Mycenaean Fortifications

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Late Helladic fortification walls on the Greek mainland are found surrounding citadels, not the entire city or site. The citadels seem to have housed central administration and housing for an elite class of citizens. They were built on hills, presumably as another layer of fortification. I will examine the sites of Gla, Midea, Tiryns, and Mycenae to look for similarities and differences in the design and architecture of their fortifications, as well as, arguments about the purpose of the fortifications at these sites. I will also explore how some sites were hindered or helped defensively and economically by their location and their use of fortifications. Mycenaean sites employed Cyclopean masonry as the means of building their fortification walls. Cyclopean masonry was used at all of the fortified Mycenaean sites and it is built by using large flat-surfaced blocks with smaller stones fitted in the cracks (Dickinson, 1994). The walls would have two faces and the space would then be filled with rubble. It is believed the fortification walls were not truly meant to fortify a citadel, but were a means of displaying the city’s wealth (Loader, 1995). According to Loader (1995) Cyclopean masonry was a distinct style of Greece. The use of corbelled vaults was also common. The Mycenaeans did not know the principle of the true arch so they stacked blocks on top of one another and pushed the ends of both sides in to create a sort of vault before creating a smooth interior surface. This method requires heavy weight on the backs of the blocks used to make the vault to avoid a collapse. Gla, or Goulas, is a site situated on what was once and island in Lake Kopais. There is evidence the lake was drained during the Late Helladic period (Lawrence... ... middle of paper ... ... Mycenae also changed over time. Each site ultimately displays similarities between the Mycenaean culture as well as differences based on region or the city’s distance from a major trade route making them interesting to study. Works Cited Dickinson, O. (1994). The Aegean bronze age. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Iakovidis, S. E. (1983). Late Helladic citadels on mainland Greece. Netherlands: Brill. Lawrence, A. W. (1996). Greek architecture. (5th ed.). New York, NY: Yale University Press. Loader, N. C. (1995) The definition of cyclopean: An investigation into the origins of the LH III fortifications on mainland Greece. Durham Theses: Durham University. Taylour, W. (1983). The Mycenaeans. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson Inc. Zangger, E. (1994). Landscape changes around Tiryns during the bronze age. Retrieved From http://www.jstor.org/stable/506635

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