From about c.1600-1100 BC main land
Greece was ruled by the Myceneans. Their name comes from the city of Mycenae
where remains of the culture were first discovered. Some of the first and
most important archaeological evidence comes from the royal graves which
date from 1600 BC. There were two types of graves, shaft graves, and tholos
graves. Shaft graves were the early version. They were 40 feet deep and
held several bodies. Tholos graves replaced shaft graves and were shaped
like beehives. Members of royal families were buried with special objects
made of gold, bronze, and crystal. Because thieves couldnít find
the objects, we were able to locate them. There are no written records
with the Mycenean religious belief. However, they did have a form of writing
known as Linear B which was a combination of Linear A and new signs. We
only know what we have learned from frescos, statues, and shrines. Archaeologists
believe their beliefs were similar to the Minoans. They believed in life
after death, goddesses were more powerful than gods, and they both believed
in the male gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Dionysus.
The Myceneans lived in small kingdoms, each with itís own city. They were built on high ground surrounded by high walls s it was easy to defend. This was called Acropolis which means ìhigh cityî. People settled there because there was a spring of water and it was easy to defend. They supported themselves by growing produce which they also exported. They had many artists and craftsmen who made things such as pots, statues, jewelry, cloth, and weapons. They would also export this for profit. The Myceneans traded mostly in the eastern Mediterranean, but kept trading in important cities along the coast of Asia Minor and Lebanon.
The Myceneans were warlike people and we know this because of the weapons and armor found in graves. A ruler was expected to look after his soldiers which included food, land, a home, and some slaves. A rich soldier, or nobleman, had expensive bronze armor. Poorer soldiers, or foot soldiers wore leather tunics. We think rulers and noblemen fought in chariots pulled by horses.
Around c.1200 BC the Mycenean world began to crumble. They experienced a long period of poor harvests, famine, and food shortages. This effected produce so nothing could export and craftsman could not be paid and the economic system began to fall apart. The famine caused the Myceneans to immigrate. Egyptian writing showed that Myceneans were seen in the eastern Mediterranean. Some traveled over land with women and children while most men fought at sea. These immigrants were known as the sea people. As the people left there cities the Mycenean world began to disappear. This is when they entered the Dark Ages and a group of people called the Dorians began to take over.