Mycenaean Krater With Warriors

Mycenaean Krater With Warriors

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Krater depicting marching soldiers, Mycenae, c. 1200 BC

The presence of an important and influential military aristocracy which formed in Mycenaean society offers the overwhelming impression of a fierce and warlike people. This impression of militarism is further reinforced by the fortifications erected throughout Mycenaean Greece. Γ] Δ] The great amount and the quality of the weapons retrieved from the Mycenaean royal graves, in addition to representations of war scenes and the textual evidence provided by the Linear B records further reinforces this point. ΐ] Α] The Linear B scripts also offer some detail about the organization of the military personnel, while military production and logistics where supervised by a central authority from the palaces. Α] According to the palacial records in the palace of Pylos, every rural community (the damos) was obliged to supply a certain number of men who had to serve in the army. Similar service was also performed by the aristocracy. Ε]

The main divinities who appear to be of warlike nature were Ares (Linear B: A-re) and Athena Potnia (Linear B: A-ta-na Po-ti-ni-ja). Ζ]

Lives of Leisure and War

Minoan culture, from our contemporary perspective, is often seen as carefree and peaceful. People lived in harmony with their environment. The Mycenaeans, on the other hand, seemed to constantly engage in conflict. While this is likely an oversimplified view, how do you see it either proven or disproven through their visual record?

The Minoans’ art contained many more luxurious items than the Mycenaeans’ art did, indicating that the culture was comfortable enough to have the time and money for such things. For example, the kamares jugs and rhytons were both table ware used for serving aristocrats liquids. These were also found in other regions of the world, indicating that the civilization had a strong trade network. The Warrior Krater of the Mycenaean period showcased soldiers heading off to war, whereas the ceramic ware of the Minoan period, such as the Harvester Rhyton, displayed men participating in what was likely a harvest festival or religious procession. They also produced works such as honeybee pendants, octopus flasks, and snake goddess figurines, all of which express an understanding and appreciation for the animals and natural world around them.
Even the architecture of the two civilizations was created differently. Mycenae was designed so that it could be easily defended against enemies, whereas the Palace Complex at Knossos was created on flatter ground and included many decorative features. This stark contrast between what occupied the attention of the two cultures makes sense given the prompt downfall of the Mycenaeans and their preceding turbulent existence.

Laura – I agree with you about it seems to be a difference in where funds and time was dedicated! The Minoan culture seemed to focus more on luxury and beauty, while the Mycenaean culture focused on strength and advantage in battle. Great catch there – thank you!

Laura- I think it’s smart how you tied in the short life of the Mycenaeans. It would make sense that their constant conflict lead to their demise. I didn’t think of that but it’s a really good point!

Yes! Great post. Trade and war were a huge part of this time period and culture. This was the way in which materials, skills and information reached other cultures and infiltrated through different societies.

Looking over both the Minoan and Mycenaean art, there seem to be subtle yet directing contrasts. For example the architecture – the Minoan architecture of the palace complex of Knossos seemed to be made to look more appealing, instead of being a strong hold. The defensive advantage that was chosen for the palace complex to have a confusing layout, making it hard for enemies to navigate and easier for the residents to escape or fight back. The Mycenaean architecture focuses on strength and taking advantage of the location for the purpose of battle. The lions on the Lion Gate are an example of displaying strength and intimidating visitors. The city of Mycenae is located in an area that is difficult for enemies to invade. Mycenaean architecture and art seemed to be more focused on strategic battle and defense. I found the Warrior Krater to be interesting, too. Similar to Egyptian art, the soldiers have little to no variance, as if they have no individual identity. The ceramics of the Minoan culture are not focused on soldiers or battle, they focus on nature instead or harvesting.
Looking at these examples, there seems to be a difference in focus of the artwork. The Minoan culture focuses more on nature and living with nature and interpersonal relationships, while the Mycenaean culture seemed to focus on strength, intimidation, and defensive strategies for battles.

Great points here. There are differences in architecture and art that reflect lifestyles. Nice post!

While there is obvious differences in the Minoan and Mycenaean culture, for an example. The Minoan art work shows a decorative palace complex, the elaborate jugs used for wine, or other festivities, shows the significance of such dinners or festivals where the jugs were used, and the bull-leaping fresco shows the Minoans did enjoy their leisure time, however maybe these just happen to be the activities or objects their art focused on. Maybe only the rich had money to commission art, so the only art that was created was for their festivals. The Mycenaen culture seems to place emphasis on strength like the lion gate, or warrior krater, or easily defended centers. But again, perhaps this is just the main part of their culture that artists focused on. I think it would be hard to interpret the life of these different people from just a few pieces of art.

Re Kaitlyn:
You make an excellent point about only the rich being able to commission art. This could definitely have affected what art we see from the time. Likewise, the Mycenaeans’ art could have come from the government’s money, which would explain the abundance of military-oriented pieces.

Great reply. Also consider the materials that were being used….were these readily available or under some sort of control by the government or simply limited due to their outlandish cost?

I really like the point you made about the art simply having focused on a certain aspect of Minoan culture. I hadn’t thought of that even being an option, but I suppose it certainly could have been the case. One thought I do have though is that it seems like there would at least be some sort of ruins show casing their weapons or some other evidence of the ‘warrior’ portion of their society. But hey, who knows, maybe those things have simply been lost. So much has been lost over thousands of years, so I wouldn’t doubt it! Also, as you said, perhaps the people who were able to pay for the art to be made were only the top of the top. Perhaps the people in the lower levels of the society did the fighting and such.

This is very true, but the pieces that we do have to examine can tell us a lot about this culture, as you pointed out. We may not have a comprehensive understanding but we can gather a lot from what remains. I personally love studying the ceramic vessels of these cultures. They give away so many clues from leisure activities, to nutrition, and even the characteristics of the landscape that proved important to these societies.

Kaitlyn I thought you had some really good points! I agree with you when you say the Minoan culture really enjoyed their leisure time. I thought there was more information on the Minoan culture than the Mycenaean culture so it was a little hard to go into detail. But go into more detail on the Mycenaean culture, even just going into detail on one aspect of Mycenaean culture you mentioned would of been great. Really great post though.

Totally agree. Its definitely difficult to define a culture on art pieces alone, especially such minimal amounts. Who commissions the art and the cultures that don’t require a commission to create are definitely an idea to consider.

While the Minoans seem to have many vessels for holding wine and other drinks, as well as several artworks depicting some sort of festivities, and the Mycenaean’s artwork depict people going to war, fighting lions, and other displays of strength, I don’t think this necessarily has to mean the Minoans were peaceful and the Mycenaeans weren’t. I think it could be a representation of how the two cultures view conflict. The Mycenaeans celebrate conflict, while the Minoans celebrate times when there wasn’t conflict. I think their perspective artworks could have been a depiction of what they celebrated, not necessarily their realities.

To ckocsis
I thought your perspective was great on how the Minoans would celebrate when there wasn’t conflict. As well that the Mycenaeans would celebrate conflict, and how these represent their views on the subject not necessarily their daily occurrence. Do you think either or both of these cultures would use their artwork to show rarer and/or daily reoccurrences? Great ideas!

I definitely agree that both cultures probably experienced ‘war’ and ‘peace’ at different times. Their choices in art certainly represent what they care about and found important. I think probably too though the Minoans fought less than the Mycenaean because of geography or for whatever political reasons.

RE: ckosis
The view that you had on the discussion post was completely different it looks like when reading other classmates information. You explained that “The Mycenaeans celebrate conflict, while the Minoans celebrate times when there wasn’t conflict.” I did not think about it this way and find it very interesting to view their art this way. I thought completely opposite of you and believed that the artwork each culture created was what they were experiencing in their own cultures. This made the most sense to me and could be seen as a beneficial way to observe the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures.

I think you are right that one can get a warped view of what was going on at the time just by viewing a few pieces of art from the time. The warriors on the Warrior Krater actually look like they are enjoying themselves if you ask me. Some cultures were military based and their art represents that. Just because a culture was focused on its military does not mean that they were a warring people.

The Minoan and Mycenaeans both had different lifestyles that we can recognize through their architecture and cultural styles. These cultural differences don’t necessarily mean they didn’t experience the same things such as conflicts. But their cultural outputs are none the less unique and beautifully filled with meanings. Mycenae in Peloponnese, Greece is built on a hilltop. Many theories consider that the Mycenaeans did this as a natural strategy of defense. Comparing this structure to The Palace Complex of the Minoans in Knossos, Crete. This palace was reconstructed and repaired for several centuries, giving signs of longevity to the site. Evidence also showed that the Minoans dealt with natural disasters such as a earthquake around 1700 BCE. The cypress tree trunks were inverted to stunt any growth, including being flexible to support the structure from another earthquake. Each of these cultures architecture were built with certain purpose to handle their unique situations. Without written records to tell us daily life we don’t know what stresses they experienced, but we can get a better perspective from what was left behind.

It is clear that leisure was a massive part of Minoan culture. Their palaces had sophisticated masonry with heaps of beautiful scenic paintings on the walls. They also had sanitary facilities and provisions of adequate lighting and ventilation. These are not your standard architectural norms at this time– but these people were concerned with the simple pleasures of life. Much of what they traded with other civilizations were finely crafted goods, and also during this period of time there was a tremendous amount of development in metal work and pottery. A society that did not value sophistication, luxury, and leisure, would not put such an emphasis on all of these things. The Mycenaeans on the other hand, were known as fierce warriors and great engineers. They were known for their fortified walls and bridges. The sheer level of fortification of the city shows the deep concern for safety. The Mycenaeans buried their dead with weapons, and while they also buried them with other fine jewelry, the level of care given to the ‘fine’ objects in Mycenaean culture, does not really compare to that of Minoan culture. There was also a greater emphasis of bright color in Minoan culture that is not seen in Mycenaean culture. While whole civilizations cannot be completely simplified to only luxurious or only war loving, I do believe there is evidence of a difference in values as well as cultural emphasis between these two civilizations.

