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Military of Mycenaean Greece
The military nature of Mycenaean Greece (c. 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 Mycenaeans invested in the development of military infrastructure with military production and logistics being supervised directly from the palatial centres.   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 élite. 
Late Bronze Age Greece was divided into a series of warrior kingdoms, the most important being centered in Mycenae, to which the culture of this era owes its name, Tiryns, Pylos and Thebes. From the 15th century BC, Mycenaean power started expanding towards the Aegean, the Anatolian coast and Cyprus. Mycenaean armies shared several common features with other contemporary Late Bronze Age powers: they were initially based on heavy infantry, with spears, large shields and in some occasions armor. In the 13th century BC, Mycenaean units underwent a transformation in tactics and weaponry and became more uniform and flexible and their weapons became smaller and lighter. Some representative types of Mycenaean armor/weapons were the boar's tusk helmet and the "Figure-of-eight" shield. Moreover, most features of the later hoplite panoply of Classical Greece were already known at this time.
Tiryns: Ancient Greece’s fortress built by Cyclops
Tiryns is a Mycenaean-period citadel that has been continuously occupied for 7000 years. It reached its height in the Mycenaean golden age of 1400-1200BC, when it probably had a population of ten thousands. This was a lot back in Bronze Age Greece.
What’s really impressive is the giant monumental tunneled walls with stones so huge, that legend has it that they were built by Cyclopes. Also, this is supposed to be the birthplace of Heracles (Hercules).
The giant walls protect a palace located in the centre on top of the hill. It had a large hall and its layout shows affiliation to the Minoan architecture.
What is really eye-opening, is how these giant structures were made by people who had very little means and backward machines. On top of that, these structures have survived 3000 years!
When I read the Ilias, I was always wondering about the place names. Where was Athens, where was Sparta? And why was there no king of Troy fighting in the Persian wars? The answer is that the events and locations of the Ilias predate what most of us consider ancient Greece by centuries. Athens reigned supreme between 500-400 BCE. But the Trojan War is assumed to have taken place 800 years before around 1300 BCE. In addition, the events of the Ilias squarely fall into the Bronze Age. And there is this little thing called the Bronze Age Collapse taking place around 1150 BCE. And it removed the events from the Ilias even further from view.
The Bronze Age Collapse refers to a dark age of 100-200 years where in a relatively short time period most major civilizations and empires of the eastern mediterranean fell. In Karnak, there is a relief depicting the pharaoh beating back the so called sea people. While Egypt made it through, the Bronze Age Collapse marks the end of the Mycenaean kingdoms.
One assumption is that the advent of iron meant that military weapons became more widely available. While bronze required trade to obtain both zinc and copper and was thus limited to a palace elite (palace economy), iron was easier to obtain and process.
It was up to Heinrich Schliemann to excavate this mythical site. What you can visit today at Mycenae is a fortified acropolis on a central pass. Views are great and the lion gate stunning. In addition, there is a large tomb you can enter and an onsite museum. Tiryns is the lesser of the two site. It's a massive, but rather simple fortification. Near Tiryns there is also a dam and another tomb grave you can visit.
When I visited, I got really lucky. A few hours after I left, the area around Mycenae was in flames.
There are regular busses from Athens to Nafplio via Isthmus, Fichti, and Argos. If you get off at Fichti, it's 3.5km walk to Mycenae. Between Argos and Nafplio are local busses (every 30-60min) that stop in front of Tiryns. You can see it well from the street on your way to Nafplio. From Nafplio you can also connect to Tripoli.
They sell a combined ticket (20&euro) for Mycenae and Tiryns that also covers multiple museums (Byzantine Museum Argos, Archeological Museum Nafplio) and another archeological site. If you plan to visit both sites, it would make sense to get it.
While You Are There
Epidauros is nearby. Getting there by public transport is hard, so I would arrange a taxi to take you and wait for you at the site. Argos has a nice amphitheatre (T) and agora and a Frankish castle. and Nafplio has three late medieval fortifications (T). In general, Nafplio, the first capital of Greece in modern times, is quite pleasant and I would recommend using the town as base.
Palace complexes protected by formidable stone walls attest to the advanced engineering skills of the Mycenaeans and provide an intriguing glimpse into life in the Peloponnese in the Late Bronze Age.
The Cyclopean-walled fortress at Mycenae ranks among the most awe-inspiring places a visitor can experience in the Peloponnese. Especially at times or seasons when few fellow travelers happen to be present, the quiet majesty of the enormous stone-built defenses and singular natural setting seem even more to evoke the former power of this strategically positioned citadel – once inhabited by kings, queens, warriors and priests during the great Late Bronze Age era of Greek heroes.
