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The "Palace" and Grave Circle A, Mycenae

Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.

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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user Chuck Punk
    Wasn't Schliemann that dynamite archeology guy who blew up a lot of ancient Troy trying to find it?
    (6 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Isabelle Willame
      True he was very controversial. He made his fortune as an arms dealer and with high interest loans to workers (more than 100% per year). He was not interrested in the different layers before the troyan war supposed date and destroyed everything he felf was not related. He even was accused of Fraud and Theft by the Turkish governement. Nevertheless he was a pioneer and despites his methods he opened the road to future archeologist who then took interest in the Mycenian civilisation
      (16 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Quinn McLeish
    What enemies might this fortress have defended the Myceneans against, and what kinds of strategems and seige works were around when it was used?
    (5 votes)
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  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user ave
    is the woman at Dr. Harris?
    (2 votes)
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  • female robot ada style avatar for user Erica Kolppanen
    Does anybody know how many written sources there are from the mysenean culture?
    (1 vote)
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  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user ave
    The pronunciation is driving me crazy! is mycenea pronounced my-suh-nay or my-suh-nee?
    (2 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user sadie z
    Why did they name what they think used to be an audience hall for the king the Megaron? Is it named for its size?
    (1 vote)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Kevin Glowacki
      The ancient Greek word "megaron" generally means a "large room" or "main hall." In the Homeric poems, the word is used for the main room a palace, or sometimes to mean the entire palace itself. Sometimes it means an elaborate chamber, like a bedroom. In the early days of Aegean archaeology (late 1800s and early 1900s), archaeologist were not always careful in what they called a "megaron" when they applied some of the Homeric Greek terms to what they were finding. For example, at the Minoan palace at Knossos, Arthur Evans called a suite of rooms the "Queen Megaron" (which today archaeologist prefer to call the "Queen's Hall" in order to avoid confusion with a Mycenaean megaron building, as here at Mycenae. Today, the term "megaron" can be used for the main hall (or hearth room) of a Mycenaean palace, or it can refer to the core architectural unit of the entire palace: a rectangular, two or three-roomed structure (porch, vestibule, throne room) with central doorways all on the long axis of the building. "Normal" Mycenaean houses could also have the "megaron" form, but they are much smaller in size.
      (3 votes)
  • winston default style avatar for user Reepicheep
    How is it that the museums always get the artifacts? Why don't normal people go and grab them from the sites?
    (1 vote)
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  • leaf grey style avatar for user 𝕎𝕙i̶τε 𝕎øℓƒ
    early in the coruse they just said bc. but know they are saying bce. why?
    (1 vote)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      I'm kind of old. I grew up in a "Christian Centered" culture where we used BC (before Christ) and
      AD (anno Domini. though I was told it meant "after death") and didn't consider other cultures or peoples who would not particularly desire that their dates be regarded as having Christ at the center. I'm much happier now using "CE" (for common era, which matches Chinese patterns) and BCE (before Common Era). I feel more respectful to others by doing so. By the way, I reside in Taiwan, where it's currently the year 104 (1911 CE being year ONE).
      (2 votes)
  • leaf orange style avatar for user Jeff Kelman
    Was there a "gold rush" of sorts when the golden objects were discovered?
    (2 votes)
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  • piceratops tree style avatar for user Robert Parrott
    I was under the impression that Mycenae would have been pronounced mye-ken-ay, and not mye-sen-ee. Is that incorrect?
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

(piano music) Male: We're on the top of a small mountain looking over a valley and the Aegean Sea. Female: At the Citadel at Mycenae. Now, Mycenae is the name of this place, but that name also refers to the culture that dominated the Greek mainland between about 1600 and 1100 B.C.E. We have three dominant cultures during the Bronze Age in the Mediterranean. We have Cycladic in the Cycladic Islands, Minoan on the island of Crete, and what we call Mycenaen culture here on the mainland. Male: This citadel was built at the height of Mycenaen power and was expanded several times. Female: You can see why they chose this spot. We're not only on a mountain, but we're overlooking a vast valley. They chose a site that would allow them to view any potential enemies from very far away and be very well prepared, and there are also enormous walls here. Male: This was also on a direct route between the Aegean and the Gulf of Corinth, which would have been a critical spot in trade between say Italy and the near east. Female: Mycenaen merchants traded goods all over the Mediterranean from the near east all the way to Spain. Male: We've walked up a steep hill and passed through a huge wall of enormous boulders and under the Lion Gate. To our right we passed grave circle A, which was enclosed when the city walls were expanded and then we walked up a steep series of pathways to the palace itself. Female: What we think was the palace, but here at the top we see a series of rooms and the final room is called the Megaron. We think this was an audience hall for the King. Male: You pass into a large courtyard. At the far end we can just make out the bases of what were two substantial columns that would have supported a porch covering and if you passed under that you would walk into a vestibule. Female: Then from there into the Megaron. In the center of the Megaron were four columns and a hearth. Male: This is an architectural arrangement that we find repeated in other Mycenaen citadels. Female: This was only rediscovered in the 19th century by a German businessman named Heinrich Schliemann. He was convinced that much of what Homer wrote had some basis in history. Male: And Homer associates Mycenae with gold. Female: So, you can imagine why Schliemann wanted to find this legendary city, and they did find Mycenae. Male: And they did find gold. Female: In fact, in grave circle A which we passed by Schliemann excavated the shaft graves there and Mycenaen elite were buried with fabulously rich objects. Male: It turns out that this was not coincident with Homer's epics and in fact dates to a slightly earlier period. So, when we see titles like, "The Gold Mask of Agamemnon," we really need to take that with a grain of salt. Female: Right. They did ascribe the names from Homer to what he found. Male: And this became a real sensation. Female: Should we go down and have another look at grave circle A and the nearby Lion Gate? Male: Let's do it. As we walk down the hill, to our left we pass a very large grave circle. Archaeologists refer to this as grave circle A. Female: And this is one of the grave circles that had shaft graves. Most of which were excavated by Schliemann's team. Male: And was originally outside of the city walls, but was enclosed by the city around 1250 B.C.E. The circle itself is comprised of a series of large limestone blocks that are relatively flat and that were covered with other slabs so that you had this enclosed space that circles the graves themselves. Female: And so this lovely circular shape gives us an idea of how important this space was. There were perhaps ideas of honoring the ancestors that were buried here. Male: But for all of its former grandeur, these are ruins. All we've got left are the foundations and some of the walls. Mycenaean culture as a whole fell into a dark age, and citadels like this were destroyed. (piano music)