Wonderful post and great examples to back up your statements. I love the conversation on leisure versus war and the affiliated lifestyles.

The idea of aggressive Mycenaeans is definitely seen in their art. Art we see in the Ancient Aegean Wing shows this especially well, in their obsession with predator animals (lions) seen in The Lion Gate entering the citadel of Mycenae. Not only that, but displayed on The Mycenaean Ceramics: the Warrior Krater, there are many people dressed and equipped for war (shields, spears, and armor).

The peace of the Minoans is not as obvious as the aggressiveness as the Mycenaeans, but it is still displayed in their works. The marine style ceramic, the Octopus Flask, is a very good example of this. An octopus isn’t necessarily a commonly seen aggressive animal (like the lion), but the depiction of the cartoon-like eyes makes it more peaceful and playful at first glance. To some extent, their peaceful nature is also displayed in the Kamares Ware Jug, which is decorated with plants and curved shapes, as apposed to square shapes and war figures.

Lucas, I like that you mentioned the predator versus non-aggressive animals shown in their artwork. The Mycenaean people did have a vase with an octopus as well, but theirs definitely looks a lot different than the Minoans’. It’s not as peaceful looking and could maybe be seen as an aggressive version of the creature.

I also agree. Great interpretation of this topic and the discussion.

I can’t help but see how the living in harmony with nature aspect of the Minoan culture when I see their art like the Honeybee pendant. Or The Master of the Animals pendant. Both include animals and are ornate and beautiful. It does give the impression that there was possibly more wealth in the Minoan culture and that they were a people group that respected nature and animals. Besides the jewelry much of the ceramics also portrayed animals and light-hearted aspects like the Octopus Flask. Being in touch with nature and having respect for it is also seen in some of the Mycenaean’s art as well. They have many ceramics with animals and plants as well and could be thought to have similar respects for the environment like the Minoan. The main differences in Mycenaean’s art does include art with more war themes like The Warrior Krater and The Lion Gate. It could be said though that both cultures had similar influences, but one chose to not embrace the conflicts and war in their art like the Mycenaeans did. In the case of The Warrior Krater, there is warriors on the jar, but honestly, they don’t look fierce or scary and they almost look cartoon like and light-hearted.

Valene, they definitely share similarities in their respect for the plant and animal life around them. I like that you describe the people shown on The Warrior Krater as almost cartoon-like that’s a good way of describing it. One of the warriors on it even looks like he has a little smile on his face, so they definitely don’t look fierce or scary. Do you think you would have had a different opinion on it if they looked a little more realistic and/or fierce rather than light-hearted?

Hi tmbergan, Yes I definitely feel like I would have a different opinion if the warriors were not cartoon like and light-hearted. I know this is a weird comparison but it honestly gives me more the impression of those old Road Runner cartoons. Those cartoons where full of fighting and the Coyote character getting hurt but it was done in a light-hearted manner and with comedy. There is a huge difference to some modern cartoons that include actual war and fighting where the characters are dying and blood and gore is shown. Both cartoons are dealing with fighting but there is a very different approach and influence to the audience.
Ultimately both these civilizations have some of the same influences and are showing those influences in their art forms but they both seem to be including a more amusing and entertaining side than some other cultures we have studied.

When one contrasts Mycenae and the complex of Knossos, it is easy to see why we have that perspective. Knossos was built with aesthetics in mind. Bright colors and frescos are not meant for defenses. The massive columns could be dangerous under siege and the four entries would be impractical to defend. There is little about Knossos that says that it is defendable. As well, the amount of aesthetics within the compound would take money or power to build this is usually not what a culture in conflict would expend either on.
When looking at Mycenae, it is the opposite. The location is highly defensive. Entryways like the Lion’s Gate would be easy to defend as well. The fact that people were buried with their weapons implies that they valued their weapons and wished, in some manner, to honor the dead or send them to the afterlife with their highly prized possession. There is little to show for aesthetics in Mycenae, and what we do see, like the Lion’s Gate, has a purpose like showing power and strength. Everything about Mycenae appears to be in support of a culture in conflict, either in defense or appearances.
For myself, I see these representations through art as being in support of the concept of a peaceful Minoan culture and a more war-like Mycenaen culture.

Minoan culture was on its own island which may play a part in why they did not seem to be in conflict as much. It could be possible that they were able to seem more carefree and peaceful because they were more isolated than the Mycenaens. This is shown in the Bull Leaping Fresco when it seems like an almost playful pastime.
Unlike Minoan centers, the Mycenaeans built on hilltops that were easily defended. They used the natural landscape to enhance their fortifications. This also allowed Myceneans to view enemies from a distance. Take for example the Lion Gate, this was the primary entrance to the citadel and it was constructed in a way that made those approaching the gate isolated and venerable.
Tamara I like your point about the use of bright colors and frescos in the Minoan cultures it was a great way to show the vast difference in the cultures.

I didn’t even think about the Minoans being isolated affecting their lack of conflict – that is a very good point. Also, the fact that the Mycenaeans constructed their cities in easily defend-able places makes them clearly the more aggressive of the two, along with a lot of their constructions helping for defense (as you stated, the Lion Gate). Good job!

Elkingkade, I’m with Lucas, you did bring up a great point! Minoans probably had no fears of enemies because they were so isolated, so it makes sense that their artwork would be a lot lighter than some of the pieces we see for the Mycenaeans. Great post!

Elkingkaid, you make a very good point about the location differences. I think the location of Knossos and the Minoan culture on an isolated island makes a big difference in their culture. The fact of the location probably made it an undesirable place to attempt to take from any other cultures, so the Minoans enjoyed a much more peaceful existence than the Mycenaeans. I think those details that may seem minor in today’s modern world, change a lot in an ancient world. With our modern perspective, sometimes we overlook the importance of these details.

I think it is always a challenge when we take a small sampling of artifacts and begin to expand our critiques to characterize societies over a thousand years. The architecture at Mycenae in Peloponnese, Greece can be defined as an easily defended position meant to house the leaders. It was built on a hill and commanded a view of the valleys surrounding it. The Lion’s Gate entry was meant to convey a sense of power and the thick walls provided protection from invaders.
The Mycenaean culture was on a trade route. Artifacts and cultural appropriation like the Minoan styled column on the Lion’s Gate, indicate that they did trade with both the other cultures. This trade brought both great wealth, and cultural exchange but also the threat of being conquered. I see Mycenaean culture as having to expend more treasure and energy in a conflict in order to protect their society.
The Minoan society function in a more idyllic atmosphere. The cultural luxury of not having as great of a concern for defense allows the citizens to focus on art and the celebration of life and the environment. This is easily seen in several different mediums. The Kamares ware vessels are decorated beyond what is functionally needed to be a utilitarian vessel. A great example is the Octopus Flask, c.1500-1450 BCE, is decorated with an impressive rendering of an octopus encompassing the flask itself. In fact, there is a sense of joy from this artifact indicated by the almost whimsical face. Another example that indicates this cultural harmony can be discovered in the Minoan Bee Pendant that celebrates nature utilizing gold and many artistic techniques. Peace and prosperity often allow cultures to place special emphasis on everyday items elevated to the level of art.

I agree with your points here. Nice job explaining your perspective and backing it up with examples. Really through information in your post.

I think it is truly difficult to gain an accurate understanding of such rich and complex societies from so long ago. There could be many reasons as to why Minoan artwork seems to reflect a more laid back, leisurely life focused more on communal gathering, harvest, and events and why Mycenaean artwork seems to reflect a more defensive, war focused society.
First, we must consider that the Mycenaeans interacted with other societies frequently. With this comes a great potential for cultural exchange, but also a great potential to be attacked, which might explain why they appear to be engaged in conflict more frequently. The Lion’s Gate was intended to demonstrate the strength of their society to others and was easy to defend. The Warrior Krater also illustrates their focus on defense and war, as the soldiers which appear similar are all armed for battle.
The Mycenaean Warrior Krater contrasts with the Octopus Flask of the Minoans well. The Minoans depicted an animal usually seen as non-violent (or at least, not as violent as a lion) almost playfully. The Minoans were an island based people, which might also explain that they interacted with other societies (and were therefore threatened less frequently) than the Mycenaeans. The palace at Knossos was also less focused on aggressive defense and more focused on evasion, escape, and survival. From the artifacts we can observe, we can state that the Minoans appear to be a less assertive people from the Mycenaeans, and more focused on harvest and leisure. However, this is a broad generalization and must be recognized as such.

Maggie great post and I agree that the Minoans were definitely more playful in the interpretations of animals. The Octopus flask is a great example of this and when compared to the stirrup octopus hat of the Mycenaenens you can see the difference between representation and the characterzation of the Minoans.

While I do agree that this is an oversimplification, there is some degree of artistic evidence that the Minoans seemed to have less of a cultural focus on war than the Mycenaeans. There is a much larger variety of artistic mediums and forms within Minoan art, and the Mycenaean pieces such as the lion gate seem to be more functional than simply artistic in nature. Several of the Mycenaean art pieces such as the warrior krater and the ceremonial dagger blades also portray scenes of combat and martial prowess, while Minoan art pieces in general show examples of abstract artistic ideas, portrayals of musicians and animal symbolism. I think that Crete being rich in resources and a hub of sea trade allowed the Minoan culture to become financially secure and have a richer economy, which gave more citizens the freedom to become more devoted to the arts as a potential career path. It is possible that the Mycenaeans did not have this luxury, and conflict was therefore harder to avoid, which would make it inherently more important to their culture to have a strong and capable military.

