Citadel of Mycenae
Yet another fortress on a hill. We see a lot of those in this part of the world, and don’t worry – there are plenty more to come.
Mycenae is one place I had been looking forward to seeing for a long time. Anyone familiar with the works of Homer or the movie Troy will recognize this as the home of the Greeks who waged war on Troy. They were very much a warrior society, with gigantic fortress walls, elaborate tombs full of votive weapons, not to mention being the victorious in one of the most famous battles in history that may not have happened…
Regardless of the accuracy of Homer as an historian, the Mycenaean civilization left behind a lot of good stuff for modern archaeologists to oogle at. The most impressive of which is definitely the Lion Gate in the “Cyclopean Wall”. It is called the Cyclopean Wall because when the classical Greeks first stumbled upon this citadel, they thought that there was no possible way humans could have built such a wall out of such large stones; therefore, it must have been built by the cyclopese (these are the same Greeks which said, “Man is the measure of all things.” How’s that for irony…). The famous Lion Gate is named such because for the two large bodies of lions carved into solid stone and placed above the lintel piece in the gate. I was impressed with this even after seeing the Great Pyramids.
The Mycenaeans also had interesting burial chambers. They were basically gigantic underground domes. The pressure of the soil above the dome actually held it in place. In fact, the dome of King Agamemnon’s Tomb (which actually pre-dates him by a couple centuries) was the largest dome ever built until I think the time of the Romans.
When all is said and done, I would not want to be on the side against the Mycenaeans in a battle. They ruled, and they ruled well. They were not afraid to raise up an army in a moment’s notice. They were also the main civilization ascribed as ancestors to the mainland Greeks, and were responsible to developing and passing on their religion and theology (mainly through the Homerian tradition). I really enjoyed walking around the citadel of this great civilization.