Mycenae has something for everyone: for the pragmatic viewer, it is a massive military bastion erected by social elites to control surrounding lands and peoples, including the almost equally impressive, secondary fortress at Tiryns some 15k to the southwest. For the more romantic, literary visitor, Mycenae represents a celebrated hilltop palace whose praises were once sung throughout the Greek world, around which still swirl the timeless stories, myths and distinctive personalities recounted by Iron Age bards and Classical playwrights.
“ Mycenae was once a military bastion and celebrated palace, around which, today, still swirl timeless stories, myths and distinctive personalities. ”
Homer, Greece’s earliest known epic poet, who may have lived sometime between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, describes Mycenae in his Iliad (Books 2, 4, 7) as a well–founded citadel, “wide wayed” (with broad streets) and “golden.” That Mycenae was indeed a city of gold is immediately apparent to visitors of the Bronze Age Gallery at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, where many golden objects – especially the so-called Mask of Agamemnon – remind us of the riches once enjoyed by this site’s noble residents. At Mycenae itself, as one approaches and passes through the Lion Gate (erected ca. 1250 BC), the wideness and grandeur of the prehistoric castle’s entrance also leaves a lasting impression. It is similarly from Homer that we first hear the name of Agamemnon, the ruler of Mycenae, who led his army to Troy. His domain, Homer recites, incorporated many islands and all of Argos, as well as territory stretching in the opposite direction toward “wealthy Corinth.”The entrance (dromos) to the “Treasury of Atreus,” actually a majestic, domed tholos tomb.
The entrance (dromos) to the “Treasury of Atreus,” actually a majestic, domed tholos tomb.View of the interior of the Treasury of Atreus, by Edward Dodwell,1834. (Source: Aikaterini Laskaridou Foundation – Travelogues). View of the interior of the Treasury of Atreus, by Edward Dodwell,1834. (Source: Aikaterini Laskaridou Foundation – Travelogues).
Founding legends for Mycenae relate it was ruled by two successive dynasties (Perseides, Pelopides), established respectively by the hero Perseus and Atreus, two grandsons of an earlier regional dynast, Akrisios. Perseus reportedly first settled at Mycenae after his scabbard tip auspiciously dropped onto the rocky hill. He is also credited with discovering the natural spring (Perseia) that eventually fed the fortress’ all-important underground fountain, still to be seen today (by flash- light) down a dark, narrow flight of stone steps descending some 18 meters into the earth. The gigantic wall stones visible around the Lion Gate, as well as those at nearby Tiryns, are said to have been placed there by the Cyclops at Perseus’ bidding. Mycenae’s later ruler Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus (king of Sparta) were the sons of Akrisios’ other grandson, Atreus, whose name in modern times has been linked to the site’s largest, best-preserved Mycenaean “beehive” tomb.
The so-called “Mycenaean,” a fresco from the Cult Center at Mycenae (13th cent. BC National Archaeological Museum, Athens).Bronze dagger with a lion hunt inlaid in silver and gold, Mycenae (National Arcaeological Museum, Athens). Bronze dagger with a lion hunt inlaid in silver and gold, Mycenae (National Arcaeological Museum, Athens).
For archaeologists, Mycenae also represents the “birth- place” of Greek archaeology, where, in the 1870s, Heinrich Schliemann began excavating in search of his beloved Homeric heroes and unearthed the golden death mask of “Agamemnon.” Schliemann’s finds, and those of subsequent excavations led by respected archaeologists including Christos Tsountas, Alan Wace, George Mylonas and Spyros Iakovidis, have revealed a complex, multi-phase site first fortified ca. 1350 BC. Inside the walls, are the royal cemetery (Grave Circle A) houses likely belonging to prominent officials, priests, military leaders and favored nobles a typical Mycenaean palace (megaron) with a throne room containing a large circular hearth royal apartments and special workshops.
Outside the walls, in addition to an excellent site museum, are Grave Circle B ivory and perfume workshops common Mycenaean residences and numerous “beehive” and other tombs, including the so-called grave of Clytemnestra and “Treasury” of Atreus. The latter’s construction, with its massive lintel block (120 tons), highlights the advanced engineering skills of the Mycenaeans – also evident in a stout stone bridge to the left of the road as one returns to the village of Mykines, in a second better-preserved example beside the Nafplio-Epidaurus road and in the still-towering walls and corbeled archways of Tiryns.
