Ancient Mediterranean + Europe
The Lion Gate in Mycenae is a relief sculpture that is thought to be the first monumental sculpture found on mainland Greece. It is made of two animals facing each other with their fore paws on two altar-like tables, and a column between them that gets wider as it moves upward. The sculpture is thought to be influenced by Minoan culture, as evidenced by the column's shape and the altar-like tables. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.
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- I don't see where the heads could be placed sideways. were they foreshortened on the body, or elongated?(6 votes)
- it seems they were attached by rods into the holes near the tops of the bodies. In the video they said the heads could have looked outwards, which seems likely. Ie, imagine the heads turned towards you, looking out from the gate. This orientation would not require elongation or foreshortening.(8 votes)
- Why don't we build our cities like this anymore?(5 votes)
- Because people don't take as much time to make stuff look nice these days, they just get it done. I wish things looked like this, life would be so much more interesting.(7 votes)
- I'm disturbed by the closed captions that refer to "Man" whenever Dr Zucker is speaking and "Girl" whenever Dr. Harris is: how sexist and stupid. I hope these will be fixed ASAP.(4 votes)
- What made them choose to put two lions in the archway?(3 votes)
- Probably because Lions represent power and strength which is what many factions in the Bronze Age wanted to be.(5 votes)
- Question about the subtitles
How come when the man speaks it says Man, but when the woman speaks it states Girl?
It was just confusing me a little Im sorry(4 votes)
- Other videos have the speakers' names, but it does seem a bit odd to refer to them that way.(2 votes)
- Around3:42they start to discuss about the two "altars". What if in fact they aren't altars but blacksmith anvils? It would make sense if there was gold found in the region. Also the column could have been a sign of architectural masonry, showing their own accomplishments. The two lions would then show the pride of their accomplishments of Architecture, Blacksmithing, or if they are altars, Divinity.(3 votes)
- That would make sense but if you search up what old anvils looked like you would see that they had more parts. Also they would be solid iron and rusted through.(2 votes)
- The buildings we discover are so well-done and beautiful in the BCE and all throughout history, then you have the modern ones in New York City. I wish we still built like this, or somewhat like this.(1 vote)
- In 1981 I was touring in northern Wales, and admired the stone houses on Angelsey. I went for lunch with a family, and was making some rather rhapsodic and uninformed comments about the beauty of those houses and how I'd like to live in one. The man in that household, a school teacher, said that he and his family had dwelt in one for a couple of years until they moved into a modern bungalow that could have been anywhere in the world. He said that life in those old stone things was miserable and damp. I've remembered that ever since.(3 votes)
- Was the City-State of Sparta part of the Mycenaean Empire?(1 vote)
[piano playing] Dr. Zucker: The approach to Mycenae is substantial and if you were not a friend it was going to be tough to get in. Mycenae is one the great citadels of Mycenaean Culture, that is this Bronze Age culture on mainland Greece that traded throughout the Mediterranean and became quite wealthy and quite powerful between the years of about 1600 and 1100 BCE. Dr. Harris: Right, and there were several cultures that thrive in this area during this Bronze Age period. One being Cycladic located on the Cycladic Islands. Another being Minoan Culture which was the on the island of Crete. Here on the mainland we refer to Mycenaean Culture named after the most powerful of the Mycenaean City States and that Mycenae. Dr. Zucker: Mycenae is located on the top of a small mountain. It is a very steep approach and so it is naturally defensible. In fact, there are two larger mountains on the back, a huge valley leading down to the Aegean Sea in front. Just a glorious space but also one where enemies approach can be seen at a very great distance. Dr. Harris: Walking up this ramp way, we're surrounded by enormous blocks of stones creating very high walls on either side of us. Dr. Zucker: In fact they're so large that they were known as Cyclopean Masonry. That is only the giant Cyclops was large enough to move stones this big. Dr. Harris: Right. The Cyclops was a legendary giant from Homer's Odyssey. This became known as Cyclopean because who could imagine moving these massive stones? Dr. Zucker: