Mycenaean Greece


In 1874, following his discovery of the site of Homer's Troy in 1870, Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) began his excavations at Mycenae. The ancient Greek city of Mycenae, whose Lion Gate and cyclopean walls are mentioned by Pausanias in 2nd century CE, gave its name to the Mycenaean civilization. Mycenae was the home of Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek forces in the Trojan War as recounted by Homer in the Iliad. After his return from Troy, Agamemnon was murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus.

Historical background

  1. Down to about 1600, mainland Greece largely a backward country.

  2. About 1600, mainland Greeks (Mycenaeans) come into contact with Minoan civilization on Crete.

  3. About 1550, Mycenaean culture blooms based largely upon that of Crete.

  4. About 1500 to 1200 marks the period of the Mycenaean Empire

  5. About 1200, collapse of the Mycenaean Empire and civilization with massive destruction

  6. About 1100 to 900 BCE, period of near barbarism known as the Dark Ages.

  • Heinrich Schliemann
  • Troy
  • Mycenae
  • Argos (Argolid)
  • Homer
  • Agamemnon
  • Helladic
  • citadel
  • Cyclopean masonry (Cyclopes - one-eyed giants in Greek mythology)
  • relieving triangle
  • Tholos Tombs (beehive tombs)
  • corbel
  • keystone
  • megaron
  • anta (antae)
  • columns in antis
  • Grave Circle A
  • shaft grave
  • rhyton
  • inlay
  • niello
  • Atreus
  • dromos
  • engaged column


  • Reynold Higgins, Minoan and Mycenaean Art, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981 (first published 1967)
  • George E. Mylonas, Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960

© Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe