MYCENAE: THE CULT CENTRE

The group of buildings on the west slope of the Citadel at Mycenae named the Cult Centre by G. Mylonas contains a variety of structures from whose form and contents we may deduce that different kinds of ritual practices took place in the area, though we cannot know whether these were all directed to a single divinity or to a number of different gods and goddesses.

Originally these 'sanctuaries' were built outside the citadel wall and reached from a route which followed the contour of the slope from the north west and passed in front of the entrances to several monumental tholoi (Atreus, Clytemnestra, Aegistheus) and Grave Circle A. Beyond the Cult Centre, to the south of Tsountas House, a steep stone stairway leads upwards, perhaps towards a west gate in the line of the early LH IIIB wall, almost all trace of which has long since disappeared.

In the first phase, entrances at different levels lead off a small courtyard to the different sanctuary complexes. According to the latest study by EBF, (Fasc13: The Service Areas of the Cult Centre, in press) the passage to the north led to the doorway to the Room with the Fresco complex before the Shrine (Room 32) was constructed and the painting itself placed on the wall. Further east was the entrance to the Temple Complex, with anteroom (XI), main room, and stairs to an upper storey.

Beyond this, stairs and a ramp lead to the Megaron and Tsountas House shrine on an upper terrace. Only part of the Megaron floor survives, with a small square platform or altar set centrally in the main room, but large numbers of ivory objects were found in basement rooms at the southern end, below the anteroom. At the opposite end of a small open space is the poros limestone base of some small structure and the entrance to the Tsountas House shrine. The main room has a curiously shaped platform in the centre of the floor with a drainage channel leading from it under the floor to the adjacent room to the south. This arrangement has led to the suggestion that this was an altar for slaughter with a channel to lead away the blood, but no other finds or equipment survive to confirm this. It is not clear, however, whether these features belong to the first phase of use A rear trapezoidal room does not appear to have a doorway.

To the south of the courtyard are two entrances  to the Tsountas House megaron with anteroom and main room with central platform and to a basement ? storeroom.

In a second phase of use access to the Room with the Fresco was moved to the north west where fine thresholds and an anteroom denote a grand entrance, the Shrine closed off the former entrance and the painting was placed on wall. Following some catastrophe such as an earthquake, the Room with the Fresco went out of use but the Temple was repaired and remained in use on a small scale.

 

West slope The Prehistoric Cemetery
Cult Centre  Grave Circle A
Room with the Fresco Complex   South House
Temple Complex Hellenistic
Mycenae index page Publication

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