Buried Cities, Part 3, Mycenae
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Widger and PG Distributed
BURIED CITIES, Part 3
Author of "Four Old Greeks," Etc. Instructor in History and English in
the Francis W. Parker School, Chicago
With Many Drawings and Photographs From Original Sources
The publishers are grateful to the estate of Miss Jennie Hall and to her
many friends for assistance in planning the publication of this book.
Especial thanks are due to Miss Nell C. Curtis of the Lincoln School,
New York City, for helping to finish Miss Hall's work of choosing the
pictures, and to Miss Irene I. Cleaves of the Francis Parker School,
Chicago, who wrote the captions. It was Miss Katharine Taylor, now of
the Shady Hill School, Cambridge, who brought these stories to our
FOREWORD: TO BOYS AND GIRLS
Do you like to dig for hidden treasure? Have you ever found Indian
arrowheads or Indian pottery? I knew a boy who was digging a cave in
a sandy place, and he found an Indian grave. With his own hands he
uncovered the bones and skull of some brave warrior. That brown skull
was more precious to him than a mint of money. Another boy I knew was
making a cave of his own. Suddenly he dug into an older one made years
before. He crawled into it with a leaping heart and began to explore. He
found an old carpet and a bit of burned candle. They proved that some
one had lived there. What kind of a man had he been and what kind
of life had he lived--black or white or red, robber or beggar or
adventurer? Some of us were walking in the woods one day when we saw a
bone sticking out of the ground. Luckily we had a spade, and we set to
work digging. Not one moment was the tool idle. First one bone and then
another came to light and among them a perfect horse's skull. We felt as
though we had rescued Captain Kidd's treasure, and we went home draped
Suppose that instead of finding the bones of a horse we had uncovered a
gold-wrapped king. Suppose that instead of a deserted cave that boy
had dug into a whole buried city with theaters and mills and shops and
beautiful houses. Suppose that instead of picking up an Indian arrowhead
you could find old golden vases and crowns and bronze swords lying in
the earth. If you could be a digger and a finder and could choose your
find, would you choose a marble statue or a buried bakeshop with bread
two thousand years old still in the oven or a king's grave filled with
golden gifts? It is of such digging and such finding that this book
1. How a Lost City Was Found
_Pictures of Mycenae_:
The Circle of Royal Tombs
Doctor and Mrs. Schliemann at Work
The Gate of Lions
Inside the Treasury of Atreus
The Interior of the Palace
Gold Mask; Cow's Head
The Warrior Vase
Bronze Helmets; Gem
Carved Ivory Head; Bronze Brooches
A Cup from Vaphio
Gold Plates; Gold Ornament
Mycenae in the Distance
HOW A LOST CITY WAS FOUND
Thirty years ago a little group of people stood on a hill in Greece. The
hilltop was covered with soft soil. The summer sun had dried the grass
and flowers, but little bushes grew thick over the ground. In this way
the hill was like an ordinary hill, but all around the edge of it ran
the broken ring of a great wall. In some places it stood thirty feet
above the earth. Here and there it was twenty feet thick. It was built
of huge stones. At one place a tower stood up. In another two stone
lions stood on guard. It was these ruined walls that interested the
people on the hill. One of the men was a Greek. A red fez was on his
head. He wore an embroidered jacket and loose white sleeves. A stiff
kilted skirt hung to his knees. He was pointing about at the wall and
talking in Greek to a lady and gentleman. They were visitors, come to
see these ruins of Mycenae.
"Once, long, long ago," he was saying, "a great city was inside these
walls. Giants built the walls. See the huge stones. Only giants could
lift them. It was a city of giants. See their great ovens."
He pointed down the hill at a doorway in the earth. "You cannot see well
from here. I will take you down. We can look in. A great dome, built of
stone, is buried in the earth. A passage leads into it, but it is filled
with dirt. We can look down through the broken top. The room inside is
bigger than my whole house. There giants used to bake their bread. Once
a wicked Turk came here. He was afraid of nothing. He said, 'The giants'
treasure lies in this oven. I will have it.' So he sent men down. But
they found only broken pieces of carved marble--no gold."
While the guide talked, the gentleman was tramping about the walls. He
peered into all the dark corners. He thrust a stick into every hole. He
rubbed the stones with his hands. At last he turned to his guide.
"You are right," he said. "There was once a great city inside these
walls. Houses were crowded together on this hill where we stand. Men and
women walked the streets of a city that is buried under our feet, but
they were not giants. They were beautiful women and handsome men.
