One of the most fascinating things about ancient history is how much we still have to learn. Not only armchair enthusiasts like myself, but experts who devote their entire lives to research and study are always able to be surprised by some new discovery.
The Mycenaean Greek Age is one of those time periods where archaeologists and historians are still searching for answers to basic questions.
A quick recap for those unfamiliar: around 1400 – 1200 B.C., an advanced civilization sprung up in what later became Greece. These bronze age denizens became the inspiration for the Iliad and the Odyssey. They even had their own written language, unrelated to anything in existence today, known as Linear B (there’s also a Linear A, but, as of this post, it hasn’t been deciphered.
Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, they vanished, and the Greek Dark Age hit. The sophisticated language they had developed was lost to time, and the civilization that existed crumbled. It took around 400 years for Greece to emerge from this darkness as the Classical Greece most people are familiar with, the land of Plato and Socrates, of mythology and plays.
When it comes to Classical Greece, we have a wealth of knowledge. When it comes to Mycenaean Greece, we have barely anything. A few fragments of text, some ruins and burial sites. And a lot of theories.
That’s where this latest article comes in. According to Smithsonian Magazine, archaeologists recently uncovered the tomb of a Mycenaean warrior near the ancient palace of Nestor (Nestor, according to the Iliad, had been one of the kings who supplied ships and men for the battle against Troy.
This warrior not only had the usual trappings of a member of a well-to-do Mycenaean family (armor, weapons, an impressive sword): he had religious artifacts from Crete.
This might not seem remarkable in itself, but it meant that the Mycenaeans not only had some sort of contact or trade with Crete (which may seem close today, but it would have been quite the trek then), but the two civilizations shared at least some aspects of their religions and cultures.
Further discoveries like this will hopefully allow us to be able to paint a complete picture of what life was like back then.
Featured image: Minoan Linear B tablet. Source: Wikimedia Commons