Show Summary Details

Text and bibliography updated to reflect current scholarship. Keywords, summary, and links to digital materials added.

Updated on 25 February 2019. The previous version of this content can be found here.
Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD CLASSICAL DICTIONARY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 April 2019

Summary and Keywords

Mycenaean civilization takes its name from the hilltop citadel of Mycenae in the Argolid, celebrated in Homer’s epics as “rich in gold” and the capital of Agamemnon. In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann, fresh from his excavations at Troy, which in his view had established the historical reality of the Greeks’ legendary siege and sack of that city, unearthed five astonishingly rich tombs at Mycenae and claimed them to contain the burials of Agamemnon and his followers, thus inaugurating the study of Greece’s Late Bronze Age (LBA) past. One and a half centuries of subsequent fieldwork have exposed the remains of hundreds of settlements and thousands of tombs characterized by the distinctive material culture termed Mycenaean that flourished for over six centuries (c. 1700–1050 bce). This lengthy duration of the mainland Greek LBA (better known as the Late Helladic [LH] or Mycenaean era) is conventionally subdivided into three major stages of development: pre-palatial or early Mycenaean (LH I–IIB; c. 1700–1425/1400 bce); palatial (LH IIIA1–LH IIIB2; c. 1425/1400–1200/1190 bce); and post-palatial (LH IIIC; c. 1200/1190–1050 bce). The regions within which Mycenaean material culture was dominant changed significantly as a function of time, as did the culture’s external contacts within the Mediterranean world and continental Europe.

Keywords: Mycenaean, archaeology, Late Helladic, Late Bronze Age, prehistory, tholos, megaron, Linear B, Ahhiyawa

Access to the complete content on Oxford Classical Dictionary requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription. If you are a student or academic complete our librarian recommendation form to recommend the Oxford Research Encyclopedias to your librarians for an institutional free trial.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.