Adapted from Eyewitness Travel Guide, Greece

 
 

Mycenae Site Plan
(from http://www.utexas.edu/courses/introtogreece/lect3/img31mycmap.html

 

  • Perseus is legendary founder of Mycenae

  • city was ruled by King Agamemnon (ca. 1250 B. C.)
    • with his brother, Menelaus, Agamemnon led the Greek troops at Troy

  • Mycenaean Culture (1700 - 1100 B. C.) had Mycenae as its center

  • Mycenae said by Homer to be “rich in gold”

  • Heinrich Schliemann excavated Mycenae (1874)
    • he had previously uncovered Troy
    • many artifacts attributed by Schliemann to Agamemnon were actually from much earlier inhabitants of the city

  • language of Mycenaean Culture was Linear B

  • precursor to Classical Greek

  • deciphered by Michael Ventris, a British architect, in 1950s
    • no one believed his claims until John Chadwick, a Cambridge professor, backed his work

  • Ventris died, at age 34, in a car accident in 1956

  • Linear A, earlier language of Minoan and Mycenaean cultures, has never been deciphered


    

  • built in 13th century B. C., when city walls were extended to include Grave Circle A

  • lions’ heads, now missing, are presumed to have been made of some metal

  • oldest monumental sculpture in Europe

  • double doors beneath the lions opened inwards

  • a small compartment just inside the gate housed guards (or, perhaps, guard dogs)


    

  • later Greeks believed that giant cyclopes had built the walls
    • who else could have lifted such heavy rocks?
    • ‘cyclopes’ is plural of ‘cyclops’–think Odysseus and Polyphemus, the one-eyed monster


    

  • jars of carbonized wheat were found here


  
  • contained 6 royal family shaft-graves with 19 bodies

  • here Schliemann found 31 pounds of gold funerary goods, including a gold death mask (on display in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens), which he believed was of Agamemnon
    • he said, “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon”
    • but the mask is from a period 300 years earlier than Agamemnon


    

  • minor palace

  • named after the archaeologist who discovered it


    

  • many tablets inscribed in Linear B were found in these homes


    

  • at the acropolis summit

  • was destroyed by fire ca. 1200 B. C.


    

  • 99 steps descend to cistern beneath the citadel

  • pipes connect the cistern to a spring outside the city walls

  • cistern could provide water when the city was under siege

  • (take a flashlight, if you want to go down to the bottom)


    

  • heart of the social life of the palace


(from Eyewitness Travel Guide, Greece)

  
    
  • actually a tholos tomb

  • also called ‘Tomb of Agamemnon’

  • constructed in 14th century
    • too early for Atreus or Agamemnon

  • one of only two double-chambered tombs in Greece

  • lintel stone over doorway weighs some 264,500 lbs


    

  • situated just west of Lion Gate

  • single-chambered tholos tomb

  • from same time period as ‘Tomb of Agamemnon’
    • too early for Klytemnestra