Information about the ancient site of Mycenae
Located in eastern Peloponnese, the archaeological site of Mycenae is among the most important places in mainland Greece. Even mentioned by the epic poet Homer and the geographer Pausanias, Mycenae was the most powerful town of its days and even gave its name to an entire historical period, the Mycenaean period.
Actually, until the 1870s when the amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann excavated the site of Mycenae, many experts did not believe that the town actually existed but thought it was made up by Homer. After the excavations of Mycenae, and also of Troy and Tyrins, Schliemann was named the "father of Mycenaean Archaeology".
The Mycenaean civilization dates from 1,600 BC to 1,100 BC approximately, reaching its peak between 1,400 BC and 1,200 BC. History testifies that the Mycenaeans were great warriors and followed a severe social scale, with the king on top. They did not develop the arts much and there are no recorded facts of extensive trade between Mycenae and other city-states, although Mycenaean pots have been found in the Mediterranean basin, most in southern Italy and even in Egypt.
Apart from pots, other objects found on the ancient site of Mycenae are ivory carvings, many golden ornaments, bronze weapons, jewelry and house artifacts, such as cups. Many of these were found in shaft graves, such as the golden mask of Agamemnon, which is believed to be the death mask of king Agamemnon.
The citadel of Mycenae was constructed on the slopes of a hill overlooking the valley of Argos. It was protected by Cyclopean walls that are actually high walls made of huge stones. Legend says that men could impossibly carry those stones with the poor technology of the era, so it was Cyclops who built these walls. The entrance to the citadel is known as the Lion Gate, as there are two female lions carved on stone above the gate.
The citadel itself has remains of houses, cisterns, public buildings, store houses and on top of the town is the acropolis, the highest spot where the king would also live. In a walking distance from the citadel is the Treasury of Atreus, the best preserved vaulted tomb in Greece. This tomb was found already looted in the Medieval or Ottoman times, which is why very few objects were found inside upon its excavation.
Close to the citadel is also the tomb of Clytemnestra, the legendary wife of Agamemnon. Outside the walls of Mycenae is the tomb of Aegisthus, who organized the assassination of Agamemnon along with his mistress, Clytemnestra. The fact that Aegisthus was buried outside the city walls means that he was unwanted for the town.
Next to the citadel of Mycenae is the Archaeological Museum that hosts many valuable items excavated from this site. In 1999, the ancient site of Mycenae was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.