Like Mycenae, the hill of Tiryns had already been inhabited for more than a millennium when its enormous defensive walls (some almost 7 meters thick) were erected in the 14th- 12th centuries BC. The Upper Citadel featured a palace complex with a monumental gateway, a central court, a characteristic megaron and a network of private apartments with baths, light wells and drains. Also of interest are two arched galleries (possibly storerooms) and an unusual, circular building of Early Helladic date (2400-2300 BC) partly preserved beneath the later royal megaron. Schliemann excavated Tiryns, followed by Greek and German archaeologists. The Lower Citadel held residences, workshops and cult areas. Common folk lived outside the walls, where two nearby tholos tombs also indicate a royal cemetery. Colorful wall paintings from Tiryns offer an intriguing glimpse of well-coiffed Mycenaean ladies and a boar hunt with dogs.
Mykenae (Prefecture of Argolida) • Tel.: (+30) 27510.765.85
• Opening Hours: From November 1 to March 31: 8:00-15:00 • April: 08.00-19.00, May until October 31: 08.00-20.00
• Admission: Full: €12, Reduced: €8
• Ticket is valid for the Archaeological Site, the Museum and the Treasury of Atreus
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Amurru too, together with the ancient empires of the Hittites, ancient Egypt, Ugarit and more, was destroyed in the implosion of 1,200 B.C.E.
What happened in Ugarit before the collapse to change the trading pattern, if that indeed happened? We don&rsquot know. &ldquoBetween the early and late 13th century B.C.E., a major change must have occurred in the patterns of interaction between the trading centers that brought vessels to Greece. This conclusion was quite unexpected,&rdquo says Prof. Joseph Maran from the University of Heidelberg.
One of the anchorages that gained importance before the collapse was Tell Abu-Hawam, which now lies at the foot of the modern city of Haifa. Abu-Hawam contains the largest-known assemblage of Mycenaean pottery found in Israel. That also strengthens the hypothesis of significant pre-collapse trade with the Aegean.
Tiryns Maria Kostoula
Also, jars found in Tell Abu-Hawam originated in Bronze Age Mycenae, Dr. Paula Waiman-Barak, a ceramics expert from Tel Aviv University, confirms.
Another piece of evidence is the Uluburun shipwreck, dated to the 14th century B.C.E and broadly contemporary with the finds from Tiryns. Found in 1982 off the coast of southern Turkey, it had 149 Canaanite jars on board, as well as Canaanite jewelry, among other things. Some of the jars contained resin of the terebinth tree, which was used to as a preservative in wine and for medicinal purposes. Where the ship was headed is not known of course, but it supports the existence of significant trade between ancient Greece and the Amurru kingdom.
In further support, archaeologists have found foreign pottery at Tell Abu-Hawam from the 14th and 13th centuries B.C.E. Some of the Canaanite jars now reported in Tiryns may have originated from Haifa, the Jezreel Valley, Akko (Acre), Tyre and northern Lebanon, posits Peter Day from Britain&rsquos University of Sheffield and the Demokritos National Centre for Scientific Research in Athens.
Invasion, or trade
Some argue that Mycenaean pottery found in ancient towns along the northern Israeli coast argues for actual Mycenaean presence. Waiman-Barak thinks the pottery is evidence of trade, not invasion.
Photomicrograph of a thin section of a Canaanite Jar from Tiryns. Its mineral and rock fragments show that it was made in the area of the Haifa Bay or Lower Jezreel Valley. Peter M. Day
&ldquoMycenaean ceramics found along the Levantine Coast were indeed a result of the active maritime connections of the time. We don&rsquot need to think of an organized arrival of Mycenaeans and mercenaries,&rdquo she says.
Ugarit was situated opposite the northeast tip of the island of Cyprus, a major trading hub during the Bronze Age. Attesting to Ugarit&rsquos status in international commerce at the time is a letter from the Ugarite merchant Sinaranu reporting that he didn&rsquot have to pay import tax to the king when his boats returned from Crete. &ldquoFrom the present day Ammistamru, son of Niqmepa, King of Ugarit, exempts Sinaranu, son of Siginu &hellip His grain, his beer, his oliv)-oil to the palace he shall not deliver. His ship is exempt when it arrives from Crete.&rdquo &ndash Ras Shamra tablets 16.238+254 Evidently there is nothing new under the sun, which applies to tax breaks for the very rich as well.
