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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. It was the Mycenaeans that colonized much of current day Greece and northern Turkey. They were heavy into trade and were familiar with the Eastern Mediterranean. Though they took over from the Minoan civilization, they did not wipe the culture out. 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 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 archeology. Digging within a ring of rocks, Schliemann discovered numerous graves. Within in these graves were treasures. He found death masks, gold, and many items of warfare. 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.
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. 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.
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