Lecture 1 September 23, 2013
• Mainland Greece
• The citadel of Mycenae was built on the top of a hill (like Knossos on Crete).
See image on the slide to see the hilltop and the remains of a defensive wall.
• Our knowledge of this site is owed to Heinrich Schliemann who was an amateur
archaeologist. He grew up in Germany and loved the Classics.
• The Homeric poems tell the story of a war between the Greeks and the Trojans
but the view of Schliemann’s time was that the world described in Homer didn’t
o Schliemann believed Homer’s poems were true and the characters were
• Schliemann was a wealthy business man and after he retired he used his money to
be an archaeologist.
• He thought there was something at Knossos but couldn’t convince anyone that
there was anything there, Evans discovered it later.
• He wanted to find Mycenae. the home of the Greek kingAgamemnon and the city
o Found gold treasure and jewelry at Mycenae in the burial shafts.
o Remember that he wasn’t trained as an archaeologist and was not that
different from a grave robber. The only difference is that he wanted
conservation of the artifacts.
• Mycenae seems to have been a major power during the Later Helladic Period.
• The name ‘Mycenaean’is applied to the whole of this Helladic civilization and is
a modern convention.
o Because of the history of the excavation this is the most popular area but it
is unclear that this was a center of rule and that the Mycenaean civilization
was at all unified.
o We will see later that in the historical period, cities were not unified under
one main area either.
• The city is known from Homer as the home ofAgamemnon, leader of the
Achaean (i.e. Greek) forces at Troy.
o The relationship between myth and reality is difficult.
o The later BronzeAge shaped myth as we have it.
This doesn’t mean that the Iliad is true, but it shows there is a
connection between it and reality.
• Excavations of tombs by Schliemann brought to light many extraordinary finds
including Burial sites showing that there was a wealthy elite. 2
• Slide: acropolis of Mycenae – this acropolis has a series of buildings that suggests
that this was a powerful society that had access to resources. This area was
fortified (vs. palace at Knossos which was not).
o Slide: The Lion Gate seems to have been significant because the lion has a
connection with the royal family in Greek myth and this shows influence
with the Near East. This slide also shows the extent of the walls.
• Slide: Circle GraveA(Mycenae) was a communal burial ground with many burial
goods; this is important because the dead were buried within the city limits
(which didn’t happen in the historical period and shows attitudes shifting over
o This is interesting because the burial site itself is also fortified. This
shows that this area was marked as sacred and it makes this area ritually
• Slide:Artists’reconstruction at Pylos. Since there is not a lot left of Mycenae this
gives some idea of what Mycenae may have looked like.
• Slide: Death masks. These masks are pieces of gold leaf that were placed over the
face of the deceased; when Schliemann found this, he believed that it was the
death mask of Agamemnon himself and to him this was the validation of his
• Slide: Diadem and rhyton. Many other goods were found made of gold.
o Slide: Wall paintings compliment those found on Crete.
• Slide: Nestor’s Cup. The question of the reality of the BronzeAge world and its
connection with the Homeric poems is difficult.
o There are many drinking vessels that have been found and in Homer’s
Iliad there is a description of an old warrior named Nestor (who was king
of Pylos) and he uses an elaborate drinking vessel described like the one in
o This shows an interesting connection with passages in the Iliad and the
Mycenaean world. The drinking cup (from ca. 725-720 BCE) on this slide
has Greek on it and it speaks about Nestor’s cup: “[???] Nestor’s well
made cup: whoever drinking of this cup will immediately be seized by
desire from fair-garlandedAphrodite”.
o This is interesting because Nestor was an aged man and was not concerned
with the subject matter of love.
o We don’t have the first word so we don’t know what the context of this
eimi (‘I am’) and erroi (‘To Hell with’) have been suggested.
o This cup was from a graveyard and it was found in an area where women
were buried so it is possible that this cup belonged to a prostitute.
o Was the inscription humorous or serious?Ajoke or love-magic?
o Abasic feature of this society are practices of love magic. Here perhaps
attempting to make someone fall in love or causing people to fall out of
love. Perhaps this cup touches on a system of beliefs that was very
pervasive (i.e. that his cup was a love charm.) 3
• Slide: Linear B Tablet. Linear B can be read unlike LinearA; it is all lists and
records but still gives valuable insight.
Mycenaeans as a People
• The term ‘Mycenaeans’is applied by archaeologists to all of those in southern-
central Greece in the LH period (ca. 1600-1050 BCE).
• The Linear B shows that they were descended from the Indo-Europeans who
arrived around 2000 BCE (Possibly from northwestAnatolia?)
