The Mycenaean Civilization: A Journey Through Ancient Greece
The Mycenaean civilization was a powerful and influential society. It developed in Greece on the Peloponnese peninsula between 2000 BC and 1200 BC. Despite its eventual conquest by the Dorians, the Mycenaeans left a lasting legacy through their artistic and cultural achievements. In this article, we will dive into the history, lifestyle, and beliefs of the Mycenaean people.
The Mycenaean Cities
From 1600 BC, the Mycenaeans established several cities, with Mycenae and Argos being the most important. These cities were independent of each other but would come together in times of war.
In 1450 BC, the Mycenaeans conquered the island of Crete, where they learned about writing, navigation techniques, and religious beliefs.
However, the Mycenaean civilization suddenly vanished around 1200 BC due to the Dorian occupation of their territories and earthquakes that destroyed their cities.
Organization of the Mycenaean Society
A king typically ruled each Mycenaean city, being the strongest and bravest warrior. The king had various responsibilities, including deciding to go to war, distributing lands to peasants, and allocating the spoils of war to soldiers.
The nobles were priests, warriors, and wealthy individuals who owned vast amounts of land and livestock. However, The rest of the population consisted of artisans, peasants, and slaves. Slaves were prisoners of war and forced to perform the most arduous tasks.
The Mycenaean Civilization-Economic and Cultural Activities
The Mycenaeans devoted themselves to farming, mainly cultivating vines and olive trees. They also mastered the art of metal crafting, using gold, copper, and bronze to make vases, weapons, and jewelry.
Mycenaean merchants traded their products with other people living along the Mediterranean Sea coast. But, their most significant activity was warfare.
The Trojan War
The most famous war that the Mycenaeans fought was against the city of Troy. While, the city controlled the commercial traffic in the area and was wealthy and powerful, which may have been the reason for the Mycenaean declaration of war around 1250 BC. The events of the Trojan War are famously narrated in the Iliad, a poem written by Homer.
Script of The Mycenaean Civilization
And the Mycenaeans learned how to write from the Cretans, resulting in their script, called Linear B, being syllabic like Cretan writing. They wrote on clay tablets and used writing to record trades, the work done by craftsmen, and the names of people and gods. English scholars Michael Ventris and John Chadwick deciphered Linear B in 1952.
Therefore,the Mycenaeans were polytheists and believed in many deities. Therefore, the Mycenaeans sought protection from the most significant deity, the god of the sky, who they considered the father of all gods.
The Mycenaean civilization was a remarkable society that made significant contributions to the development of Greek culture and society. Although it eventually vanished, its legacy lives on through its art, writing, and beliefs.