Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Aegean Art

What is the “Mask of Agamemnon”?

The “Mask of Agamemnon” is a gold funerary mask discovered in a Mycenaean citadel by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. The mask was meant to lay over the face of a deceased man, and the almond-like eyes appear to be closed. While many details of the face are abstracted, such as the curvilinear ears and round chin, some details may be individualized. Schliemann believed the citadel where he was excavating was the home of the legendary Trojan War hero, Agamemnon, and he gave the piece its name. It has been at the center of controversy ever since, with some claiming that Schliemann committed a forgery and hammered some of the gold himself. At the very least, modern scholars no longer believe this piece belonged specifically to Agamemnon, but are still impressed by the power and craftsmanship of the mask.


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