Mycenae is one of the most important archaeological sites of Greece. The fortified citadel is nested over the fertile plain of Argolis near the seashore in the northeast Peloponnese.
Mycenae is the largest and most important center of the civilization that was named “Mycenaean” after this very citadel. Mycenaean is the culture that dominated mainland Greece, the Aegean islands, and the shores of Asia Minor during the late Bronze Age. The Mycenaean Era occupies the tail end of the Helladic Civilization.
The Mycenaeans used a syllabic script that is the earliest form of Greek, attesting to the continuity of the Greek civilization from the early Bronze Age era. Many archaeological sites, cemeteries, and Tholos Tombs of the era have been unearthed throughout Greece, and the discovered artifacts speak of a people with strong cultural presence, a centralized political system with a King at the top, with strong commercial ties to the rest of the Bronze Age Mediterranean centers, and a militaristic attitude.
Their extensive contact with the mainland Helladic and Mediterranean cultures (Minoan, Cycladic, and Levantine) enriched their existence and allowed for the development of a unique cultural identity that’s evident in their legends, art, and architecture. Archaeological and tablet evidence indicates that the Mycenaeans dominated the area around the Aegean sea and assimilated the diverse amalgam of local people into a homogeneous culture from the Levant to Sicily and northern Africa.
Mycenaean artistic output is generally characterized by an austerity of decoration, symmetrical composition, repetition, and disciplined formal arrangement, with limited subject matter that depicts mostly nature, hunting, and war scenes. The sculpture can be safely considered “crude” in execution, consisting mostly of low relief stone carvings, but the craftsmanship of their decorative arts is exceptional. In terms of written records, Mycenaeans have left us with countless Linear B which almost exclusively contain catalogues and official records of a very stout bureaucracy which itself denotes a complex political and economic organization that was uniform throughout their area of influence.