Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 15 - The Mycenean Civilization

The Mycenaeans dominated the last phase of the Greek Bronze Age. They were a land based people who followed on (and partly overlapped) with the Minoans. The period from 1600-1100 BC book ends the Mycenaean era. This was the time of the Trojan Epic Cycle mythologized in the writing of Homer (Iliad and Odyssey). Key Mycenaean towns include Mycenae, Athens, Thebes, Pylos and Midea. Their influence extended to both the Greek mainland and the Peloponnesian peninsular and included some of the colonies in and around Asia Minor.

The first phase of the Mycenaean era was noted for its Shaft Graves for the burial of the elite. It was also characterized by palace hall complexes known as Megarons. Following on from the Shaft Grave Era was the Koine era that was characterized by its fresco art and extensive use of the Linear B writing style. Scribes played an important role in Mycenaean society that was hierarchically structured with palace officials at the top, merchants and farmers lower down and slaves at the bottom. The military played a key role and commerce was very important as well. Mycenaean artefacts have been found in Bavaria and England.

Climate change, earthquakes, famine (a recurring theme in the demise of the old orders) and an invasion from the Dorian or Sea People are believed to have contributed to the demise of the Mycenaean civilization.

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