History of the Site


Geomorphology and Topography of Mycenae

The citadel of Mycenae, which in its final form comprised an area of 30,000sqm surrounded by a 900m-long circuit wall, was built on a low rocky hill rising 278m above sea level and approximately 40-45m above the surrounding plain. The hill of Mycenae is nestled between two mountains, Profitis Elias to the north and Zara to the south, from which it is separated by two ravines formed by winter torrents, Kokoretsa and Chavos, respectively; it is, therefore, a natural strong-point, protected by deep gorges and steep rocky sides all around, except its western slope which is the only accessible side, and is constantly supplied with fresh water by the Perseia spring which lies 360m to the east of the citadel and approximately 13m higher than its summit. The hill of Mycenae and the adjacent mountains belong to the western part of the Arachnaion mountain range that divides the Argolid from Corinthia, and rise in the northeastern corner of the Argive plain at the mouth of the only passage connecting the two regions (Tretos gorge or modern Dervenakia) and in the crossroads of the eastward routes to the Hermionid and the Saronic Gulf. The hill of Mycenae, therefore, combines a strong geopolitical location which controls access points to and from the Argolid, and a commanding view of the Argive plain to the south below. The triangular plain of the Argolid, surrounded and isolated by mountain ranges, stretches approximately 14km along the coast and 21km inland. The coastline of the Argolid Gulf shifted repeatedly in prehistoric times as a result of post-glacial melting and alluvium deposits; in the 2nd millennium BC the sea was much closer to the site of Tiryns than the present-day shore line, which must have been the main port of the Argive plain. Finally, a significant fault measuring some 2-4.5km in length, 1.5m in width and a maximum vertical displacement of 3m has been located to the east/northeast of the citadel of Mycenae, showing traces of multiple reactivations in the past, which caused intense local seismic activity in the 13th century BC and considerable damage at Mycenae, Tiryns and possibly Midea.


History of Mycenae

For the history and development of the site, cf. Sp. Iakovidis, "Μυκήνες," The Athens Archaeological Society



Primary sources (excavation reports and publications of fieldwork)

Schliemann, H. & W.E. Gladstone, Mycenae; A Narrative of Researches and Discoveries at Mycenae and Tiryns, 1880

Karo, G., Die Schachtgräber von Mykenai, 1930-1933

Tsountas, Chr., and J. Irving Manatt, The Mycenaean Age: A Study of the Monuments and Culture of Pre-Homeric Greece, 1897

Wace, A.J.B., Chamber Tombs at Mycenae, 1932

Wace, A.J.B., Mycenae, An Archaeological History and Guide, 1949

Wace, A.J.B. & E.B. French, Excavations at Mycenae, 1939-1955, 1979

Mylonas, G., Ancient Mycenae. The Capital City of Agamemnon, 1957

Mylonas, G., Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age, 1966

Mylonas, G., “The East Wing of the Palace of Mycenae,” Hesperia 35 (1966), pp. 419-426

Mylonas, G., Mycenae, Rich in Gold, 1983

Mylonas, G., The Cult Centre of Mycenae, 1983, 1981

Mylonas, G., Ο Ταφικός Κύκλος Β των Μυκηνών, 1972-1973

Mylonas, G., Sp . Iakovides, “Μυκήνες,” Πρακτικά της Εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας, 1965- to date

Mylonas-Shear, I., The Panagia Houses at Mycenae. University Museum Monograph 68, 1987

Iakovides, Sp., Late Helladic Citadels on Mainland Greece, 1983

Iakovides, Sp., “Destruction Horizons at Late Bronze Age Mycenae,” in: Φίλια Έπη εις Γεώργιον Μυλωνάν διά τα 60 έτη του ανασκαφικού του έργου. Βιβλιοθήκη της Εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας 103, 1986, vol. I, pp. 233-260