In Mycenaean works, we see that they focus on defensive efforts and consider the best ways to protect their city. This is seen in Pelponnese, where the city is constructed on a hillside which is easily defensible, and helps them see whoever is coming up upon them from all sides of the city. On the Warrior Krater, we see uniform soldiers marching with weapons and armor, and as pointed out on the notes, bears a significant difference in atmosphere as compared to the Harvester Rhyton of Minoan culture. Minoans had time to construct buildings such as the Palace Complex of Knossos, which tells us that warfare was not on the list of priorities as this complex is labyrinthine and heavily decorated.

You highlight some really important topics in your post, great job!

RE: Bob Hook
I like how you pointed out that trading with other cultures during that time also exposed them to the dangers of war. I guess we could say that they took preventative measures to ensure the safety of their civilization. As you pointed out, the Minoan civilization seemed to have more leisure time to spend on focusing their arts beyond the use of utility. This makes me ponder the focus on death rites within the Mycenae civilization, such as the death masks and the treasury of Atreus. Instead of focusing on the arts, they focused on defense and death.

RE: Valene
Oooh, I like how you pointed out the nature aspect. Along with your statement of wealth, it also could be because they were more isolated and protected within their island, which gives them a better connection to the land since they are less likely to leave it. I don’t think the Mycenae are as serious as portrayed, but I do believe their lifestyle and social order must have been quite different from the Minoans.

Thanks for your comments. The island part and being isolated does make sense for their connection to nature and being able to focus on that more than war and protecting their territory like previous cultures we’ve studied have done. It is definitely interesting to see how all these different cultures looked at life and how they integrated it into their art forms.

The pottery made by both the Minoan and the Mycenaean people show flowing lines and shapes, as well as their sea and plant life around them. But Minoan pottery also seems shows a more relaxed culture versus the Mycenaean culture, who depicts them as “militaristic’ (see Minoan Harvester Rhyton, Mycenaean Warrior Krater). Those seem to be the only two big examples showing the difference between their people through their artwork. However, in some of their pottery that shows their sea life, both have made vases with an octopus on them. The Minoan vase shows the octopus drawn in a more cartoony way in its face, with the big eyes, but otherwise still seems fairly realistic while feeling freer. The Mycenaean vase, on the other hand, makes the octopus symmetric with ridiculously long tentacles and loses both the realistic and the freer feeling. The stiffer feeling of the Mycenaean octopus could be corresponding to a more rigid lifestyle that revolves around more uniformity as we can see in the Krater. I don’t necessarily see it as the Mycenaeans engaged in a lot more conflict, but maybe don’t view life as peaceful as the Minoans had.

Nice post! Thee are some of my favorite works from this time period as well. I like your interpretation of the octopus vessels. It is super important to recognize the connection between these cultures and the landscape they relied so heavily upon. The repetitive sea theme can be recognized in a lot of work in this unit and reflects how important the ocean was to them.

I agree with you that these differences don’t necessarily point to an all-war or an all-peace mindset for either culture, just a correlation. It’s true that the Mycenaeans may have seen life as less peaceful we don’t exactly know the hardships they went through or the obstacles they had to face because of their lack of written history. We are left to speculate based on what was left behind the Mycenaeans had more weapons at their excavation site, and for all we know this could have been a form of art or honoring the dead – not an indication of battle. I like your analysis of the differences in the octopus pottery. I agree that the lengthened tentacles take away from the relaxed art the Minoans created- this is something I felt when viewing these pieces but did not speculate on.
Thank you for sharing.

While I’m sure that any human life encompasses the array of experiences from violence, to joyful celebration and that these things come in various degrees, a certain cultures values can certainly be reasonably speculated about based on their artwork. Just at a very simply level, the choice of what to put on the sides of their pots says something about what these people cared about and thought was worth saving. For instance, the ancient Egyptians obviously cared a great deal about funerals, and lo and behold their pots are covered in funeral-related imagery. That the Minoan pots had stuff like octopuses and abstract plants whereas the Mycenaean pots had monotone drab soldiers certainly indicates that the lives of the Minoans were more concerned with interacting with and celebrating natures and probably eating octopuses, while the Mycenaean’s consciousness was thinking about the battles that had been, and had yet to be fought.

Minoan culture, from our contemporary perspective, is often seen as carefree and peaceful. People lived in harmony with their environment. The Mycenaeans, on the other hand, seemed to constantly engage in conflict. While this is likely an oversimplified view, how do you see it either proven or disproven through their visual record?

In both Minoan culture and Mycenaean culture, I believe composed similar art such as the vessels. The vessels of the Minoan culture looked similar visually to those of the Mycenaean culture, however if you look closer you see very different images crafted on them. The Minoan culture painted and sculpted men and women going to what looked like a festivals with happy chanting and fun animals such as octopus. This says to me that this culture valued animals and peace throughout their intricate sculptures on these vessels. On the Mycenaeans vessel we see a similar vase like sculpture to those of Minoan culture, but the painting on the vessel paints a different image. The vessel shows warriors going off to war, all in similar armor as we see the image of the woman waving goodbye in grief. Giving us a look inside the culture of the Mycenaeans, as the men march off to war leaving the woman behind to watch after the children and village. This brings me to believe Mycenaeans were often off fighting for land or loyalty. The Minoan culture and Mycenaean culture inhabited different locations, which helps more understand their cultures. The Minoan culture was built on more flat ground and was destroyed several times because the location was susceptible to natural disasters. The Mycenaeans built their village higher up and use their high ground as an advantage to keep out enemies. The Minoans had fun colors and art work around their village, which was not seen in the Mycenaeans village, indicating the Minoans lived more free with less war in my opinion. Overall, these cultures showed similarities however I believe they were very different from each other.

I agree that societies are not all peace or all war – certainly, they are a mixed bag of trying and forgiving times. I also think what was depicted on the outside of these pots is a large indicator of what these societies valued. Another example I considered is the architecture from both societies – the Minoan culture seemed to have more carefully, artistically constructed buildings while the Mycenaean seemed to have more based on protection. There was also more weaponry found at the Mycenaean site. I like how you brought in an example from another culture in order to support your theory.
Thank you for your response.

Minoan and the Mycenaean had many similarities. But I focused more on the artwork of the Minoan culture. Their artwork depicts wealth. They had a fascination with bulls. It was believed the Thunder god had turned himself into gentle white bull. Bulls also represented fertility. Looking back at the artwork is incredible. The detail they had on females was surprising. Some even had wavy hair and red lips. The Minoan art work seemed more realistic then the Mycenaeans. The Mycenaeans had a way of over doing some things. There was evidence of languages that were found on dry clay. These became known as Linear A & Linear B. Linear B is actually the language Homer wrote his novels in.
Minoan built the Knossos which as a depiction of a bull on it. It seems they lived a peaceful lifestyle this could be due to culture or the fact the may of had fleets protecting the coast line.
However when it comes to the Mycenaean’s they were more war oriented in their art work with actual solders on it. They construction their living arrangements so they could monitor fellow enemy’s. There artwork was more elaborate in a unusual way.
There was a decline in the Minoan civilization this is believed to be caused by a volcano that killed thousands and destroyed much land. Affecting the trading routes as well as. On the plus side it helped to preserve what we know today to be fine art.

While there is no definitive written record to support these theories, the Minoan culture was seen as a more peaceful society in comparison to the Mycenaean culture based on the artifacts and architecture left behind. The Minoan culture was lavish in superb, beautiful buildings. In Mycenaean architecture, it appears that the building were created with a more protective characteristic. It was also noted that Mycenaean culture had a lot more weapons, such as swords, around its excavation sites. There are pivotal differences in each culture’s art as well Minoan art seemed to have a more relaxed content and symbolism to it, representative of wild life and things of beauty whereas the Mycenaean culture had art that was composed of protection and subtle warnings. While this does not prove for a fact that Mycenaean culture was more constantly engaged in conflict, it does somewhat suggest that they participated in battle more than the peaceful Minoan culture.

The Minoans and the Mycenaeans seem to be completely different cultures and individuals. The Minoans did not seem to worry about conflict as much as the Mycenaeans did. This can even be seen in some of the artwork. Because of the Mycenaeans having so much conflict with themselves and others I believe this is something that highly influenced the art the created. The Minoan people created beautiful work. They also created such nice work because of their cultural ways. The Minoan culture seemed to have the mindset to focus more on luxurious and beautiful items like the kamares jugs and artworks depicting festivities. While the Mycenaean culture focused on strength and the advantages of war such as the lion gate or the warrior krater. I believe the day to day lives these cultures had were shown in the pieces of the artwork that were created.

I agree that the day to day lives these cultures had were shown in the pieces of the artwork that were created. Sadly one culture had it rougher than the other one but that’s just how it is sometimes. Just imagine how much better things would be if these cultures united as one to help each other out. of course there are consequences to everything but I feel like if they learned to coexist, it would have had a lot more pros then cons. I also wanted to point out the piece where you connected the lion gate to the Myceneans way of life. I didn’t even think of that, I just thought of it as a really nice looking piece. good call on that one.

Q: Minoan culture, from our contemporary perspective, is often seen as carefree and peaceful. People lived in harmony with their environment. The Mycenaeans, on the other hand, seemed to constantly engage in conflict. While this is likely an oversimplified view, how do you see it either proven or disproven through their visual record?

A: while looking through the visual records of the Mycenaeans, I couldn’t really find anything specific as to how this culture was constantly engaged in conflict except for the warrior krater. It doesn’t really give me a vibe of constant conflict but it does show me that at one point they needed these warriors to go to war. As for the Minoan culture, there wasn’t really any pieces that could tell me that this culture was ever in some sort of conflict. However, there was the harvester rhyton. This piece showed a large group of men together in a formation that is usually done by the marching soldiers found in Egypt with their mouths open supposedly chanting. These men were very skinny and looked as if they hadn’t eaten in a while. I don’t think this piece gives enough information for me to say that the Minoan culture is in any way conflicted with anyone so I’m going to conclude that these people were indeed carefree and peaceful.

