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“The Mycenaeans were a people preoccupied with war” How conclusively do the various types of archaeological evidence we have for the Mycenaean warfare and defence support this statement?

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Introduction

"The Mycenaeans were a people preoccupied with war" How conclusively do the various types of archaeological evidence we have for the Mycenaean warfare and defence support this statement? The Mycenaean age began around 1600 BC and came to end around 1100 BC. Although this period was distinguished by its warlike aspects, I would take issue with the statement that the Mycenaeans were preoccupied by war. The first manifestations of the Mycenaean civilisation were found in the Peleponnese, especially in the north-east and the south-west. By around 1400BC the Mycenaean civilisation had penetrated the greater part of mainland Greece and later still the civilisation seems to have expanded far beyond the main body of Greece. Excavations have revealed Mycenaean remains in southern Italy, Egypt, Sicily, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, Cyprus, and sites in Asia Minor. Evidence of Mycenaean settlements has been beyond a doubt found in Rhodes and in Melos. These settlements may have been a general expansion of the Mycenaean civilisation yet large amounts of Mycenaean imports as found at Cyprus indicate to many archaeologists that these may be trade outposts. General expansion would make war necessary rather than a chosen pursuit as the civilisation would have to take new land whilst defending what they already had. ...read more.

Middle

Attacks could be launched from a citadel under siege implied by the sally port in Mycenae from which it would be relatively easy for small bands of men to slip in and out without being noticed. All in all the highly defended citadels suggest the Mycenaeans feared being attacked, making the overall culture at the time seem quite warlike and volatile; the Mycenaeans could simply have been fitting into the trend of the area rather than beginning one. Despite this there can be no doubt that the Mycenaeans were warlike in many respects, they are renowned for their fighting ability - many scholars believe that they probably conquered Knossos in Crete and ruled there for sometime. The coming of the Mycenaeans certainly brought a dramatic change to the Cretan society, the "warrior tombs" around Knossos yielded large amounts of weapons and armour. Documents at Knossos also recorded lists of armour and weapons, one document listed "fine linen" for a "tunic" and on the second line mentions tunic fittings (epikhitonia) and "1kg of bronze." It has been argued that the bronze could have been a unit of exchange but it is more likely that the document is refering to a reinforced tunic. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Mycenaeans imported much of these metals probably in return for large amounts of surplus crops. The Mycenaean civilisation came to an end around 1100BC in a series of disasters and fires, one of the first places to be destroyed was Pylos invaded by an unknown adversary. Writing skills disappeared, only to be rediscovered by the Greek hundreds of years later who adapted the Phoenicians techniques. Foreign trade on a large scale also halted and the population became segregated, splitting into small rural settlements rather than the cities they once inhabited. This decay of a once great society took place over an extended time period starting with the destruction of a few cities in 1250BC and has been blamed on Dorian invasions, climate changes or internal struggles. There is no evidence that proves any of these arguments but it is obvious that the volatile times in which the Mycenaeans lived in finally destroyed the civilisation. My main argument against the opinion that the Mycenaeans were "preoccupied with war" is that they did bring structure into the areas in which they inhabited. Although they were obviously a warlike culture they had strong systems when it came to trade, religion, craft and administration proved most finally by the fact these structures collapsed when the Mycenaean civilisation ended. ...read more.

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