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Dr J's Audio-Visual Resources for Classics

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Lion Gate

Grave Circles

King's Megaron


Clytemnestra's Tomb

Treasury of Atreus

Lion Tomb



Dr. J's Illustrated Treasury of Atreus

IMG0106MID.jpg (6878 bytes)View of The Treasury of Atreus  - also called the Tomb of Agamemnon - shot from atop the Cyclopean wall of the Mycenean citadel. Now known to be royal graves, post-Mycenaeans who had forgotten the use of these tholoi named them treasuries for the treasures (really grave goods) found within (and subsequently looted). Tholos tombs were the next step in burial practices for the Mycenaeans (in the evolution from cist graves to shaft graves to chamber tombs to tholoi).
IMG0106XMID.jpg (6222 bytes)Zoomed-in view of the Treasury of Atreus as seen from Mycenae. The 14.5 meter wide tholos chamber (the round portion) is constructed of 33 concentric circles of corbelled rock. The tholos itself was designed to merge with the slope of the hill, and grass naturally camouflaged it (although the peak of the mound rose above the top of the hill). This is the best preserved of the 9 tholos tombs on this site.
IMG0010MID.jpg (7953 bytes)Its dromos (access way) is 35 meters long and 6 meters wide. The funeral procession would have enter through this door, the body would have been interred, and then the dromos would have been completely filled in with earth and rocks, making the entire tomb utterly invisible. When another funeral became necessary, the dromos was cleared and the process repeated. The ancient visitor would have been reminded of the power of the Mycenean king both dead and alive: the colored marble slabs from the facade of this tomb (on display in the National Museum, illustration pending) is made of the same rock and marble used for the Lion Gate.
pp43MID.jpg (3387 bytes)The sun illuminates the monumental doorway (the entrance is 5 meters thick) of the otherwise dark tholos chamber. The relieving triangle is just visible and helps date the tomb to c. 1350 BC. One of the two lintel stones weighs 240,000 lbs and measures 8x5x1 meters. The height of the roof is 13 meters and the round chamber is 14 1/2 meters in diameter. The doorway is about the same width as the Lion Gate, but twice as high. Thus, the tomb entrance is in some ways even more impressive than the citadel entrance!
IMG0013MID.jpg (2778 bytes)The interior of a small side chamber (8 1/4 meters square) appended to the tholos chamber of the Treasury of Atreus. Its use is unknown (bring a flashlight!). Little is known about Mycenean death rituals, but burial is certainly a different route than the Homeric funeral pyre.






copyright 2001 Janice Siegel, All Rights Reserved
send comments to: Janice Siegel (jfsiege@ilstu.edu)

date this page was edited last: 08/02/2005
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