Yet for all its material wealth, Ugarit was a vassal kingdom from beginning to end. From prehistoric beginnings, it became the northernmost outpost of the Egyptian empire. Later, in the 14th century B.C.E., it was incorporated into the Anatolia-based Hittite Empire. Then, in the late 12th century B.C.E., the entire region underwent upheaval. The powerful empires of Egypt, the Hittites and others imploded and into the void sailed the so-called Sea Peoples.
Hailing from somewhere in the Aegean, they tried to invade Egypt but failed however they did make inroads elsewhere. The hapless Hittites in southern Turkey requisitioned the troops and fleet of their vassal Ugarit, leaving the city vulnerable.
And as it sat there defenseless, it was indeed completely destroyed in about 1200 B.C.E.
Fragment of a Canaanite jar fragment from Tiryns with suggested provenance in the area of Haifa (1230–1180 BCE) Peter M. Day
However, the Tiryns team&rsquos analyses suggest that already a generation before that cataclysm, the circulation of transport maritime containers produced in the region of Ugarit seems to become rarer in the Aegean.
The reason may lie in the relationship, and rivalry, between the Hittites based in Anatolia and the Assyrians based in Mesopotamia. They did trade with one another the Hittites seem to have learned writing from the Assyrians, no less and they fought.
The Hittite empire began its road about 3700 years ago and at its heyday, encompassed all of Anatolia, and parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. The Assyrian empire was even older and lay to the east of the Hittites in Mesopotamia.
&ldquoDocumentary evidence suggests that the Hittites urged the rulers of the northern Levant (the Kingdom of Amurru) to withdraw access to their harbors for ships from the Aegean, a sort of Bronze Age embargo, in order to prevent trade between the Mycenaeans and the Assyrians,&rdquo says Day. But possibly this &ldquoembargo&rdquo wound up costing Ugarit its life-blood: business.
Archaeologists discover Mycenaean palace and treasure trove of artifacts in southern Greece
Greek archaeologists have discovered a pre-classical era Greek palace at Aghios Vassilios hill dating from the Mycenaean Age, which some researchers believe is the long-lost palace of Sparta. Important archaic inscriptions found at the site may help to shed light on the political, administrative, economic and societal organisation of the Mycenaean society around Sparta where the discovery was made.
The Greek Culture Ministry said that the palace, which had around 10 rooms, was probably built around the 17 th to 16 th centuries BC, in a statement reported by the Phys.org website . The archaeologists also discovered a number of important artifacts at the site, including objects used for religious ceremonies, clay figurines, a cup adorned with a bull’s head, swords and fragments of murals.
New excavations at a site near historical Sparta may have uncovered the lost ruins of a Mycenaean Spartan palace. Among the treasures found at the site was this bull's head. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture
Excavations in the area, conducted since 2009, have revealed inscriptions on tablets, written in the Linear B script, relating to religious practices and also names and places. Linear B is the oldest script to be discovered in Europe and first appears in the historical timeline in Crete from around 1375 BC. It took until the mid-20 th century for experts to decipher it properly.
The palace was probably destroyed by fire at some point in the late 14 th or early 13 th century, according to available evidence.
A photo released by the Greek Ministry of Culture on Aug. 25 shows an excavation site near Sparta in the Peloponnese region with remains of a palace of the Mycenaean period.
The Mycenaean era was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece and is characterised by palatial city-states, works of art and writing. It was at this time that the city-states began to become established, including Pylos, Tiryns, Midea in the Peloponnese, Orchomenos, Thebes, Athens and Iolcos in Thessaly. The most prominent of them was Mycenae in Argolid which was the influence for other settlements in Epirus, Macedonia and on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Asia Minor, the Levant and in Cyprus and Italy. Mycenaean Greece collapsed at the end of the Bronze Age and the most popular theory concerning its demise places the blame of the mysterious ‘people of the sea’ (or Sea Peoples). Other theories focus on the Dorian invasion or on natural disasters and climate change. Much ancient Greek literature is based on heroes and deities from the Mycenaean era, the most notable of which is the Trojan Epic Cycle.
Homer writes that the Mycenaean era was dedicated to Agamemnon , the king who led the Greeks in the Trojan War. The Mycenaean’s were keen traders, establishing contacts with countries across the Mediterranean and Europe. They were also excellent engineers and are also known for their characteristic ‘beehive’ tombs which were circular in shape with a high roof, consisting of a single stone passage leading to a chamber in which the possessions of the tomb’s occupant were also laid to rest.
