mycenaean murals


Archaeological Museum of Thebes:

Wall-painting fragments from the mycenaean period, depicting a waterfowl (Thebes, 14th-13th century B.C), and a hound  behind a charriot from the hunting scene of Orchomenos, 13th century B.C


Archaeological Museum of Thebes:

Wall paintings from the palatial building of Orchomenos.

The formal space of the building was adorned with wall-paintings in much smaller scale than life-size. From the host of surviving fragments parts of friezes have been restored depicting subjects common in the art of the Late Bronze Age. 

On one side of the panel the ship with the oarsmen and the standing helmsman, the buildings and the groups of warriors, are possibly parts of a larger composition of a coastal city. On the other side of the panel there is a scene of hunting boar and deer, with the participants reaching the chase in a horse-drawn chariot. In all probability the group of warriors advancing on foot, spear in hand and wearing boar-tusk helmets, belong to the same composition. (13th century B.C)


Archaeological Museum of Thebes:

Women holding flowers from a large composition found at the Palace of Thebes (14th/13th century B.C)


Archaeological Museum of Thebes

Offering gifts to the goddess

Main element of the Mycenaean religious ritual was the procession of female worshippers towards the shrine, the temple, or the altar of the seated, sometimes enthroned goddess.The depiction of processions on murals, and gold seal-rings was particularly frequent.

The preserved part of a large mural composition from the palace of Thebes (14th/13th century BC) shows a procession of female adorants in traditional Minoan dress. They advance majestically holding their offerings: lilies, wild roses, a casket with jewellery, a necklace, and a luxury vase perhaps filled with aromatic oil. They move in two opposite directions, perhaps towards a central female deity who receives their offerings.

I think I have finally solved the flounced skirt mystery. In my opinion it’s a large rectangle piece of textile, straight from the loom, perhaps decorated at the top and bottom border with added woven bands. The textile is draped around the hips, then tied with the top toppling down. Multiple layers can be worn, toppling down and giving the look of the flounced skirt. Similarly the vest, could be a tunic, again rectangle pieces of textile can be used, with decorative woven bands binding them together at the seams. 

National Archaeological Museum / Archaeological Site of Mycenae:

Two fragments from murals found at the Acropolis of Mycenae.

Three women look out of the windows of a festooned house. The scene’s festive character and the women’s gestures of veneration and surprise , indicate that they are watching a religious spectacle from the “Ramp House” (14th century B.C)

Daemons depicted in a hunting scene. Three lion-headed daemons, also called donkey-head because of how they are drawn, walk to the right holding a wooden pole from which their prey hangs. This type of daemon originated from Egypt and is connected with vegetation rituals.

Similar daemons can be seen on this signet ring from Tiryns. You can also see some daemon masks that were used in rituals found in Tiryns, here.


Archaeological Museum of Mycenae:

This fresco is the largest piece of Mycenaean wall preserved in situ. Although competent, it shows signs of haste. The fresco and the altar in front of it should be viewed as a single unit representing an architectural setting with three female figures on two levels. The upper level includes a doorway framed with rosettes and to the right a cloaked woman holding a sword and facing another woman holding a staff. Between them there are two small naked male figures in mid-air. All these figures are framed in a room between two spiral columns, a brick or tile floor, and a ceiling supported by the columns. The lower level includes on the left a room with two columns within which is standing a female figure with her hands raised, holding sheaves of wheat. The yellow tail and forepaws are all that remain from a griffin accompanying her. On the right is an altar which was probably completely plastered and painted all over. The decoration of “horns” and the painted ends of the beams on the side suggest that it represents the exterior of a building. Two female figures are dressed in the Mycenaean manner, while the third one wears a Minoan skirt.   

This is a reconstruction of the fresco from the museum:


Archaeological Museum of Mycenae:

Fragments of murals from the Palace and Pithos area that depict men and male activities: hunts, marches, war scenes.

I love murals to pieces, but they are notoriously difficult to photograph in so fragmented a state; not only is the lighting very dim in the museum, it can also become so crowded that you have to push your way to a half-decent angle.