2012 April 12 – Day 32 – Piraeus, Greece – Day 2 (Part 2)

We left the ruins of Corinth and drove 45 minutes to Mycenae.  The Mycenaeans were a Bronze Age civilization that was the most powerful in all of Greece for 400 years (1500 BC – 11)) BC) before it disappeared.

German amateur archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann discovered the site in 1874 and excavations have been going on ever since.  Mr. Schliemann was searching all over Greece trying to prove that the stories of Homer’s ‘Illiad’ and ‘Ulysses’ were real people and real events.  Which, in fact, he did.

This was the main center of the Mycenaean world, uniquely placed to control the communication routes in all directions and naturally, strongly defended.  The site housed the royal house of Atreidae and their people.  Archaeological evidence has been found of even earlier habitation; as far back as the 3rd millennium.                      The view as we climbed the hill was pretty nice. The hill and surrounding area were part of the archaeological site, so obviously we did not have time to check it out very thoroughly.  They do have good information signs in both Greek and English so that helps a lot to know what is what. Entrance to the city is through the Lion Gate, which is estimated to be 3250 years old and the earliest known example of what is called a monumental statue. As you can tell by the gigantic wall the city was extremely well fortified.  It is called a Cyclops rock  wall due to the immense size of each block – each one was the size of a Smart car.  How they cut them and moved them and stacked them is beyond me.  Lots of slaves and smarts, I guess. The big stones were made of conglomerate rock; which is huge rocks made of compressed small rocks.  Once the group was through the entrance gate our guide again had the group cluster around her while she talked for 15-20 minutes.  And, as before, I wandered off to explore on my own.  I was able to climb to the top of the hill by the time she and the group had moved twice.

As you follow the path upward you get good views of the Grave Pits that have been excavated.  Several tons of gold masks, dishes, ornaments and jewelry was found in Circular Grave Circle A.  Grave Circle A was the final resting place of four men and two women. Several other tour groups and school classes arrived not long after we did.  Everything gets pretty crowded in these parts. One can certainly see why they built their main city atop this hill.  You can see in all directions for miles and miles.                                 I loved all the pretty little flowers.

We made our way back down and onto the bus again.  As we were leaving I got this picture of the ruins.  Pretty impressive walls and construction.Our final stop was the ‘Treasury of Atreus’, also called the ‘Tomb of Agamemnon’, who was the Greek Commander-in-Chief during the Trojan War.  The beehive-shaped vault is accessed by way of another Cyclops stone wall.  The entrance doorway has a single stone lintel that is estimated to weight 182 tons!  The entire tomb, walls, and entryway was completely buried and nothing was visible when you looked at the hillside.  What made Schliemann search the area, I have no idea.  I guess something about it said there was something there. The tomb interior is about 12 meters (40′)  high, but looks higher because the blocks are smaller as they go up.   After we had completed our tour of Agamemnon’s Tomb the bus took us to a restaurant on the outskirts of modern-day Mycenae for a delicious lunch, followed, of course, with some time to shop. After lunch it was time for the drive back to the port. We arrived at 4:30, in time to have a rest before dinner.

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