The largest and most recent tholos tomb at Mycenae called the Treasury of Atreus or Tomb of Agamemnon (although it was built at least 200 years earlier) is an impressive “tholos” tomb on the Panagitsa Hill at Mycenae, Greece, constructed during the Bronze Age around 1250 BCE. The tomb is 30 feet high and the lintel stone above the doorway weighs 120 tons, the largest in the world. The wall is cracked from the weight above it, but the triangular opening above the lintel kept it from cracking down the center and collapsing.
Despite its name, no treasures were found in the tomb as it has been pillaged in ancient times, but there is one item that could not be stolen: the tomb’s aesthetic awe inspiring appearance, in its monumental shape and grandeur it is one of the most impressive monuments surviving from Mycenaean Greece. Ancient traveller Pausanias visited Mycenae in the second century and called it Tresuary of Atreus.
It’s stunning architecture and great size led Schliemann believe it was the tomb of the king Agamemnon. Agamemnon was the king that united all Greeks on a campaign against the Troyans. He was king’s Menelaos brother,who was the husband of Helen.
However, the association with Agamemnon or Atreus (Atreus is a king of Mycene, son of Pelops and Hippodamia, and father of Agamemnon and Menelaus) is purely speculative and no archeological/epigraphical proof has been found.
The ancient city of Mycenae was once thought to exist only in ancient Greek legend and the epic poetry of Homer. It wasn’t until 1874 that the amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann who had also discovered the ruins of Troy, found the fabled city.
Many people doubted that he would find such a city, but using only landmarks from the text of Homers Iliad, Schliemann uncovered the remains of a once thriving civilization.
The city of Mycenae was the center of a large and powerful Mycenaean Greek civilization, which existed from circa 1900 B.C.E. to circa 1125 B.C.E. It is located in the south central part of what is present day Greece. The Mycenaean civilization was at its height between 1400 and 1200 B.C.E.
The chilling gold leaf death mask now known as the “Mask of Agamemnon” is an artifact discovered at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann. The artifact is a funeral mask hewn in gold, and was found over the face of a body located in a burial shaft (grave V). Schliemann believed that he had discovered the body of the legendary Greek leader Agamemnon, but modern archaeological research suggests that the mask is from 1550–1500 BC (earlier than the life of Agamemnon, as tradition regards it).
The mask depicts the imposing face of a bearded noble man. It is made of a gold sheet with repoussé details. The outer shape of the skull is pressed nearly flat. The eyes appear at once both opened and closed Two holes near the ears indicate that the mask was held in place of the deceased’s face with twine.
However the Mask of Agamemnon is believed to be a fake due to the high level of detail, such as the beard and ears. No other mask of it’s type has a similar amount of detail.
The mask is currently displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.