Minoan culture, from our contemporary perspective, is often seen as carefree and peaceful. People lived in harmony with their environment. The Mycenaeans, on the other hand, seemed to constantly engage in conflict. While this is likely an oversimplified view, how do you see it either proven or disproven through their visual record?

Visual record to determine a culture is an interesting concept to think about. In all reality, the culture that depicts more conflict may have been in a safer place to express those feelings of turmoil, where one that only depicts joy may have been fearful to depict their cultures actual pain. I know that when I am painting, often times my paintings have a melancholy, or sorrowful heir to them, which really doesn’t represent my beliefs or culture at all, just a means to empty out those parts of myself. I would hope to not be judged on my personality from the pain in some of my personal work. None the less, these cultures are represented and interpreted as such. I believe the best example to compare and contrast would be the Minoans, Rhytons. On this piece, there is a group of men, somewhat undetermined what they are doing but show no signs of discomfort, they have half smiles, are not in any sort of military formation. Contradictory to this, Mycenaean’s have a piece, Warrior Crater. Though these warriors do not appear out of comfort, they walk in order, with appropriate battle gear, they are obviously part of a sort of military or defense team. Does this just mean they were better prepared? Did they want to appear so? A good bunch of their pieces depict battle with animals, showing bravery. Were they prideful? Did the Minoans simply not have the ego? Did they simply appreciate the beauties beyond boasting their own bravery? Were they more artistically advanced and driven to seek other subjects? I suppose its all up for interpretation.

Hi Lacey, you make some very good points. I hadn’t more deeply considered the contexts in which these art pieces were made, beyond the seemingly obvious. This got me thinking, and I was actually wondering if our views on both of these cultures have been shaped too much by the art we’ve found, when that probably does not represent anything near the full scope of the culture. It is even entirely possible that pieces of art from Mycenaean culture depicting peacetime activity and Minoan culture depicting war have simply not survived to modern day. However, that isn’t to say it never existed, and it might be naive of us to assume such.

Excellent point about what both cultures felt comfortable about expressing and what we think we are perceiving about them. Is it possible that two cultures that thrive on trade may have been forming an advertising campaign through their artistic depiction of themselves? The Minoans may have been going for a fun resort feel, like a modern vacation spot that hides any internal strife that might turn off potential customers. The Mycenaeans may have protected themselves from being attacked and losing their excellent trade position, by making themselves look more scary and warlike. They were both savvy businesscultures, and we don’t have a lot of evidence to go on.

Much of the Mycenaean art such as their ceramics centered around their militaristic attitude showing soldiers marching off to war, whereas the Minoan culture seemed to revolve around a less militaristic way of thinking. Much of the Minoan art shows nature such as the octopus of the Octopus Flask to the Honeybee Pendant. Art usually takes on the attitude of the culture at the time. It is usually a statement of how the populace feels at the time. By comparing the Mycenaean and Minoan art, the Minoans seem to at peace where the Mycenaean’s were thinking of war.

Hi Dean, I know the Mycenaeans did include war in some of their art pieces but it had a very novel and almost amusing aspect to some of it(i.e. ceramic jars). Do you think the Mycenaeans where actually more fierce and war like when their war pieces included smiling cartoon characters? I went through all of our art examples of Mycenaeans and I don’t see a ton of war and conflict.

wow great point you made about them being isolated hit for them to be carefree and seemed to feel safe. I also agree with you when you say that they made their entrance to be a bit intimidated which made it fearful for there enemies to approach them.

Minoan pottery was covered in fun organic designs, with features that look like birds or flowers. Their rhytons were often shaped like animals as well, with the libation meant to be poured from the mouth of the animal. A Master of Animals is a popular image in Aegean art. A human man holds animals in a symmetrical pose, while surrounded by flowers. Jewelry was made in shapes of flowers, insects, and animals. Minoan religious art shows that they worshiped animal gods and sexy goddesses, and visited natural holy sites.

Mycenaean art featured hunting, death, and warriors, which looks like a big contrast to the Minoan scenes of kids leaping over bull horns. Mythology/history about Mycenaeans shows them to be warlike, as in the story of Helen of Troy. When they later moved into Crete and replaced the Minoans, they created legends of the previous Minoan ruler that may have made him out to be more like their own idea of a strong ruler. Some of the artifacts found in their major city do have similar motifs to Minoan art, such as the octopus on a jar, and little lady statues.

The palace Knossos was rebuilt with less defensive walls after it was destroyed. The architectural goal was to create a labyrinth, and I’d guess this meant the Minoans had a lot of time on their hands and a sense of having fun in life. The king that had the palace built went to war to create a peaceful nation that was safe to generate profit. The second build of the palace must not have needed thick walls after he unified the surrounding islands under his rule. After the Minoan fall, Mycenaeans moved into the palace and replaced a bunch of the groovy lady nature art with frescos of bulls and images of processions bearing tribute.

Mycenaeans built on hills, so that it was easier to defend themselves. Mycenae was built on a hill, and surrounded itself with thick walls.

The lack of signs of a male-dominated hierarchical society makes ancient Minoans look like hippy peacenics, but a lack of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence itself. If the Minoans abandoned their crumbling infrastructure and left, is it possible that they took some of their stuff with them? Maybe they sold artifacts that would give us further clues as to how they really lived. The Mycenaeans moved in and had already been adopting Minoan art through trade, is it possible the remaining Minoans quietly married into Mycenaean culture before it too collapsed? The real nature of the Mycenaeans is not known either. As the Khan Academy video said, we don’t know if all the fortification meant they were more offensive or more defensive. The evidence left behind by both cultures can only tell us they were both great at trading.

Lives of leisure defiantly fit the Minoan Culture whereas the live of War fits the Mycenaean culture. Minoan art could be considered more peaceful, the focus was on nature, daily activities, animals and nature. The Mycenaean culture was all about war and dominance and their art reflects that. I feel that most times art is a product of our environment, other than fantasy art people most often make art that depicts their surroundings. I feel this premise is supported by the different works of art such as the Lions Gate from the Mycenaean’s and the Harvester Rhyton.

Mycenaean stirrup jar

The Warrior Vase (c. 12oo BCE) is a bell krater the depicts a woman bidding farewell to a group of warriors. The scene is simple and lacks a background. The men all carry round shields and spears and wear helmets. Attached to their spears are knapsacks, which suggest that they must travel long distances to battle. On one side, the soldiers wear helmets ornamented with horns. The soldiers on the other side wear "hedgehog" style helmets. A single woman stands to the left with her arm raised and a group of identically dressed and heavily armed men marching off to the right. There is no way to tell which woman is waving goodbye, as all the figures are generic and none specifically interacts with her, nor do they interact with each other. The figures are stocky and lack the sinuous lines of the painted Minoan figures. Furthermore, while the men all face right with wide stances and appear to move in that direction, their flat feet and twisted perspective bodies inhibit any potential for movement. Instead the figures remain static and upright. The imagery depicts a simple narrative that in the warrior culture of the Mycenaeans must have often been reenacted.

Minoan Harvester’s Vase vs Mycenaean Warrior's Vase

The Harvest Vase, Hanga Triada, Crete, New palace Period, c. 1950- 1450 BCE steatite diameter 4 ½” the lower half is missing so it was reconstructed. It was carved of steatite witch is a brown and greenish soapstone. The Minoan Harvest vase is egg shaped known as a rython it was believed to be used for pouring liquid. It is decorated with 27 men with individual characteristics. The figures overlap as they appear to move forward. The piece that remains of the vase only shows the top half. Some figures care long handle sticks witch form larded waves above the procession this seems to add energy to the piece. Most of the men are shirtless with out beards a few wear hats. On this piece the faces show emotion. Also on there is one man leading three others with a sistrum sing with mouth wide open. The air filled ribcage is one of the earliest examples of interest in human muscular and skeleton systems. The interpretation of the vase is believed to depict a festival for the spring plant or the fall harvest. Some believe it may have even been used for funeral use or may even been used for religious use.

Form and function

At a Greek symposium, kraters were placed in the center of the room. They were quite large, so they were not easily portable when filled. Thus, the wine-water mixture would be withdrawn from the krater with other vessels, such as a kyathos (kyathoi), an amphora (amphorae) [1] , or a kylix (kylikes) [2] . In fact, Homer&lsquos Odyssey [3] describes a steward drawing wine from a krater at a banquet and then running to and fro pouring the wine into guests&rsquo drinking cups. The modern Greek word now used for undiluted wine, krasi (κρασί), originates from the krasis (κράσις, i.e. mixing) of wine and water in kraters. [4] Kraters were glazed on the interior to make the surface of the clay more impervious for holding water, and possibly for aesthetic reasons, since the interior could easily be seen. The exterior of kraters often depicted scenes from Greek life, such as the Attic Late 1 Krater, which was found between 760 and 735 B.C.E.. This object was found among other funeral objects and its exterior depicted a funeral procession to the gravesite. [5]

The Heroic AgeThe Mycenaeans in Early Ancient Greece

As the intriguing Minoan Civilization disappeared due to natural disasters or losses in war, there arose on the Greek mainland a new civilization, the Mycenaeans. The Mycenaeans believed themselves to be great warriors. They fought with everyone with whom they came in contact. They nearly always won. Some people think that they might have been responsible for the disappearance of the Minoan civilization.

They lived in fortified city-states. They did not have one ruler. Each city-state had its own ruler. Things were just beginning for the great city-states of Sparta and Athens, but city-states did exist. But they run by the Mycenaeans.

