From Minos to Agamemnon - the World of Aegean Greece

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From Minos to Agamemnon - the World of Aegean Greece

<p>During the course of the second millennium BCE Greece and the Aegean witnessed the rise and fall of two remarkable empires. Centred on Crete the brilliant Minoan civilisation, with its highly

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During the course of the second millennium BCE Greece and the Aegean witnessed the rise and fall of two remarkable empires. Centred on Crete the brilliant Minoan civilisation, with its highly decorated palaces and wonderfully naturalistic art, dominated much of the Mediterranean through its mighty navy, before giving way to the powerful Mycenaean kingdoms whose imposing walled citadels and monumental tombs remain some of the most spectacular monuments of the ancient world. This four-week course will examine in detail these two great civilisations whose impact was felt throughout the Mediterranean and along the shores of Anatolia, Egypt, and the Levant.


SUGGESTED READING
Most general books on ancient Greek art and archaeology include a section on the Minoans and Mycenaeans:

  • Barringer, Judith. The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Biers, William. The Archaeology of Greece, Cornell University Press, 1996 (2nd ed.).
  • Pedley, John G. Greek Art and Archaeology, Prentice Hall, 2011 (5th ed.).

More specialised reading include:

  • Betancourt, Philip. Introduction to Aegean Art, INSTAP Academic Press, 2007.
  • Homer. The Iliad, [multiple editions and translations].
  • Homer. The Odyssey, [multiple editions and translations].
  • Higgins, Reynold. Minoan and Mycenaean Art, Thames & Hudson, 1997 (2nd ed.).
  • Preziosi, Donald & Louise Hitchcock. Aegean Art and Architecture, Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Schofield, Louise. The Mycenaeans, The British Museum Press, 2007.
  • Warren, Peter. The Aegean Civilizations. From Ancient Crete to Mycenae, Phaidon Press, 1989 (2nd ed).


COURSE OUTLINE

  • In this session we witness the rise of the Aegean Bronze Age culture from its earliest beginnings on the Cycladic Islands to the emergence of the great palaces of Crete – Knossos (home to the legendary king Minos and the Minotaur), Phaistos, Mallia – that came to dominate both the Greek mainland and the eastern Mediterranean.
  • As well as the remarkable palaces themselves, the flowering of Minoan art and culture with its naturalistic wall painting, exquisite jewellery, beautifully worked stone vessels, and still mysterious Minoan religion came to represent one of the most brilliant periods in the history of ancient Greece. In this session we shall examine these and other aspects of Minoan culture as well as the catastrophic circumstances that led to the fall of this remarkable empire.
  • The demise of Cretan rule was followed on the Greek mainland by the rise of an even more powerful (and warlike) people, the Mycenaeans, under whose warrior rulers—Menelaus, Nestor, Odysseus, Achilles and the redoubtable Agamemnon (“first among equals”)—were constructed the mighty walled citadels and monumental tombs that still remain some of the most spectacular monuments of the ancient world. In this session we shall follow the rise to power of these warrior rulers and examine the imposing kingdoms they commanded.
  • Although centred on mainland Greece, Mycenaean influence and culture extended both west and east, stretching from almost as far as the Straits of Gibraltar to Anatolia, Egypt and the shores of the Levant. This wide expanse of the Mycenaean world enabled the establishment of far-reaching trade networks that, thanks to a remarkable series of shipwrecks recently discovered and excavated, are now only starting to be understood. The session will conclude by examining those factors that led to the sudden collapse of the Mycenaean world when seemingly at the height of its power.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, studnets should be able to:

  1. Identify the key features of the archaeology, art, and culture of Bronze Age Crete and Greece.
  2. Discuss the various factors that contributed to the rise and fall of the Minoan and Mycenaean kingdoms.
  3. Have an understanding of the background to two of the greatest works of western literature, namely the Iliad and the Odyssey.
  4. Identify the contributions of Schliemann, Evans and other early archaeologists in the unravelling of the Aegean civilizations.