Excavation

Image 5- mask of Agamemnon

Image 5- mask of Agamemnon

Sixty workers in three teams unearthed the partially buried walls of the Lions’ gate and the royal tombs. With this work the city of Mycenae started to emerge. The workers discovered deep shaft graves which were cut into the walls of the acropolis that contained bodies and grave goods. During excavation Schliemann found an ornate mask on a body. He assumed it was Agamemnon’s body and called it the “mask of Agamemnon.” This caused him to assume that meant that the Trojan War was a real event and not just a myth.

All of Mycenae is not excavated yet. Excavators had focused mostly on the palace and citadel in the past. Excavation outside the wall was limited to cemeteries stretching to the hill slopes around Mycenae as well as a few buildings outside. From 1991-1993 an extensive surface survey was done. Then from 2003-2009, excavators combined ground based remote sensing, G.I.S. and aerial reconnaissance. This showed hundreds of buried structures including: tombs, houses, guard towers, beacons, roads, highways, bridges, and dams. In 2007, Christofilllis Maggidis started leading the excavation. In a report, Maggidis stated: “the discovery of two gates, associated perhaps with an outer circuit wall, further reinforces the possibility of an organized town plan” (Greeka). The Lower Town of Mycenae shows a late Mycenaean settlement outside the acropolis protected by fortified walls as well as buildings of the Iron Age and Archaic period.

Other evidence showed that the surrounding landscape was transformed by the Mycenaeans narrowing the riverbed. The narrowing of the river bed increased the current though which caused the riverbed to deepen. This strong current was controlled by a series of water dams. This then created an artificial pond which gave the Mycenaeans access to water for the settlement and irrigation. All of these modifications started to transform Mycenae from farmland to a more domestic area.