"It was a famous old city, this Mycenae. Poets sang songs about her. I
have read those old songs. They tell of Agamemnon, its king, and his
war against Troy. They call him the king of men. They tell of his
gold-decked palace and his rich treasures and the thick walls of his
"But Agamemnon died, and weak kings sat in his palace. The warriors of
Mycenae grew few, and after hundreds of years, when the city was old and
weak, her enemies conquered her. They broke her walls, they threw down
her houses, they drove out her people. Mycenae became a mass of empty
ruins. For two thousand years the dry winds of summer blew dust over her
palace floors. The rains of winter and spring washed down mud from her
acropolis into her streets and houses. Winged seeds flew into the cracks
of her walls and into the corners of her ruined buildings. There they
sprouted and grew, and at last flowers and grass covered the ruins.
Now only these broken walls remain. You feed your sheep in the city of
Agamemnon. Down there on the hillside farmers have planted grain above
ancient palaces. But I will uncover this wonderful city. You shall see!
You shall see how your ancestors lived.
"Oh! for years I have longed to see this place. When I was a little boy
in Germany my father told me the old stories of Troy, and he told me of
how great cities were buried. My heart burned to see them. Then, one
night, I heard a man recite some of the lines of Homer. I loved the
beautiful Greek words. I made him say them over and over. I wept because
I was not a Greek. I said to myself, 'I will see Greece! I will study
Greek. I will work hard. I will make a bankful of money. Then I will
go to Greece. I will uncover Troy-city and see Priam's palace. I
will uncover Mycenae and see Agamemnon's grave.' I have come. I have
uncovered Troy. Now I am here. I will come again and bring workmen with
me. You shall see wonders." He walked excitedly around and around the
ruins. He told stories of the old city. He asked his wife to recite
the old tales of Homer. She half sang the beautiful Greek words. Her
husband's eyes grew wet as he listened.
This man's name was Dr. Henry Schliemann. He kept his word. He went
away but he came again in a few years. He hired men and horse-carts. He
rented houses in the little village. Myceae was a busy place again after
three thousand years. More than a hundred men were digging on the top
of this hill. They wore the fezes and kilts of the modern Greek. Little
two-wheeled horse-carts creaked about, loading and dumping.
Some of the men were working about the wall near the stone lions.
"This is the great gate of the city," said Dr. Schliemann. "Here the
king and his warriors used to march through, thousands of years ago. But
it is filled up with dirt. We must clear it out. We must get down to the
very stones they trod."
But it was slow work. The men found the earth full of great stone
blocks. They had to dig around them carefully, so that Dr. Schliemann
might see what they were.
"How did so many great stones come here?" they said among themselves.
Then Dr. Schliemann told them. He pointed to the wall above the gate.
"Once, long, long ago," he said, "the warriors of Mycenae stood up
there. Down here stood an army--the men of Argos, their enemies. The men
of Argos battered at the gate. They shot arrows at the men of Mycenae,
and the men of Mycenae shot at the Argives, and they threw down great
stones upon them. See, here is one of those broken stones, and here, and
here. After a long time the people of Mycenae had no food left in their
city. Their warriors fainted from hunger. Then the Argives beat down the
gate. They rushed into the city and drove out the people. They did not
want men ever again to live in Mycenae, so they took crowbars and tried
to tear down the wall. A few stones they knocked off. See, here, and
here, and here they are, where they fell off the wall. But these great
stones are very heavy. This one must weigh a hundred twenty tons,--more
than all the people of your village. So the Argives gave up the attempt,
and there stand the walls yet. Then the rain washed down the dirt from
the hill and covered these great stones, and now we are digging them out
The men worked at the gateway for many weeks. At last all the dirt and
the blocks had been cleared away. The tall gateway stood open. A hole
was in the stone door-casing at top and bottom. Schliemann put his hand
"See!" he cried. "Here turned the wooden hinge of the gate."
He pointed to another large hole on the side of the casing. "Here the
gatekeeper thrust in the beam to hold the gate shut."
Just inside the gate he found the little room where the keeper had
stayed. He found also two little sentry boxes high up on the wall. Here
guards had stood and looked over the country, keeping watch against
enemies. From the gate the wall bent around the edge of the hilltop,
shutting it in. In two places had been towers for watchmen. Inside this
great wall the king's palace and a few houses had been safe. Outside,
other houses had been built. But in time of war all the people had
flocked into the fortress. The gate had been shut. The warriors had
stood on the wall to defend their city.
But while some of Dr. Schliemann's men were digging at the gateway and
the wall, others were working outside the city. They were making a great
hole, a hundred and thirteen feet square. They put the dirt into baskets
and carried it to the little carts to be hauled away. And always Dr.
