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An ancient city in Greece, situated near the coast in the NE Peloponnese, the centre of the late Bronze Age Mycenaean civilization. The capital of King Agamemnon, it was at its most prosperous in the period c. 1400–1200 bc, which saw construction of the palace and the massive walls of Cyclopean masonry, including the ‘Lion Gate’, the entrance to the citadel (c.1250 bc). Systematic excavation of the site began in 1840, although the major discoveries were made by Heinrich Schliemann in the 1870s.

The Myceneans controlled the Aegean after the fall of the Minoan civilization c.1400 bc. They spoke a form of Greek, written in a distinctive script (see Linear B), and their culture is identified with that portrayed in the Homeric poems. Their power declined during widespread upheavals at the end of the Mediterranean Bronze Age, around 1100 bc.

Subjects: Classical studies

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