The Mycenaeans did write things down, mostly boasting about their wonderful victories in battle. They did have art, mostly art that showed warriors fighting with each other and with animals (with the Mycenaeans winning, of course.) So scholars do know something about these early people. Scholars learned from their writings and paintings that the Mycenaeans worshiped a great many gods. They built their homes on top of hills, to better defend them. They built beautiful cities for themselves, full of visible wealth.

Unlike the Minoan kings who shared wealth with their people in the form of surplus food, art, and architecture, the Mycenaean kings hoarded wealth. Peasants under the rule of the Mycenaean kings worked the land and lived in huts, clustered together in small farm villages.

The Mycenaean age, or the time period in Greek history when the Mycenaeans were in charge, is sometimes called The Heroic Age. The Mycenaeans were very proud of their military heroes. They had that in common with all the early people who lived on the Greek peninsula. But they were not the only tribe on the peninsula. The Mycenaean spoke Greek. They worshiped the same gods. But other tribes spoke other languages and worshiped other deities. These various tribes did not get along. The Mycenaeans did not even get along with themselves. They were always at war with somebody or fussing about something. Unity was not there when they needed it.

Around 1200 BC, a new group appeared in ancient Greece, a tribe named the Dorians. The Dorians invaded from the north of Greece and fought the Mycenaeans. Historians and archaeologists have found written records left by the Mycenaeans that tell how they tried to save their women and children by moving them from one town to another, and how they stockpiled war material in preparation for the next battle with the Dorians. It did not help them. Each village and each town stood alone.

The Mycenaeans were great warriors, but the Dorians had iron weapons. The Mycenaean warriors really didn't have a chance against such superior equipment. The peasants had no chance at all. Their weapons were stones and sticks.

Soon, all written records stopped. The Dorian had won. The Dorians did not write things down. We have no written records of their civilization. Greece fell into a dark age - an age without written records.

Mycenaean paintings

Many pictures of Mycenaean warriors have been found. Most wear helmets and leg guards but no body armour.

Mycenaean painting is related to Minoan art, with military themes and abstraction becoming evident.

One of the latest examples of Mycenaean painting is the krater – bowl for mixing wine and water – commonly called the Warriors vase after to prominent frieze of soldiers marching off to war, while a woman stands and looks after them.

The painting on this vase reveals no setting and the landscape elements that characterized earlier Minoan and Mycenaean art.

However, the liveliness of the representation and the careful observation, especially in details of costume are no less apparent.

Mycenaean culture as reflected in its art was preoccupied with death and war. It is no coincidence that many of the richest finds have come form tombs.
Mycenaean paintings


The Lion Gate, the main entrance of the citadel of Mycenae, 13th century BC Main article: Helladic period The Bronze Age in mainland Greece is generally termed as the "Helladic period" by modern archaeologists, after Hellas, the Greek name for Greece. This period is divided into three subperiods: The Early Helladic (EH) period (c. 2900� BC) was a time of prosperity with the use of metals and a growth in technology, economy and social organization. The Middle Helladic (MH) period (c. 2000� BC) faced a slower pace of development, as well as the evolution of megaron-type dwellings and cist grave burials.[2] Finally, the Late Helladic (LH) period (c. 1650� BC) roughly coincides with Mycenaean Greece.[2] The Late Helladic period is further divided into LHI and LHII, both of which coincide with the early period of Mycenaean Greece (c. 1650� BC), and LHIII (c. 1425� BC), the period of expansion, decline and collapse of the Mycenaean civilization. The transition period from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in Greece is known as Sub-Mycenaean (c. 1050� BC).

Identity See also: Names of the Greeks and Achaeans (Homer) The decipherment of the Mycenaean Linear B script, a writing system adapted for the use of the (Indo-European) Greek language of the Late Bronze Age,[12] demonstrated the continuity of Greek speech from the second millennium BC into the eighth century BC when a new Phoenician-derived alphabetic script emerged.[13] Moreover, it revealed that the bearers of Mycenaean culture were ethnically connected with the populations that resided in the Greek peninsula after the end of this cultural period.[14] Lastly, the decipherment marked the advent of an Indo-European language in the Aegean region in contrast to unrelated prior languages spoken in adjoining areas.[15] Various collective terms for the inhabitants of Mycenaean Greece were used by Homer in his 8th-century BC epic, the Iliad, in reference to the Trojan War,[16] supposed to have happened in the late 13th – early 12th century BC when a coalition of small Greek states under the king of Mycenae besieged the walled city of Troy.[citation needed] Warrior wearing a boar tusk helmet, from a Mycenaean chamber tomb in the Acropolis of Athens, 14th㪥th century BC. Homer interchangeably used the ethnonyms Achaeans, Danaans and Argives to refer to the besiegers,[16] and these names appear to have passed down from the time they were in use to the time when Homer applied them as collective terms in his Iliad.[17] There is an isolated reference to a-ka-wi-ja-de in the Linear B records in Knossos, Crete dated to c. 1400 BC, which most probably refers to a Mycenaean (Achaean) state on the Greek mainland.[18] Egyptian records mention a T(D)-n-j or Danaya (Tanaju) land for the first time c. 1437 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmoses III (r. 1479� BC). This land is geographically defined in an inscription from the reign of Amenhotep III (r. circa 1390� BC), where a number of Danaya cities are mentioned, which cover the largest part of southern mainland Greece.[19] Among them, cities such as Mycenae, Nauplion and Thebes have been identified with certainty. Danaya has been equated with the ethnonym Danaoi (Greek: ?a?a??), the name of the mythical dynasty that ruled in the region of Argos, also used as an ethnonym for the Greek people by Homer.[19][20] In the official records of another Bronze Age empire, that of the Hittites in Anatolia, various references from c. 1400 BC to 1220 BC mention a country named Ahhiyawa.[21][22] Recent scholarship, based on textual evidence, new interpretations of the Hittite inscriptions, and recent surveys of archaeological evidence about Mycenaean–Anatolian contacts during this period, concludes that the term Ahhiyawa must have been used in reference to the Mycenaean world (land of the Achaeans), or at least to a part of it.[23][24] This term may have also had broader connotations in some texts, possibly referring to all regions settled by Mycenaeans or regions under direct Mycenaean political control.[21] Another similar ethnonym, Ekwesh, in twelfth century BC Egyptian inscriptions has been commonly identified with the Ahhiyawans. These Ekwesh were mentioned as a group of the Sea People.[25]

History Shaft grave era (c. 1600� BC) Death mask, known as the Mask of Agamemnon, Grave Circle A, Mycenae, 16th century BC, probably the most famous artifact of Mycenaean Greece.[26] Scholars have proposed different theories on the origins of the Mycenaeans.[1] According to one theory, Mycenaean civilization reflected the exogenous imposition of archaic Indo-Europeans from the Eurasian steppe onto the pre-Mycenaean local population.[1] An issue with this theory, however, entails the very tenuous material and cultural relationship between Aegean and northern steppe populations during the Bronze Age.[1] Another theory proposes that Mycenaean culture in Greece dates back to circa 3000 BC with Indo-European migrants entering a mainly depopulated area other hypotheses argue for a date as early as the seventh millennium BC (with the spread of agriculture) and as late as 1600 BC (with the spread of chariot technology).[1] In a 2017 genetic study conducted by Lazaridis et al., "the Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar [but] the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia."[1] However, Lazaridis et al. admit that their research "does not settle th[e] debate" on Mycenaean origins.[1] Historian Bernard Sergent notes that archeology alone is not able to settle the debate, and that the majority of Hellenists believed Mycenaeans spoke a non-Indo-European, Minoan language before Linear B was deciphered in 1952.[27] Notwithstanding the above academic disputes, the mainstream consensus among modern Mycenologists is that Mycenaean civilization, exemplified in the Shaft Graves, originated and evolved from the local socio-cultural landscape of the Early and Middle Bronze Age in mainland Greece with influences from Minoan Crete.[28][29] Towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600 BC) a significant increase in the population and the number of settlements occurred.[30] A number of centers of power emerged in southern mainland Greece dominated by a warrior elite society,[2][28] while the typical dwellings of that era were an early type of megaron buildings. Some more complex structures are classified as forerunners of the later palaces. In a number of sites, defensive walls were also erected.[31] Meanwhile, new types of burials and more imposing ones have been unearthed, which display a great variety of luxurious objects.[30][32] Among the various burial types, the shaft grave became the most common form of elite burial, a feature that gave the name to the early period of Mycenaean Greece.[30] Among the Mycenaean elite, deceased men were usually laid to rest in gold masks and funerary armor, and women in gold crowns and clothes gleaming with gold ornaments.[33] The royal shaft graves next to the acropolis of Mycenae, in particular the Grave Circles A and B signified the elevation of a native Greek-speaking royal dynasty whose economic power depended on long-distance sea trade.[34] During this period, the Mycenaean centers witnessed increased contacts with the outside world and especially with the Cyclades and the Minoan centers in the island of Crete.[2][30] Mycenaean presence appears to be also depicted in a fresco at Akrotiri, on Thera island, which possibly displays many warriors in boar's tusk helmets, a feature typical of Mycenaean warfare.[35] In the early 15th century BC, commerce intensified with Mycenaean pottery reaching the western coast of Asia Minor, including Miletus and Troy, Cyprus, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt.[36] At the end of the Shaft Grave era, a new and more imposing type of elite burial emerged, the tholos: large circular burial chambers with high vaulted roofs and a straight entry passage lined with stone.[37]

