Gold mask of Agamemnon
The gold mask of Agamemnon was discovered in 1876 by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann during excavations in Mycenae , Greece . According to Schliemann, it should represent the legendary King Agamemnon , a hero of the Trojan War .
Discovery and scholarly dispute
During excavations near the “Lion Gate” of Mycenae, Schliemann came across a grave within cave A that contained three unusually large skeletons , one of which had apparently been robbed. The other two wore gold masks and also a gold breastplate. Due to the special gold mask and the size of the skeleton, which was the southernmost part of the grave, and the other rich furnishings, Schliemann assumed that it must be Agamemnon. However, this view was not shared by other scholars. Professor Ernst Curtius , who excavated the historic Olympia , visited the find. In his opinion, the gold of the mask was far too thin to endow such a powerful ruler with it. He concluded that the skeletons must have come from the Byzantine era .
Schliemann replied that all the gold finds in the graves were much too thin to be carried by living rulers or warriors. The pieces of jewelry were specially made for the funeral. Another critic, the captain and private scholar Ernst Bötticher, even claimed that Schliemann had the jewelry made himself in order to secretly bury it. Because of his avarice, he no longer wanted to use gold. It was also pointed out that the mask had some resemblance to Schliemann. However, this must be seen as a mere polemic .
According to today's knowledge, the grave and the finds it contains are dated to the middle of the 16th century BC. And can therefore hardly be assigned to the Atrids and King Agamemnon. It is generally assumed that the legends about the Trojan War and thus also the mythical figure of Agamemnon were made much later than the 16th century BC. Reflect. Therefore it is assumed today that the mask belonged to the grave of a Mycenaean prince of a previous dynasty.
The mask is made of yellow-reddish, strong gold sheet and has a height of about 26 cm and a width of 26.5 cm. The face of a man with a beard, mustache and eyebrows is carved into the tin. Next to the earlobes there is a hole that was probably used for attachment.
The mask is exhibited in the Mycenaean Collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and has the inventory number NAMA 624. A copy of the mask is exhibited in the museum below the excavation site of Mycenae.
- Georg Karo : Shaft graves of Mycenae . Text. 1st chapter. F. Bruckmann, Munich 1930 ( online [accessed May 18, 2014]).
- Georg Karo: Shaft graves of Mycenae . Panel. Part 2. F. Bruckmann, Munich 1930 ( online [accessed May 18, 2014]).
- Heinrich Schliemann: Mykenae. Report on my research and discoveries in Mycenae and Tiryns . With a preface by WE Gladstone. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1878 ( online [accessed May 18, 2014]).
- Carl Schuchhardt : The excavations of Schliemann in Troja, Tiryns, Mykenä, Orchomenos and Ithaka . Leipzig 1891 ( online [accessed May 18, 2014]).
- Basil Petrakos : National Museum. Sculptures, vases, bronzes . Klio Verlag, Athens 1981, p. 32 .
- Thomas Schmid, Jens Jessen, Constantin Brunner: Classical antiquity . In: Die ZEIT. World and cultural history . tape 4 . Berlin 2006, p. 24 .
- Georg Karo: Shaft graves of Mycenae . Text. 1st chapter. F. Bruckmann, Munich 1930, p. 121 .
- Heinrich Schliemann: Mycenae. Report on my research and discoveries in Mycenae and Tiryns . With a preface by WE Gladstone. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1878, p. 357-358 .
- Carl Schuchhardt : Schliemann's excavations in Troja, Tiryns, Mykenä, Orchomenos and Ithaka . Leipzig 1891, p. 295-296 .