Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer

By Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy; Irene S. Lemos | Go to book overview


LATE MYCENAEAN WARRIOR TOMBS

Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy

In recent years the last stages of the Mycenaean civilisation, that being the archaeological period of LH IIIC in Greece and the Aegean and LM IIIC in Crete (twelfth and first half of eleventh centuries), has increasingly attracted scholarly attention. This period which followed after the destruction of the palaces has often been viewed as an inglorious epilogue to the Mycenaean palace period and a threshold to the Dark Ages. Indeed, there can be no doubt that the post-palatial period was an illiterate age, lacking in the higher arts, crafts and intellectual achievements that had marked the era of the Mycenaean palaces. However, looked at in its own right, the Mycenaean post-palatial period was by no means devoid of creativity and innovation (Schachermeyr 1980; Rutter 1992; Deger-Jalkotzy forthcoming). In fact, judged by the results of recent archaeological study and research, the Greeks of the last phase of Mycenaean civilisation came to terms, apparently quite well, with the vicissitudes of the time and with the memory of a great past. This appears to have been particularly true of the reorganisation of social structure and political ideology during the post-palatial period, as Joseph Maran has demonstrated (Maran, 2001; Maran, this volume). Maran's conclusions drawn from settlement evidence tally well with the funerary evidence of LH IIIC, as we shall see in the following.1

Tombs built in the post-palatial period, as well as the array of burial gifts in LH IIIC tombs, were generally modest (for summaries see Cavanagh and Mee, Private Place: 89–97; Dickinson 1994: 231–2). However, a certain degree of social differentiation seems to be reflected by burials which were accompanied by outstanding gifts of prestigious objects consisting of valuables (gold and ivory objects, bronze vessels, seal-stones, and copiously decorated stirrup jars) and objects which may be called 'exotic' such as amber, as well as objects of Egyptian,

1 Admittedly J. Maran has based his analysis upon the results of the Tiryns excavations and concentrates
on the Argolid. However, there is evidence from other regions which suggests that the
settlement history of other regions in LH IIIC–local variation notwithstanding–followed a
comparable pattern (see Deger-Jalkotzy 1998: 124f.; Deger-Jalkotzy 2002: 58; Mühlenbruch
2002).

-151-

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