Mycenaean

Walls built by the Cyclopes?

Shown above are the walls of the ancient city of Mycenae, with the exterior of the ‘Lion Gate’ in view (ca. 1250 BC). In their final form, these city walls would have enclosed about 30,000 square metres, with the walls themselves averaging 7-7.5 metres in thickness.

Later ancient Greeks, unable to fathom the fact that mere humans could work with such huge blocks, attributed the construction of these walls to the Cyclopes: a mythical race of one-eyed giants. This tradition does not seem to predate the historical period, and it is not mentioned in Mycenaean texts or Homer. 

Reflecting this belief, modern archaeologists and art historians have subsequently termed the construction technique for these blocks Cyclopean.

Photo taken by Discover Peloponnese.

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An attempt to reconstruct the apperance of a high-status mycenaean woman.

It’s possible that mycenaean women of high social status, noblewomen and priestesses, painted their faces for ceremonial occasions, using white lead. Such make-up would give their face mask-like appearance, letting temporarily remove the individual behind said mask and play a certain role instead.

The Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes: Helen of Troy

Untouched Mycenaean Tomb Found in Central Greece

An ancient Greek Mycenaean tomb was unearthed in Amfissa, central Greece during an irrigation project that required excavation in the area. It is a unique finding, the first of its kind that has ever been found in West Locris and one of the few in central Greece.

The preliminary archaeological study of the findings shows that the tomb was used for more than two centuries, from the 13th to the 11th century B.C..

Within the burial chamber archaeologists found a large amount of skeletal material, which had accumulated near the surrounding walls, while a few better preserved burials were also uncovered. Read more.

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Wooden hexagonal pyxis decorated with repousse gold plates. Mycenae, Grave Circle A, Grave V, 16th cent BC.

The gold plates depict lions chasing a deer and an antelope among palm-trees, spirals and bovine heads. The latter, with their exaggerated eyes, dominate the composition. This pyxis is a unique find both because of the wood, which rarely survives from the Mycenaean period, but also because of the distinctive character of the scene depicted. (x)

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Ancient Mycenaean and Vapheio cups.

Within the first photo is a belled cup (chamber tomb ΣΤ, 1500-1450 BCE), a Vapheio cup (chamber tomb Γ, 1600-1500 BCE), and a mug (chamber tomb ΙΣΤ, 1350-1300 BCE). All of these finds were excavated from the chamber tomb cemetery at Evangelistria on the NE slope of the Palamidi, Nafplio.

The Vapheio cups in the second photo are from Asine, Chamber tomb III, and date to the 16th century BCE.

Courtesy & currently located at the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion, Greece. Photo taken by Dan Diffendale.

Mycenaean  Terracotta Octopus Goblet, 13th century BC

The Mycenaeans, like the Minoans, painted a wide range of sea creatures on their pottery, especially octopuses. Over time, Mycenaean artists produced ever simpler and more abstract depictions of octopuses.

Archaeologists Investigate a Massive Ancient Mycenaean Citadel

A team of archaeologists is surveying and excavating the remains of a major ancient Mycenaean citadel—an archaeological site featuring ruins that are turning out to be much more extensive than what meets the naked eye.

Under the leadership of Associate Professor Christofilis Maggidis of Dickinson College and the auspices of the Athens Archaeological Society, teams of specialists have been systematically surveying an imposing, island-like, flat-topped bedrock outcrop that rises 20-40 meters above a surrounding plain with a summit area stretching 49.5 acres at the northeastern edge of the Kopais basin in southeastern Greece. Known as the citadel of Glas and identified as consisting of ancient Mycenaean structures, the summit area featuring the ruins is estimated to measure ten times the size of the ancient citadel of Mycenaean Tiryns and seven times that of Mycenae, the famed city of Agamemnon of Homer’s Iliad. Read more.

The Tiryns Signet Ring, Late Helladic period, c. 15th century BC

This is the the largest known Mycenaean ring. It was found in a robber’s cache at Tiryns, a Mycenaean city of Argolis in the Peloponnese and is kept at the National Museum of Athens. The ring is thought to have been made by a Cretan artist visiting Argolis and is a copy of a fresco at Tiryns.

It depicts a procession of lion-headed daemons holding libation jugs and moving towards an enthroned goddess. The goddess wears a long chiton and raises a ritual cup. Behind the throne is an eagle, a symbol of dominion. The sun and moon are shown in the sky above.

The Late Helladic period (c. 1500-1060 BC) is the time when Mycenaean Greece flourished under new influences from Minoan Crete and the Cyclades. Around 1400 BC, the Mycenaeans extended their control to Crete, the center of the Minoan civilization. Crete had  been crippled by the eruption of Thera (Santorini),  thus leaving it vulnerable.

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Artifacts from the Aidonia Treasure, a collection of Mycenaean gold jewellery. The collection was returned to Greece in 1996, after it was thought robbed from a cemetery at Aidonia in the late 1970s.

The first image shows stylized gold papyrus ornaments in repoussé, and the second, gold relief beads in the form of triple-leaves. The third photo shows golden relief beads in the form of lilies, papyrus-lilies, and half-rosettes. Visible in the fourth photo are gold signet rings. The left ring shows a chariot scene, and two processing women holding flowers are shown in the right. 

These artifacts are thought to originate from the Mycenaean necropolis of Aidonia, west of Nemea. 15th century B.C.E.

Courtesy & currently located at the Archaeological Museum of Nemea, Greece. Photos taken by Dan Diffendale.