Archeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns (1996)
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The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. These two cities are indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia.
The architecture and design of Mycenae and Tiryns, such as the Lion Gate and the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae and the walls of Tiryns, are outstanding examples of human creative genius.
The Mycenaean civilization, as exemplified by Mycenae and Tiryns, had a profound effect on the development of classical Greek architecture and urban design, and consequently also on contemporary cultural forms.
Mycenae and Tiryns represent the apogee of the Mycenaean civilization, which laid the foundations for the evolution of later European cultures.
Mycenae and Tiryns are indissolubly linked with the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the influence of which upon European literature and the arts has been profound for more than three millennia.
Mycenae, an ancient city in the plain of Argolis, Greece, gave its name to the culture developed in mainland Greece during the late phase of the Bronze Age civilization. The ruins of the city are near the modern town of Mikínai. Other great centers of Mycenaean culture included Tiryns and Pílos (Pylos). The Mycenaeans, celebrated by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey, in which he calls them Achaeans, may have been the tribes that arrived in Greece around 2000 bc as part of the Indo-European migration. Their language, an early Greek dialect, was written in a script known as Linear B (see Minoan Culture). About 1400 bc Mycenae reached its height as the center of Aegean Civilization, dominated before that time by the Minoans from Crete (Kríti). In the age of the Trojan War described in Homer's epics, Mycenae was the home of King Agamemnon from the house of Atreus and the leading city in the Greek world. After 1200 bc the supremacy of Mycenae came to an end, primarily because of civil war amongst rival Greeks.bc The city, although later inhabited anew, never regained its former splendor. About 468 bc it was again besieged and destroyed, this time by the inhabitants of Árgos, and never rebuilt.
The ruins of Mycenae include the massive walls termed Cyclopean because they were thought to have been built by the like-named giants; the famous Lion Gate; and the beehive tombs excavated (1876-1878) by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, which are known locally as the Treasury of Atreus and the Tomb of Clytemnestra. Remnants of a great palace at Tiryns were also unearthed (1884-1885) by Heinrich Schliemann.
Other World Heritage Sites in Greece (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Greece-section, for further information about the individual properties.
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Revised 21 jul 2006