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Article

Mochlos  

Keith Branigan

Tiny island off the north coast of Crete on the eastern edge of the Gulf of Mirabello. The island was almost certainly joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus during Minoan times, when it was the site of an important settlement. The island was explored by the American archaeologist Richard Seager in 1908, but his discoveries have never been fully published. The settlement was apparently occupied from the Early to the Late Minoan period (for discussion of absolute dates see Minoan, §I, 4), but most of the information available concerns the Early Minoan (em) and Middle Minoan (mm) tombs that Seager excavated. Some of these were simple pit graves or burials in clefts in the rock, but at least 20 were built tombs. Some were large and impressively constructed, with different types of stone apparently selected for different parts of the tomb structure. These variations in type of tombs may reflect differences of social status among their occupants, particularly since the grave goods from the larger built tombs are more numerous and of better quality than those from the other burials....

Article

Mycenae  

Site in the north-eastern Peloponnese in southern Greece, 30 km south-west of Corinth. It is renowned for its Late Bronze Age (lba) palace, tombs and fortifications (see fig.). In Homeric epic it was the capital city of Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces at Troy, and it now gives its name to the Mycenaean civilization (see Helladic, §I, 4, (iii), (b)).

In this article relative dates for the Bronze Age are used; for discussion of chronology see Helladic, §I, 4.

Mycenae stands on an isolated hill separated by two ravines from Mt Zara and Mt Ayios Ilias and forms a natural strongpoint controlling the route from the Peloponnese to central Greece. Combined with its proximity to the sea, this made Mycenae the key point on the trade routes between the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean on one side and Greece and central Europe on the other. Originally occupied in the Neolithic period, the area was thickly settled after Early Helladic (...

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Article

Myrtos  

Gerald Cadogan

Village on the river of the same name on the south coast of Crete, 17 km from Ierapetra. It has two important Minoan settlements (Pyrgos and Phournou Koriphi), as well as a large Roman baths (2nd century ad) and residential area, both with mosaic pavements. Pyrgos, half a kilometre east of the modern village, on a prominent hill above the mouth of the river, was a long-lived (Early Minoan [em] ii to Late Minoan [lm] i, c. 2900/2600–c. 1425 bc) and prosperous settlement measuring at least 95×70 m. Excavated by G. Cadogan, largely between 1970 and 1973, the settlement has four principal Minoan phases, of which three (Pyrgos I: em ii, c. 2900/2600–c. 2200 bc; Pyrgos III: Middle Minoan [mm] ii–iii, c. 1800–c. 1600 bc; Pyrgos IV: lm i, c. 1600–c. 1425 bc...

Article

Naxos  

R. L. N. Barber and Maria Panayotidi

Greek island at the centre of the Aegean Cyclades. It is the largest and most fertile of that island group and has been an important centre since prehistoric times. As well as agricultural wealth, the island also possesses extensive marble deposits and is a rare source of the abrasive mineral emery, which was used for working marble objects.

R. L. N. Barber

By the end of the 20th century the most significant prehistoric finds on Naxos had been from Early (ec) and Late Cycladic (lc) contexts (c. 3500–c. 2000 bc and c. 1600–c. 1050 bc respectively). The earliest excavations, mainly of ec cemetery sites, were conducted by C. Tsountas in the late 19th century, his work being augmented by that of C. Doumas in the 1960s. The most important Bronze Age settlement, Grotta (the northern and north-western coastal area of modern Naxos town), as well as the neighbouring ...

Article

Theodore G. Spyropoulos

Site in Boiotia in central Greece, 40 km north-north-west of Thebes, at the foot of a rocky ridge known in antiquity as Akontion. First inhabited in the Late and Final Neolithic periods (c. 5500–c. 3600/3000 bc) and expanded during the Bronze Age (c. 3600–c. 1100 bc), it lay on the shores of Lake Kopais, and it is first recorded in Homer’s Iliad (ii: 511). Among the traces of fine Early Helladic (eh; c. 3600/3000–c. 2050 bc) architecture uncovered above the remains of the Neolithic city are circular granaries 6 m across with thick mud-brick walls. A city of the Middle Helladic period (mh; c. 2050–c. 1600 bc) included examples of the apsidal house and rectangular megaron; there Heinrich Schliemann, excavating in 1880–86, found articles of a pottery type that he called Minyan ware (see...

