Thursday, June 11, 2009

"I have seen the face of Agamemnon!" - Heinrich Schliemann

This seems like a fitting picture as I posted a tomb yesterday. You may remember that I commented on that no grave goods were found in it, but here’s an example of what a funeral gift from that time may look like. It was found by the great (at least in some aspects) archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century in the so called grave circle B at Mycenae and he immediately identified it as the death mask of Agamemnon (He is said to have cried out "I have seen the face of Agamemnon!" but he simply ignored the other 9,less decorative, masks). Nowadays we know that this is wrong, the mask dates to around the 16the century BC which is 500 years before the traditional (and rather accepted) date of the Iliad.

This mask is however far from the only item found in the grave circle (and in the other one, called circle B). The huge amount of gold, silver and other items in the tombs suggest a sudden increase in the prosperity of Mycenae. Exactly what did happen is unfortunately unknown.

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