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Mycenae Excavations: Cambridge Digital Library opens archives

Archives relating to the British excavations of one of the most celebrated and famous cities of the ancient world, Mycenae in Greece, have been digitised on the Cambridge Digital Library to celebrate the centenary of the British archaeological dig.

Exploration of the ancient Greek city of Mycenae in now available to everyone and the stuff is truly amazing.

To celebrate the anniversary of the excavations of the renowned Bronze Age site, the Faculty of Classics has collaborated with the British School at Athens (BSA) and the Cambridge Digital Library, to digitise the records of Alan J.B. Wace, former Professor of Classical Archaeology in the Faculty of Classics and Director of the British School at Athens, who led a number of excavations from 1920 until his death in 1957.

Wace was one of the leading archaeologists of early Greece in the 20th century and spent over a decade travelling and researching new sites while he was student at the BSA. Above all, he is today remembered for his outstanding work at Mycenae and in Mycenaean archaeology.

Since 2013, the Faculty of Classics has been home to a fascinating collection of photographs, architectural and illustrative drawings, correspondence and original archaeological notebooks, preserving important material from these pioneering excavations.

In 1999, UNESCO deemed Mycenae, located in the Peloponnese of modern Greece, to be a World Heritage site, highlighting the impact the site had and continues to have on European art and literature for more than three millennia.

Mycenae was a place of considerable power and a key site of the Mycenaean civilisation in the Late Bronze Age (c. 1600-1100 BCE). The stories associated with this site and its remains would go on to play a vital role in classical Greek culture as a source of inspiration in art and literature. Mycenae was part of a complex Bronze Age society with impressive architecture, and complex arts and crafts. Thanks to its control of key trade routes by both sea and land, the city flourished.

The Lion Gate, with view of Grave Circle A beyond, Mycenae, 1921, ©British School at Athens

With an impressive collection of monumental tombs and richly-furnished burials, it is also a key site for investigating the rise of social complexity and state formation in the Aegean, ca. 1600-1200 BCE. Heavily fortified in its final centuries, Mycenae was an administrative centre in the 14th and 13th centuries BCE.

Wace and his team’s excavations at Mycenae began on 23 April 1920. Their work helped to clarify significantly the chronology of Mycenae’s monuments, especially the sequence of use of the various areas outside and within the fortification walls – an issue that had remained poorly understood ever since the spectacular discoveries made there in the 1870s by Heinrich Schliemann and Panagiotis Stamatakis. [ more on Digital Mycenae here.]
Visit the Cambridge Digital Library here.

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