I want to clear up all the different terms used for Greek historical periods, because I use them from time to time. Some are so vague as to be almost useless, some are quite precise, and unfortunately they're often used interchangably.
Ancient Greece is a vague term meaning almost any time from the stone age to the fall of the Roman Empire. People tend to misuse it as a synonym for the combined Archaic + Classical periods. I'm a serial offender. Sorry.
Now for the rest in chronological order:
Minoan Civilization is pre-Greek but is usually lumped in, because Greek cultural memory begins with the Minoans. Think Palace of Knossos, Minos, Labyrinth, Minotaur (my publisher!) and interesting dresses for the ladies. Women's fashion declined sadly when Minoan civilization fell. The Minoans lived in the Bronze Age to about 1500BC (your mileage may vary on these dates).
Mykenaean Civilisation is the beginning of the Greeks. The transition from Minoan to Mykenaean culture looks almost seamless from our distance. Mykenai, Argos, Thebes and Athens are all well-established cities. (They were before too, but now they're serious cities.) The Minoans and Mykenaeans were really quite advanced peoples. It also appears to have been a relatively peaceful time with lots of trade. About 1600BC to 1200BC.
The Dark Ages. No, not the Dark Ages we know, but one which came long before. There's been more than one period when civilization fell. A tribe of Greeks called the Dorians invaded from the north and messed things up big time. All learning and civilization was lost. The next 400 years were awful to live in, but this is also the Age of Heroes.
Homer's stories take place in the Dark Ages. Homer himself probably lived during the transition from the Dark Ages to the Archaic Period.
Archaic Period. The Greeks and their neighbours drag themselves out of the Dark Ages. They rebuild civilization, recover what was lost and go on to add much more. The invention of writing and money, massive advances in realistic art and architecture. The birth of philosophy. The Constitution of Solon begins the drive to democracy. In terms of cultural advance it was very much like the Renaissance. 800BC to 480BC. At last the dates become solid. The Archaic Period ends precisely on the Persian Wars. Nicolaos was born in 480BC.
Periclean Athens. Athens puts the culture pedal to the floor and you can't see them for the dust. Everything the Archaic Period was building towards explodes into 50 glorious years. Also called The Golden Age. Western civilization is founded. Somehow, at least 12 world-class geniuses were born at the same time into a place the size of a small modern town plus surrounds. When people say Ancient Greece, it's usually Periclean Athens they're thinking of. Periclean Athens is really just a subset of and the beginning of the Classical Period.
Classical Period. Stretches from the Persian Wars to the amazing victories of Alexander. Athens blunders around after the death of Pericles in 429BC and eventually loses its empire, but Athens' position as the School of Greece goes on. This is very much the time of Plato and Aristotle. Toward the end, a military genius called Philip of Macedon does the seemingly impossible by uniting the Greek city states. Philip would be remembered today as the greatest commander Greece ever produced, if he hadn't produced a son called Alexander.
Alexandrian Age. Like Pericles, he defined his time. He took over from Philip in 336BC and proceeded to conquer the entire known world. In 13 years.
Hellenistic Period. Begins with the death of Alexander in 323BC, and ends with the death of Hypatia in 415AD. These 738 years cover almost the entire period of Roman world rule. It's called Hellenistic because Greek learning and culture dominated even though Greece was reduced to a backwater. The Library of Alexandria was built early in the Hellenistic period. Hypatia lived at the peak of ancient learning. After her death, human knowledge begins to slip away. No one will equal her learning until the Renaissance is well underway, 1000 years later. The Ages of Greece are over.
So my stories are all set firmly inside the Golden Age. Nico's birth date has been carefully arranged so we can see all the excitement.