Grave circle and main entrance of the citadel at Mycenae, one of the major centres of the Mycenaean civilization. ( Wikipedia)
Mycenaean craftsmen produced distinctive items of pottery and bronze, as well as carved gems, jewellery, vases made from precious metals and glass ornaments. Oil and wine were among the major commodities traded by them.
Not much is known about the religious practices of the time, but it is likely that the Mycenaean’s practiced ritual animal sacrifice and enjoyed communal feasting. Images of the double axe in art suggest links with the Cretan Minoan culture. Robert Graves also drew much of his inspiration for his books on the Greek Myths, and later on The White Goddess , from the Mycenaean culture, casting a more romantic slight on the period. It was during this period that the tales of deities such as Dionysus, Hephaestus, Poseidon, Artemis, Hera and Potnia began to emerge. The later Greeks regarded many of the deities in the Mycenaean pantheon more as heroes or demi-gods rather than powerful gods and goddesses in themselves and so undoubtedly there were many interesting tales that were lost to history as a result.
"Tradition tells us that Sparta was an important site in the Mycenaean period," Hal Haskell, an archeologist who studies the ancient Mycenaean culture at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, told Live Science . Yet no palace had been unearthed in the Spartan plain. Haskell believes the new site could be that lost Spartan palace.
Featured image: A handout photo released by the Greek Ministry of Culture shows the excavations site with remains of a palace of the Mycenaean period, bearing important inscriptions in archaic Greek, discovered near Sparta in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Image credits: Greek Ministry of Culture
Somewhere in the area of Grave Circle A and the house which contained the Warrior Vase, Schliemann discovered fragments of a bronze cooking cauldron supported by three legs. Unfortunately, he did not record its exact provenience (which would have helped to fix its precise date), 1 but it is of more interest for its relative position in the history of Aegean metallurgy than its specific location inside the citadel of Mycenae.
Both its shape and its area of discovery help to define its chronological limits within the Mycenaean period. Stylistically the tripod cauldron could be as early as the LH III A period, which corresponds to the reigns of Pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhenaten both stylistically and stratigraphically it seems to be no later than the LH III C period, so that, in broad terms, archaeologists have assigned its date of fabrication and its subsequent burial sometime within the fourteenth-twelfth centuries. 2 Snodgrass recently called its shape particularly important, and noted its close resemblance to the bronze tripods of the eighth century from 3 Olympia. Many archaeologists have long observed that close resemblance, and since it is essentially a utilitarian object, they believed that there must have been a continuous production of similar bronze tripods between the two ages. 4
Today one sees that at the end of the Mycenaean Age there apparently occurred a precipitous decline in the technique and employment of Bronze. Presumably, the Mycenaeans no longer had access to their sources of copper and/or tin ore to form new bronze, did not have enough old bronze artifacts and scrap to melt down to create new objects, and also lost the technology to cast the metal in complex molds. 5 Therefore, despite the close similarities of eighth-century bronze tripod cauldrons to Mycenaean specimens, all the excavation of the last century reveals no evidence for the continuous manufacture of bronze tripods of that distinct form, or, indeed, of any form during the Dark Age. 6 Catling, a specialist in the Aegean bronzework of the Mycenaean Age, felt that the close resemblance of eighth-century tripod cauldrons from Olympia and elsewhere in Greece to the Late Helladic examples, as well as the close resemblance of a highly developed eighth-century cuirass from Argos to an example from fourteenth-century Dendra (both places less than ten miles from Mycenae and from each other) implied continuous production for at least those two classes of bronze objects, despite the present gap of centuries in the evidence. 7 Snodgrass, also a specialist in metal work, and on the Dark Age as well, took the same position vis-à-vis Catling, with regard to tripods and body armor as he did with chariots, feeling that, despite the close similarities, a 400-600-year gap in the evidence indicated the the eighth-century items did not evolve directly from their Mycenaean antecedents. 8
The tripod cauldrons were very effective for heating meals over a cooking fire, but they had their disadvantages. Because of their massive size and weight, their boiling contents and their own heat over the flame, one could not remove them from the fire beneath them, but instead had to ladle what one could of the boiling liquid from their interior. In the LH III C period the Cypriots developed an improved model, consisting of a hollow tripod stand upon which one placed a separate cauldron, which one could remove from the fire, allow to cool, bring to the table, and from which one could pour the contents. Those tripods present similar chronological problems to the one-piece Mycenaean tripod cauldrons which they came to replace. Because there are numerous LH III C examples and a few precisely similar ones in contexts as late as the eighth century, Benson, endorsing earlier opinion, recently called the new tripods one of the most often cited examples of continuity between the Late Bronze Age and the Geometric Period in the Aegean. 9
