Causes of this were (I) the peace-loving luxury (born of commercial wealth and contact with Oriental life) of the great Ionian cities of Asia; (2) the tameness with which they submitted first to Lydia and to Persia, then to Athenian pretensions, then to Sparta, and finally to Persia again; (3) the decadence and downfall of Athens, which still counted as Ionian and had claimed (since Solon's time) seniority among " Ionian " states.
The Cretans have stayed their previous decadence, and are once more possessors of a progressive civilization.
3) is coincident with a similar decadence all over the Aegean area, we can hardly escape from the conclusion that it was due to the invasion of all the Aegean lands (or at least the Greek mainland and isles) by some less civilized conquerors, who remained politically dominant, but, like their forerunners, having no culture of their own, adopted, while they spoiled, that which they found.
While modern research has added considerably to our knowledge of prehistoric Athens, a still greater light has been thrown on the architecture and topography of the city in the earlier historic or " archaic " era, the subsequent age of Athenian greatness, and the period of decadence which set in with the Macedonian conquest; the first extends from the dawn of history to 480-479 B.C., when the city was destroyed by the Persians; the second, or classical, age closes in 322 B.C., when Athens lost its political independence after the Lamian War; the third, or Hellenistic, in 146 B.C., when the state fell under Roman protection.
The era of decadence, of honorary statues and fulsome inscriptions, began.