Koine era (c. 1450 BC� BC) Fresco depicting a female figure in the acropolis of Mycenae, 13th century BC The eruption of Thera, which according to archaeological data occurred in c. 1500 BC, resulted in the decline of the Minoan civilization of Crete.[38] This turn of events gave the opportunity to the Mycenaeans to spread their influence throughout the Aegean. Around c. 1450 BC, they were in control of Crete itself, including Knossos, and colonized several other Aegean islands, reaching as far as Rhodes.[39][40] Thus the Mycenaeans became the dominant power of the region, marking the beginning of the Mycenaean 'Koine' era (from Greek: . common), a highly uniform culture that spread in mainland Greece and the Aegean.[41] From the early 14th century BC, Mycenaean trade began to take advantage of the new commercial opportunities in the Mediterranean after the Minoan collapse.[40] The trade routes were expanded further, reaching Cyprus, Amman in the Near East, Apulia in Italy and Spain.[40] From that time period (c. 1400 BC), the palace of Knossos has yielded the earliest records of the Greek Linear B script, based on the previous Linear A of the Minoans. The use of the new script spread in mainland Greece and offers valuable insight into the administrative network of the palatial centers. However, the unearthed records are too fragmentary for a political reconstruction of Bronze Age Greece.[42] Mycenaean panoply, found in Dendra, Argolid, c. 1400 BC Excavations at Miletus, southwest Asia Minor, indicate the existence of a Mycenaean settlement there already from c. 1450 BC, replacing the previous Minoan installations.[43] This site became a sizable and prosperous Mycenaean center until the 12th century BC.[44] Apart from the archaeological evidence, this is also attested in Hittite records, which indicate that Miletos (Milawata in Hittite) was the most important base for Mycenaean activity in Asia Minor.[45] Mycenaean presence also reached the adjacent sites of Iasus and Ephesus.[46] Meanwhile, imposing palaces were built in the main Mycenaean centers of the mainland. The earliest palace structures were megaron-type buildings, such as the Menelaion in Sparta, Lakonia.[47] Palaces proper are datable from c. 1400 BC, when Cyclopean fortifications were erected at Mycenae and nearby Tiryns.[2] Additional palaces were built in Midea and Pylos in Peloponnese, Athens, Eleusis, Thebes and Orchomenos in Central Greece and Iolcos, in Thessaly, the latter being the northernmost Mycenaean center. Knossos in Crete also became a Mycenaean center, where the former Minoan complex underwent a number of adjustments, including the addition of a throne room.[48] These centers were based on a rigid network of bureaucracy where administrative competencies were classified into various sections and offices according to specialization of work and trades. At the head of this society was the king, known as wanax (Linear B: wa-na-ka) in Mycenaean Greek terms. All powers were vested in him, as the main landlord and spiritual and military leader. At the same time he was an entrepreneur and trader and was aided by a network of high officials.[49]

Involvement in Asia Minor The presence of Ahhiyawa in western Anatolia is mentioned in various Hittite accounts from c. 1400 to c. 1220 BC.[45] Ahhiyawa is generally accepted as a Hittite translation of Mycenaean Greece (Achaeans in Homeric Greek), but a precise geographical definition of the term cannot be drawn from the texts.[50] During this time, the kings of Ahhiyawa were evidently capable of dealing with their Hittite counterparts both on a diplomatic and military level.[51] Moreover, Ahhiyawan activity was to interfere in Anatolian affairs, with the support of anti-Hittite uprisings or through local vassal rulers, which the Ahhiyawan king used as agents for the extension of his influence.[52] Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East during the 14th century BC Mycenaean Greece in purple In c. 1400 BC, Hittite records mention the military activities of an Ahhiyawan warlord, Attarsiya, a possible Hittite way of writing the Greek name Atreus, who attacked Hittite vassals in western Anatolia.[53] Later, in c. 1315 BC, an anti-Hittite rebellion headed by Arzawa, a Hittite vassal state, received support from Ahhiyawa.[54] Meanwhile, Ahhiyawa appears to be in control of a number of islands in the Aegean, an impression also supported by archaeological evidence.[55] During the reign of the Hittite king Hattusili III (c. 1267� BC), the king of Ahhiyawa is recognized as a "Great King" and of equal status with the other contemporary great Bronze Age rulers: the kings of Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria.[56] At that time, another anti-Hittite movement, led by Piyama-Radu, broke out and was supported by the king of Ahhiyawa.[57] Piyama-Radu caused major unrest in the region of Wilusa and later invaded the island of Lesbos, which then passed into Ahhiyawan control.[58] The Hittite-Ahhiyawan confrontation in Wilusa, the Hittite name for Troy, may provide the historical foundation for the Trojan War tradition.[59] As a result of this instability, the Hittite king initiated correspondence in order to convince his Ahhiyawan counterpart to restore peace in the region. The Hittite record mentions a certain Tawagalawa, a possible Hittite translation for Greek Eteocles, as brother of the king of Ahhiyawa.[58][60]

Collapse (c. 1250� BC) Initial decline and revival Marching soldiers observed by a female figure, in the Warrior Vase, c. 1200 BC, a krater from Mycenae In c. 1250 BC, the first wave of destruction apparently occurred in various centers of mainland Greece for reasons that cannot be identified by archaeologists. In Boeotia, Thebes was burned to the ground, around that year or slightly later. Nearby Orchomenos shared the same fate, while the Boeotian fortifications of Gla were deserted.[61] In the Peloponnese, a number of buildings surrounding the citadel of Mycenae were attacked and burned.[62] These incidents appear to have prompted the massive strengthening and expansion of the fortifications in various sites. In some cases, arrangements were also made for the creation of subterranean passages which led to underground cisterns. Tiryns, Midea and Athens expanded their defences with new cyclopean-style walls.[63] The extension program in Mycenae almost doubled the fortified area of the citadel. To this phase of extension belongs the impressive Lion Gate, the main entrance into the Mycenaean acropolis.[63] It appears that after this first wave of destruction a short-lived revival of Mycenaean culture followed.[64] Mycenaean Greece continues to be mentioned in international affairs, particularly in Hittite records. In c. 1220 BC, the king of Ahhiyawa is again reported to have been involved in an anti-Hittite uprising in western Anatolia.[65] Another contemporary Hittite account reports that Ahhiyawan ships should avoid Assyrian-controlled harbors, as part of a trade embargo imposed on Assyria.[66] In general, in the second half of 13th century BC, trade was in decline in the Eastern Mediterranean, most probably due to the unstable political environment there.[67] Final collapse

Final collapse None of the defence measures appear to have prevented the final destruction and collapse of the Mycenaean states. A second destruction struck Mycenae in c. 1190 BC or shortly thereafter. This event marked the end of Mycenae as a major power. The site was then reoccupied, but on a smaller scale.[62] The palace of Pylos, in the southwestern Peloponnese, was destroyed in c. 1180 BC.[68][69] The Linear B archives found there, preserved by the heat of the fire that destroyed the palace, mention hasty defence preparations due to an imminent attack without giving any detail about the attacking force.[64] As a result of this turmoil, specific regions in mainland Greece witnessed a dramatic population decrease, especially Boeotia, Argolis and Messenia.[64] Mycenaean refugees migrated to Cyprus and the Levantine coast.[69] Nevertheless, other regions on the edge of the Mycenaean world prospered, such as the Ionian islands, the northwestern Peloponnese, parts of Attica and a number of Aegean islands.[64] The acropolis of Athens, oddly, appears to have avoided destruction.[64]

Hypotheses for the collapse See also: Late Bronze Age collapse and Dorian invasion Invasions, destructions and possible population movements during the collapse of the Bronze Age, c. 1200 BC The reasons for the end of the Mycenaean culture have been hotly debated among scholars. At present, there is no satisfactory explanation for the collapse of the Mycenaean palace systems. The two most common theories are population movement and internal conflict. The first attributes the destruction of Mycenaean sites to invaders.[70] The hypothesis of a Dorian invasion, known as such in Ancient Greek tradition, that led to the end of Mycenaean Greece, is supported by sporadic archaeological evidence such as new types of burials, in particular cist graves, and the use of a new dialect of Greek, the Doric one. It appears that the Dorians moved southward gradually over a number of years and devastated the territory, until they managed to establish themselves in the Mycenaean centers.[71] A new type of ceramic also appeared, called "Barbarian Ware" because it was attributed to invaders from the north.[64] On the other hand, the collapse of Mycenaean Greece coincides with the activity of the Sea Peoples in the Eastern Mediterranean. They caused widespread destruction in Anatolia and the Levant and were finally defeated by Pharaoh Ramesses III in c. 1175 BC. One of the ethnic groups that comprised these people were the Eqwesh, a name that appears to be linked with the Ahhiyawa of the Hittite inscriptions.[72] Alternative scenarios propose that the fall of Mycenaean Greece was a result of internal disturbances which led to internecine warfare among the Mycenaean states or civil unrest in a number of states, as a result of the strict hierarchical social system and the ideology of the wanax.[73] In general, due to the obscure archaeological picture in 12th㪣th century BC Greece, there is a continuing controversy among scholars over whether the impoverished societies that succeeded the Mycenaean palatial states were newcomers or populations that already resided in Mycenaean Greece. Recent archaeological findings tend to favor the latter scenario.[64] Additional theories, concerning natural factors, such as climate change, droughts or earthquakes have also been proposed.[73] Another theory considers the decline of the Mycenaean civilization as a manifestation of a common pattern for the decline of many ancient civilizations: the Minoan, the Harrapan and the Western Roman Empire the reason for the decline is migration due to overpopulation.[74] The period following the end of Mycenaean Greece, c. 1100𤴐 BC, is generally termed the "Greek Dark Ages".[75]