• The shaft graves show that this world was ruled by a warrior elite.
• There is also an influence of Minoan culture.
• The 14 and 13 centuries BCE were the height of Mycenaean power and
• The Mycenaeans may be referenced in the texts of the Hittites as the Ahhiyawa
and their ruler is called ‘Great King’. (This could be similar to the Homeric
• At the end of the 13 century BCE there is evidence of an earthquake and a
decline in Mycenaean power. The Trojan War is later so it is difficult to tell if it
• In Homer’s poems, the heroes survive by raiding neighboring villages so perhaps
this is why they attacked Troy if they were in fact in a decline.
• It is difficult to tell what was happening but many assume that there was some
sort of invasion that weakened Mycenaean civilization. There are references in
Near Eastern texts of marauding sea people
Schliemann and Troy
www.Archaeology.org/online/reviews/troy for a discussion of the film in relation to
• From the Homeric Poems we know more or less where it is (see map slide)
• When Schliemann started his campaigns, no one believed it was there but in the
case of both Mycenae and Troy, he looked for them where Homer said they were
• Today there is not a lot there (slide) and it is difficult to tell what kind of city this
was and whether it was rich enough to attack a force like the Greeks
o Was it worthwhile to attack this city
Lecture 2 September 25, 2013
• While the Greeks eventually lived inAsia Minor, during the BronzeAge Troy was
not a Greek city and it is difficult to tell who they were and what language they
• The site of Troy was discovered in 1820 and was excavated by Schliemann from
1870-1890 because he wanted to prove the reality of the Homeric epic poems.
• The most influential excavations were carried out by Carl Blegen of the
University of Cincinnati (1932-1938).
o He was a professional archaeologist (vs. Schliemann who was an
o The results of Blegen’s work appeared to show that this city was fairly
small and not very significant and that there was a disconnect between the
Homeric world and reality. (In Homer Troy was a powerful city and ruled
over by king Priam).
• Important excavations were then done by Manfred Korfmann (1988-present) who
is anAnatolian archaeologist. He works on Turkey instead of Classics which is
concerned with Greece and Rome.
o He used modern technology to decide where to dig since it was such a big
area and there was no obvious place to start, the technique is called
Ground Penetrating Radar which fires sound into the earth and this sound
bounces back and tells the archaeologist if something is there.
o Korfmann showed that Blegen’s conclusions were not correct and argued
that what Blegen found was just the fortified citadel and was not actually
the main city.
The City of Troy
• The site was occupied (more or less continuously) from ca. 3000 BC toAD 1200.
• This is difficult because there are different layers that indicates that there were 46
different building phases in 9 bands and the bands correspond to distinct
inhabitants and kinds of culture.
o Layers VI to VIIb have been identified as “Priam’s Troy” and there is also
evidence of its destruction at this time.
• Slide: The site of Troy. Shows what Korfmann excavated; his friend (a Homerist)
produced a book that tried to bring together Homeric studies and Homeric
o In this slide we can see what Blegen had excavated was a small section at
the top. Korfmann, with his radar, shows that the city extends far beyond
and there was a defensive ditch at the south-west. More recent evidence
has uncovered a second ditch (#2 on the slide) which shows that the city
was growing and required more fortification.
• Korfmann’s team found a seal (like a stamp) that was used with ink to run along
paper and used by scribes. The one found here is from a scribe and it is Luvian
(one of the principle languages spoken in the western part of the Hittite empire).
This suggests that Troy was part of the Hittite Empire or had very close ties to it. 5
• Blegen and his team looked at the location of Troy and he said that it was off the
major trade routes to the Middle East. More recently, underwater archaeology off
the coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) shows that the waterway around the area
of Istanbul was an important route for traders. This makes the location of Troy
very important and it is understandable why it may be attacked.
• The relationship between the fiction of myth and reality is very difficult in this
• Slide: Model of Troy. The citadel at the top is what Blegen thought the whole city
was. In this photo we can see a large urban area that may have been an outpost of
the Hittite Empire.
The Homeric Poems
• For the Greeks, these poems were the greatest works of literature.
• The Greeks had a very pessimistic world view that once everything was very
good but it has gone downhill and the present is awful.
o For them, literature begins with Homer and it is downhill after this.
• Homer: the name of the person the Greeks believed composed the Iliad and
Odyssey. There is evidence of his life (he was blind, from Chios etc.)
o Most scholars do not accept that he actually existed but he is a construct of
the Greek imagination.
• What we call ‘poetry’is ‘song’to the Greeks. These are a product of a deeply
rooted performance tradition and they had been