Grave Circle A is made of several shaft graves, the earliest one is dated from the late 17th century BC or the beginning of the 16th.
It was first discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. Different from the tholos tombs in Mycenae, these shaft graves were found intact, still with skeletons and treasures.
Seeing the quantity of golden treasure, Schliemann thought to have found the grave of king Agamemnon and sent a telegramme to the king of Greece. The later research showed, however, that the destruction of Troy is considerably later than these graves. Nevertheless, this discovery backed up the statement of Homer that Mycene was rich in gold.
The gold treasure found here weighs about 14 kg in total and the famous Agamemnon's Mask was part of it. The most of the treasures from the Circle Grave A are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens as the chief exhibits in Mycenae Room. Agamemnon's Mask is one of them (the one in the photo is a replica in Mycenae Museum).
Nine men, eight women, one baby and another body of uncertain gender were buried there. It is obvious that they were very powerful and wealthy people, but the relationship among them and the origin of their wealth are objects of speculation.
There were funerary stelai above each shaft grave (like one in the photo, but the hole in the middle was made later). The stelai for men were engraved with a relief representing hunting or chariot fighting.
|The Entrance to the Grave Circle A (it was closed in the summer 2008)
When this group of tombs was made, the ground was outside the walls, but when the new wall was constructed in the 13th century BC, the grave yard was enclosed inside the wall. This shows that after three centuries after the last burial here, the site was kept to be important for the rulers or the ruling class of the period.
The graveyard is encircled by two lines of stone slabs. Originally, the space between two lines were filled with rabble, and covered by slabs (as one lid in the photo).
- Nicos Papahatzis, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Tiryns, Nauplion. Athens : Clio, 1978, pp. 75-76.
- Robin Barber, Greece (Blue Guide), London- N.Y. 2001 (Revised reprint of the 6th edition of 1995), pp. 230-231.
- Christopher Mee & Antony Spawforth, Greece (An Oxford Archaeological Guide). Oxford/ OUP, 2001, p. 182.
- Elizabeth French, Mycenae : Agamemnon's capital : the site in its setting. Stround: Tempus, 2002, pp. 37, 40.
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