The Mycenaean Civilization of Greece

The first great civilization on mainland Greece actually bloomed in the demise of the Minoan Civilisation. The Mycenaean Civilisation (1900–1100 B.C.) is also known as the Achaean Civilisation. This is due to the Indo-European migrants, who not only settled on mainland Greece but also adapted to the Minoan way of living.

Mycenaean Civilization

** The image above shows a death mask, known as the Mask of Agamemnon
By Xuan Che (Self-photographed (Flickr), 20 December 2010) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Independent city-states such as Pylos, Corinth and of course Mycenae which was the most powerful of them all, was a characteristic of the Mycenaean Civilisation. Mycenae was also the city of the legendary figure Agamemnon, who was one of the leaders who defeated Troy. These city-states were ruled by kings, whose palaces were on hilltops, enclosed within huge walls, which were very easy to defend.

Mycenae with its impressive Gate of Lions became the dominating power in the Peloponese. These palaces soon appeared all over Greece, but unlike those on Crete, these were all huge fortifications and much more difficult to penetrate. As with the Cycladic Civilisation, an impressive legacy was also left by the Mycenaean Civilisation in the form of gold jewellery and ornaments. A collection of these treasures can be seen at the National Archaeological Musuem in Athens.

The Mycenaean were also literate and wrote in a script known as Linear B. This script is an early form of Greek which is unrelated from Linear A from the Minoan Civilisation of Crete. It has however been deciphered. Other examples of the script Linear B have also been found on Crete, which has led to the possibility that the island may have been invaded by the Mycenaean people at around 1500 B.C.

At around 1400 B.C. the palace of Knossos was destroyed on Crete, as well as destruction all over the island. This wide spread destruction has led many to believe that Crete was not attacked by a foreign force, but that a revolt against the Mycanaean rulers had probably taken place.

Mycenaean artifacts have also been discovered in Italy, Eygpt, Asia Minor and North Syria. It is likely that they had permanent strongholds in some of these places as their influence seems so strong. The defeat of Troy was accomplished with the Mycenaean city-states joining together to protect their Black Sea trade routes.

During 1200 B.C. the decline of the civilization had began, with many Mycenaean structures being destroyed. The situation now in Greece was very similar to the one that had happened on Crete following the destruction of Knossos. It is difficult to grasp at how all of the city-states actually declined.

Some have put forward that due to trade with the east stopping, many overseas settlements were lost. Others believe that along with factors such as famine and epidemics, internal battles and overpopulation, the reason was when the civilization was overtaken by the Dorians.