Skip to comments.Archaeologists Excavate Lower City of Mycenae
Posted on 06/06/2014 5:53:35 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Mycenae -- the ancient city of the legendary King Agamemnon, best known from Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and its iconic Lion Gate and cyclopean defensive walls, has long fascinated scholars and site visitors alike with the epic proportions of its imposing citadel remains...
But there is another Mycenae -- one known for centuries from ancient historical documents -- which has nevertheless eluded the eyes of archaeologists, historians, and tourists. One might call it "Greater Mycenae", the Lower Town. It is invisible because most of it still lies undetected, unexcavated, below the surface. In its heyday it was a second millenium BC version of urban sprawl that served as a vital element of the ancient city's florescence...
Geophysical surveys utilizing remote sensing technology in the area surrounding the citadel revealed substantial evidence of hidden walls, structures, gates, roads and other features of a possible urban center surrounding it on its south, west and north sides...
Ground proof excavations confirmed the geophysical findings. Uncovered thus far were Mycenean-period features that included a long retaining wall possibly connected to a gate, a wall possibly connected with an outer fortification wall of the Lower Town, two buildings, and an apsidal structure.
Overlaying the Mycenean features were post-Mycenean findings that included Geometric Period structures such as a pottery/ivory workshop with a cistern, a multi-room house with a courtyard and containing three infant burials under the floor of a room, two circular structures, and a 9th century B.C. cist grave. The cist grave, which contained the skeletal remains of a young woman, consisted of funerary meal remains, an iron pin found on the right shoulder-blade, an iron ring found around a phalanx of the right hand, and five clay vases and a cup placed around the body.
(Excerpt) Read more at popular-archaeology.com ...
Overhead view of the excavation site. Courtesy Dickinson Excavation Project and Archaeological Survey of Mycenae
Places like Mycenae, Tiryns, Troy, Knossos, Babylon and Nineveh have always fascinated me.
Where did the citizens go? Were they killed or die out? Did the Mycenaeans just move to Argos? If it was a good site for a city, why did it not stay a city?
Global warming got ‘em. Jaaa..
Darn, I should have known that.
Global warming explains everything.
The commentators DO drag it out though. There just ISN'T enough material for a hour show, not with the 25 minutes of commercials.
seriesly, environment gone bad bit them in the keester.
or sumthin’.. that area is a rough neighborhood..
“Where did the citizens go? Were they killed or die out?”
My guess, extrapolated according to best sciencey practices, is that the old dudes were slaugherized while experimenting with an alpha version of scientific socialism.
As evidence is submit:
Scientific socialism is proven to be real good at massive depop works.
Greeks are scientifical type socialists to this day.
That does tend to be a problem, give or take the idiotic production staff, having the educated talking head loop the same few expressions over and over as if they’re extra special important. Here’s five and a half minutes with a bad soundtrack:
Mycenae 2007 Lower Town Excavation
After the town was destroyed, those who survived either trickled back and rebuilt amid the smouldering ruins, or moved elsewhere. Mycenaean-era Orchomenos had drained Lake Copais to create tens of square miles of new farmland, and operated that for generations — but at the end of the era someone breached the dyke and reflooded it, which destroyed the economy and the city-state’s ability to feed itself. Pylos was sacked and never rebuilt. Thebes refortified and dug a deep cistern in search of water, as if under siege.
Mycenaean Sparta was leveled, and the twin kingship that arose there supposedly had its roots in two brothers, offspring of Hercules (yeah, right) who overthrew the descendants of Menelaus and Helen. The next big finds in the Greek interior will probably be the excavation of the mostly ignored Mycenaean-era citadel in Sparta.
Tiryns, which is right on the coast, wound up having its population swell well beyond the old capacity. Perhaps these were refugees from cities which were sacked in the Greek interior. Perhaps the city’s army proved to be more of a match and defeated the common invader (that could also result in refugees wanting to take refuge there). Perhaps the cratering of the rest of the city-states’ economy somehow led to a massive business via sea trade. Possibly it was all these things.
Also, and this has been said before, Tiryns *was* the common invader, that is, perhaps the city-states reverted to their usual way before the Trojan War and were fighting each other (this isn’t dissimilar to England; after the 100 Years War on the continent, the large professional military class that had evolved tore the country apart with the dynastic struggles now called the Wars of the Roses) and Tiryns wound up being the last one standing.
Felice Vincis Baltic Origins of Homers Epic Tales was my first introduction to this body of scholarship which I found to be deeply intriguing and thought provoking. Vinci makes the argument that the Homeric tales show evidence that these well known myths took place in the Nordic regions rather than in the Mediterranean as commonly understood. His evidence is linguistic and geographic. For instance, he walks through key components of the tales illustrating that the geographies of The Faroe Islands, Norway, and Sweden, match the described details of the Ogygia, Scheria, and Ithaca remarkably closely, and certainly more closely than anything near the Mediterranean.
For a similar instance, in his linguistic argument suggesting Ogygia lies in the Faroe Islands, he points out that Hogoyggj, the name of the mountain, is very similar to Ogygia as referenced in the story. Finally, while walking through his geographic and linguistic arguments that these epics are of Baltic origin, Vinci refers to the many times the weather is cold, misty, freezing, foggy, and with deep velvet colored seas, pointing out that this bears little resemblance to our warm, sunny, and blue understandings of the Mediterranean. This is but one series of examples in a few pages, with the book explicating many more throughout its length.
