Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece in southern Europe, from at least the early 5th century BC. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC. In ancient times, Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus, which had been a distinct city prior to its 5th century BC incorporation with Athens. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Pericles, Sophocles and its many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of Europe.