Iakovides, Sp., “Mycenae in the Light of Recent Discoveries,” in: Atti e Memorie des Secondo Congresso Internazionale di Micenologia (Roma-Napoli, 14-20 ottobre 1991) (E. De Miro, L. Godart, A. Sacconi, eds.), 1996, vol. III, pp. 1039-1049

Iakovides, Sp. & E. French, Archaeological Atlas of Mycenae, 2003

Iakovides, Sp., Ανασκαφές Μυκηνών: Η Βορειοδυτική Συνοικία, 2006

Maggidis, Chr., “ Mycenae Abroad: Mycenaean Foreign Policy, the Anatolian Frontier, and the Theory of Overextension – Reconstructing an Integrated Causal Nexus for the Decline and Fall of the Mycenaean World,” in: Moving Across Borders: Foreign Relations, Religion and Cultural Interactions in the Ancient Mediterranean, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 159 (P. Kousoulis and K. Magliveras, eds.), 2007, pp. 71-100

Maggidis, Chr., “Mycenaean Palatial Overextension and the Dynamics of the Systems Collapse of the Mycenaean World,” in Akrothinia. Studies in Honor of Spyridon Iakovidis, Academy of Athens, 2009

Maggidis, Chr. And A. Stamos, “ Detecting Mycenae: Systematic Remote Sensing Survey in the ‘Lower City' – Towards the Discovery of the Mycenaean Settlement Outside the Citadel,” 2nd International Conference on Remote Sensing Archaeology: From Space to Place, Rome 2006, BAR, 2006, pp. 157-166

Stamos, A., Through the Looking Glass: Applications of Ground Penetrating Radar in Archaeology. Diss. Temple University, 2006, pp. 95-143

Jansen, A., A Study of the Remains of Mycenaean Roads and Stations of Bronze-Age Greece, 2002

Tournavitou, Iph., The "Ivory Houses" at Mycenae, 1995

Xenaki - Sakellariou, A., Οι Θαλαμωτοί Τάφοι των Μυκηνών, Ανασκαφής Χρ. Τσούντα (1887-1898), 1985

French, E.B, Mycenae, Agamemnon's Capital: the Site and its Setting, 2002

French, E.B., Excavations at Mycenae 1939-1955 by A.J.B. Wace and Others, 1980

Taylour, W., E.B. French, K.A. Wardle, Well built Mycenae: the Helleno-British Excavations Within the Citadel at Mycenae 1959-1969, 1981

Crouwel, J.H., Well-built Mycenae: The Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery, 1991

Evely, R.D.G. & C.N. Runnels, Well-built Mycenae: Ground Stone, 1992

Bowkett, L.C., Well-built Mycenae: The Hellenistic Dye-Works, 1995

Alden, M., Well built Mycenae: the Prehistoric cemetery, 2001

Moore, A.D. & W.D. Taylor, Well-built Mycenae: The Temple Complex, 2000

French, E.B. & W. Taylour, Well-built Mycenae: The Service Areas of the Cult Centre, 2007

Krzyszkowska, O., Well-built Mycenae: The Ivories and Objects of Bone, Antler and Boar's Tusk, 2007

Papanastassiou, D., K. Gaki-Papanastassiou, and H. Maroukian, “Geomorphologic – seismo-tectonic Observations in Relation to the Catastrophes at Mycenae,” in: Archaeoseismology. Fitch Laboratory Occasional Paper 7 (S. Stiros and R.E. Jones, eds.), 1996, pp. 189-194

Zangger, E., The Geoarchaeology of the Argolid, 1993

Zangger, E., “Landscape Changes around Tiryns during the Bronze Age,” American Journal of Archaeology 98 (1994), pp. 189-212

Knauss, J., Späthelladische Wasserbauten: Erkundungen zu wasserwirtschaftlichen Infrastrukturen der mykenischen Welt , 2001, part II.


