MYCENAE: THE TEMPLE COMPLEX    

The 'Temple' (Room 18) was a two storey building constructed on stone footings with mud brick walls during the first half of the thirteenth century BC, in the angle formed by earlier buildings on a higher terrace, Room 2 (The Megaron) to the east and Rooms 11 and 12, to the north. Measuring c 4.5 x 4.1m, it was entered from the south through an anteroom, (Room XI) and had a staircase on one side leading to a landing which later became a sealed storeroom (Room 19). In the centre of the floor was a low platform which could have served as a hearth while at the rear were higher platforms or benches at different levels, perhaps for the display of offerings. Behind these was a small triangular alcove.

The Temple was repaired after the damage but Room 19 was carefully sealed and the entrance plastered over while the upper floor may now have been reached by a new staircase at the side of Room XI. Despite this it does not seem to have been used regularly. 

The only objects in situ at the time of its final destruction c 1200 BC, dated by pottery of LH IIIB 2 style in the debris, were a group of clay vessels in Room XI, a single clay figure on a bench at the rear with its face turned to the side, a broken offering stand and a fragment of a clay snake on the stairs.

IN THE FINAL STAGE OF USE A SINGLE FIGURE STOOD IN THE CORNER OF THE TEMPLE

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   The cult objects included over thirty large clay 'human' figures with their arms in a variety of positions, over fifteen coiled clay snakes, well over forty pottery vessels mostly for drinking, a bowl containing beads and other jewellery as well as items of ivory. One of the figures with her hands clasped to her breasts was smaller than the rest and elegantly painted, while another was formed like a piriform jar provided with a head and arms. The style of decoration of both these indicates that they are earlier than the construction of the Temple complex and may have been used in some previous cult room.

    The manner of worship is a matter of speculation. None of the figures seems likely to be a cult image from either its size or character and all the objects (including the figures) may be offerings or containers for offerings of food and drink, which accumulated in the Temple over a period of time as it was visited by worshippers Sometime after the middle of the thirteenth century the complex was damaged, perhaps by an earthquake, and the broken and damaged cult objects were packed away in disorder in Room 19 and in the alcove, where they remained undisturbed.

   

 

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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