Mycenaean Age is one of the oldest periods of known Greek history.
The final phase of the Bronze Age, the Mycenaean period runs roughly
from 1600 BC to 1100 BC. This historical period is the subject of
more speculation than many of the periods that preceded it, largely
because it is the setting of much ancient Greek literature, including
the epic tales of Homer.
the Mycenaean age, the Achaeans begin to truly develop their own
cultural sophistication. They retain some of the traditions and
influences that came during the Minoan period, which originated under
the Minoan Cretes. In many ways, the Mycenaean age is a synthesis of
the Minoan civilization and home-grown Achaean civilization.
cities were built centered around the royal palace, both literally
and figuratively. The palaces of this age were not likely as
sophisticated as later palaces. They likely considered of a great
hall and a forecourt, as can be seen at palaces located in Pylos,
Tiryns and Mycenae. It’s likely that a palace existed on the
Acropolis at this time, although there is little surviving evidence
in Athens to suggest what such a palace might have looked like.
the Mycenaean age, a syllabic script known as Linear B, the successor
to Linear A, was used. This script put Greek into writing, and it is
this script that reveals much of what we know about the time period.
recorded histories, it’s difficult to piece together the events
that occurred during the Mycenaean Age. Still, we can pull together
some events based on the archaeological and historical data.
1370, the palace at Knossos was destroyed. The “Sea People” began
raiding the Eastern Mediterranean around 1300, although some scholars
put this date as late as 1100 BC. The Doric invasions and the
destruction of many Mycenaean palaces took place from about 1200 to
Tucked into the Mycenaean age is the last great event of the Bronze Age: the
Trojan War. This war was real, regardless of what mythology may have
grown up around it. The tale of this war was passed along in an oral
tradition, from one bard to the next. It survived in the form we know
it when it was written down by the blind poet, Homer.
in particular, likely had only a small and passing role in the Trojan
War. They were led by their king, Menestheus, according to Homer.
Their relative unimportance to Homer’s tale suggests that Athens
had yet to play a major role in civilization, although the next few
centuries would see that change dramatically.
is known of Mycenaean figures, beyond names and legends. If Homer is
to be followed, of course, Agamemnon, Achilles and the other epic
Greek heroes made their way during this period, but that obviously
have been able to provide some information about the Mycenaean kings
of Athens. The founder of the royal line is said to be Kekrops, who
is said to have picked the site for Athens and dedicated the city and
its title to the goddess Athena. This is something of a matter of
debate, as there are scholars who believe that the goddess may derive
her name from the city, rather than the other way around. Other
nobles and kings of the Mycenaean age include Aegus, Erechtheos,
Εrichthοniοs, Kodros, Pandion, and Theseus. Like the Arthurian
legends of England, there are hosts of tales of the early Athenian
terms of the social structure of the Mycenaean age, it’s most
likely that society was a tiered system. At the top was the king,
supported by his military leaders. Priests and bureaucrats held rank
in the city, and kept records of trade and production. The lower
rungs of the social strata included artisans, soldiers, peasants,
serfs and slaves.
clue to the societal divisions can be found in the various goods
buried in peoples’ graves. Military graves would include weapons
and armaments, while artisan graves might include their crafts.
figures into this period of Greek history as a participant, rather
than as a leader of Greek culture. The period gets its name from the
city of Mycenae, which is located in the Peloponnese in southern
Greece. That city holds the remains of a Mycenaean palace. Other
significant sites in Mycenaean Greece include Pylos, Tiryns and
Mycenaean Age also featured one of the early Athenian port, that of
Phaleron. This port precedes Piraeus, and is likely the port through
which most Athenian trade took place.