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Coordinates: 37 ° 43 ′ 50 ″  N , 22 ° 45 ′ 25 ″  E

Mycenae archaeological site
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Overview of the city
Overview of the city
National territory: GreeceGreece Greece
Type: Culture
Criteria : i, ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference No .: 941
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1999  (session 23)

Mycenae , including Mycenae, Mycenae , outdated Mycenae or poetically Myzen ( ancient Greek Μυκήνη Mycenae or Μυκήνα Mykḗna , as plural Μυκῆναι Mycenae ( pl.. ); Latin Mycenae ; Modern Greek Μυκήνες Mykínes ) in pre-classic period, was one of the most important cities of Greece , the Mycenaean culture was named after her . The city was on a hill north of the Argos plain . From here the land route between the southern Peloponnese and the Isthmus of Corinth , which connects the Peloponnesian peninsula with the rest of the mainland, initially with Attica and Boeotia , was overlooked and controlled . Mycenae and Tiryns have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 .



Mycenae (Greece)
Location of Mycenae in Greece
View of the valley

Individual Neolithic sherds were found dating from before 3500 BC. To date. The place was already inhabited, but the stratigraphy was destroyed by later construction work.

Early bronze age

The beginning of the Early Bronze Age , also known as the Early Helladic (FH) on the soil of later Greece , is now dated to the last third of the 4th millennium. Contacts, especially with the Cyclades and their rich and ancient culture , are proven. Some researchers also assume the immigration of Indo-European speakers or “proto-Greeks” during this period.

Middle Bronze Age

Model of the ruins

From the time between 2100 and 1700 BC A few fragments date back to the 4th century BC, among them the so-called Miny pottery characteristic of the Middle Helladic (MH) . The first burials in pits or stone boxes in the west of the Acropolis, partly still within the earliest fortification walls, date from the 18th century BC.

Late Bronze Age

Since a precise dating for only a few finds is possible (including an Egyptian scarab - Amulet ), also dendrochronological still pending investigations, the events here after the excavation findings, according to the conventional divisions of are Späthelladikums (SH) listed. Mycenae experienced its greatest heyday in the 14th and 13th centuries BC. The city remained inhabited continuously until the 5th century.

Late Helladic I

Drawing after a golden seal from Mycenae: A goddess sits at the foot of a sacred tree, surrounded by adorers and sacred emblems

Outside the enclosure wall, ten stone box graves in the Middle Helladic style and several deeper shaft graves with burials in stone boxes were found in grave circle B. Rich grave goods indicate the high position of the dead. In the hills above the graves, drinking vessels and bones were found that suggest an extraordinary funeral meal. Steles crowned the burial mounds.

In the grave circle A , which was founded in the second half of the 13th century BC. BC was integrated into the fortification wall of the upper town and was originally part of a larger necropolis that has its origins in the Middle Helladic period, six large shaft graves were found containing the remains of nine female, eight male and two juvenile bodies. The grave goods were even richer than in the grave circle B. The presence of engraved and inlaid swords and daggers as well as spear and arrowheads leave no doubt that warriors and their families are buried here. The works of art found here include the gold mask of Agamemnon , the so-called Nestor cup of Mycenae and weapons. In addition, there were a few smaller graves in Grave Circle A, most of which, however, were destroyed by Schliemann's early excavations.

Late Helladic II

Writings from Mycenae, written in linear B (after 1500 BC)

From 1600 BC Chr. Tholos graves replaced the shaft graves as the main grave form of the upper class. Alan Wace divided the nine Tholos tombs in Mycenae into three groups according to their architecture. The oldest - called the Cyclopes Tomb , the tomb of Epano Phournos , and the tomb of Aigisthus  - he dated to SH IIA. The older shaft graves were conserved with some difficulty during this time, which suggests that they have now been regarded as the cultural heritage of the ruling families. Modern archaeologists found the shaft graves largely untouched - in contrast to the more obvious Tholos graves, which were all plundered in antiquity or later.

Late Helladic III

Around 1350 BC The wall was rebuilt in the Cyclopean style. The last palace on the Acropolis was built in SH IIIA2, with previous buildings being completely removed or built over. The architecture of the palaces at that time was similar across southern Greece. There was a megaron- shaped throne room with a central hearth under a roof opening, around which were four pillars that supported the roof. There was a throne next to it, and the plastered walls and floors were decorated with frescoes . This room was always entered from an inner courtyard with a portico; the inner courtyard was reached from a terrace via a large staircase. In 2014, a stone fragment weighing around 50 kg was discovered below the upper town in the bed of the dried up Chavos River, which is probably part of the royal throne from the second half of the 13th century.

Mycenae in hieroglyphics
D37 w k i A2 n

M (i) ukinu

In the temple within the walls a scarab of the Egyptian queen Teje was found , who lived with Pharaoh Amenophis III. was married, together with a statue from SH IIIA2 or B1. The relations of Amenhotep III. to the prince seat of Mycenae through an inscription in the temple of Amenophis III. approved. However, the reign of Amenhotep III. scheduled late in SH IIIA1. It is therefore likely that Amenhotep (or his wife) sent the scarab to an earlier generation of Mycenaean rulers before their descendants deposited it (two to three generations later) in the temple.

