In its efforts to promote a greater understanding of the cultural heritage of Ancient Greece, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has presented “Mycenae”, the 17th addition in a programme titled “The Museums’ Cycle”. Authored by Mrs. Alcestis Papadimitriou, an archaeologist serving as the Head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Argolida, the volume provides a comprehensive history of one of Ancient Greece’s most well-known civilisations. Spiro Latsis and other members of the foundation’s Supervisory Board support the initiative as a means to educate the people of Greece about this important part of the country’s rich history.
Greece’s Ministry of Culture has implemented a long-term program over the years which aims to protect, conserve, restore and enhance the Acropolis, as well as the monuments that surround it. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in 1991, Mycenae welcomes a great number of visitors each year.
The Museums’ Cycle books are limited in copies. Written in Greek and English, the books are distributed to selected recipients, including departments such as the Ministry of Culture, libraries, universities and other educational institutions throughout Greece and abroad. E-books are accessible to the public, which can be utilised as educational tools in schools and universities.
Mycenaean is a term used to describe the thriving arts and cultural scene of Greece during the period from ca. 1600 to 1100 B.C. It was derived from Mycenae in the Peloponnese, the location of a fortified palace housing King Agamemnon, who led Greece in the Trojan War according to Greek mythology.
Situated on a hill amongst Greece’s picturesque landscape, Mycenae covers a 30,000 square metre area about 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of Athens and once served as the epicentre of Greek culture. Today, it stands as an archaeological site used by researchers to uncover the history of the ancient civilization. With the Saronic Gulf visible in the distance, Mycenae remains a major point of interest for researchers and historians fascinated with Ancient Greek culture and the impact of one of Greece’s most esteemed tribes.
Mycenae once carried a great military presence that dominated much of Southern Greece during the second millennium BC. There are several possible theories surrounding the demise of the Mycenaean civilisation, though an exact conclusion is unclear to historians. Some of these include natural disaster, internal political unrest, over-population or invasion. As Mycenae declined, Argos became the region’s most powerful, bringing an end to the rule of one of Greek history’s most revered tribes.
In 1841, Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis performed the first excavations at Mycenae, unveiling and restoring the Lion Gate. More than three decades after, Heinrich Schliemann carried out an excavation without permission, then was granted permission for a complete excavation by the Archaeological Society of Athens (ASA). It was here that he uncovered ancient shaft graves and royal skeletons, as well as a host of other items.
A central palace was said to be a point of gathering for the Mycenae, often a space for political, religious and commercial events. The people of Mycenae were skilled artisans, producing items like pottery, carved gems, vases and ornaments made of glass. Mycenaean goods were traded throughout the Mediterranean.
Mycenaeans were known to excel at more than trading. Known as fierce warriors throughout history, they utilised engineering skills to design and build bridges, walls and tombs, as well as irrigation systems.
Whilst Mycenae houses a number of ancient artefacts, the “Lion Gates” are amongst the most notable. They are of the earliest known monumental sculptures on the European continent, once serving as the entrance to the interior of the Mycenaean Acropolis. They lead to a steep path through ancient pathways, toward Agamemnon’s palace. Located inside the Lion Gates is the Grave Circle A, which houses a number of royal shaft graves. A variety of Kterismata (items buried with the dead) and gold death masks were found at the famed grave site. These are now displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Each year, the Eurobank Banking Group and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation join forces to publish a volume focused on archaeological findings in Greece. Intended as part of a series, these volumes contain pages of historical information aimed at promoting a greater understanding of the country’s ancient culture and its subsequent impact on life in Greece today.
The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is involved with a variety of charitable causes seeking to promote Greek culture and increase awareness of the country’s rich history. Spiro Latsis and other members of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation employ a thorough selection process for grants, prioritising emergency relief for Greek citizens, infrastructural improvements, academics and research, and community development. To learn more information about the foundation and its endeavours, visit their website.