Greece in southern Europe is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Greece’s World Heritage Sites: the Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns.
The ancient cities of Mycenae and Tiryns, two of the principal population centers of the Bronze Age Mycenaean world, stand at the very root of Western civilization. Homer’s Agamemnon, the leader of the Greeks during the Trojan War, was king of Mycenae:
The Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, located in the Regional unit of Argolis in the North-East Peloponnese, are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, renowned for its technical and artistic achievements but also its spiritual wealth, which spread around the Mediterranean world between 1600 and 1100 BC and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. The palatial administrative system, the monumental architecture, the impressive artefacts, and the first testimonies of Greek language, preserved on Linear B tablets, are unique elements of the Mycenaean culture, a culture that inspired the great poet Homer to compose his famous epic poems.
The citadel of Mycenae, with its strategic position for the control of the Argolid Plain, is the kingdom of the mythical Agamemnon and the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Its name was given to one of the greatest civilizations of Greek prehistory, the Mycenaean civilization, while the myths related to its history, its rulers, and their family members (such as Klytaimnestra, Ifigeneia, Elektra, Orestes) have inspired poets, writers, and artists over many centuries, from ancient to the contemporary times. Significant stages in monumental architecture are still visible in the property, such as the massive defensive walls, the corbelled tholos tombs, and the Lions Gate.
Tiryns, situated 20 km north-east of Mycenae on a low hill near the inlet of the Argolic Gulf, is another excellent example of the Mycenaean civilization. The fortification of the hill, completed at the end of the 13th century BC, surrounds the citadel with a total perimeter of approximately 750 m. The impressive walls, built of stones even larger than those of Mycenae, are up to 8 m thick and 13 m high. They can rightly be regarded as a creation that goes beyond the human scale, as reveals the word “cyclopean” — built by Cyclops, the mythical giants from Lycia — which was attributed to them in the Homeric epics. (World Heritage Centre #941)
So significant a role have these historic sites played in the Greek imagination that we have tourist accounts from 2000 years ago written by visitors who traveled to see them when these ancient ruins were themselves already 1500 years old.
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures are you exploring in your homeschool this Orion Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇬🇷
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌎 🌍 🌏