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Mycenaean Athens - Athens of Myths (1500-1100 b.C.)

As it is known from history and archaeology the stronger among the Greek tribes were the Achaeans; those, under the cultural, economic and social influence of Minoan Crete had developed from mid- second millennium b.C., a pretty original civilization, an amalgam of all civilizations that flourished in the broader area of Aegean Sea. It is the Mycenaean civilization, named after Mycenae, the famous site and the most important center of this civilization, situated at the plain of Argolis.

By the same period the population of Athens, influenced both by Minoan Crete and by Mycenae, have developed their version of Mycenaean civilization. The study of archaeological evidence and of the myths of the epoch referring to Athens proves that the Mycenaean civilization of Athens not only is important, but it is also particular enough. The myths of Minotaur and of Theseus, the myth of the bull of Marathon, the myth of the conflict between Athena and Poseidon for the name of the city, along with several other myths as those of Kephalos, of the dragon Erechtheus, of Demeter and Persephone, of Kekropas and of the sacrifice of Codros, the last king of Athens, do have a historic core and reflect moments of history. Thus, we known that the Mycenaean centers of Attica were organized around the palace of “anax” (the king); his officers and landlords lived in close distance with their families, craftsmen and slaves.
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We also know that the exploitation of the silver mines of Lavreotiki, at the site of ancient Thoricos dates back to this period of time; thanks to that, Athens had obtained its prosperity and achieved to flourish. In Athens, the palace of the king and the mansions of his officers were situated on the Acropolis, fortified as early as in the 14th century b.C. As in all Mycenaean sites, these walls were made of huge stones; for this reason they were thought to have been constructed by the Cyclops and called “cyclopean”; a part of this early fortification is still visible at the base of the walls of Acropolis surviving today. A Mycenaean cemetery has been found at the site of Ancient Agora and a rich tomb at the hillside of Acropolis. Similar ones are also scattered in Attica, as at Menidi, at Marathon, at Spata, at Thoricos and at Keratea.

It is worth mentioning that in this period of time the port of Athens was at Phaleron; also, according Homer, the Athenians took part to the Trojan War, under their king Menestheus.

By mid-14th century b.C. Theseus, the mythic king and hero of Athens had united all the settlements of Attica (except Megara and Eleusis) under his power and made Athens the seat of his state. Panathinaea, the greatest and most famous feast of ancient Athens was established to honor this important fact.

By the end of the 12th century, the Dorians invaded Attica, but did not achieve to take possession of it; they could conquer only Megara and settled there. This fact is connected with the abolishment of kingship in Athens; from this period monarchy is substituted by an oligarchic regime, which would last throughout the next period.
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