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Information about Mycenaeans

Published on December 11, 2008

Author: ABWatt



A brief slide show explaining the history of the Mycenaeans in art.

The Mycenaeans Mycenaeans occupied mainland Greece about 200 0 BCE, becoming rivals to the Minoans about 1800 BCE, and eventually took over Cretan civilization about 1450 BCE.

A Warrior People • The Mycenaeans are a warrior people • They wear armor (like this guy in a boar-tusk helmet), drive chariots, and kill animals & people. • Honor and courage are primary virtues.

A Warrior People • The Mycenaeans were Greek. • They came to Greece around 2000 BCE. • They borrowed many local words, including the one for ‘sea’, Θαλασσα (thalassa)

Heinrich Schliemann • In the late 1800s, a German millionaire turned treasure hunter. • He dug up the ruins of Mycenae, and other prehistoric Greek sites. • He was the first real archaeologist in Greece.

Heinrich Schliemann • Schliemann actually found Troy first, but the Turks expelled him for taking artifacts. • He dressed his wife in the jewelry he found at Troy, calling her a “second Helen.”

The Grave Circle at Mycenae

Excavations at Mycenae • When Schliemann left Turkey, he came to Greece a hero, and the Greek government allowed him to excavate at Mycenae beginning in 1871. • Schliemann found a Bronze Age Greece no one had really understood before.

Mycenae Was Not Unknown People had known about it for centuries, but no one had done a significant search of the fortress of the Sons of

It was even a tourist site! Engraving of the Lion Gate of Mycenae from about 1840 CE, about 40 years before Schliemann, shown choked with rubble.

Plan of Mycenae

Schliemann found ruins...

...that gave us an empire!

Mycenae ... • sat at the center of a road network... • traded with Egypt, Spain, Crete, Phoenicia, and maybe even Britain.

But the Mycenaeans... • were not peaceful. • Did not place nice. • Fought hard, played hard

Phenomenal Builders...

...and Metalworkers

The Megaron • The core of a Mycenaean palace was the Megaron. • The Megaron was a 2 1/2 room show- place designed to prove they weren’t barbarians...

Every Mycenaean palace • has a courtyard • with a porch • that leads to an anteroom • which precedes the four-pillared room • with a central hearth

The Megaron

The Inner Hall

Linear B...

Linear B... • The Mycenaeans conquered Crete and the Minoans eventually. • Then they stole their writing system, • Mycenaeans adapted it to their use. • Same symbols, different sound values.

This is ancient Greek. • It just doesn’t look like ancient Greek. • the ‘Greek’ alphabet won’t even be invented for another 800 years. • This is Linear B Greek, not Linear A ‘Minoan’.

How do we know? • In 1936, a young boy named Michael Ventris heard Arthur Evans speak on two unknown languages, Linear A and Linear B. • He resolved to translate the tablets.

Linear B Deciphered • In 1953, aged 32, Ventris found the key, and proved Linear B was archaic Greek. • Ventris died in 1956, the same year Chadwick convinced everyone Ventris’s decipherment was correct.

Ventris was 14 when... • Ventris worked on the Linear B problem for 17 years. • He began as a 14-year- old boarding school student. • He was right.

Mycenaean Collapse • c. 1200 BCE, someone starts burning Mycenaean palaces deliberately. • Mycenaean records report posting sentinels and coast-guards. • An invasion was underway... or a civil war... we’re not sure which.

Mycenaean Fortresses • Mycenaean Palaces are reinforced with massive, “cyclopean” walls. • Palaces get destroyed anyway. • By 1100 BC, Mycenaeans are gone.

The Trojan War Did it Really Happen?

Will We Ever Know? • Not sure; evidence is pretty good. • War between Hittites & Mycenaeans? • Probably. • Achi!es? Odysseus? • Maybe... Maybe not

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