We visit the 3 Mycenaean Kingdoms as travelers, not as tourists
Greece in the bronze age, had several important centers, including the Acropolis of Mycenae and Agamemnon Palace, the Acropolis of Tyrins, Argos (one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.) and Nafplion...
Mycenae, city of Agamemnon, was one of several heavily fortified strongholds. The king lived in a place with many rooms which served as a military headquarters and a centre of administration for the surrounding countryside. The Mycenaean's were warriors, and weapons and armor have been found in their graves. They were also great traders and sailed far and wide. Their civilization reached the height of its power in about 1600 b.c and eclipsed the Minoan civilization of Crete.
All seemed secure and prosperous, but around 1300 b.c the Mycenaean's started to build huge defensive walls around all the major towns. The Mycenaean world was under threat from foreign invaders. By about 1200 bc. the cities began to be abandoned or destroyed.
Mycenae is the region’s most famous site, its name linked with some of the most memorable myths of Greek epic poetry and tragedy. Of particular significance is its location–on a steep hill within sight of the fertile plain of Argos and the gulf of Nafplion, protected at the rear by two mountains and deep valleys. This is a typical choice for the settlement site of a wayfaring community.
The main entrance to the cit able of Mycenae was a monumental gateway in the walls, wide enough for carts to pass through. The two lions decorating the famous gate to which they give their name. Encircling the acropolis are two rings of walls, the first built in the 14th century B.C. using the cyclopean technique of large, irregular blocks. The second, larger, ring of walls of the 13th century was built of more regular blocks.
The Lion Gate at Mycenae, the only known monumental sculpture of Bronze Age Greece
They were only two entry points: The first was the Lion Gate (in fact they are probably two lionesses). The Lion Gate is now virtually a symbol of the land and its past and is one of many examples of the skills of Mycenaean architects. The second was the Postern Gate. This postern provided access along the northeast stretch of the walls, towards the mountain, it was clearly visible to the inhabitants but practically imperceptible to anyone approaching from outside.
Visitors to the site climb a ramp leading across the cemetery where huge mounds conceal “tholos” tombs (many of them still accessible), which have been attributed – with great leaps of the imagination – to figures from Homer’s epic tale: Atreus, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The so-called “Treasury of Atreus” is a typical, imposing Mycenaean “tholos” tomb. Its approach is a "dromo" 36 m (118 ft ) long and 6 m (20 ft) wide, open to the sky and flanked by sloping walls of enormous blocks of stone arranged in regular rows.
The Treasury of Atreus
or Tomb of Agamemnon is a large "tholos" tomb at Mycenae, Greece, constructed during the Bronze Age around 1250 BC. The lintel stone above the doorway weighs 120 tons, with approximate dimensions 8.3 x 5.2 x 1.2, the largest in the world. The tomb was used for an unknown period. Mentioned by Pausanias, it was still visible in 1879 when the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the shaft graves under the 'agora' in the Acropolis at Mycenae.
The interior of the Treasury of Atreus is built of beautifully regular courses of blocks, each projecting slightly beyond the one below to form the corbelled vault. From a technical and ideological point of view, the “tholos” tombs are one of the most interesting Mycenaean architectural developments. Stylistically, they can perhaps be seen as standing at an intersection between the long tradition of European (and Indo-European) megalithic structures and the tectonic gigantism of Near Eastern and Egyptian architecture.
Mycenae Museum / Greece Private Tours
Mycenaean Mythology: According to the tradition Mycenae was founded by Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae. Tradition relates that Perseus founded Mycenae and used the mythical giants, the Cyclops (giant builders who had but one eye in the middle of their forehead) to built its mighty walls, which are therefore called "cyclopean". The same giants had already built the walls of Tiryns (10 miles away). The last member of the Perseid dynasty was Eurystheus, the king who set his cousin Heracles the famous labors. After the death of Heracles, Eurystheus pursued his descendants into Attica, and there was killed by Lolaus. The Mycenaeans, obeying the Delphic Oracle, summoned Atreus and Theyestes, the two sons of Pelops, in order to choose one of them as king. Atreus won their favor and ascended the throne of Mycenae, however, he quarreled with his brother, who plotted against him with the help of Atreus' wife, Aerope, who was his lover. To avenge himself, Atreus invited him to dinner, where he offered the unsuspecting Thyestes the flesh of his sons "Thyestian Banquet". Thus he brought down on his own head the curse of the gods, thereby blighting his destiny and that of all his offspring Atreus' sons.
