The Kingdom of Mycenae: the home of King Agamemnon and the tomb of Tholos, “the treasure of Atreus”

02/11/2022

A. Sutherland – AncientPages.com – One of the greatest civilizations of Greek prehistory was the Mycenaean civilization, famous for its majestic architecture and monuments with a grand and impressive appearance.

Grave Circle A, Mycenae. Image credit: Zde – CC BY-SA 4.0

Mycenae, one of Greece’s most significant archaeological sites, lies on the route between Nafplio and Corinth, approximately 90 km from Athens.

It was here that the so-called Mycenaean civilization originated, the oldest known European script (linear script B). Another association with this famous ancient site is Agamemnon’s golden funeral mask and the so-called Trojan War when the local King Agamemnon of Mycenae set out against Troy.

When Menelaus’s wife, Helen, was taken to Troy by Paris, Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War. His goal was to avenge his brother Menelaus. As we know, Helen was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta, so Paris had to raid Menelaus’s house to steal Helen from him. However, according to some other accounts, this beautiful woman fell in love with Paris and left her husband willingly.

A clay tablet from Mycenae, with writing in Linear B. Image credit: Marsyas – CC BY 2.5

The Mycenaean civilization, which, according to legend, had been ruled by King Agamemnon, the conqueror of Troy, appeared suddenly in southern and central Greece in about 1600 BC. The civilization would grow to prominence and become one of the most dominant civilizations of the Aegean for hundreds of years.

Greece’s most prosperous luxurious center of the Late Bronze Age has inspired poets and writers for centuries. It was a magnificent place built on a low plateau between two tall hills overlooking the Argive plain. The center had a perfect strategic location allowing it to develop into a military stronghold that dominated much of Southern Greece.

The construction of the palace and fortification wall currently visible began in c. 1350 BC. About one hundred years later, a new fence was erected to the west and south of the early ones, together with the Lion Gate, the citadel’s monumental entrance, and its bastion.

The city’s religious center was included in the newly fortified area.

Famous Tholos Tomb – ‘Treasure of Atreus’
The famous tholos tomb is known as the ‘Treasure of Atreus,’ (or Tomb of Agamemnon) with gigantic lintels and tall beehive vault, which was probably constructed during the same period.

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