Article

Paros  

R. L. N. Barber

Greek island at the centre of the Aegean Cyclades (see also Antiparos). It is dominated by Mt Profitis Ilias, on the slopes of which are the marble quarries that prompted the island’s sculptural florescence in the Classical period (5th–4th century bc). Paros also has remains, chiefly architectural, dating from the Greek Bronze Age.

As well as several cemeteries of the Early Cycladic (ec) period (c. 3500/3000–c. 2000 bc), with cist tombs of standard ec type, and some house remains, there is on Paros an important Mycenaean fortified settlement (excavated since 1976 by D. U. Schilardhi) on the acropolis of Koukounaries, near Naoussa, which was preceded by some ec occupation. The Mycenaean buildings, constructed of schist slabs, occupy the flat top of the plateau. The surviving remains are mostly those of basements—rectangular rooms off two main corridors that meet at right angles. The floor above may have included a ...

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Perati  

Late Mycenaean cemetery on the east coast of Attica between Brauron and Portorafti, consisting of 192 chamber tombs (some with lateral niches) and 26 small pit graves. They were mostly family sepulchres, but 61 contained single interments. The dead, of which there were c. 600, were inhumed, except 18 persons of all ages and both sexes who had been cremated. The chronological sequence of the grave goods covers the entire Late Helladic (lh) iiic period (c. 1180–c. 1050 bc) and reflects an uninterrupted stylistic evolution, best reflected by the pottery. The vase shapes evolve from globular to oval to conical. The decoration is applied more and more closely until it covers the greater part of the surface of the vessel. It consists of solidly painted surfaces, linear motifs or pictorial representations, some stylized to the point of abstraction (flowers, whorl shells) and some highly simplified but still recognizable (birds, fishes, a man, a horse, a landscape). To this category belong some of the best examples of Late Mycenaean stirrup jars, decorated with octopuses and birds or fishes between their symmetrically arranged tentacles (...

Article

J. Lesley Fitton

[Festos]

Site on Crete of a Minoan palace that flourished c. 1900–2nd century bc. Phaistos is situated on the southern side of central Crete, about 7 km from the coast and at the western end of the large, fertile Mesara Plain. The palace stands on the top of a hill that forms the eastern end of a low ridge and commands wonderful views. The position cannot have been chosen for defensibility as the land rises to the west. The site was first recognized by the English naval officer Captain Spratt on his travels round Crete in 1851–3, and in 1884 was visited by the Italian archaeologist F. Halbherr. Cretan independence in 1898 created a suitable background for excavations, which were begun in a systematic way in 1900 by an Italian mission under the direction of Halbherr and L. Pernier. The later or Second Palace had been substantially revealed by 1909, although supplementary excavations continued. In ...

Article

Pseira  

Philip Betancourt

Minoan town on an island of the same name off the north-east coast of Crete, in the Gulf of Mirabello; it was first excavated by Richard Seager in 1906–7. A Minoan settlement was already established there by the Early Minoan (em) period; it expanded during the Middle Minoan (mm) period, reaching its largest size in Late Minoan (lm) i, at the end of which period it was destroyed by fire. (For discussion of the absolute dates associated with Minoan chronological periods see Minoan §I 4.) A small Byzantine monastery occupied the island from the 6th to the 9th centuries ad.

The buildings on Pseira were of local stone. Paved lanes and tall staircases divided the town into blocks of houses that followed the topography. Some houses were large and massively built, occupying several terraces on the slope of the hill, while others were more compact; most were two storeys high. One of the finest, the Building of the Pillar Partitions, had an inner court and an L-shaped wall of alternating pillars and doorways, so that the entire wall could be closed off or opened to admit a maximum of light and air to an area with a sunken bathtub. In Pseira’s shrine was a fine relief fresco (...

