The citadel of Mycenae: a landscape of myth and memory

Kenneth Wardle, Diana Wardle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


There can be no doubt that the members of the dynasty buried in Grave Circle A at Mycenae in the 17th and 16th C BC were exceptional in their own day and there can be no doubt that they were regarded as exceptional by their descendants. No other group of Mycenaean burials was honoured with such riches and no other Mycenaean burial ground was treated as an ancient monument so magnificently. Generation after generation, the site was respected and revered until in the 13th C BC it was incorporated within the Citadel Wall and provided with the double ring of slabs whose entrance faced the imposing new entrance to the Citadel – the Lion Gate.

So much is familiar. Less familiar is its relationship to the group of buildings which developed to the south – the Ramp House, House of the Warrior Vase and the South House, relationships which must have been integral, not accidental, to the rites and rituals performed to honour the noble dead. Despite Schliemann’s excessively enthusiastic approach to excavation, it is still possible to reconstruct parts of these relationships on the basis of the levels on which each was constructed and the routes of access around and between them.

The first sign of diminishing respect, a respect which had previously been accorded to Grave Circle A and based securely on memory and tradition, can be seen in the construction of the so-called Granary at the beginning of LH IIIC. This building partially blocked the route from the Lion Gate to the Grave Circle entrance after the collapse of the palatial authority which had, we may suppose, retained uninterrupted control for around 500 years.
Even so, some memory of the significance of the Circle and of respect for those buried there survived perhaps another thousand years until Pausanias’ day, since it was never built over and remained a feature obvious enough in the landscape of Mycenae to attract Schliemann to what are still the most remarkable discoveries of Mycenaean civilization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMNHMH / MNEME. Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 17th International Aegean Conference, University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Humanities, 17-21 April 2018
EditorsE. Borgna , I. Caloi , F.M. Carinci , R. Laffineur
Place of PublicationLeuven
PublisherPeeters Publishers and Booksellers, Leuven
Pages153-164 + CCL pl.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-90-429-3903-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
EventMNHMH / MNEME. Past and memory in the Aegean Bronze Age: 17th International Aegean Conference - University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Udine, Italy
Duration: 17 Apr 201821 Apr 2018

Publication series



ConferenceMNHMH / MNEME. Past and memory in the Aegean Bronze Age


  • prehistory
  • Mycenae
  • Shaft Graves


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