Catling, who studied the numerous tripods, including the Dark Age stands, who noted the close similarity of an example from an eighth-century Athenian context to those of LH III C date, and who did believe, despite the complete lack of evidence, in the continuity of chariots, body armor, and tripod cauldrons during the Dark Age, which separates similar examples, nevertheless dated all the tripod stands to the LH III C period. Rejecting continuity of manufacture after that time, he postulated that all the tripod stands in later contexts were prized antiques. 10
It is of no little interest that the bronze tripod stands of the LH III C period, replacing one-piece tripod cauldrons, then supposedly vanishing (except for rare heirlooms and much later clay models), 11 followed the same course as, and physically resemble other Eastern tripod stands of the seventh century, which came to replace the eighth-century Greek tripod cauldrons, 12 as if history repeated itself with one 500-year throwback evolving from and supplanting another 500-year throwback. It is of still greater interest that a bronze bulls head attachment, presumably from a cauldron of LH III C date, looks very similar to animal-head attachments found on eighth-seventh-century Eastern cauldrons imported to Greece. Catling and others, noting that resemblance, believed that there must be some kind of connection, but felt perplexed that so many centuries, which offered nothing remotely similar, separated the Mycenaean Age example from its much later counterparts. 13 Furthermore, one of the most ornately decorated Cypriote tripod stands, presumably also of LH III C date, showed Levantine motifs which seemed to derive from somewhat earlier ivory carvings, but the one Levantine ivory carving, which Catling considered stylistically closest to that stand, probably belongs to the eighth century, while one of the closest Cypro-Levantine metalwork analogies dates to the seventh century B.C. 14
As in other cases that we have already seen, and still others as well, the archaeologists impasse has also had a direct effect on Homeric scholarship, since Homer mentions bronze corselets and tripods in his epics. One group of scholars heralds those references as accurate memories of the Mycenaean Age, preserved through the centuries, while the other regards them as a reflection of the eighth-century world in which Homer and his audience lived. 15 Regarding two sources of literary controversy Homer refers to tripods as prizes at chariot races.
One particular passage, referring to an aborted chariot race for a tripod at or near Olympia shortly before the Trojan War (Iliad XI: 698-702) sparked one of the first chronological debates in Homeric scholarship. Writers of the Roman period argued whether or not the hard made a poetic allusion to the famous Olympic Games of his own day, 16 a problem which still troubles modern authors, 17 especially since some archaeologists feel that the eighth-century tripods found at Olympia, which so closely resemble the centuries-older Mycenaean examples, were, in fact, as Homer recounted, prizes for the winners of the early Olympic Games. 18
The controversy, then as now, compounds itself because of two conflicting chronological schemes The Greeks of the classical period attributed the foundation of the Olympic chariot races to a pre-Trojan War hero such as Pelops, Heracles or Atreus, 19 at a time when they had come to believe, via Egyptian reckoning, that the Trojan War fell sometime during the fourteenth-twelfth centuries B.C. At the end of the fifth century the Greeks, using native accounts, calculated that the first recorded Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. 20 A dispute then arose between those who assigned the foundation of the Olympics to the thirteenth century, and those who opted for the early eighth. 21 As happened with contemporary and analogous debates over the foundation dates of Rome and Carthageeither the era of the Trojan War heroes or the ninth/eighth century 22 the ancients decided to resolve the arguments by accepting both traditionsall three were founded in the Heroic Age, abandoned for nearly half a millennium, then refounded at the later date. Pausanias, who over 1800 years ago related that compromise for the Olympics, 23 did not end the debate, and, in fact, created yet another 500-year problem for Olympia, which sparked the heated quarrel between Furtwängler and Dörpfeld, which Velikovsky has recorded above Olympia. 24
Rather than resolving ancient literary debates over Olympia, chariots and tripods, modern philologists and archaeologists have run into the same problems (and still more) as their predecessors, and for the same reasonEgyptian chronology placed Mycenaean objects and institutions half a millennium before similar objects and institutions again appear.
Middle Helladic and Mycenaean pottery from Tiryns
Tiryns is one of the famous citadels of the Mycenaean era in the Peloponnese. Its history during the palatial period in the 13 th and 12 th century BC is well-known, but its development during the Middle Bronze Age and early Late Bronze Age is less understood. The project is dedicated to a Middle and Late Bronze Age pottery complex found during excavations at the Upper Citadel.
