Journey through Ancient Greece
|In 1876 Heinrich Schliemann
began excavating Mycenae in the hope of proving his long
cherished theory that Homer's Iliad was historical fact
Within the walls Schliemann uncovered the graves of bodies covered with gold masks, breastplates, armbands, and girdles. In the graves of the women were golden diadems, golden laurel leaves, and exquisite ornaments shaped like animals, flowers, butterflies, and cuttlefish.
thought he had found the burial place of Agamemnon
and his followers, for Pausanias visiting Mycenae in the
2nd century AD was told that Agamemnon was buried within
the walls and Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus were
buried outside the citadel.
is a most dramatic site where, particularly in the
relentless heat of the summer, it is easy to imagine the
passion and drama which legend(or history?) relates took
We approach the citadel up a steep winding path and enter through the Lion Gate, a stunning and sombre entrance in surrounding walls, called Cyclopean because it was thought only a race of giants could have built them. From here you come to the grave circle A where Schlieman thought he had 'gazed on the face of Agamemnon'.
Schlieman also thought the house beyond the graves was the palace of Agamemnon, but that is now thought more likely to have been the building found later near the summit of the acropolis.
Follow with care the increasingly steep and slippery path to the royal palace. Although the ruins are almost at ground level it is just possible to make out the different rooms. In one are the remains of a red stuccoed bath in which you might imagine the murder of Agamemnon!
here a steep clamber takes you down the other side of the
citadel to the 12th century BC underground secret
cistern built to provide water in times of
siege. The adventurous amongst you can climb down the 99
A short distance away is the Treasury of Atreus, also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon, a breathtaking tholos or beehive tomb which was once filled with fabulous gold artefacts, many of which were stolen, some of those remaining are in the museum in Athens. The entrance to the tomb is through a doorway above which is a huge lintel formed with two immense slabs of stone, one of which is estimated to weigh 118 tonnes.
The museum near the entrance, built many years ago is now open and full of lovely things including a replica of 'Agammemnon's' mask.