Mycenaean Treasures Travel to Germany for Rare Exhibition

“The Mask of Agamemnon”, Mycenae

Over four hundred priceless artifacts, most of them traveling for the first time out of Greece, will be presented at The Schloss Karlsruhe Museum in a one-of-a-kind exhibit. Titled “Mycenaean Greece: The Legendary World of Agamemnon,” it will feature the priceless golden mask of Agamemnon, discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876.

“The visitors will be guided through an ancient world and can experience Mycenaean culture from its beginnings to its downfall,” Museum co-curator Bernhard Steinmann told Deutsche Welle.

Pioneering German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) traveled to the ruins of the citadel of Mycenae in 1874 and made excavations there for two years. He finally made the most sensational discovery of his life, even topping his previous Troy efforts.

A tomb containing three intact skeletons, one of which still had hair and a bit of scalp attached, was unearthed, along with many burial treasures. One of the two gold masks found was still lying atop the skeleton with the most flesh and hair, presumably just as it was at the time of burial.

The archaeologist, feeling he had found the resting place of Agamenon after a lifetime of searching, was eager to assume that it indeed was the tomb of the King of Mycenae.

Obsessed with the works of Homer, Schliemann believed that the heroes of the Iliad were based on true historical figures. Having done extensive excavations in Hissarlik, Turkey a few years earlier, he had found the remains of what many had thought was the mythical city of Troy.

Once he was sure the site indeed had been the city of Troy, he sought artifacts which would explain the cause of the Trojan War — thought since Homeric times to have been the beautiful Helen. The wife of King Agamemnon was later kidnapped by Paris, the son of Priam, the king of Troy, thus enraging the King of Mycenae who went to destroy Troy.

However, history proved Schliemann was a bit off base, as scientists and historians realized that the masks predated even the period of the ancient Trojan War by some 400 years. Nevertheless, the changing historical timeline did not diminish Schliemann’s monumental archaeological discovery, which stands alone in the history of archaeology for its audacity.

The Mycenaean civilization dominated the Peloponnesian Peninsula from the 15th to the 12th century BC, building magnificent cities and  trading with other civilizations.

Yet the Mycenaeans mysteriously disappeared 400 years later and the cause of their decline are still unknown. Ornate tombs, priceless jewelry, fine ceramics and many bronze weapons comprise the remnants of that once-great civilization.

Along with the world-famous Mycenaean gold “Mask of Agamemnon”, the exhibit also includes  an ancient “crown” found in a tomb in Routsi which will be exhibited for the first time. Also included will be artifacts from the “Griffin Warrior” tomb, discovered near Pylos in May 2015 — one of the most important archaeological finds in Greece of the last 65 years.

“Mycenaean Greece: The Legendary World of Agamemnon” will run from December 1, 2018 through June 2, 2019.

With information from Deutsche Welle