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.

What Happens in Corinth Stays in Corinth

Well, I have completed my recap of our journey through Egypt. Some of the highlights: Abu Simbel, Great Pyramids, Luxor, Nile Cruise, breakfast at our tour guide Osman’s home. Some of the not-so-highlights: night trains from Cairo to Aswan and then Luxor to Cairo, the nasty Zoser Hotel. I know there is much more I could write about, but I feel like I have hit the main protions of our trip and must move on to tell about our trip down to the Peleponnese.

Our first stop on the excursion through Southern Greece was the famous (more like infamous) city of Corinth. Honestly, this has been one of my favorite ancient Greek cities…go figure. Corinth is a town where Paul spent 18 months evangelizing. It was a thriving port city located on the narrowest point between two Seas. Amazingly, before the canal was built they had a system set up to actually pull large merchant vessels out of the water, drag them across the 10-mile stretch of land, and deposit the ship on the other side. These days they have a canal built between the two where several from our group bungee-jumped.

Anyway, we got to see several cool structures in Corinth, like the remains of Apollo’s Temple, the bema where Paul gave his defence before the men of the city, the ancient road leading down to the Sea, and Acrocorinth.

Acrocorinth was a fortress/temple area situated on a moutain overlooking the city. We were able to hike to the top and see the gorgeous view from the old fortress walls. We also ate lunch on the foundations of the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was the main goddess of the city. Her priestesses were also temple prostitutes. It was explained to us that the prostitution/worship did not actually take place on top of Acrocorinth, but rather in the cult centers throughout the city. This was a sailor town, so think Amsterdam mixed with Las Vegas. To quote Obi-Wan, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scumb and villainy.” It’s amazing to me that even in a town with as little moral conscience as Corinth, the church thrived. Albeit, they most certainly had their share of problems, but the letters to the church in Corinth make much more sense in light of the moral compass (i.e. paganism, fornication, etc.) of the city.