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Pylos  

Louise Schofield

[now Epano Englianos]

Mycenaean palace, built c. 1300 bc, on a flat-topped hillock (l. 170 m, w. 90 m, h. 4–7 m) 17 km north of modern Pylos in southern Greece. Preliminary exploration in 1938–9 revealed traces of walls, frescoes, stuccoed floors and Linear B tablets; systematic excavation by C. W. Blegen and the Cincinnati Expedition began in 1952, and the remains of a Mycenaean palace, popularly known as the ‘Palace of Nestor’, were uncovered. Large-scale investigations resumed in 1990 under F. A. Cooper of the University of Minnesota. The earliest traces of human habitation of the hilltop date to the Middle Helladic (mh) period (c. 2050–c. 1600 bc), while in its north-easterly corner there are remains of a paved road, gateway, circuit wall and some buildings of Late Helladic (lh) I date (c. 1600–c. 1500 bc). However, these settlements were largely destroyed when the summit was levelled for the erection of the ...

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Sparta  

Susan Langdon, R. A. Tomlinson and A. Delivorrias

[Lakedaimon; now Spárti]

Site in Lakonia in southern Greece on the bank of the River Eurotas; a dominant power on the Greek mainland throughout most of the Archaic and Classical periods.

Sporadic activity in the Neolithic, Early (c. 3600/3000–c. 2050 bc) and Middle (c. 2050–c. 1600 bc) Bronze ages gave way to the emergence of the central Spartan plain as the leading centre of Lakonia in the Late Helladic (lh) ii period (c. 1500–c. 1390 bc), as attested in the spectacular tholos tomb at Vapheio. The tomb is a large construction (diam. 10.35 m) built, in accordance with local technique, on the hilltop rather than within it. Known since 1805, the collapsed tomb was unsurprisingly looted by the time Tsountas excavated it in 1888. Excavation, however, revealed an intact pit beneath the floor, which the looters had missed. As one of only four ...

Article

Syros  

R. L. N. Barber

[Siros, Syra]

Greek island at the centre of the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. It has produced important Early Cycladic (ec) finds, mostly from the enormous ec ii–iiia (c. 2800–2150 bc) cemetery at Chalandriani in the north of the island, where about 500 graves were excavated by Tsountas. Much of the decorated pottery is painted in the style characteristic of ec ii but some is ec iiia (see Cycladic §III 1.). Although the graves are essentially of the standard Cycladic cist type, they have features peculiar to Syros: corbelled upper walls and a false entrance (access being through the roof). The only Bronze Age excavated settlement is the remote ec iiia fortress of Kastri (near Chalandriani, though the main settlement to which the cemetery belonged was some distance away). This consists of small houses crammed inside a walled circuit equipped with towers (see Cycladic §II...

Article

Tanagra  

Theodore G. Spyropoulos and Jenny Richardson

Site in Boeotia in central Greece, 25 km east of Thebes and 5 km south of Skimatarion.

The prehistoric settlements of the area have been no more than tested by excavation, especially Late Helladic (lh) or Mycenaean (c. 1600–c. 1050 bc) habitation sites near the two Mycenaean cemeteries that have been uncovered by T. G. Spyropoulos during excavations (1968–85). During the lh period Tanagra became a place of some importance, to judge from the two cemeteries. The first covers a slope at Gephyra, some 500 m south-east of the modern village of Tanagra, and the second was found 1200 m to the east of the same village, just above the plain and the Hellenic Air Force base. A total of 300 chamber tombs have been unearthed, each with a spacious chamber, irregularly cut in the soft rock, and long dromos (entrance passage). Other types of grave have been found in both cemeteries, the so-called fossa graves, and cist and pit graves. The two cemeteries date from the ...

