Eras and Their Highlights

Mycenaean Age

What is the Mycenaean Age?

The Minoans were either conquered by or succeeded by the Mycenaeans, who were mainland Greeks: In about 1450 B.C., Crete was struck by a 200-foot tsunami (or seismic wave), which is thought to either have completely destroyed the island or to have weakened it to a point that it could be overtaken. The Mycenaeans flourished from about 1650 B.C. to 1200 B.C., a time known as the Mycenaean Age, carrying forth the culture and skills they had learned from the Minoans (who had been their neighbors). The Mycenaeans were skilled horsemen, charioteers, and accomplished sailors who ruled the Aegean. Mycenaean culture revolved around its fortified palaces, called acropolises (top cities). Its cities included Argos, Corinth, Sparta, and the then-small cities of Athens and Thebes.

In about 1200 B.C. the Mycenaeans attacked the city of Troy, which was considered the key to the profitable Black Sea trade, thus launching the Trojan War. After 10 years of fighting (a period that is recounted by Greek poet Homer [c. 850-? B.C.] in the Iliad), the Mycenaeans were victorious. But soon their period of triumph ended as the Dorian peoples (from the northwestern part of the Greek mainland) overran most of the Peloponnesus (the southern peninsula of Greece). The Dorians, aided by the superiority of the iron sword, flooded southward, where they sacked and burned the great Mycenaean cities and conquered the wealthy sea traders, throwing Greece into the period known as the Dark Ages, or Archaic Period, which lasted from 1100 to about 800 B.C.


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