I have to tell you, I can't imagine. As you said, we're surrounded by these walls on three sides which means that we are completely unprotected. If we were an enemy approaching, it would be easy to rain arrows, spears, anything down on us. Dr. Harris: Exactly. I would have felt very safe I think in the Mycenaean citadel. We're looking up at the famous so-called Lion Gate. Dr. Zucker: It is perched above a standard ancient building system of post and lintel. On both sides we have uprights post and spanning it across a horizontal lintel. Dr. Harris: The Mycenaean architects wanted to build this wall very high and they used a technique called corbelling. That is, they constructed the stones so that each successive higher layer moved in just slightly and that left this triangular space in the center right over the lintel. Dr. Zucker: The relief above the Lion Gate is the first monumental sculpture that we found on mainland Greece. Since we know what happens in Ancient Greece and Historical Greece much later, we look back to this as art historians and say, "Here is the earliest representation "that we find from Greece. "This is in a sense the great grandfather "of the extraordinary work "that the Greeks will produce." Dr. Harris: In sculpture, absolutely. Dr. Zucker: Right, in sculpture and in architecture. Dr. Harris: Here we have 2 animals facing one another. Their fore paws seemed to be on 2 altar like tables and between them is a column that seems to get wider as it moves upward. Dr. Zucker: Now, that's opposite to the way we understand Greek architecture at a later period but it is very similar to the way that the Minoan's constructed their architecture. So archaeologists often look at that and say, "This is a Minoan style column." Dr. Harris: We know that the Minoan's really influenced Mycenaean culture, so this makes sense. That capital also is reminiscent of Minoan culture. Dr. Zucker: Now, just below the capital archaeologists have hypothesized that the two blocks that the animals have their fore paws on and that the column rest on are two altars. These are also of Minoan form we think. Of course, we have no written records. We really have no solid evidence for any kind of interpretation. But that hasn't stopped archaeologists and art historians from making a lot of very clever guesses about what this might represent. Dr. Harris: Well, we do have objects from Mycenae. We have objects that were found in the graves. It does hep us to conjecture what these animals were and what their lost heads looked like. Dr. Zucker: we can guess that the lost heads turned outward because of the way the dowel holes are placed in the stone. Dr. Harris: And that they were likely of a different material placed on to the bodies of these animals. Dr. Zucker: And at least one scholar has suggested that they might have been bird heads and that these might have been griffins and that the composite nature of the animal might also be reflected by the composite nature of the materials. Again, these are guesses. Dr. Harris: What do the animals mean? What does the column mean? What do the altars mean? Why are they up on their fore paws? You can see all the questions that arise. Dr. Zucker: There is a tradition of having powerful animals standing guard at a gate, and so we might think of these as warding off evil. Also as a terrifying representations that might scare off and terrify enemies. Dr. Harris: If they had that kind of supernatural power we might also conjecture that the column has meaning as well. And we know that in some cases columns could represent deities. Now, it also could be that the columns just represent a city or the idea of the king. Dr. Zucker: Well, the column is above the altar so there is that sense of divinity that seems logical. The fact that there are two altars has led some scholars to suggest that perhaps this has to do with becoming together of two cultures. Again, these are all conjectures. Dr. Harris: These animals do have leonine bodies, or bodies like lions. Dr. Zucker: Or lionesses. Dr. Harris: And they are sculpted with great subtlety. I get a sense of the muscles in legs of the lions and the kind of subtle modelling of the anatomy of these animals. Dr. Zucker: There's something else that's going on here. These are not animals that are represented as animals are naturally. That is they're not on all fore paws. They are standing upright, they are becoming human like. There is nobility. Dr. Harris: It's hard not to think that these also speak to the power of the king who resided inside these Cyclopean walls. Dr. Zucker: Here now, at the end of 2013, the sense of power and majesty is clear to me. One can only imagine how this felt to somebody in 1250 BCE. [piano playing]