100 B.C. The Dorian conquest destroyed the Mycenaean civilization in Greece, which had emerged sometime between 2000 B.C. and 1700 B.C.
The Dorian invaders, although of the same ethnic group as the Achaeans (Mycenaean Greeks), were a primitive, pastoral people. However, they are credited with introducing the use of iron into Greece. They came from the north in overwhelming numbers for about 200 years, creating chaos throughout the country. They scattered or subdued the Achaeans in much of northern Greece, the Isthmus of Corinth, and the eastern half of the Peloponnesus. Attica, the peninsula where Athens is located, was bypassed. The Dorians settled especially in Laconia, in the far south, where Sparta became their main city. They also occupied Crete, Rhodes, and the southwest coast of Asia Minor.
The Dorian migration marked the beginning of the Dark Age in ancient Greece. The high culture of the Mycenaeans disappeared, although its traditions were preserved by the Athenians and by Achaean refugees in the Aegean islands and in Asia Minor.
Gradually the Dorians and the Achaeans merged into the Hellenic Greeks, who reached new heights of cultural achievement in the Classical Age. The Spartans, however, held aloof from other Greeks and clung to the rough life of their Dorian forebears. Antagonism between Sparta and Athens, as major representatives of the two ancestral peoples, lasted for centuries.