mycenaean frescoes


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)

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.


National Archaeological Museum / Archaeological Site of Tiryns:

Murals from both the later and earlier palace of Tiryns. Female figures in procession bringing offerings to a deity, women on charriots observing a hunt, while the hounds have already overpowered the boars and an attendant on foot.

The presence of women in religious processions as well as hunts is a sign of their elevated status in the Mycenaean world.