The Prehistoric Aegean

The prehistoric Aegean consists of several small islands illustrated in the map below.

What is interesting is that one can find many of the cities that Homer named in Iliad on the islands of prehistoric Aegean. But no one knew this until the late 1800s, when Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman turned archeologist, organized excavations on these sites. He and his team began the excavations at Hissarlik (located on the northern coast of Turkey), where British archeologist Frank Calvert believed was the site of the city of Troy in Homer’s Iliad. Between 1870 and his death twenty years later, Schliemann unearthed the remains of numerous fortified cities, one of which is believed to be the city of Troy of Priam.

Continuing his excavations at Mycenae on the Greek mainland, Schliemann and his team discovered even more surprises. They unearthed fortresses, palaces, tombs, mounds, jewelry, masks, bronze weapons, among other finds left behind by the Mycenaean civilization. These remains revealed a civilization much older than that of Classical Greece in Athens and elsewhere. Further excavations indicated that this civilization was not limited to Mycenae.

From an art history standpoint, the discovery of the remains of this prehistoric civilization is very significant. Much of the remains are works of art which offer historians and art historians a peek into the lives of the people in this civilization. In the next few blog posts, I will discuss various works of art from the prehistoric Aegean.

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