Political organization Reconstruction of the political landscape in c. 1400� BC mainland southern Greece Palatial states Mycenaean palatial states, or centrally organized palace-operating polities, are recorded in ancient Greek literature and mythology (e.g., Iliad, Catalogue of Ships) and confirmed by discoveries made by modern archaeologists such as Heinrich Schliemann. Each Mycenaean kingdom was governed from the palace, which exercised control over most, if not all, industries within its realm. The palatial territory was divided into several sub-regions, each headed by its provincial center. Each province was further divided in smaller districts, the da-mo.[76] A number of palaces and fortifications appear to be part of a wider kingdom. For instance, Gla, located in the region of Boeotia, belonged to the state of nearby Orchomenos.[61] Moreover, the palace of Mycenae appeared to have ruled over a territory two to three times the size of the other palatial states in Bronze Age Greece. Its territory would have also included adjacent centers, including Tiryns and Nauplion, which could plausibly be ruled by a member of Mycenae's ruling dynasty.[77] The unearthed Linear B texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape in Mycenaean Greece and they do not support the existence of a larger Mycenaean state.[50][78] On the other hand, contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence of a single state under a "Great King".[79] Alternatively, based on archaeological data, some sort of confederation among a number of palatial states appears to be possible.[50] If some kind of united political entity existed, the dominant center was probably located in Thebes or in Mycenae, with the latter state being the most probable center of power.[80]

Society and administration Two Mycenaean chariot warriors on a fresco from Pylos (about 1350 BC left) and two female charioteers from Tiryns (1200 BC right) The Neolithic agrarian village (6000 BC) constituted the foundation of Bronze Age political culture in Greece.[81] The vast majority of the preserved Linear B records deal with administrative issues and give the impression that Mycenaean palatial administration was highly uniform with the use of the same language, terminology, system of taxation and distribution.[42][76] Considering this sense of uniformity, the Pylos archive, which is the best preserved one in the Mycenaean world, is generally taken as a representative one.[42] The state was ruled by a king, the wanax (. a?), whose role was religious and perhaps also military and judicial.[82] The wanax oversaw virtually all aspects of palatial life, from religious feasting and offerings to the distribution of goods, craftsmen and troops.[83] Under him was the lawagetas ("the leader of the people"), whose role appears mainly religious. His activities possibly overlap with the wanax and is usually seen as the second-in-command.[83] Both wanax and lawagetas were at the head of a military aristocracy known as the eqeta ("companions" or "followers").[82][84] The land possessed by the wanax is usually the témenos (te-me-no). There is also at least one instance of a person, Enkhelyawon, at Pylos, who appears titleless in the written record but whom modern scholars regard as probably a king.[85] A number of local officials positioned by the wanax appear to be in charge of the districts, such as ko-re-te (koreter, '"governor"), po-ro-ko-re-te (prokoreter, "deputy") and the da-mo-ko-ro (damokoros, "one who takes care of a damos"), the latter probably being appointed to take charge of the commune. A council of elders was chaired, the ke-ro-si-ja (cf. ?e. s?a, gerousía). The basileus, who in latter Greek society was the name of the king, refers to communal officials.[82] In general, Mycenaean society appears to have been divided into two groups of free men: the king's entourage, who conducted administrative duties at the palace, and the people, da-mo[86] These last were watched over by royal agents and were obliged to perform duties for and pay taxes to the palace.[82] Among those who could be found in the palace were well-to-do high officials, who probably lived in the vast residences found in proximity to Mycenaean palaces, but also others, tied by their work to the palace and not necessarily better off than the members of the da-mo, such as craftsmen, farmers, and perhaps merchants. Occupying a lower rung of the social ladder were the slaves, do-e-ro, (cf. d. doúlos).[87] These are recorded in the texts as working either for the palace or for specific deities.[82]

WwEconomy Mycenaean palace amphora, found in the Argolid Mycenaean stirrup vase found in the acropolis of Ugarit, Eastern Mediterranean (c. 1400� BC) Organization The Mycenaean economy, given its pre-monetary nature, was focused on the redistribution of goods, commodities and labor by a central administration. The preserved Linear B records in Pylos and Knossos indicate that the palaces were closely monitoring a variety of industries and commodities, the organization of land management and the rations given to the dependent personnel.[88][89] The Mycenaean palaces maintained extensive control of the nondomestic areas of production through careful control and acquisition and distribution in the palace industries, and the tallying of produced goods.[90][91] For instance, the Knossos tablets record c. 80,000𤩔,000 sheep grazing in central Crete, and the quantity of the expected wool from these sheep and their offspring, as well as how this wool was allocated.[91] The archives of Pylos display a specialized workforce, where each worker belonged to a precise category and was assigned to a specific task in the stages of production, notably in textiles.[92] Nevertheless, palatial control over resources appears to have been highly selective in spatial terms and in terms of how different industries were managed.[93] Thus, sectors like the production of perfumed oil and bronze materials were directly monitored from the palace, but the production of ceramics was only indirectly monitored.[94] Regional transactions between the palaces are also recorded on a few occasions.[95]

Large-scale infrastructure The palatial centers organized their workforce and resources for the construction of large scale projects in the fields of agriculture and industry.[89] The magnitude of some projects indicates that this was the result of combined efforts from multiple palatial centers. Most notable of them are the drainage system of the Kopais basin in Boeotia, the building of a large dam outside Tiryns, and the drainage of the swamp in the Nemea valley.[96] Also noticeable is the construction of harbors, such as the harbor of Pylos, that were capable of accommodating large Bronze Age era vessels like the one found at Uluburun.[96] The Mycenaean economy also featured large-scale manufacturing as testified by the extent of workshop complexes that have been discovered, the largest known to date being the recent ceramic and hydraulic installations found in Euonymeia, next to Athens, that produced tableware, textiles, sails, and ropes for export and shipbuilding.[97] The most famous project of the Mycenaean era was the network of roads in the Peloponnese.[96] This appears to have facilitated the speedy deployment of troops—for example, the remnants of a Mycenaean road, along with what appears to have been a Mycenaean defensive wall on the Isthmus of Corinth. The Mycenaean era saw the zenith of infrastructure engineering in Greece, and this appears not to have been limited to the Argive plain.[9

Trade Gold earring, c. 1600 BC, Louvre Museum Reconstruction of a Mycenaean ship Trade over vast areas of the Mediterranean was essential for the economy of Mycenaean Greece. The Mycenaean palaces imported raw materials, such as metals, ivory and glass, and exported processed commodities and objects made from these materials, in addition to local products: oil, perfume, wine, wool and pottery.[89] International trade of that time was not only conducted by palatial emissaries but also by independent merchants.[99] Based on archaeological findings in the Middle East, in particular physical artifacts, textual references, inscriptions and wall paintings, it appears that Mycenaean Greeks achieved strong commercial and cultural interaction with most of the Bronze Age people living in this region: Canaanites, Kassites, Mitanni, Assyrians, and Egyptians.[99][100][101] The 14th century Uluburun shipwreck, off the coast of southern Anatolia, displays the established trade routes that supplied the Mycenaeans with all the raw materials and items that the economy of Mycenaean Greece needed, such as copper and tin for the production of bronze products.[102] A chief export of the Mycenaeans was olive oil, which was a multi-purpose product.[103] Cyprus appears to be the principal intermediary station between Mycenaean Greece and the Middle East, based on the considerable greater quantities of Mycenaean goods found there.[104] On the other hand, trade with the Hittite lands in central Anatolia appears to have been limited.[99][105] Trade with Troy is also well attested, while Mycenaean trade routes expanded further to the Bosphorus and the shores of the Black Sea.[106] Mycenaean swords have been found as far away as Georgia in the eastern Black Sea coast.[107] Commercial interaction was also intense with the Italian peninsula and the western Mediterranean. Mycenaean products, especially pottery, were exported to southern Italy, Sicily and the Aeolian islands. Mycenaean products also penetrated further into Sardinia,[108][109] as well as southern Spain.[110] Sporadic objects of Mycenaean manufacture were found in various distant locations, like in Central Europe,[111] such as in Bavaria, Germany, where an amber object inscribed with Linear B symbols has been unearthed.[112] Mycenaean bronze double axes and other objects dating from the 13th century BC have been found in Ireland and in Wessex and Cornwall in England.[113][114]

Religion See also: Mycenaean religion and List of Mycenaean gods The Lady of Phylakopi wheel-made pottery figurine of a goddess or priestess from the West Shrine in Phylakopi late Helladic III A period, 14th century BC, Archaeological Museum of Milos Temples and shrines are strangely rare in the Mycenaean archaeological sites. Monumental cultic structures are absent at all the palatial centers, with the exception of Mycenae. However, the cultic center of Mycenae seems to have been a later (13th century BC) development.[115] Small shrines have been identified in Asine, Berbati, Malthi and Pylos,[116] while a number of sacred enclosures have been located near Mycenae, Delphi and Amyklae.[117] Linear B records mention a number of sanctuaries dedicated to a variety of deities, at least in Pylos and Knossos. They also indicate that there were various religious festivities including offerings.[118] Written Mycenaean records mention various priests and priestesses who were responsible for specific shrines and temples.[119] The latter were prominent figures in society, and the role of Mycenaean women in religious festivities was also important, just as in Minoan Crete.[120] The Mycenaean pantheon already included many divinities that were subsequently encountered in Classical Greece,[121] although it is difficult to determine whether these deities had the characteristics and responsibilities that would be attributed to them in later periods.[122] In general, the same divinities were worshipped throughout the Mycenaean palatial world. There may be some indications for local deities at various sites, in particular in Crete. The uniformity of Mycenaean religion is also reflected in archaeological evidence with the phi- and psi-figurines that have been found all over Late Bronze Age Greece.[115] Poseidon (Linear B: Po-se-da-o) seems to have occupied a place of privilege. He was a chthonic deity, connected with earthquakes (E-ne-si-da-o-ne: Earth-shaker), but it seems that he also represented the river spirit of the underworld.[123] Paean (Pa-ja-wo) is probably the precursor of the Greek physician of the gods in Homer's Iliad. He was the personification of the magic-song which was supposed to "heal" the patient.[124] A number of divinities have been identified in the Mycenaean scripts only by their epithets used during later antiquity. For example, Qo-wi-ja ("cow-eyed") is a standard Homeric ephithet of Hera.[125] Ares appeared under the name Enyalios (assuming that Enyalios is not a separate god).[126] Additional divinities that can be also found in later periods include Hephaestus, Erinya, Artemis (a-te-mi-to and a-ti-mi-te) and Dionysos (Di-wo-nu-so).[127][128][129][130] Zeus also appears in the Mycenaean pantheon, but he was certainly not the chief deity.[122] A collection of "ladies" or "mistresses", Po-ti-ni-ja (Potnia) are named in the Mycenaean scripts. As such, Athena (A-ta-na) appears in an inscription at Knossos as mistress Athena, similar to a later Homeric expression, but in the Pylos tablets she is mentioned without any accompanying word.[131] Si-to po-ti-ni-ja appears to be an agricultural goddess, possibly related to Demeter of later antiquity,[125] while in Knossos there is the "mistress of the Labyrinth".[132] The "two queens and the king" (wa-na-ssoi, wa-na-ka-te) are mentioned in Pylos.[133][134] Goddess Pe-re-swa mentioned may be related to Persephone.[125][131] A number of Mycenaean divinities seem to have no later equivalents, such as Marineus, Diwia and Komawenteia.[122]

