lion gate

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Lion Gate

Grave circles


The (so-called) Treasury of Atreus


Mycenae and Homer

In the vicinity


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Perhaps such imposing, enclosing, restrictive walls should be the first image of this city. So well walled off from history was Mycenae, that for many years the stories told in Homer were thought by many to be pure works of fiction. No less interesting for that, but not springing from any historical basis. In the 1870's excavations at this site by the German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann, and work by others to interpret his finds, have led to a different view.

Emerging out of the ruins of Mycenae was evidence of a flourishing culture at this city and others nearby that came to be termed Mycenaean. This culture with massive-walled cities fits the time and cultural context of Homer's stories. And that means it is old, for this city was at its height from 1550BCE to 1200BCE. By comparison, King David of ancient Israel was perhaps 1000BCE and Moses at 1300BCE.

Schliemann was not the most careful of archeologists and many of his ideas have proven to be false. He did not discover the grave of King Agamemnon, for example. Homer's stories cannot be 'proven' in detail by anything found at Mycenae, but what can be said is that the culture at this city formed an important part of the milieu that is reflected in the stories of Homer.

Last modified 5/22/19; first posted 3/21/04; original content © 2019, 2004 John P. Nordin