The Archaeological Area of the Mycenaean Palace of Thebes ‘Kadmeio’

The Mycenaean Palace, or Kadmeion, dates from the 13th century BC and is located almost centrally on the acropolis. The palace was decorated with frescoes  and clay tablets in Linear B and amphorae have been found. The palace was destroyed by fire in around 1200 BC.


At the centre of the acropolis of Kadmeia, in the heart of the modern city, there are the ruins of a building that, for its time, was magnificent. It is known as the Kadmeio, a large independent construction with many rooms and corridors designed for work and storage. These housed some of the most important workshops in the city’s Mycenaean palace, producing miniatures and items and jewellery from lapis lazuli, agate, quartz and gold, materials that came from as close as Thebes to as far away as Afghanistan. The same building housed a variety of other items, including large stirrup jars, which came to Thebes from Crete, full of oil.

The Treasure Room

The palace’s treasure room, or treasury occupies the north-east corner of the central complex of the Mycenaean palace of Thebes, which extends above the city’s central square. Excavations have uncovered the north and east walls of the room, which were built with large stone blocks to a height of 2.20m. It was at this height that the brick roof of the building began. The site was given its name because it was here that they stored precious items and jewellery of gold, lapis lazuli, agate and ivory, as well as a unique hoard of imported cylinder seals of Assyrian, Hittite, Hurrian, and Cypriot origin. A thick wall separated the ‘Treasury’ from the ‘Room with the Jars’, which took its name from the clay jars that were found there. It is under modern Antigone Street. The tablets and seals in Linear B that were found in these two spaces show that a significant part of the administration of the Mycenaean palace at Thebes was run from here.


Sections of the Mycenaean palace

The Armoury

Many of the important functions of the Mycenaean palace at Thebes were housed in the building complex known as the Armoury, which was located in the east section of the acropolis and constituted a section of the central palace complex. (Modern Pelopidou Street) From the complicated system of foundation walls which have been excavated at this site, it seems that the complex had at least one large rectangular chamber, as well as smaller rooms amongst a network of narrow corridors. The rooms in the complex were used as storage for weapons, riding tackle, and copper tools and dishes. They were used to guard objects made of ivory, for weighing various raw materials, but also for keeping the archives of the economic activity of the palace on clay tablets.


Wool processing workshop – Archive section

The workshop for processing wool consists of a unit of three rooms, which were discovered in the centre of modern Thebes, and were possibly a section of the west side of the Mycenaean palace complex.

Only a small part of the north room has been excavated, and no significant finds have been made. By contrast, numerous storage jars were found in the central room, along with a clay basin placed before the brick wall that separated it from the south room. These have only been partially excavated, as the rest continues under the embankments of the surrounding roads, which cannot be disturbed. The finds produced include a great deal of pottery, many sherds of large stirrup jars, fragments of frescoes, and many intact vases. The most significant finds, however, are sixteen tablets in Linear B (Of series), which were discovered in the east section and which, it is believed, fell there from somewhere higher up. On the basis of the evidence of the tablets found inside the room, as well as some constructions found on its floor, it is believed that this room was used for the storage and washing of wool, its possible processing with aromatic oils, and its combing, as well as the recording of its delivery to various destinations and recipients in and outside Thebes.


Palace accommodation at 3 Eurydikis St (S. Theodoros Residence)

The data from both the older and more recent excavations on the summit of Kadmeia demonstrate that, during the 13th century BC, there was a densely built, wealthy neighbourhood in this area of Mycenaean Thebes. Whatever the case, the position of the recently discovered building on the highest point of the walled acropolis, the layout of the spaces, its size, and the type of archaeological remains, the frescoes decorating the walls, and the rare finds show that, despite its highly piecemeal preservation in the limited area of the excavation, it had an especially important function as part of the central administration of the palace during this period on Kadmeia.


Site for delivery and recording of goods, and cyclopean defences (Christodoulos, Liangas and Stamatis residences)

The architectural remains of yet another important palace structure from Mycenaean Thebes have been excavated on the east side of Kadmeia, preciously within a section of the Mycenaean wall that had been found on that site. A network of walls shows that there were various apartments and rooms, the use of which, however, remains unknown.

North of the complex, four rectangular rooms have been excavated. They are separated by partition walls and communicate via openings between themselves and the road that ran to the south [16] outside them. These rooms belonged to a free-standing building which was separated from the rest of the complex by the above mentioned road, and was most probably a check point for the various goods which came into the acropolis. This must also have been the point where on the entrance gates to the acropolis must have been located.

A great deal of pottery was found in the building, including cups, skyfoi, jugs, pithamphoriskoi, stirrup jars, and many smaller finds. Sixty clay seals came from the most western room, the inscriptions on which record the delivery from South Euboea to Thebes of various animals (sheep and goats/cattle and pigs), the meat from which was destined to be used at some great ritual symposium, which would take place inside the acropolis. Inside the same room, a rare oval stone vase was found.