The tragedy of the Atreids: After the Perseids came the Atreids whose complicated history its trail of vengeance and death has been told by Homer in the Iliad and by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides in their plays. The most well known of this accursed family are:
Atreus/ Atreas: son of Pelops (see Olympia), who killed the sons of his brother Thyestes except the younger one and served them to him during a banquet. Menelaos: son of Atreus and king of Sparta (see Sparta), whose wife Helen was sedused by Paris, son of Priam, King of Troy, thus provoking the Trojan War.
Agamemnon: Menelaos brother, King of Mycenae and husband of Clytemnestra, Helen's sister; he was the leader of the Achaians in the expedition against Troy, the King of Kings who ordered the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia at Aulida (Evia) to obtain a favorable wind.
Aigisthos: younger son of Thyestes who killed his uncle Atreus to avenge his father's death and became Clytemnestra's lover; she asked him to get rid of Agamemnon, just returned from Troy, and his captive Cassandra, Priam's daughter, known for her gloomy predictions which all refused to believe.
Orestes: son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, who was persuaded by his sister Electra to kill Clytemnestra and her lover Aigisthos; he was pursed by the Furies but acquitted on the Areopagos (Court) in Athens by a jury presided over by Athena and then purified by Apollo on the omphalos in Delphi before ascending the throne of Mycenae; he gave his sister Electra in marriage to his faithful friend Pylades
ACROPOLIS OF TYRINS
Tiryns is a Mycenaean archaeological site in Argolis in the Peloponnese, 6 kilometres from Nafplio. Tiryns was a hill fort with occupation ranging back seven thousand years, from before the beginning of the Bronze Age. It reached its height between 1400 and 1200 BC, when it was one of the most important centers of the Mycenaean world, and in particular in Argolis. Its most notable features were its palace, its Cyclopean tunnels and especially its Cyclopean walls, which gave the city its Homeric epithet of "mighty walled Tiryns". In ancient times, the city was linked to the myths surrounding Heracles, with some sources citing it as his birthplace.
The famous Megaron of the palace of Tiryns has a large reception hall, the main room of which had a throne placed against the right wall and a central hearth bordered by four Minoan-style wooden columns that served as supports for the roof. Two of the three walls of the megaron were incorporated into an archaic temple of Hera.
The site went into decline at the end of the Mycenaean period, and was completely deserted by the time Pausanias visited in the 2nd century AD. This site was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in 1884-1885, and is the subject of ongoing excavations by the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and the University of Heidelberg. In 1300 BC the citadel and lower town had a population of 10,000 people covering 20-25 hectares. Despite the destruction of the palace in 1200 BC the city population continued the increase and by 1150 BC it had a population of 15,000 people.
Tiryns was recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites in 1999.
ARGOS: The oldest continuously inhabited city in the world
Argos is a city in Argolis, the Peloponnese, Greece and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is the biggest town in Argolis and a major center for the area.
Since the 2011 local government reform it has been part of the municipality of Argos - Mykenae, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometers (7 miles) from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour. A settlement of great antiquity, Argos has been continuously inhabited as at least a substantial village for the past 7,000 years. The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
Numerous ancient monuments can be found in the city today. The Larisa castle, built during prehistoric time, which has undergone several repairs and expansions since antiquity and played a significant historical role during the Venetian domination of Greece and the Greek War of Independence. It is located on top of the homonym Larisa Hill, which also constitutes the highest spot of the city (289 m.).
As a strategic location on the fertile plain of Argolis, Argos was a major stronghold during the Mycenaean era. In classical times Argos was a powerful rival of Sparta for dominance over the Peloponnese, but was eventually shunned by other Greek city-states after remaining neutral during the Greek-Persian Wars.
The Ancient theater, built in the 3rd century B.C with a capacity of 20,000 spectators, replaced an older theater of the 5th century BC and communicated with the Ancient Agora. It was visible from any part of the ancient city and the Argolic gulf. In 1829, it was used by Ioannis Kapodistrias for the Fourth National Assembly of the new Hellenic State. Today, cultural events are held at its premises during the summer months.
The military nature of Mycenaean Greece. (1600 –1100 BC) in the Late Bronze Age is evident by the numerous weapons unearthed, warrior and combat representations in contemporary art, as well as by the preserved Greek Linear B records. The Mycenaean invested in the development of military infrastructure with military production and logistics being supervised directly from the palatial centers. This militaristic ethos inspired later Ancient Greek tradition, and especially Homer's epics, which are focused on the heroic nature of the Mycenaean-era warrior elite
The Mask of Agamemnon is an artifact discovered at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann. It has been lauded as the "Mona Lisa of prehistory"
The artifact is a funeral mask smithed in gold and was found over the face of a body in a burial shaft designated Grave V at the site "Grave Circle A, Mycenae". Schliemann believed that he had discovered the body of the Greek leader Agamemnon,