Mycenaean Fortifications

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Late Helladic fortification walls on the Greek mainland are found surrounding citadels, not the entire city or site. The citadels seem to have housed central administration and housing for an elite class of citizens. They were built on hills, presumably as another layer of fortification. I will examine the sites of Gla, Midea, Tiryns, and Mycenae to look for similarities and differences in the design and architecture of their fortifications, as well as, arguments about the purpose of the fortifications at these sites. I will also explore how some sites were hindered or helped defensively and economically by their location and their use of fortifications.
Mycenaean sites employed Cyclopean masonry as the means of building their
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The site of Midea is near Mycenae and Tiryns. Midea’s fortification walls were observable by 19th century travelers (Iakovidis, 1983) and later excavations uncovered the gates from the walls as well. Like other Late Helladic sites, the fortification walls were built on a natural hill. At Midea this hill is surrounded by a plain and is significantly taller than the surrounding area at 171 meters and the slopes are hard to climb. This puts the citadel of the site in an easily defensible position in case of any attack. The hill is so steep in areas that builders did not need to build fortification walls on the east and south-east sides.
The walls at Midea were built using Cyclopean masonry like other fortification walls found from this time. The walls are also very thick, ranging from 5.50-7 meters in various areas (Iakovidis, 1983). Like other Mycenaean sites, there is also evidence of a palace area inside the fortification walls. Terracing and other buildings have also been uncovered during excavations, in keeping with the traditional role of the fortification walls being placed around an administrative or elite center.
Unlike some other Mycenaean sites, Midea’s fortification walls’ entrance gates were relatively simple and the walls were never expanded. Midea also has examples of L-Shaped gates which are rare on the Greek mainland. L-Shaped gates had 90 degree turns, and while it was a defensive measure in the
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