In the years 1997 and 1998, excavations were carried out in the area of the Great and Little Megaron in the Upper Citadel of Tiryns in the course of conservation under the direction of Joseph Maran (University of Heidelberg). Interest in the architectural history of the Upper Citadel and in particular in that of the two Megara has not been aroused since the excavations under the direction of Heinrich Schliemann and Wilhelm Dörpfeld in the years 1884/85. In the first half of the 20 th century Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Georg Karo and Kurt Müller, amongst others, continued the work, and areas that were not touched by these excavations were explored under the direction of Klaus Kilian in 1984 and 1985. Despite these intensive excavations, the accurate architectural history and dating of the individual buildings remained unclear. Of particular importance are the findings of the Upper Citadel of Tiryns, as Klaus Kilian, in short preliminary reports, expressed the opinion that these finds proved the existence of one of the most ancient Mycenaean palaces – a presumption that did not remain unchallenged. Mycenaean pottery found during the excavations of 1984 and 1985 was presented by Hendrikje Stülpnagel as part of her doctoral thesis the related architectural remains are, however, still unpublished due to the early death of Klaus Kilian. Following the excavations of the years 1997/98 under the direction of Joseph Maran, it is now possible to analyse the documentation of the excavated architectural remains and the pottery in parallel, and thereby gain new insights into the architectural history of the Upper Citadel of Tiryns and thus the earliest palace period of the Mycenaean culture.
MYCENAEAN AGE (600 - 1100 BC)
The Mycenaean Age dates from around 1600 BC to 1100 BC, during the Bronze Age. Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece from which the name Mycenaean Age is derived. Mycenae site is located in the Peloponnese, Southern Greece. The remains of a Mycenaean palace were found at this site, accounting for its importance. Other notable sites during the Mycenaean Age include Athens, Thebes, Pylos and Tiryns.
According to Homer, the Mycenaean civilization is dedicated to King Agamemnon who led the Greeks in the Trojan War. The palace found at Mycenae matches Homer's description of Agamemnon's residence. The amount and quality of possessions found at the graves at the site provide an insight to the affluence and prosperity of the Mycenaean civilization. Prior to the Mycenaean's ascendancy in Greece, the Minoan culture was dominant. However, the Mycenaeans defeated the Minoans, acquiring the city of Troy in the process, according to Homer's Illiad (some historians argue this is Myth rather than fact). Mycenaean culture was based around its main cities in Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Athens, Thebes, Orchomenos, and Folksier. The Mycenaeans also inhabited the ruins of Knossos on Crete, which was a major city during the Minoan era. Mycenaean and Minoan art melded, forming a cultural amalgamation that is found on Crete (figurines, sculptures and pottery). During the Mycenaean civilization the class diversification of rich and poor, higher classes and lower became more established, with extreme wealth being mostly reserved for the King, his entourage and other members of the royal circle. Like the Minoans, the Mycenaeans built grand palaces and fortified citadels, with administrative and political powers firmly under royal authority. Mycenaean society was to some extent a warrior culture and their military was ever prepared for battle, be it in defence of a city or to protect its wealth and cultural treasures.
The Mycenaeans were bold traders and maintained contact with other countries from the Mediterranean and Europe. They were excellent engineers and built outstanding bridges, tombs, residences and palaces. Their tombs known as 'beehive tombs' were circular in shape with a high roof. A single passage made of stone led to the tomb. A variety of possessions, including arms and armour, were buried with the dead, while the more affluent might also be buried with gold and jewellery. Interestingly, rather than being buried in a sleeping position, Mycenaeans were interred in a sitting position, with the richer classes sometimes being mummified.
The Mycenaeans invented there own script known as Linear B, which was an improved derivative of Linear A (a language commonly accepted as Minoan or Eteocretan).
The settlements of Mycenaean civilization are largely known from archaeological remains. The citadels built during the Mycenaean Age were constructed using the Cyclopean stonework style, with huge entrances made with large stones. These citadels were administrative headquarters for the rulers. At the highest peaks of the citadels the palaces of the kings were built. The basic planning of these palaces was similar to Minoan structures, with different rooms for different functions, styled accordingly. The buildings were not complex in structure and were built around a central megaron. The structural design was an earlier element of Helladic architecture.
The common people lived at the foot of the citadels in the countryside or nearby regions. These settlements were generally based at hillocks or plains where land was fertile and water was abundant. Along with plains, port and coastal sites were of equal importance from the viewpoint of economy and trade.
