Mycenaean Athens

The area of Athens is inhabited since the prehistoric times. Archaeology has brought to light findings dating from 4000 BCE. The centre of this continuous inhabitation was the area of the Agora and of course, the Acropolis.

Almost nothing is known for the prehellenic population of the area. But with the arrival of the first Greek tribes (c.1600 BCE) there is a notable building activity.

These Greek tribes, the Mycenaeans, brought into Athens the two most important elements of their city planning: The fortified acropolis and the palace (anáktoron). Thus, the hill of the Acropolis was fortified with a cyclopean wall (like the one in Mycenae) and inside the wall they built a big palace.

 

mykato

Άποψη από ψηλά της Ακρόπολης γύρω στα 1200 π.Χ., όπου είναι ευδιάκριτη η κάτοψη των κτηρίων.

This wall, known as Pelasgian, or Pelargian, is still partially visible near the Propylaea while many of its parts are conserved under the later additions. It was the main defensive structure until the end of the archaic times. It had two entrances: the northern and the western. The latter, where today stand the Propylaea, was protected by another wall with 9 gates, the “enneápylon” (the “ninegate”) that according to Thucydides existed even during the Persian invasion in Athens in 480 BCE.

From the Mycenaean palace on the Acropolis only a few traces were left. It is known that it was in the area where the Erechtheion stands today. This anáktoron was probably destroyed by a physical disaster (fire or earthquake) during the 10th century BCE as according to the myth, the Doric invadors never succeeded to conquer Athens like the other cities. The ruins and the relics found by the archaic Athenians in the site of the palace must have been rich and with probably the discovery of a rich Mycenaean tomb, the legend of the first king of Athens, Kekrops was created. Since then, Kekrops was worshiped in this very place making this spot the most sacred place in Athens.

 

Top view of the Acropolis around 1200 BCE. The wall and the palace are clearly visible.

Top view of the Acropolis around 1200 BCE. The wall and the palace are clearly visible.

 

An exact reconstruction of the Mycenaean palace is impossible. The following images were created by following the remaining traces of the foundations, that let us assume some things, like the big square court and some other buildings.