2.2 GREECE - 2.100: Tyrins, aerial view of ruins 2.101:...

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1 TIRYNS Built on a hilltop, the form of settlement that we nd at Tiryns is called a citadel because its chief function was to remain defensible, offering protection to its inhabitants. Lacking the isolation of the Minoans, who built on at land or on the sides of hills, the Mycenaeans had to secure themselves by building on hilltops that offered a lookout to the valley and to any approaching invaders. A ramp along the walls of the citadel accedes to the chieftain’s palace with its megaron. (Figures 2.102 – 2.105) A tomb was found at Tiryns in which a prince had been interred in a shaft grave with a false door. The Mycenaean practice of swaddling the bodies of the dead in bandages was probably a custom that had been brought back from Egypt by mercenaries employed by the pharaohs to repel the foreign invasion of the Hyksos. In any event, the concept of bandaging bodies and, also at times, of mummifying them and the generous use of gold implements bespeaks of a familiarity with Egyptian customs as well as the involvement of the Mycenaeans in international commerce. The bold prominence of hard limestone on which the Mycenaean citadel sat was made even more impregnable by the custom of building walls that encircled their settlements. The Mycenaeans constructed these walls using huge polygonal blocks of stone, a practice that later generations of ancient Greeks called cyclopean masonry because they thought that the only way such walls could have been built was by giants or Cyclopes. These walls were 20 – 25 feet thick and just as high. Each of 2.102: Tyrins, palace, plan 2.100: Tyrins, aerial view of ruins 2.103: Tyrins, palace, axonometric reconstruction 2.104: Tyrins, palace, reconstruction 2.105: Tyrins, palace, megaron 2.101: Tyrins, plan
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2 the boulders weighed about 5 tons. This practice may have been prologue to the building of columns with superimposed drums of stone during the Hellenic era of Greek culture. Scholars have conjectured that one of the reasons that Mycenaean builders used such enormous stone for building the fortied walls of their citadels was that metal for stone cutting and dressing was rare. Hence, it was more economical for them to move immense stones with sleds on rollers using large teams of manual laborers rather than to cut the quarried stone to smaller sizes. MYCENAE The palace at Mycenae cannot be found because in later centuries a temple was built over it. There are, however, two interesting and important monumental structures that survive at Mycenae. One is the gate of the citadel and the other is a tomb. The gate is known as the Lion’s Gate and was built around 1300BC. As the main entrance to the citadel, it is an opening in a defensive wall of cyclopean masonry. (Figures 2.110 - 2.113) The gateposts are 10’ x 6’ x 2.5’ megalithic blocks that support a 15’ x 6.5’ x 3’ lintel weighing 25 tons. There were double doors in the gate the pivots
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2.2 GREECE - 2.100: Tyrins, aerial view of ruins 2.101:...

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