|Summary:||Center of the Mycenaean Empire and traditional palace of Agamemnon.|
Early Bronze Age
Middle Bronze Age
Late Bronze Age
Located ca. half-way between Corinth and Argos and controlling the natural pass from the Isthmus to the Peloponnese, Mycenae was a citadel palace that included extensive fortifications, granaries, guardrooms, shrines and a few private dwellings situated around the palace complex. The palace consisted of a central megaron meeting hall, throne room and courtyard with adjacent private quarters, storerooms, guard stations and administrative rooms. Outside the Lion Gate and massive walls of the citadel are found the private houses, workshops, public works and other features of the dispersed settlement and the tholos tombs of the ruling clans.
Mycenae, on a naturally defensible hill with a commanding view and plentiful nearby fresh water, was first occupied in the Neolithic period. Habitation continued throughout the Early and Middle Helladic periods and the first palace complex was probably built at the beginning of the Late Helladic period.
In the Late Helladic IIIA period the fortifications probably followed the natural boundary of the hilltop. In Late Helladic IIIB the circuit was enlarged to the S and W, and toward the end of Late Helladic IIIB an E extension to the citadel was added with a sally port and access to an underground water supply. It was at this time that the great Lion Gate was also constructed. The citadel and palace of Mycenae were destroyed at the end of the Late Helladic IIIB, although some occupation continued at the site during the Late Helladic IIIC period.
In the Geometric period only a few small houses occupied the summit of the hill. In the Archaic period a temple was built on the summit. During the Persian Wars Mycenae sent a small force to fight at Thermopylae and Plataea. In 468 B.C. Argos destroyed the acropolis at Mycenae and the city later came under direct Argive control. As a deme of Argos the acropolis was rebuilt and fortification walls were built around the lower town. The site continued to be inhabited until the end of the 3rd century A.D.
Lord Elgin explored the Treasury of Atreus in 1802 and Lord Sligo took the columns from it to London in 1910. Excavations: 1874-76, H. Schliemann; 1876-77, P. Stamatakis; 1884-1902, C. Tsountas; 1920-23, 1939, and 1950-57, A. Wace, British School of Archaeology; 1950s to present, J. Papadimitriou, G. Mylonas, D. Theocharis, N. Verdelis, A. Orlandos, E. Stikas, A. Keramopoullos, S. Marinatos, and S. Iakovidis of the Greek Archaeological Society and the Greek Archaeological Service and E. French and W. Taylour of the British School of Archaeology.