The second tholos group - the tomb of Kato Phournos , the Panagia tholos, and the lions tomb  - dated Alan Wace between SH IIA and SH IIIB. The last group includes the treasure house of Atreus , the tomb of Clytaimnestra and the tomb of the genii and was dated to SH IIIB by means of a shard that was found under the doorway.

Anthropomorphic figure, between 1250 and 1180 BC Chr.

Middle of the SH IIIB, around 1250 BC The wall was extended in the west and the funeral circle A was now within the walls. At the same time the famous lion gate was built at the main entrance . The lion relief in the form of a relief triangle was placed above the crossbeam in order to distribute the load of the masonry on the side walls. An undecorated gate was built in the north. Some of the few houses excavated outside the walls date from the same period. They are the House of Shields, the House of the Oil Dealer, the House of the Sphinxes and the West House, they were probably both houses and workshops.

A little later, towards the end of the SH IIIB, in the late 13th century, the citadel was expanded again. In the northeast, the wall was widened and provided with a side gate . In addition, an underground cistern was built within the walls at a depth of 15 meters, which could be reached via a secret passage with 99 steps. The cistern was fed by a spring above the city through a tunnel that was also built. During the SH IIIB, Mycenae had extended its sphere of influence to Pylos in the west, Crete in the south and Athens and Thebes in the north.


From 1200 BC At the transition from SH IIIB to SH IIIC, the decline of Mycenae began, which established its supremacy during the 12th century BC. Should lose. Like all palaces in southern Greece, that of Mycenae was built shortly after 1200 BC. Chr. Destroyed. Ceramics and their decoration changed very quickly during this phase, and craft and art declined to a lower level. The settlement shrank, but the citadel and the lower town remained inhabited. In archaic times , a Hera temple was built on the highest point .

In 480 BC 80 Mycenaeans took part in the battle of Thermopylae . A year later, Mycenae and Tiryns sent 400 fighters to the Battle of Plataiai . 468 BC The Argives conquered Mycenae, dragged off the inhabitants and razed the walls. During the Hellenistic period, the city was repopulated and a theater was built. After that, the place was only repopulated for a short time. In the 3rd century BC Mycenae was finally abandoned. But already in Roman times its now uninhabited walls became a tourist attraction in the entire Roman-Hellenistic world due to the literary canonization of the Iliad .


Visitors at the Löwentor , 2013

Preserved and excavated today are u. a. the ruins of the Mycenaean upper town. The remains of the cyclopean curtain wall and the lion gate are worth mentioning . It was named after the two lions depicted on a relief above the gate entrance and formed the main entrance to the castle. Presumably the gate was built around 1250 BC. Chr. Built. A second, smaller, but not entirely preserved gate without jewels is located in the northern area of ​​the ancient complex.

Entrance to the cistern

The wall has three phases of construction: The first is around 1350 BC. To date. Then in the middle of the 13th century the defenses to the south and west were strengthened. Around 1200 BC A further strengthening and expansion took place with the installation of cisterns and storage rooms. There are only sparse remains of the Mycenaean palace on the highest point of the upper town, as a fire destroyed large parts of the palace; it was also built over intensively in later times. The throne room was a large megaron- shaped building. A steep ramp led up to the palace, most of which has been preserved and, due to the gradient of around 20 percent, could only be accessed on foot.

Grab ring A

Two large grave circles (A and B), which were marked by steles , are of great importance . In each of the grave circles there were a number of shaft graves with very rich grave goods such as terracottas, clay vessels, golden masks, jewelry made of gold sheet, etc. In five shaft graves 17 bones (mostly of men) were to be found. Grave circle A, which had already been discovered by Heinrich Schliemann , came into the castle wall when the castle complex was later expanded. Grave circle B was only excavated in the early 1950s. Some of the graves in it were even older than those in the grave circle A. They date from the late 17th or early 16th century BC. BC and are thus at the very beginning of the Mycenaean period . The earliest graves of the grave round A date from around the middle of the 16th century.

Furthermore, nine domed graves with a beehive-like shape have been discovered so far. They are still referred to in research today as "treasure houses" and are named arbitrarily after mythological figures who, according to the Iliad , are said to have reigned in Mycenae (eg "treasure house of Atreus ", "treasure house of Clytaimnestra "). They had a vaulted narrow entrance (called dromos ) and were built by stacking large, precisely hewn stones weighing up to twelve tons.

The remains of Mykenes had been known in more detail since a French scientific expedition in 1822. However, it was only the excavations carried out since Heinrich Schliemann that enabled more precise knowledge of the old royal castle and the structures belonging to it such as the graves and the lower town. Various finds suggest a strong influence of the Minoan culture on the Mycenaean Greeks. Influences from Egypt are also conceivable, especially in the area of ​​funerary rites; attempted mummification could be proven at a burial.