Article

Theodore G. Spyropoulos and R. A. Tomlinson

[now Thívai]

Greek city in Boiotia that flourished in the Bronze Age and Classical times. It was traditionally founded by Kadmos the Phoenician in 1313 bc; its dominance in the loose federation later known as the Boiotian League culminated in the destruction of Spartan hegemony at the Battle of Leuktra (371 bc). The city was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 336 bc, and though later rebuilt its fortunes revived only in the Middle Ages. The modern town was built on the heart of the ancient city, the oval plateau known as the Kadmeia. Here excavations (1906–21) by Keramopoulos and others have uncovered the Bronze Age palace, but most of the visible remains are medieval.

Theodore G. Spyropoulos

A settlement of the Neolithic period was founded in the Pyri suburb on the plain north-west of the Kadmeia. During the Early Helladic (eh) period (c. 3600/...

Article

Thera  

J. Lesley Fitton, Christos G. Doumas and R. A. Tomlinson

[Thira; Santorini]

Volcanic Greek island at the southern extremity of the Aegean Cyclades. In the Late Bronze Age (c. 1525 bc; but see also Cycladic, §I, 4) a violent eruption of the paroxysmal or explosive type changed the shape of the island, which was originally roughly circular, with the volcano rising to a central cone. The ejection of huge quantities of gas, pumice and ash created a void beneath the cone, which then collapsed, leaving a vast central space known as a caldera. This filled up with sea-water and, surrounded by steep-sided cliffs with a white mantle of ash, it now provides access for ships visiting the island. The outer ring left after the collapse of the centre eventually fragmented, forming the modern crescent-shaped island of Thera, the smaller Therasia and the tiny islet of Aspronisi. Excavations on Thera were begun by the French School in the mid-19th century; the current excavations at Akrotiri began in ...

Article

Tiryns  

Louise Schofield

Site in the Peloponnesus in southern Greece, 10 km south-south-east of Argos and 4 km north of Navplion. Tiryns flourished as a Mycenaean fortress-palace c. 1390–c. 1200 bc, occupying the summit of a rocky knoll that rises out of the coastal plain. The earliest architectural remains date to Early Helladic ii (c. 2900/2600–c. 2400 bc), notably the Rundbau, a circular building (diam. 27.6 m) with stone foundations, mud-brick walls and a terracotta-tiled roof. Successive large buildings of the Middle Helladic period (c. 2050–c. 1600 bc) and some Early Mycenaean (c. 1600–c. 1390 bc) remains, including fresco fragments and column bases, also underlie the Mycenaean palace.

Tiryns was the first Mycenaean palace to be excavated. Initial investigations at the site were undertaken by Friedrich Tiersch and A. Rangabé in 1831, and by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. Schliemann, with Wilhelm Dörpfeld, returned to Tiryns and began systematic excavation there in ...

Article

D. Evely

Site in northern Crete, 14 km south-west of Herakleion, in the foothills of the Ida massif overlooking the coastal plain, which flourished c. 2900–c. 1000 bc. It lay on routes heading both west and south and is mentioned (as tu-ri-so) in the Linear B tablets. The excavations conducted by Joseph Hazzidakis (1909–13) uncovered only a fraction of the site.

An Early Minoan (em) ii to Middle Minoan (mm) ii settlement (c. 2900/2600–c. 1675 bc), represented by traces of walls and pottery but of uncertain form, was succeeded c. 1650 bc by free-standing, two-storey houses which differed in detail. The irregularly shaped Houses A and C have store-rooms containing pithoi, separated by corridors and stair units from living areas, including halls with pier-and-door screens and adjacent light wells, lustral basins and pillar crypts. Both have multiple access routes. House B is rectangular and only slightly less complex. All three buildings were destroyed by fire ...

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R. S. Merrillees

In 

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Louise Schofield, C. D. Fortenberry, Stefan Hiller, O. T. P. K. Dickinson, Lyvia Morgan, D. Evely, Reynold Higgins, Margaret A. V. Gill and Susan Sherratt

In