A Map of the Mycenaean Empire (ca. 1600-1200 BCE) with Mycenaean Settlements Named in Linear B, Latinized Linear B & English (Click to ENLARGE):
A few notes on this map. The capital cities, Knossos in Crete & Mycenae on the mainland Peloponnese, are flagged with a red star. The purple star beside Mycenae is also found beside the name of Troy, to indicate that the Mycenaeans conquered Troy, although quite when is uncertain (ca. 1300-1250 BCE?). Even if the conquest were as early as 1300 BCE, that would have left only another century before the collapse of Mycenae itself. In fact, what remained of the great Bronze Age Greek cities, Knossos (which had fallen into disrepair and eventually into ruins long before 1200 BCE – almost certainly no later than 1425-1400 BCE), then Mycenae itself, along with its satellite Mycenaean cities and settlements (Pylos, Tiryns, Thebes and Athens) all collapsed right around 1200 BCE. It is doubtful that they all fell on account of the Dorian invasion, since it is highly unlikely the Dorians ever got anywhere near Thebes or Athens. So this leaves the whole question of how and why the Mycenaean Empire fell so suddenly wide open to speculation. Note that all of the Minoan & Mycenaean locales tagged on this map are attested (A) on Linear B tablets from Knossos, Phaistos, Zakros, Mycenae, Pylos or Thebes.
Linear B Show & Tell # 3: Axes & (Temple of the) Double Axes & their Relgious Symbolism: (Click to ENLARGE)
If anything, the symbolism if the “axe” and especially of the “double axe” is one of the major underpinnings of Minoan/Mycenaean religion. We find axes and double axes all over the place on Minoan and Mycenaean frescoes, regardless of site, Knossos, Mycenae, Pylos etc. If ever you visit Knossos, you will see for yourself the famous Temple of the Double Axes. Although the lower story is sealed off, if you look down, you will see a lovely frieze of horizontal double axes on the back wall of the lower story. To this day, no-one really knows the true significance of the symbol of the axe or double axe in Minoan or Mycenaean mythology. They pose a real dilemma. Since the Minoans at Knossos were a peaceable people, why would they plaster double axes all over the walls of a building which we take to be the Temple of the Double Axes (erroneously or not)?
In Mycenae, however, the symbol of the axe or double axe makes perfect sense, as the Mycenaeans were a warlike people. The simplest explanation I can come up with is that the Mycenaeans exported the axe and double axe to Knossos after their conquest or occupation of the city. And no-one is quite sure if the Mycenaeans actually did conquer Knossos, or whether the two “city states” allied in order to greatly strengthen their hand as a unified Empire in the economic and trading affairs of the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean seas ca. 1500-1200 BCE. Of course, Knossos (Late Minoan III Palatial Period) itself fell sometime around 1450-1400 BCE, but the great Mycenaean Empire persisted until ca. 1200 BCE, after which the Nordic Dorians invaded the entire Greek peninsula, the Peloponnese, leaving the Mycenaean “city states” in ruins. It is entirely probable that the Minoan-Mycenaean Empire ca. 1500-1400 BCE rivalled the Egyptian Empire in the scope of its power. Almost certainly the Mycenaeans were actively trading with civilizations along the East coast of Greece and inland, Athens and Thebes (the latter being a Mycenaean stronghold) and with the city of Troy and the inhabitants along the West coast of what we now know as Turkey. What is particularly fascinating and (highly) revealing in the historical perspective of the rise of ancient Greece is that the new Greek colonies which spread all over the Aegean in the 7th. and 6th. centuries BCE flourished in precisely the same places where the Mycenaeans had carried on such extensive trade some 6 to 10 centuries earlier! There is more to this than meets the eye, as we shall eventually discover in key posts on this blog later this year or sometime in 2015.
Other omnipresent religious symbols included the Horns of Consecration at Knossos, and the Snake Goddess & the goddess Pipituna at both Knossos and Mycenae.
An Analysis of the Archaic Greek in the Iliad: Book II (Lines 1-34) [Click to ENLARGE]:
This post takes the text of the first 34 lines of Book II of the Iliad, which appear in the previous post with my translation into English, and extrapolates from that text most of the archaic Greek grammar and vocabulary which appear in it. And there is quite a lot. For instance, the archaic Mycenaean genitive appears in line 18 (i9ppoda/moio Linear B IQODAMOYO), dative in line 3. (nhusi\n Linear B NEUSI) and accusative in line 19. (pannu/xion… …a1ndra Linear B PANUKIO… ….ADARA), to cite just 3 examples in the first 34 lines alone. Archaic forms of all parts of speech are found throughout Book II of the Iliad, but they occur far more frequently in the Catalogue of Ships (Lines 484-789) than anywhere else. The significance of this cannot be overestimated. The liberal use of archaic Greek grammar and vocabulary, above all in the Catalogue of Ships, provides extremely strong circumstantial evidence that Catalogue of Ships is of Mycenaean origin, and was recited by Mycenaean bards, not as myth but as historical fact. Apparently, the Trojan War did in fact occur around 1200 BCE. It is my belief that the Trojan War, although it culminated in victory for the Greeks, was in fact a Pyrrhic victory, because it completely exhausted the military and naval resources of Mycenae and its subject cities (Pylos, Tiryns, Orchomenos, Thebes & Athens),
resulting in the inevitable utter destruction of Mycenae and all its satellite cities, which were no longer able to defend themselves against the invasion of the barbaric Dorian hordes. It strikes me as singularly strange that this entirely plausible explanation for the destruction of Mycenaean civilization is almost never mentioned in historical literature of early ancient Greece.