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 not fiction.

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.

Schliemann 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.
Later study proved the bodies belonged to a period 400 years earlier than the Trojan War.

This 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 place here.

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!

From 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 steps!

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.

To find out more about Homer click here

Mainly Peloponnese Itinerary

go back to home page