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(mīsē`nē), ancient city of Greece, in Argolis. In historical times it had little importance and was usually dependent on Argos. Its significance is in its remote past as a center of Mycenaean civilizationMycenaean civilization
, an ancient Aegean civilization known from the excavations at Mycenae and other sites. They were first undertaken by Heinrich Schliemann and others after 1876, and they helped to revise the early history of Greece. Divided into Early Helladic (c.
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. The famous Lion Gate, which led into the city, and the Treasury of Atreus, the largest of the beehive tombs outside the walls of the city, are the most notable of its ancient remains.


See A. J. B. Wace, Mycenae (1949, repr. 1964); A. E. Samuel, The Mycenaeans in History (1966).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ancient city in the Argolid (southern Greece), an important center in the Bronze Age. In the third millennium B.C., Mycenae was a small settlement. In the 17th century B.C., it became the capital of one of the early class-structured states of the Achaeans. The sumptuous objects obtained from excavation of two groups of Mycenaean royal graves of the 17th and 16th centuries B.C. testify to the rapid growth of Mycenaean economic power. In the 16th and 15th centuries B.C., fortifications and a palace were erected on the city’s acropolis. Mycenae was at the height of its development between 1400 and 1200 B.C. During that time, the Mycenaean acropolis was surrounded by new massive Cyclopean walls; the principal entrance through the fortifications was the Lion Gate.

In the 13th century B.C., an underground cistern was dug beneath the fortress; it was reached by a flight of steps and led to a spring far below. The monumental palace consisted of many public and private chambers and storerooms. Marble and terracotta statues of gods stood in a separate sanctuary. Quarters with the stone dwellings of wealthy artisans and merchants were located in the vast lower city. In the 14th and 13th centuries B.C., the descendants of King Atreus erected splendid circular vaulted tombs, or tholoi.

Circa 1200 B.C., Mycenae was destroyed by fire. The city was rebuilt in later centuries but no longer played an important role. In 470 B.C., Mycenae was conquered and ravaged by Argos. Excavations have been conducted sporadically since 1876 (by the German archaeologist H. Schliemann, the British scholar A. Wace, and the Greek scholars C. Tsountas and G. Mylonas).


Blavatskaia, T. V. Akheiskaia Gretsiia vo vtorom tysiacheletii do n. e. Moscow, 1966.
Wace, A. J. B. Mycenae: An Archaeological History and Guide. Princeton, 1949.
Mylonas, G. E. Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age. Princeton, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an ancient Greek city in the NE Peloponnesus on the plain of Argos
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005