The culture of the Mycenaean Greeks can best be accessed through the tangible record they have left of their life and death in the four centuries from their emergence as a power at the end of the Middle Helladic period to the destruction of their palaces at the end of Late Helladic IIIB. Schliemann’s first great archaeological discoveries at Mycenae in 1876 named both the civilization and the age of its supremacy. The great amount of gold in the deeply buried shaft graves immediately captured the world’s attention, particularly the gold face masks. In one of these Schliemann thought he had looked upon the face of Agamemnon. Archaeologists now know that the early date of the graves precludes such an identification and we no longer equate these finds with things mentioned in Greek legends and the epics of Homer. We realize that oral tradition and subsequent literature have many components, only some of which may carry memories or preserve details of the Mycenaean world - after all, the time span between the shaft graves and the Parthenon exceeds a thousand years. The decipherment of the Linear B texts as Greek in 1952 (Ch. 1, pp. 11–12) opened another window into the culture but, because of their limited subject matter, we are left without discussion of some of the most important aspects one would wish to know about a society. So the material remains provided by archaeological endeavors since 1876 are the primary source for our understanding of Mycenaean culture.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.