Schliemann and his wife worked with them. From morning until dusk every
day they were there. It was August, and the sun was hot. The wind blew
dust into their faces and made their eyes sore, and yet they were happy.
Every day they found some little thing that excited them,--a terra cotta
goblet, a broken piece of a bone lyre, a bronze ax, the ashes of an
At first Dr. Schliemann and his wife had fingered over every spadeful
of dirt. There might be something precious in it. "Dig carefully,
carefully!" Dr. Schliemann had said to the workmen. "Nothing must be
broken. Nothing must be lost. I must see everything. Perhaps a bit of a
broken vase may tell a wonderful story."
But during this work of many weeks he had taught his workmen how to dig.
Now each man looked over every spadeful of earth himself, as he dug it
up. He took out every scrap of stone or wood or pottery or metal and
gave it to Schliemann or his wife. So the excavators had only to study
these things and to tell the men where to work. When a man struck some
new thing with his spade, he called out. Then the excavators ran to
that place and dug with their own hands. When anything was found, Dr.
Schliemann sent it to the village. There it was kept in a house under
guard. At night Dr. Schliemann drew plans of Mycenae. He read again old
Greek books about the city. As he read he studied his plans. He wrote
"As soon as possible, I must tell the world about what we find," he said
to his wife. "People will love my book, because they love the stories of
There had been four months of hard work. A few precious things had
been uncovered,--a few of bronze and clay, a few of gold, some carved
gravestones. But were these the wonders Schliemann had promised? Was
this to be all? They had dug down more than twenty feet. A few more
days, and they would probably reach the solid rock. There could be
nothing below that. November was rainy and disagreeable. The men had to
work in the mud and wet. There was much disappointment on the hilltop.
Then one day a spade grated on gravel. Once before that had happened,
and they had found gold below. They called out to Dr. Schliemann. He and
his wife came quickly. Fire leaped into Schliemann's eyes.
"Stop!" he said. "Now I will dig. Spades are too clumsy."
So he and his wife dropped upon their knees in the mud. They dug with
their knives. Carefully, bit by bit, they lifted the dirt. All at once
there was a glint of gold.
"Do not touch it!" cried Schliemann, "we must see it all at once. What
will it be?"
So they dug on. The men stood about watching. Every now and then they
shouted out, when some wonderful thing was uncovered, and Schliemann
would stop work and cry,
"Did not I tell you? Is it not worth the work?"
At last they had lifted off all the earth and gravel. There was a great
mass of golden things--golden hairpins, and bracelets, and great golden
earrings like wreaths of yellow flowers, and necklaces with pictures
of warriors embossed in the gold, and brooches in the shape of stags'
heads. There were gold covers for buttons, and every one was molded into
some beautiful design of crest or circle or flower or cuttle-fish.
And among them lay the bones of three persons. Across the forehead of
one was a diadem of gold, worked into designs of flowers. "See!" cried
Schliemann, "these are queens. See their crowns, their scepters."
For near the hands lay golden scepters, with crystal balls.
And there were golden boxes with covers. Perhaps long ago, one of these
queens had kept her jewels in them. There was a golden drinking cup with
swimming fish on its sides. There were vases of bronze and silver and
gold. There was a pile of gold and amber beads, lying where they had
fallen when the string had rotted away from the queenly neck. And
scattered all over the bodies and under them were thin flakes of gold in
the shapes of flowers, butterflies, grasshoppers, swans, eagles, leaves.
It seemed as though a golden tree had shed its leaves into the grave.
"Think! Think! Think!" cried Schliemann. "These delicate lovely things
have lain buried here for three thousand years. You have pastured your
sheep above them. Once queens wore them and walked the streets we are
The news of the find spread like wildfire over the country. Thousands of
people came to visit the buried city. It was the most wonderful treasure
that had ever been found. The king of Athens sent soldiers to guard the
place. They camped on the acropolis. Their fires blazed there at night.
Schliemann telegraphed to the king:
"With great joy I announce to your majesty that I have discovered
the tombs which old stories say are the graves of Agamemnon and his
followers. I have found in them great treasures in the shape of ancient
things in pure gold. These treasures, alone, are enough to fill a great
museum. It will be the most wonderful collection in the world. During
the centuries to come it will draw visitors from all over the earth to
Greece. I am working for the joy of the work, not for money. So I give
this treasure, with much happiness, to Greece. May it be the corner
stone of great good fortune for her."
The work went on, and soon they found another grave, even more
wonderful. Here lay five people--two of them women, three of them
warriors. Golden masks covered the faces of the men. Two wore golden
breastplates. The gold clasp of the greave was still around one knee.
Near one man lay a golden crown and a sceptre, and a sword belt of gold.
