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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Ancient Mycenae – Photo Gallery

Lion Gate from inside Mycenae by Joy of Museums

Ancient Mycenae – Photo Gallery

Above is the Lion Gate entrance as seen from inside the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. It was erected around 1250 BC and is named after the relief sculpture of two lionesses or lions in a heraldic pose that stands above the entrance.

Mycenae Grave Circle A

Mycenae Grave Circle A by Joy of Museums

The Mycenae Grave Circle A is a 16th-century BC royal cemetery near the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae. This burial complex was initially constructed outside the fortification walls of Ancient Mycenae but was later enclosed in the fortress, that was built on the high ground or acropolis when the fortifications were extended during the 13th century BC.

Mycenae Grave Circle A by Joy of Museums 2

The circle has a diameter of 27.5 m (90 ft) and has six shaft graves, where nineteen bodies were buried. Bronze Age Greece 16th century BCE Mycenaean shaft tombs would range from 1.0 m to 4.0 m with a mound constructed for each grave and stelae erected. Among the objects found were a series of gold death masks and full sets of weapons, ornate staffs as well as gold and silver cups.

The Lion Tholos Tomb at Mycenae

Lion Tholos Tomb at Mycenae by Joy of Museums

View of the Lion Tholos Tomb at Mycenae from above

A  tholos tomb, also known as a beehive tomb, is a burial structure characterised by its false dome created by the superposition of successively smaller rings of mudbricks or, more often, stones. The resulting structure resembles a beehive, hence the traditional English name.

Lion Tholos Tomb at Mycenae by Joy of Museums - 2

View of the Lion Tholos Tomb at Mycenae from the entrance

This tomb is named the Lion Tholos Tomb for its proximity to the Lion Gate of Mycenae. It was built in early 14th c. BCE and it was about 15 meters tall, but has now collapsed and has no ceiling.

The latest kings and queens at Mycenae were buried in tholos tombs. They were similar in design to chamber tombs except that they were built out of stone blocks and then covered with earth, rather than hollowing out a hillside to construct a chamber tomb.

Northeast Extension of the Mycenae Citadel

This shows the third and last Northeast Extension of the Mycenae Citadel completed in the late 13th century BC.

Northeast Extension of the Mycenae Citadel by Joy of Museums

It was an essential addition to secure the water supply and involved the underground cistern. The corbelled opening led to the outside of the citadel.

Underground Cistern of the Mycenae Citadel

Underground Cistern of the Mycenae Citadel by Joy of Museums

Corbelled Arch to the Underground Cistern

This underground cistern is one of the most interesting constructions of Mycenaen building technology. The descent into the underground water cistern is corbelled and at the end of the excavated underground passage at a depth of 18 meters is the roofed shaft to the water. This underground construction secured the water supply of the citadel and was the reason for the last extension of the northeast section of the fortified walls.

Mycenae

In the second millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilisation, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. By 1200 BC, the power of Mycenae was declining, and finally, Mycenaean dominance collapsed entirely. The eventual destruction of Mycenae formed part of the general Bronze Age collapse in the Greek mainland and beyond. Within a short time around 1200 BC, all the palace complexes of southern Greece were burned, including that at Mycenae.

Explore Mycenae

Reflections

  • Where lions still in Greece at the time of the Lion Gate sculpture?

Ancient Mycenae

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“In war, the first casualty is the truth.”
– Agamemnon quote via Aeschylus

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Photo Credit: JOM

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