The newly built museum below the excavation site

The vast lower town has so far been little explored. After the decline of Mycenae in the fourth century BC, only a small inhabited village remained at the foot of the old complex to this day, which was also called Charváti in the meantime. In 2007 a museum was completed below the old castle complex, in which some of the finds made here can be seen.


In 1700, a Venetian engineer cleared the walls of Mycenae from the rubble of the centuries and uncovered the Lion Gate again. The first drawings of the walls, the lion gate and the tomb of Atreus were made by the French clergyman Michel Fourmont , who visited Mycenae in 1729. Around 1780 Louis Fauvel visited the ruins and measured the treasury of Atreus. The Englishman Lord Elgin was one of the first to dig in Mycenae in 1802. In 1868, the German archaeologist and Troy discoverer Heinrich Schliemann visited the site, but did not begin excavations until 1876. In 1877 Panagiotis Stamatakis continued the excavations. In 1884 and 1885, Schliemann and Wilhelm Dörpfeld conducted another excavation.

Greek mythology

According to a Greek legend, the city was named after Mycenae , the daughter of the river god Inachos . Pausanias mentioned another Mycenaeus , son of Sparton and grandson of Phoroneus , after whom the place is supposed to be named, but thought this variant was not very credible. According to another tradition, Perseus founded the city of Mycenae. On a trip, the thirsty and tired hero refreshed himself with water that had collected in the hat of a mushroom or had been absorbed by a sponge. In this place he founded the city that bears the name of the Greek word for mushroom (from ancient Greek μύκης mykes ). Another variant says that the chaplet (also μύκης mykes ) came off Perseus' scabbard and fell to the ground and he interpreted this as a sign to found a city here. The Mycenaean cult of gods later became an integral part of classical Greek mythology.

Mythical kings of Mycenae

Historical map of Mycenae (1888)

See also


  • Heinrich Schliemann : Mykenae. Report on my research and discoveries in Mycenae and Tiryns. With a preface by WE Gladstone. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1878 ( ).
  • Adolf Furtwängler (Ed.): Mycenaean clay vessels. Festschrift to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Asher, Berlin 1879.
  • Bernhard Steffen : Maps of Mykenai. Reimer, Berlin 1884.
  • Alan JB Wace : Mycenae. An archaeological history and guide. Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ) 1949.
  • Friedrich Matz : Crete, Mycenae, Troy. The Minoan and the Homeric world (= great cultures of the early days. Kilpper Collection ). 6th edition, Cotta, Stuttgart 1965.
  • George E. Mylonas : Mycenae. A guide to its ruins and history. Ekdotike Athenon, Athens 1993, ISBN 960-213-213-2 .
  • Elizabeth French : Mycenae. Agamemnon's Capital. The site and its setting. Tempus, Stroud et al. a. 2002, ISBN 0-7524-1951-X .
  • Cathy Gere: The Tomb of Agamemnon. Mycenae and the search for a hero (= Wonders of the world ). Profile Books, London 2006, ISBN 978-1-86197-617-8 (overall presentation with a strong emphasis on the history of reception).
  • Louise Schofield: The Mycenaeans . British Museum Press, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-7141-2090-4 (German: Mykene. Geschichte und Mythos. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2009, ISBN 978-3-534-21644-4 ).
  • Katarina Horst u. a. (Ed.): Mycenae. The legendary world of Agamemnon , wbg Philipp von Zabern in Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (WBG), Darmstadt 2018, ISBN 978-3-8053-5179-9 .

Web links

Commons : Mycenae  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Gemoll: Greek-German school and hand dictionary. Munich / Vienna 1965.
  2. ^ Petros Themelis : Mycenae. The monuments and the finds. Edition Hannibal, Athens 1985, p. 1.
  3. ^ Spyros Iakovidis : Mycenae-Epidauros. Argos Tiryns Nauplia. Complete guide to the museums and archaeological sites of the Argolis. P. 13 f.
  4. John E. Coleman: An Archaeological Scenario for the 'Coming of the Greeks' approx. 3200 BC In: Journal of Indo-European Studies , Volume 28, 2000, pp. 101-153 ( ).
  5. ^ Alan Wace, Leicester Bodine Holland: Excavations at Mycenae. The Tholos tombs . In: The Annual of the British School at Athens . tape 25 , 1923, pp. 283-402 , doi : 10.1017 / S0068245400010352 .
  6. Article on throne fragment at (English)
  7. ^ Rainer Hannig: Large Concise Dictionary Egyptian-German. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1995, ISBN 3-8053-1771-9 , p. 1350.
  8. Herodotus , Histories 7,202.
  9. Herodotus, Histories 9.28.
  10. Cathy Gere: The Tomb of Agamemnon. Mycenae and the search for a hero . Profile Books, London 2006, pp. 48-49.
  11. ^ Richard Copley Christie: Selected essays and papers. Longmans, Greens and Co., New York / Bombay 1902, p. 72 ( ).
  12. ^ François Pouqueville : Voyage de la Grèce, Tome Cinquième. 2nd edition, Paris 1827, pp. 193–194. ( ).
  13. Pausanias 2,16,4.
  14. Pausanias 2,16,3.