There was a heap of stone arrowheads, and a pile of twenty bronze swords
and daggers. One had a picture of a lion hunt inlaid in gold. The wooden
handles of the swords and daggers were rotted away, but the gold nails
that had fastened them lay there, and the gold dust that had gilded
them. Near the warriors' hands were drinking cups of heavy gold. There
were seal rings with carved stones. There was the silver mask of an
ox head with golden horns, and the golden mask of a lion's head. And
scattered over everything were buttons, and ribbons, and leaves, and
flowers of gold.
Schliemann gazed at the swords with burning eyes.
"The heroes of Troy have used these swords," he said to his wife,
"Perhaps Achilles himself has handled them." He looked long at the
golden masks of kingly faces.
"I believe that one of these masks covered the face of Agamemnon. I
believe I am kneeling at the side of the king of men," he said in a
Why were all these things there? Thousands of years before, when their
king had died, the people had grieved.
"He is going to the land of the dead," they had thought. "It is a dull
place. We will send gifts with him to cheer his heart. He must have
lions to hunt and swords to kill them. He must have cattle to eat. He
must have his golden cup for wine."
So they had put these things into the grave, thinking that the king
could take them with him. They even had put in food, for Schliemann
found oyster shells buried there. And they had thought that a king, even
in the land of the dead, must have servants to work for him. So they had
sacrificed slaves, and had sent them with their lord. Schliemann found
their bones above the grave. And besides the silver mask of the ox head
they had sent real cattle. After the king had been laid in his grave,
they had killed oxen before the altar. Part they had burned in the
sacred fire for the dead king, and part the people had eaten for the
funeral feast. These bones and ashes, too, Schliemann found. For a long,
long time the people had not forgotten their dead chiefs. Every year
they had sacrificed oxen to them. They had set up gravestones for them,
and after a while they had heaped great mounds over their graves.
That was a wonderful old world at Mycenae. The king's palace sat on a
hill. It was not one building, but many--a great hall where the warriors
ate, the women's large room where they worked, two houses of many
bedrooms, treasure vaults, a bath, storehouses. Narrow passages led from
room to room. Flat roofs of thatch and clay covered all. And there were
open courts with porches about the sides. The floors of the court were
of tinted concrete. Sometimes they were inlaid with colored stones. The
walls of the great hall had a painted frieze running about them. And
around the whole palace went a thick stone wall.
One such old palace has been uncovered at Tiryns near Mycenae. To-day
a visitor can walk there through the house of an ancient king. The
watchman is not there, so the stranger goes through the strong old
gateway. He stands in the courtyard, where the young men used to play
games. He steps on the very floor they trod. He sees the stone bases of
columns about him. The wooden pillars have rotted away, but he imagines
them holding a porch roof, and he sees the men resting in the shade. He
walks into the great room where the warriors feasted. He sees the hearth
in the middle and imagines the fire blazing there. He looks into the
bathroom with its sloping stone floor and its holes to drain off the
water. He imagines Greek maidens coming to the door with vases of water
on their heads. He walks through the long, winding passages and into
room after room. "The children of those old days must have had trouble
finding their way about in this big palace," he thinks.
Such was the palace of the king. Below it lay many poorer houses, inside
the walls and out. We can imagine men and women walking about this city.
We raise the warriors from their graves. They carry their golden cups in
their hands. Their rings glisten on their fingers, and their bracelets
on their arms. Perhaps, instead of the golden armor, they wear
breastplates of bronze of the same shape, but these same swords hang at
their sides. We look at their golden masks and see their straight noses
and their short beards. We study the carving on their gravestones, and
we see their two-wheeled chariots and their prancing horses. We look at
the carved gems of their seal rings and see them fighting or killing
lions. We look at their embossed drinking cups, and we see them catching
the wild bulls in nets. We gaze at the great walls of Mycenae, and
wonder what machines they had for lifting such heavy stones. We look at
a certain silver vase, and see warriors fighting before this very wall.
We see all the beautiful work in gold and silver and gems and ivory, and
we think, "Those men of old Mycenae were artists."
PICTURES OF MYCENAE
THE CIRCLE OF ROYAL TOMBS.
Digging within this circle, Dr. Schliemann found the famous treasure
of golden gifts to the dead, which he gave to Greece. In the Museum at
Athens you can see these wonderful things. (From a photograph in the
DR. AND MRS. SCHLIEMANN AT WORK.
This picture is taken from Dr. Schliemann's own book on his work.
THE GATE OF LIONS.
