Birth of Mycenaean Civilization

As the visitor heads toward the end of section 4, which concludes with the early Mycenaean period, he will have an opportunity to watch the transformation that lasted for about 100 years (1700-1600 BC), leading to the appearance of palace centres.

Beginning in the 17th century BC, important changes took place in the social organisation and in art, signalling the transition to one of the most brilliant periods in the prehistoric Aegean. This was the period of the genesis of the Mycenaean Civilization (also known as the Late Bronze Age), which combines the Middle Helladic tradition with the strong influence of Minoan Crete on the Greek mainland. At precisely this time, the conditions emerged which, in the ensuing centuries. led to the appearance of Mycenaean palaces and the organization of the society around them.

Many settlements of this transitional period, such as Thebes, Orchomenos, Chaeronea, Aliartos, Eutresis, Kalami, Kleidi, and the Coast of Avlis, already existed in the region of Boeotia.

From the beginning, however, Thebes and Orchomenos stood out as preeminentplaces in which power and wealth were concentrated, presaging their later remarkable development. In Thebes, the centre of the settlement was located on the high south hill of Kadmeia, where habitation remains and richly gifted burials have been found. A similar settlement and cemetery have also been confirmed at Orchomenos, in the eastern foothills of Mount Akontion.

There are characteristic grave gifts from the luxury tombs of the era, such as the silver phiale from the grave of a warrior (showcase 36) and the gold jewellery-grave gifts that have been found in lavish tombs in Thebes.

A long sword, a spear head and a knife accompanied a Theban warrior to his final resting place.

The section closes with a number of typical drinking vessels from graves in Thebes including one from the Mycenaean period.

The content of showcase 45 is special, with nine characteristic vessels that were used in large ritual feast in Thebes, as well as food remains, such as deer antlers sawed to make tools, boar tusks and oyster shells.

The nature of showcase 46 is different, since it is dedicated to burial finds of the early Mycenaean period from Orchomenos. And finally, the centre of the hall is dominated on low stand 3 by the matt-painted Middle Bronze Age pithos jar from Eutresis.