Mycenean Greece

Mycenean Greece and the Orient about 1450 B. C.

Large maps  (488 kB)


The next age of Greek civilization on which archæology has concentrated its searchlight is the Mycenean (fl. c. 1600-1100 B. C.). The Mycenean civilization is revealed to us by excavations in the sites of Mycenæ, Tiryns, etc. The characteristic features of these splendid cities is their massiveness and solidity. Pausanias relates that tradition attributed the building of Tiryns and Mycenæ to the Cyclopes (hence the expression “Cyclopean walls” used to denote structures of this massive type), thus testifying to the gigantic edifices of prehistoric times as contrasted with the masonry of a later date. The jewelry, pottery and weapons excavated from these ancient cities are of rare beauty. Iron was practically unknown in the Mycenean age. Its use is more extensive in the Homeric age, and therefore Homeric civilization is probably post-Mycenean.


But vast invasions swept over Greece, and a ruder civilization displaced this early culture. In the latter half of the eleventh century B. C., the Dorians ravaged Greece. They were a coarser, hardier stock than the peoples they conquered, but they brought to Greece a new vigor and a new robustness, which when toned and harmonized by the finer influences of the land, produced that civilization which is the world's marvel for all time.