I found Vincis arguments compelling, although scholars more familiar with the epics will want to review the evidence for themselves. As this was new information for me, it set my imagination alight, and I found myself looking into other similar scholarship. This is a burgeoning literature, including Vincis other writings, and stretching back to Olof Rudbecks discussion of Atlantis as Sweden. It is worth noting that Vinci also gives a treatment of Atlantis in this work but the reader can find out for him or herself where Vinci stands. Vincis work comes across as competent, separating it from some of the pseudo-scientific work which was propagandized by the Nazis. But this is where familiar scholars will be able to more quickly separate the legitimate and paradigm-challenging work from the rest.
As a sociologist with an interest in cultures, the follow-up question is intriguing. If these epic tales took place in the Baltic region, then how did they eventually take on a Mediterranean home? By what mechanism does a piece of culture move from one corner of the globe to another, but forgetting key such key elements as Sweden = Ithaca? Vinci addresses this in the 4th part of the book, appropriately titled The Migration of Myth.
A key component to the migration of myth here is the role of climate. Vinci locates much of the narrative in the climactic optimum (4000-3000 BCE) when a warmer climate made regions near the arctic much more pleasant and habitable. With the ending of this warm and favorable period, at least some of the northern people migrated southward. He argues that in the mythologies of many cultures, there are remnants of climatic collapse, and provides several examples of cultures that were disrupted or dislocated by the negatively changing climate. For examples of these possible migrations he draws from several northern Europe locations for sources of Indo-European cultures. He provides numerous cultural and mythic references creating potential links. These include possible cultural origins of several peoples in the Scandinavian or Russian Arctic, Aryan migrations southward and potential northern links to Egypt and Rome. Much of this argument is built on similarities between mythologies, biblical tales, and place names.
This part of Vincis work is much more speculative in my opinion, and creates something of a kitchen sink feel by throwing in all the possible connections. In looking for the potential northern origins of mythologies and peoples, Vinci brings in enough possibilities that it feels much more exploratory than the first half of the book. In all fairness, the research may only be at the exploratory level at this point. Nevertheless it is not as convincing as the argument that the origins of the epics themselves are Nordic regardless of how those tales ended up in the Mediterranean.
The base outline of Vincis argument is as follows (p 327)
The Iliad and the Odyssey are properly situated in northern Europe
The original sagas on which the epics are based on Baltic regions
The tales travelled from Scandinavia to Greece at the end of the climactic optimum by blond seafaring Mycenaeans
In rebuilding their world in the Mediterranean, familiar place names and mythological events were reused
Through the epics, the tales of their ancestors were preserved, although their homeland was lost
He finishes his work by suggesting several lines of archaeology to investigate this line of reasoning, and provide physical evidence reinforcing the mythological and linguistic evidence.
This work is broad in scope and presents an utterly fascinating reordering of the epic sagas of the western world. As such, the realm of possibilities for new research and analysis is deeply exciting.
You might find this book of interest....
"The Ancient Amber Routes and Geographical discovery of the Eastern Baltic". Dr. Arnolds Spekke, 1957 (?)
It has long been out of print and used copies are pricey. Best bet would be a university library.
I came across it in discussions with a Baltic philologist in the mid-sixties. Dr. Spekke's research traced the ancient amber trade routes from the Baltic sea to the ancient Mediterranean. IIRC the ancient Greeks prized the Baltic amber over their local amber because of the greater clarity and transparency.
Thanks, that is interesting.
Right now I’m streaming (via the disk player, hooked to land-line broadband, hooray!) a documentary on Athenian democracy (Bettany Hughes), having run her Minoan docu before that. Wish the interface were better, no bands, and no way to rewind or ff just a little.
There is a book I think most people with an interest in the Classics (especially Crete) would enjoy despite it being total fiction.
“Waking the Moon”. by ? Hand.
In a general way, that Baltic Homer model resembles Black Athena, British Israelism, and a number of other drifts, including some cults (in Michigan, we had “The Black Hebrew Israelite Jews”, for example). Plenty was going on anywhere that humans lived, but writing either didn’t exist or didn’t survive (or barely did). [related: Flinders Petrie on Tysilio — http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/2nd-march-1918/17/—neglected-british-history-by-w-m-flinders-petrie ]
Specific to the Baltic Homer model, it’s not credible imho to regard the Odyssey as a documentary anyway. Unlike the Iliad, which clearly has a basis in events in the area where the story is set, the Odyssey is just a high seas adventure story, older but not dissimilar to the Voyages of Sinbad or the ancient Greeks’ other epic, the Argosy.
The Odyssey comes across as a romantic novel of the classical times, and I’d not be surprised at all to learn that Samuel Butler’s “Authoress of the Odyssey” is close to be the correct approach.
I watched the movie “Pompeii”, which was a curious mixture of the movies “Gladiator” and “Titanic”. Special effects were not bad, costumes and staging were excellent, basically entertaining junk food. :’)
Women for Children, Boys for love. This seems to be a recurring theme among the Greeks, was Homer a Poof?
I saw the beginning of the 1950’s version of Helen of Troy recently. Boy, was that a stinker.
:’) Perhaps my favorite of the sword and sandal genre was the Sodom and Gomorrah epic with (I think) Victor Mature. The special effects were pretty cool. Maybe I’m confusing it with Samson and Delilah though.
They were priapic, and would, uh, use whatever was available; the epics just report what was commonplace. :’)
For good B-movie fun, though, it's tough to beat the clanging swords and heaving bosoms of the Italian sword and sandals.
What would you say the dates are for this general collapse including the flooding of the crop lands?
The conventional pseudochronology puts it in 1200 BC; it postdates the Trojan War, which couldnt have been before the 8th c BC.
The dubbed ones? Things like “Dragon’s Blood” used to be on afternoon broadcast TV back in the 1960s, when I was a kid. There were 40 thieves and other genie movies, besides the original “Clash of the Titans” (and others by that director). Lots of fun.
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