July 7, 2013

0724 GREECE (Peloponnese) - Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns (UNESCO WHS)

Essentially a continuation of the Middle Helladic culture, transformed by Minoan influences from Crete, the Mycenaean civilization developed on the Greek mainland roughly between 1600 and 1100 BC, perishing with the collapse of Bronze-Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean, commonly attributed to the Dorian invasion. Its apogee came between 1400 and 1120 BC, when strong citadels and elaborate palaces were built. Mycenae, which gave the name of this civilization, was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold located in the north-eastern Peloponnese which dominated much of southern Greece.

According to classical Greek myths, Mycenae was founded by Perseus, son of Danaë and Zeus. After only four kings, the Perseid dinasty extinguished, and followed the Atreids dinasty, with six kings, of which the best known is Agamemnon, who conquered Troy after a siege of ten years and robbed it. This period is shown in Iliad and Odyssey, the famous epic poems of Homer, which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia. It's one of the reasons that Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. On the other hand, their architecture and design are outstanding examples of human creative genius, which had a profound effect on the development of classical Greek architecture and urban design, the foundations of European culture.

The first excavations at Mycenae were carried out by the Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis in 1841, who found and restored the Lion Gate. In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann started a complete excavation at the site, and found the ancient shaft graves with their royal skeletons and spectacular grave goods. Later, more scientific excavations have taken place at Mycenae, mainly by Greek archaeologists but also by the British School at Athens.

The Lion Gate (in the postcard), named after the relief sculpture of two lionesses in a heraldic pose, was the main entrance of the citadel of Mycenae, erected during the 13th century BC in the northwest side of the acropolis. It is the sole surviving monumental piece of Mycenaean sculpture, as well as the largest sculpture in the prehistoric Aegean. It may have been an emblem of the Mycenaean kings and a symbol of their power, but it also has been argued that the lionesses are a symbol of the goddess Hera. Beyond the gate and inside the citadel was a covered court with a small chamber, which probably functioned as a guard post.

About the stamps

The first and the last stamp are part of the definitive set Riches of the Greek seas, issued on February 21, 2012. Designed by Anthoula Lygka (after an original artwork by Yiannis Issaris, Cretaquarium), the ten stamps are:
Palinurus elephas (0.02 EUR) - it's on other postcard
Octopus vulgaris (0.03 EUR) - it's on this postcard
Anemonia viridis (0.05 EUR) - it's on other postcard
Caretta caretta (0.20 EUR) - it's on other postcard
Epinephelus marginatus (0.35 EUR)
Dentex dentex (0.50 EUR)
Hippocampus guttulatus (0.60 EUR) - it's on this postcard
Aurelia aurita (1.00 EUR)
Dasyatis pastinaca (2.47 EUR)
Charcharias taurus (3.00 EUR)

The second stamp belongs to the series Destination... Greece, about which I wrote here.

The third stamp, depicting Evinos River, Central Greece (0.10 EUR), is part of the series Touring, about which I wrote here.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #128, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is Sea creatures. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Mycenae - Wikipedia
Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns - UNESCO official website
Lion Gate - Wikipedia

sender: Milda Kriukaite (direct swap)
sent from Piraeus (Piraeus / Greece), on 25.05.2013


  1. That is interesting that you also posted Greek stamps - I barely have any :(

    I love the rich colours of this set.

    1. But you didn't posted Greek stamps. :)

    2. not me, but Hawwa and Bob, who I had just visited, did. I guess I shouldn't expect people to be able to read my mind :)

  2. It seems that today is the Greek Stamps' Day! :)

  3. Five stamps to be greatly admired. It's hard to pick the one I like best.

  4. What a lovely treasure to receive in the mail. Love all the stamps.
    thank you for participating.

  5. I have the same thought as Violetsky, the rich colors of these stamps really make them catchy!