Secondary sources (select monographs, collective volumes, general textbooks, articles)

Cullen, T. (ed.), Aegean Prehistory: A Review, 2001

Shelmerdine, C., “Review of Aegean Prehistory VI,” American Journal of Archaeology 101 (1997), pp. 537-585

Shelmerdine, C.W. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age, 2008

Wardle, K.A., Cities of Legend: the Mycenaean World, 1997

History of the Hellenic World, vol. I, 1974

Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. III (pt. 1: “Aegean Prehistory”)

Hooker, J.T., Mycenaean Greece, 1976

Kilian, K., “Mycenaeans Up to Date, Trends and Changes in Recent Research,” in Problems in Greek Prehistory. Papers Presented at the Centenary Conference of the British School of Archaeology at Athens (Manchester April 1986) (E. French and K. Wardle, eds.), 1988, pp. 115-152

Dickinson, O., The Aegean Bronze Age, 1994

Dickinson, O., The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age: Continuity and Change between the Twelfth and Eighth Centuries BC, 2006

Mylonas-Shear, I. Kingship in the Mycenaean World, 2004

Betancourt, P., Introduction to Aegean Art, 2007

Preziosi, D. and Hitchcock, L., Aegean Art and Architecture, 1999

Hood., S., The Arts in Prehistoric Greece, 1978

Vermeule, E., Greece in the Bronze Age, 1964

Chadwick, J., The Mycenaean World, 1977

Nilsson, M.P., The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion and its Survival in Greek Religion, 1971

Rutkowski, B., The Cult Places of the Aegean, 1986

Cavanagh, W.G. and C. Mee, A Private Place: Death in Prehistoric Greece, 1998

Skoufopoulou, N., Mycenaean Citadels on Mainland Greece, 1971

Fields, N. and D. Spedaliere, Mycenaean Citadels c. 1350-1200 BC, 2004

Thomas, C., Citadel to City-state: the Transformation of Greece, 1200-700 B.C.E ., 1999

Fitton, J.L., The Discovery of the Greek Bronze Age, 1996

Hooker, J.T., Linear B: An Introduction, 1983

Duhoux, Y. and  Morpurgo Davies, A., A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and their World , 2008

Chavalas, M.W., The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation , 2006

Morris, S. and R. Laffineur (eds), Epos. Reconsidering Greek Epic and Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology (Aegaeum 28), 2007

Laffineur R. and E. Greco (eds), Emporia. Aegeans in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean (Aegaeum 25), 2005

Laffineur, R. and R. Hägg (eds.), Potnia. Deities and Religion in the Aegean Bronze Age (Aegaeum 22), 2001

Laffineur, R. (ed.), Polemos. Le contexte guerrier en Égée à l'âge du Bronze (Aegaeum 19), 1999

Cline, E.H. and Harris-Cline, D. (eds.), The Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium, (Aegaeum 18), 1998

Laffineur, R. and W.-D. Niemeier (eds.), Politeia. Society and State in the Aegean Bronze Age (Aegaeum 28), 1995

Rehak, P. (ed.), The Role of the Ruler in the Prehistoric Aegean (Aegaeum 11), 1995

Laffineur, R. (ed.), Thanatos. Les coutumes funéraires en Egée à l'âge du Bronze (Aegaeum 1), 1987

Kousoulis, P. and K. Magliveras (eds.), Moving Across Borders: Foreign Relations, Religion, and Cultural Interactions in the Ancient Mediterranean, 2007

Websites, Databases, and Search Engines

http://icon.dickinson.edu/atreus (ATREUS Treasury of Mycenaean Bibliography)

http://classics.uc.edu/nestor (NESTOR Bibliography of Aegean Prehistory)

http://clvl.cla.umn.edu/chloris (CHLORIS Aegean Bronze Age Bibliography)

http://devlab.dartmouth.edu/history/bronze_age (The Preh. Arch. of the Aegean )

http://www.fhw.gr/chronos/en (Hellenic History)

http://www.culture.gr (Hellenic Culture – ULYSSES Database)

http://www.stoa.org/metis/cgi-bin/cat (METIS: 360o panoramic views of Greek sites)

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu (PERSEUS Database)