Bronze Age civilization that flourished in Crete, Cyprus, Greece, the Aegean Islands, and western Anatolia about 30001000 BC
. During this period, magnificent architecture and sophisticated artefacts were produced.
Mycenean civilization was strongly influenced by the Minoan
from Crete, from about 1600 BC
. It continued to thrive, with its centre at Mycenae, after the decline of Crete in about 1400. It was finally overthrown by the Dorian invasions, about 1100. The system of government was by kings, who also monopolized priestly functions. The Mycenaeans have been identified with the Achaeans
of Homer; they may also have been the marauding Sea Peoples
of Egyptian records.
They used a form of Greek deciphered by Michael Ventris called Linear B, which has been discovered on large numbers of clay tablets containing administrative records. Their palaces were large and luxurious, and their tombs (known as beehive tombs) were massive and impressive monuments. Pottery, frescoes, and metalwork reached a high artistic level. Evidence of the civilization was brought to light by the excavations of Heinrich Schliemann
at Troy, Mycenae, and Tiryns (a stronghold on the plain of Argolis) from 1870 onwards, and of Arthur Evans
in Crete from 1899.
© RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.