The stone over the gateway is immensely strong. But the wall builders
were afraid to pile too great a weight upon it. So they left a
triangular space above it. You can see how they cut the big stones with
slanting ends to do this. This triangle they filled with a thinner
stone carved with two lions. The lions' heads are gone. They were made
separately, perhaps of bronze, and stood away from the stone looking out
at people approaching the gate.
INSIDE THE TREASURY OF ATREUS.
No wonder the untaught modern Greeks thought that this was a giants'
oven, where the giants baked their bread. But learned men have shown
that it was connected with a tomb, and that in this room the men
of Mycenae worshipped their dead. It was very wonderfully made and
beautifully ornamented. The big stone over the doorway was nearly thirty
feet long, and weighs a hundred and twenty tons. Men came to this
beehive tomb in the old days of Mycenae, down a long passage with a high
stone wall on either side. The doorway was decorated with many-colored
marbles and beautiful bronze plates. The inside was ornamented, too, and
there was an altar in there.
THE INTERIOR OF THE PALACE.
From these ruins and relics, we know much about the art of the
Mycenaeans, something about their government, their trade, their
religion, their home life, their amusements, and their ways of fighting,
though they lived three thousand years ago. If a great modern city
should be buried, and men should dig it up three thousand years later,
what do you think they will say about us?
This mask was still on the face of the dead king. The artist tried to
make the mask look just as the great king himself had looked, but this
was very hard to do.
A COW'S HEAD OF SILVER.
The king's people put into his grave this silver mask of an ox head with
golden horns. It was a symbol of the cattle sacrificed for the dead.
There is a gold rosette between the eyes. The mouth, muzzle, eyes and
ears are gilded. In Homer's Iliad, which is the story of the Trojan war,
Diomede says, "To thee will I sacrifice a yearling heifer, broad at
brow, unbroken, that never yet hath man led beneath the yoke. Her will I
sacrifice to thee, and gild her horns with gold."
THE WARRIOR VASE.
This vase was made of clay and baked. Then the artist painted figures on
it with colored earth. This was so long ago that men had not learned to
draw very well, but we like the vase because the potter made it such a
beautiful shape, and because we learn from it how the warriors of early
Mycenae dressed. Under their armor they wore short chitons with fringe
at the bottom, and long sleeves, and they carried strangely shaped
shields and short spears or long lances. Do you think those are
knapsacks tied to the lances?
These may have been worn by King Agamemnon, or by the Trojan warriors.
They are now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
GEM FROM MYCENAE.
Early men made many pictures much like this--a pillar guarded by an
animal on each side.
It would take a very skilfull man to-day, a man who was both goldsmith
and artist, to make such daggers as men found at Mycenae. First the
blade was made. Then the artist took a separate sheet of bronze for his
design. This sheet he enamelled, and on it he inlaid his design. On one
of these daggers we see five hunters fighting three lions. Two of the
lions are running away. One lion is pouncing upon a hunter, but his
friends are coming to help him. If you could turn this dagger over, you
would see a lion chasing five gazelles. The artist used pure gold for
the bodies of the hunters and the lions; he used electron, an alloy of
gold and silver, for the hunters' shields and their trousers; and he
made the men's hair, the lions' manes, and the rims of the shields, of
some black substance. When the picture was finished on the plate, he
set the plate into the blade, and riveted on the handle. On the smaller
dagger we see three lions running.
CARVED IVORY HEAD.
It shows the kind of helmet used in Mycenae. Do you think the button at
the top may have had a socket for a horse hair plume?
These brooches were like modern safety pins, and were used to fasten the
chlamys at the shoulder. The chlamys was a heavy woolen shawl, red or
ONE OF THE CUPS FOUND AT VAPHIO.
Some people say that these cups are the most wonderful things that
have been found, made by Mycenaean artists. Some people say that no
goldsmiths in the world since then, unless perhaps in Italy in the
fifteenth century, have done such lovely work. The goldsmith took a
plate of gold and hammered his design into it from the wrong side. Then
he riveted the two ends together where the handle was to go, and lined
the cup with a smooth gold plate. One cup shows some hunters trying to
catch wild bulls with a net. One great bull is caught in the net. One
is leaping clear over it. And a third bull is tossing a hunter on his
horns. On the other cup the artist shows some bulls quietly grazing in
the forest, while another one is being led away to sacrifice.
The Vaphian cups are now in the National museum in Athens. They were
found in a "bee-hive" tomb at Vaphio, an ancient site in Greece, not far
from Sparta. It is thought that they were not made there, but in Crete.
At Mycenae were found seven hundred and one large round plates of gold,
decorated with cuttlefish, flowers, butterflies, and other designs.
GOLD ORNAMENT. (Lower right hand corner.)
MYCENAE IN THE DISTANCE.
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