Religion Men and women alike were involved in cult activity. Some women could be elevated to becoming legally independent by becoming priestesses, which appears to be hereditary through both the male and female line. No woman in Mycenae is believed to have been able to “own” land at this time, but priestesses were women who could legally procure land. Through the cult, land was "leased" to them, rather than given to them in ownership. Along with land holding benefits, priestesses often had ties with the upper-class elites, and were usually wealthy themselves.[139] Only a small number of women could become priestesses in Mycenae, but there were other cultic titles that women could aspire to obtain, such as that of Key-bearer. Key-bearers appear to be women who had authority over the sacred treasury of a particular deity, and were able to dispense it in times of need. Though scholars do not have enough evidence to suggest that all Key-bearers could own land and had high status, there is a written record in Linear B of a Key-bearer with elite ties who owned land, so it is possible that they had similar benefits to priestesses. Other religious roles filled by women were the three types of sacred slaves: slave of the God, slave of the Priestess, and slave of the Key-bearer. Though not as grand a title as that of Priestess of Key-Bearer, the sacred slaves were allotted certain benefits fitting their positions in the cult. One other documented position women filled in the cult was called ki-ri-te-wi-ja. Though documented, scholars are not certain exactly what the duties of this role entailed, or what type of women would have filled it. What they do know, however, is that these religious roles afforded the women who occupied them a certain amount of economic autonomy.[140]

WwDaily life Mycenaean beads used for a necklace. By observing Mycenaean wall paintings, scholars have deduced that women during this time often wore long dresses, their hair long, and wore jewelry, most notably beads.[135] Mycenaean beads have long been an aspect of Mycenaean culture that is shrouded in a significant amount of mystery. It is not known for certain why they (men, women, and children) wore them, or why they appear to have been significant to the culture, but beads made of carnelian, lapis lazuli, etc., were known to have been worn by women on bracelets, necklaces, and buttons on cloaks, and were often buried with the deceased.[136] "Armed combat in Mountain Glen" The ring in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens The Mycenaeans were capable of intricate designs on a very small scale: the so-called Armed combat in Mountain Glen signet seal, Mycenaean civilization, Late Bronze Age (drawing).[137][138] In later periods of Greek history, seclusion of females from males was common in the household, though scholars have found no evidence of seclusion during Mycenaean times, and believe that males and females worked with and around each other on a regular basis. Not much is known about women's duties in the home or whether they differed from the duties of men. And though men were involved in warfare and hunting, there is no evidence that suggests women ever took part in either of the two, though whether women took part in hunting has been up for debate amongst some historians. There is evidence that, in this patriarchal society, men and women were, in some respects, viewed equally. Mycenae practiced a system of rationing food to citizens, and evidence shows that women received the same amount of rations as men.[135] If women were not officials in the cult or married to high-ranking male officers, they were likely low-ranking laborers. Linear B details specialized groups of female laborers called “workgroups.” These women labored with other women as well as their children, and usually were located close to the palace. Women who belonged to workgroups did not belong to independent households, but were managed and fed by palace scribes. All of the women in a workgroup would serve the same occupation, such as textiles. Women in workgroups are not believed to have been able to acquire land holdings or have had economic independence of any kind, and are believed by some to have been slaves, though there are some conflicting debates among scholars concerning this. Though scholars are unsure if ordinary women could obtain land and exert economic power, there is evidence that women could obtain positions of power, such as the title of priestess, which allowed them to have land holdings, have elite connections, and high social status. Mycenaean society is believed to have been largely patriarchal, but women could exert social and economic power through titles and positions of power, like that of a priestess, though religion was not the only place that a woman could gain social authority.[139] Women with special talents or skills, such as being a skilled midwife or craftswomen, could gain social authority in their villages, but are not believed to have been able to receive land holdings. Elite women (those who were married to male elites) were afforded benefits fitting their high social standing, but even the wife of elites could not own land and had no economic independence.[140] Some scholars believe that Knossos was probably more equal in relation to gender than Pylos, though the evidence for this is little and is highly disputed.[141]

Architecture Palaces Tiryns, map of the palace and the surrounding fortifications The palatial structures at Mycenae, Tiryns and Pylos were erected on the summits of hills or rocky outcrops, dominating the immediate surroundings.[142] The best preserved are found in Pylos and Tiryns, while Mycenae and the Menelaion are only partially preserved. In Central Greece, Thebes and Orchomenos have been only partially exposed. On the other hand, the palace built at the acropolis of Athens has been almost completely destroyed. A substantial building at Dimini in Thessaly, possibly ancient Iolcos,[143] is believed by a number of archaeologists to be a palace.[142] A Mycenaean palace has been also unearthed in Laconia, near the modern village of Xirokambi.[144] The hearth of the megaron of Pylos The palatial structures of mainland Greece share a number of common features.[145] The focal point of the socio-political aspect of a Mycenaean palace was the megaron, the throne room.[142] It was laid out around a circular hearth surrounded by four columns. The throne was generally found on the right-hand side upon entering the room, while the interior of the megaron was lavishly decorated, flaunting images designed intentionally to demonstrate the political and religious power of the ruler.[146] Access to the megaron was provided through a court, which was reached from a propylon.[145] The iconography of the palatial chambers is remarkably uniform throughout Greece. For instance, in Pylos and Tiryns the paintings are focused on marine motifs, providing depictions of octopodes, fish and dolphins.[147] Around the megaron a group of courtyards each opened upon several rooms of different dimensions, such as storerooms and workshops, as well as reception halls and living quarters.[145] In general Mycenaean palaces have yielded a wealth of artifacts and fragmentary frescoes.[145] Additional common features are shared by the palaces of Pylos, Mycenae and Tiryns[145] a large court with colonnades lies directly in front of the central megaron,[148] while a second, but smaller, megaron is also found inside these structures.[145] The staircases in the palace of Pylos indicate that the palaces had two stories.[149] The private quarters of the members of the royal family were presumably located on the second floor.[150]

Fortifications Cyclopean masonry in the southern walls of Mycenae The construction of defensive structures was closely linked to the establishment of the palaces in mainland Greece. The principal Mycenaean centers were well-fortified and usually situated on an elevated terrain, like on the acropolis of Athens, Tiryns and Mycenae or on coastal plains, in the case of Gla.[151] Mycenaean Greeks in general appreciated the symbolism of war as expressed in defensive architecture, reflected by the visual impressiveness of their fortifications.[151] Part of the galleries within the walls of Tiryns Cyclopean is the term normally applied to the masonry characteristics of Mycenaean fortification systems and describes walls built of large, unworked boulders more than 8 m (26 ft) thick and weighing several metric tonnes.[152] They were roughly fitted together without the use of mortar or clay to bind them, though smaller hunks of limestone fill the interstices. Their placement formed a polygonal pattern giving the curtain wall an irregular but imposing appearance. At the top it would have been wide enough for a walkway with a narrow protective parapet on the outer edge and with hoop-like crenellations.[153] The term Cyclopean was derived by the latter Greeks of the Classical era who believed that only the mythical giants, the Cyclopes, could have constructed such megalithic structures.[151] On the other hand, cut stone masonry is used only in and around gateways. Another typical feature of Mycenaean megalithic construction was the use of a relieving triangle above a lintel block—an opening, often triangular, designed to reduce the weight over the lintel. The space was filled with some lighter stone.[153] Cyclopean fortifications were typical of Mycenaean walls, especially at the citadels of Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos, Crisa and Athens, while smaller boulders are found in Midea and large limestone slabs are found at Gla.[153] In the Mycenaean settlements found in Epirus and Cyprus, Cyclopean-style walls are also present,[154][155] as well as in western Anatolia.[156] Besides the citadels, isolated forts were also erected on various strategic locations. The fortification systems also incorporated technical refinements such as secret cisterns, galleries, sally ports and projecting bastions for the protection of gateways.[151] On the other hand, the palace of Pylos, although a major center of power, paradoxically appears to have been left without any defensive walls.

Other architectural features Mycenaean domestic architecture originates mainly from earlier Middle Helladic traditions (c. 2000� BC) both in shape, as well as in location of settlement. The observed uniformity in domestic architecture came probably as a result of a shared past among the communities of the Greek mainland rather than as a consequence of cultural expansion of the Mycenaean Koine.[47] Moreover, varying sizes of mudbricks were used in the construction of buildings.[145] Contrary to popular belief, some Mycenaean representative buildings already featured roofs made of fired tiles, as in Gla and Midea.[158]

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