The difference of classes in societal structure can, to some extent, be derived from the goods that were buried in their graves. It is clear that there was a strong, ruling class and a lower group of the common people.
The political hierarchy consisted of the 'The Wanax' (or King), at the top, who was the political and religious leader. Below him were the local chiefs and controllers who looked after administrative duties. The safety of the state was the responsibility of the Lawagetas, the head of the army.
Because of this efficient hierarchy, the Mycenaean Age was economically and culturally affluent, while weapons, arms and armaments found in graves and sites confirm their society as military inclined.
The Mycenaeans followed a bipartite system of working. There were two groups of people. One who worked in the palace for the rulers and another who were self-employed. But even those people who worked in the palace could run their own business if they wished.
The scribes overlooked economic production and transactions. They also organised the distribution of rations and allotted work.
The agricultural economy was well organised and had well distributed storage centres for products and crops. The surplus was kept in palaces as a form of tax. We know this from records kept in the form of clay tablets.
Important goods produced were cereals, olive oil and wine, while herbs, spices and honey were also cultivated. Sheep and goats were grazed for their wool and milk. Goods and produce were also exported to foreign countries, especially olive oil.
The textile industry was one of the most significant industries during the Mycenaean civilization. From the first stage of grazing the sheep, stocking the wool in the palaces to the last stage of the finished product in the form of a cloth, evrything was meticulously organized. The palace of Pylos employed around 550 textile workers while at Knossos there were 900. Wool, fibre and flax were the most important textiles.
Another important industry was the metal industry where metallurgy was practised in an advanced form. At Pylos about 400 workers were employed. At Knossos, tablets suggest, that swords and weapons were manufactured in quantity. Another interesting industry was the perfume industry. Oils of rose, sage, etc. were used to make perfumes and scents. Other skilled craftsmen included goldsmiths, ivory-carvers, stone carvers, and potters.
Little is known about the religious practices of the Mycenaeans. Only a few texts depict the name of Gods. A popular deity was Poseidon, (at the time probably associated with earthquakes). Other important Gods included the Lady of the Labyrinth and Diwia (Sea Goddess). Other members of the pantheon of which evidence has been found include Zeus-Hera, Ares, Hermes, Athena, Artemis, Dionysus and Erinya.
There are very few temples or shrines that have been found where religious practices might have been exercised: So we can assume all rituals took place on open ground or in peak sanctuaries. Some shrines that are found have a tripartite structural design.
Minoans had a strong influence on most of the religious practices and rituals practised by the Mycenaeans.
Pottery work such as stirrup jars, pitchers, kraters and chalices were made during this era. The vessels that were exported were more intricately designed and had beautiful motifs, often depicting warriors and animals. Vessels in the shape of tripods, basins, or lamps were found in large quantities at the archaeological sites.
Terracotta statuettes included anthropomorphic figurines and sometimes zoomorphic figures, most of them being male or female. They were either single or multi-coloured and were often used as statues of worship.
Painting themes included hunting, war scenes, processions, mythology and legend. Several frescoes have also been found in palaces, while similar artictic themes were also used in pottery.
Meanwhile, a variety of materials (wood, leather and metal) were used in the manufacture of armour, shields, helmets, spears, javelins, swords, daggers and arrows..
The Linear B language that was written during the Mycenaean civilization consisted of about 200 syllabic signs and logograms. This language was an improved form of the Linear A, written during the Minoan Age. The language was used mostly in Knossos and in Pylos.
The corpus of the Mycenaean Age consists of 6000 tablets from the Early Helladic to Late Helladic. The Kafkania pebble is the oldest Mycenaean inscription dating back to the 17th century BC.
There are two theories about the end of the Mycenaean civilization. One is population movement, the second internal strife and conflict. According to the first theory the Dorians lauched a devastating attack, although this hypothesis has been questioned because the Dorians had always been present in the Greece of that time. Alternatively, it could have been the 'Sea People' who attacked the Mycenaeans. The Sea People are known to have attacked various regions in the Levant and Anatolia, so perhaps this reading of events is more credible.
The second theory suggests an internal societal conflict between the rich and poor, with the lower classes becoming impoverished towards the end of the Late Helladic period and rejecting the system under which they were governed. By end of the LH III C, the Mycenaean civilization had come to an end with the cities of Mycenae and Tirynth completely destroyed. The end of the Mycenaean civilization heralded the start of the Greek Dark Ages.