Mycenae (Mykenes - pronounced Mikines - in modern Greek), situated in Argolis, in the north eastern part of Peloponnese, is the well known centre of the Mycenaean civilisation (16th-12th century BC) and the site yielded some most important and beautiful archaeological objects. Mycenae is famous also because of its association with Homer's Iliad. In Iliad, the Greeks were led by the king of Mycenae, Agamemnon (whatever the historical truth was). In the photo above is the Lion Gate of Mycenaean akropolis.
<How to Get There>
|Akropolis of Mycenae
There are regular coaches from Nafplio, Argos, and Tolo that stop at modern Mykines and the archaeological site (timetable of KTEL Argolis; there seem to be buses also from Corinth, but I could not find the timetable). There is a train station in Mykines as well. If you have time and intention to spend one day just to visit Mycenae, the public transportation can do, but, otherwise, you'd better have a car/rent-a-car or join in coach tours. Besides, if you are visiting here by public bus, note that there is no taverna around the site, although there was one vending van when we visited.
When we stand at Mycenae site now, we might wonder why did they constructed a town in such a deserted and difficult place, but in ancient times, it used to control a important traffic route conncting Gulf of Corinth and Gulf of Argos, and the are traces of human occupation dating back to the sixth millennium BC. Large tombs started to be constructed from the end of 17th century BC, which is indicative of the presence of rich and powerful aristocracy in Mycenae, although we do not know why exactly this city increased its importance and dominated the Aegean. The influence from the Minoan civilisation on Mycenaean culture suggests their involvement in trade.
In April 2010, the entrance fee is £8, which includes the visits to the Akropolis, the Museum, and the 'Treasury of Atreus' (or 'Tomb of Agamemnon'). The museum is inside the akropolis site, but the treasury is about 300 metres away and has a different gate and car park. You should keep the ticket until finish to visit all three places as there is ticket control at each entrance.
History of Excavation
|North, or Postern Gate
The interest in Mycenae site has been always high for Homer's influence, and the large scale excavation was started by Heinrich Schliemann in 1874-76, and at this occasion he found Grave Circle A, and in there a large numbers of gold votive offerings weighing as much as 14 kg. After Schliemann, the excavation was continued by Greek Archaeological Society, first under Stamatakis, and then under Tsountas. During 1920-23, and 1939, the British School of Athens, under the directorship of Alan Wace, conducted an extensive excavation and made signification contributions to the chronology. After the World War II, the excavations were continued by the British School and, from 1958 by the Greek Archaeological Society led by George E. Mylonas.
- George E. Mylonas, Ancient Mycenae: the capital city of Agamemnon. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957
- Nicos Papahatzis, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Tiryns, Nauplion. Athens : Clio, 1978, pp. 56-85.
- Elsie Spathari, Mycenae : A Guide to the History and Archaeology. Athens : Hesperos, 2001.
- Robin Barber, Greece (Blue Guide), London- N.Y. 2001 (Revised reprint of the 6th edition of 1995), pp. 221-232.
- Christopher Mee & Antony Spawforth, Greece (An Oxford Archaeological Guide). Oxford/ OUP, 2001, pp. 178-187.
- Elizabeth French, Mycenae : Agamemnon's capital : the site in its setting. Stround: Tempus, 2002.
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