Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns (World Heritage)

By | August 21, 2021

Mycenae and Tiryns are the two most impressive cities of the Mycenaean culture, dating from the 16th to the 11th centuries BC. Ruled in Greece. Most of the buildings in Mycenae, which Heinrich Schliemann began to uncover in 1874, date back to the 13th century BC. BC back. The lion gate and the treasure house of Atreus in Mycenae as well as the palace of Tyrins are outstanding.

Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns: Facts

Official title: Archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns
Cultural monument: including nine princely dome tombs in front of Mycenae, including the so-called “Treasure House of Atreus”, the Acropolis of Mycenae and a wall ring of 30,000 m² as well as the lion gate, the Acropolis of Tiryns (16th-11th century BC), the the so-called “Cyclopean Wall” surrounding the upper, middle and lower citadel of Tiryns
Continent: Europe
Country: Greece, Peloponnese
Location: Mycenae, south of Corinth; Tiryns, southeast of Mycenae
Appointment: 1999
Meaning: as part of the Mycenaean culture important for the development of classical Greek architecture as well as the following European cultures

Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns: History

1600-1500 BC Chr. Phase of the shaft graves
1500-1425 BC Chr. Phase of the older dome tombs and early castles
around 1500 BC Chr. first acropolis of Tiryns
1425-1100 BC Chr. Phase of the great curtain walls and younger dome tombs
around 1300 BC Chr. Construction of the “Treasury of Atreus”
around 1250 BC Chr. Construction of the Lion Gate
around 1100 BC Chr. Destruction of Mycenae
1876 Investigations in Tiryns and Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890)
1884-1885 Excavations under the direction of Schliemann and Wilhelm Dörpfeld (1853-1940)
1905-1920 further archaeological investigations in Tiryns
1951 Find of grave round B with 24 graves (Mycenae)
from 1967 further investigations by the German Archaeological Institute
from 2011 Excavations in the lower city of Mycenae by the Archaeological Society in Athens

Crime scene Mycenae – Agamemnon’s terrible homecoming

After the decline of Minoan rule around 1400 BC – at this time Knossos was destroyed – a sea war broke out under the alliance of the early Greeks and a Trojan coalition for supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean.

After ten years of struggle – according to Homer in the “Iliad” – the legendary Agamemnon, the mighty war chief of the Argives, was preparing to return to his Greek homeland. The war ended with a bloody massacre within the walls of Troy. According to militarynous, hardly anyone in the “Mycenaean” Greek ship camp had expected the terrible campaign to be successful. Only the most famous ruse in war history to this day – the legendary “Trojan Horse” – and not simple gun violence ultimately led to success. Yet another decade of bitter wanderings lay ahead of the cunning Odysseus.

Fortified behind the Cyclopean walls of Mycenae, Agamemnon’s wife had meanwhile comforted herself in other ways; quite in contrast, incidentally, to the lovely Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who – even if she was clearly getting on in years – even after twenty long years, separated from table and bed, did not allow herself to be softened by any of her applicants. As is well known, the Trojan adventure ended tragically for the returning Agamemnon: The war-weary hero’s rough tone did not quite fit into the changed life plan of his fun-loving wife. His fate overtook him in the bathhouse: after a few deliberate dagger stabs from his wife and her lover, his unsuspecting partner passed away.

More than three millennia later, the archaeologist and Athenian by choice Heinrich Schliemann, almost breathless with tension, hid the stylized gold mask with the face of an unknown Mycenaean prince. For Schliemann, who was always ready to allow mythology to come into its own with all his rational expertise, it was clear that he was looking into the face of Agamemnon.

In the numerous excavation campaigns during the second half of the 19th century, the peculiar shaft graves of the Mycenaean palace complexes turned out to be real “treasure troves”. After Schliemann’s overwhelming scientific triumph in Troy, the castles of Mycenae and Tiryns, which were only a few kilometers apart, seemed a welcome confirmation of the – now more and more controversial – assumption that the traditional works of the poet Homer must be accorded the rank of historical sources without reservation. It seemed so amazingly simple: daggers, graves, golden death masks, Cyclopean walls and the mostly tragic figures familiar from humanistic education – from “Iliad” and “Odyssey” – seem to fit seamlessly into an overall picture.

Schliemann must have felt close to the Olympus of archeology. Although he undoubtedly knew that he was doing too much of a good thing, he could not resist the temptation to keep developing new associations. In the context of the “tourist valorisation” of the “historical sites” he excavated, he did indeed achieve quite a remarkable achievement. A nameless cupola grave, however impressive it may be, cannot be compared with the tickling of a “treasure house of Atreus”. Of course, his successors in office caused a bitter headache because of the often arbitrary and completely misleading assignment of the finds. In this charming way even Clytaimnestra, the unfaithful wife of Agamemnon, despite her penchant for bloody problem-solving, was able to enjoy an opulent burial place within the wall of Mycenae.

Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns