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The Civilization of Mycenae

Updated on March 12, 2018
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Mycenae is one of those places that causes the imagination to fly in so many directions. Anyone who is familiar with ancient history will be familiar Mycenae. This was the center of the Mycenaean civilization that was the Golden Age of Greece’s Bronze Age. Located in southern Greece, this civilization replaced the majestic Minoan culture. Legends have sprung from it.

It is from this nation where the legend of Troy was born. It was here that history grew into something so much more. It is here where so many stories have developed. Too many don't realize the importance of this civilization that would be the birth of so much we are familiar with.

Source

Foundation of Greece and Turkey

It was the Mycenaeans who colonized much of current day Greece and northern Turkey. They were heavy into trade and were familiar with the Eastern Mediterranean. They knew how to survive and trade throughout the region.

Though they took over from the Minoan civilization, they did not wipe the culture out. Instead, they built on it and took it forward. The Minoan civilization was preserved for future generations because of the new culture. They continued many of the building styles and art forms of the Minoans yet created a world of their own. They built impressive palaces throughout their kingdom. The majesty was not lost.

Discovered by Schliemann

The site of Mycenae was dug up by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. Though the site had been acknowledged in the past, not much had been done to it in the way of archaeology. It basically had been ignored. Digging within a ring of rocks, Schliemann discovered numerous graves. These would prove to be extraordinary and give loads of information about the culture.

Within in these graves were treasures no one expected to find. He found death masks, gold, and many items of warfare. Item after item were pulled from the graves and got the attention of the world. From these graves we have the “Mask of Agamemnon”. This has never been proven to be of the great king, but Schliemann named it as such and the name has stuck. No one has changed it as no one knows who the large gold mask really belonged to. It adds a little thrill to think it was worn by the legendary king.

Source

Agamemnon

Finding all of the warfare items helped support many of the theories and stories about Mycenae. Their most famous king was Agamemnon. He is most well known for his role in the Trojan War, the story of this war told by Homer. To date, he is a mythical king though there is no evidence to suggest that he didn't exist. The Mycenaean civilization is still being understood and revealed.

In the myths, Agamemnon was the brother to the king of Sparta, Menelaus. It was the Spartan king who was angry with Troy because the prince of Troy seduced his wife or at least helped her run away from her husband. Sparta called on Mycenae to help them destroy Troy and take back his wayward wife.

Not All Myths are Just Stories

The majority of scholars dismissed the story as myth, but the discoveries by Schliemann and others blew that away. The discoveries of Mycenae showed that this civilization was thriving during the time of the “mythical” Trojan War and was made up of warriors. This had to be the home of Agamemnon.

It was sometime after 1200 B.C. that the Mycenaean civilization disappeared. All the magnificent palaces were destroyed and no evidence exists that they rose up anywhere else. What happened is unknown, but this devastation began the Dark Age of Greece. Whatever it was, it affected all of Greece. The legend of the warriors of Mycenae continued down through the years. Sparta was settled in the same vicinity as Mycenae and took up the military torch. They became synonymous with brave warriors and military might. Mycenae was the birthplace of Greece military might and a large part of Greek mythology. It fascinates us still today.

The Fascination with Myths

The world has always been fascinated with mythology. In most cultures, every person is aware of their tribe's myths. They go back hundreds if not a thousand years or more.

Myths are stories to explain the explainable. Why does the moon change its shape? We know now that it is based on its location and the shadow of Earth. To the people centuries ago, this wasn't known. They created myths to explain how the moon was eaten and then regurgitated. These myths were a way to make sense of the world.

Since every culture has them and they are all different, we find them fascinating. We know the truth, but the myths still draw us and entertain us.

Sources

Met Museum - https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/myce/hd_myce.htm

Ancient Greece - http://ancient-greece.org/archaeology/mycenae.html

Greek Boston - http://www.greekboston.com/culture/ancient-history/mycenaean-civilization/


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