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Greece (Peloponnese)

Marry an artist and then go to Mycenae

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Mitch and I at the Lion Gate, the spectacular entrance to the Citadel at Mycenae

Here’s another perk of being married to an artist

A few days ago, I posted on Instagram about how one of the perks of being married to an artist is that you can tag along with them when they serve an artist residency in Greece.

Image-1Well, if you need another reason to marry an artist, here it is:

You have a built-in tour guide for all things artistic: museums, historical sights, and exhibitions. 

Today, I fully realized the benefits of being married to an artist while walking the grounds of Mycenae. Not having studied these incredible ruins for a degree in journalism and teaching, I really didn’t understand much of what I was seeing.

However, walking around with my husband, I gained a glimmer of understanding about the culture that preceded classical Greece and influenced western art, architecture, and philosophy.

Mitch was able to tell me that: the Lion Gate that leads to the Citadel at Mycenae is important because it shows a monumental post and lintel entry point. Another reason: those lions throughout history never became buried or destroyed. Always visible down through the ages, they created a landmark for historical study that continues in current times.

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A closer shot of the Lion Gate.

The Lion Gate structure, like all of Mycenae, was built  from 1600-1300 BC. When you wrap your head around that date, these ancient ruins— some of them today merely stubs of stone outcroppings and faint traces of walls and foundations–are indeed spectacular.

Many times today, I found myself asking things like:

  • “How in the world were they able to hoist that huge stone all the way up there?” 
  • “And why did they need that large of a stone in the first place?”

My husband Mitch is also able to tell me about the triangular openings above many entries. These triangular openings displaced the weight from above so the weight didn’t rest directly on the lintel. We saw several of these triangular openings on beehive-shaped tombs. Imagine how many failures were experienced over the years in order for the Mycenaens to learn and then apply this engineering principle in the surviving structures we admire today.

This was taken inside the Treasury of Atreus or the Tomb of Agamemnon. It’s mammoth. In fact, it’s the largest of the nine similar tombs at Mycenae.

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That’s one BIG stone above the doorway. See how it curves?
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See how that curved stone is actually bigger than it looks? You walk under it a good bit when you enter the tomb.

Another example of my husband’s knowledge that comes in handy when you go to places like Greece: Back in Athens, inside the Propylaea, the entrance to the Acropolis, one could easily walk under the ornate “ceiling,” never pausing to consider the enormous stones above.

In the next photo of the Propylaea in Athens, see the large horizontal pieces, some of which have new and whiter marble replacement pieces? Now see those stones in between those horizontal pieces? Those are separate stones placed over the horizontal beams.  Stone on stone on stone. Truly incredible.

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Ceiling of the Propylea at the Acropolis in Athens a few weeks ago.

But let’s return to today’s Mycenae visit.

Here’s I am again walking under a lintel that spans the posts, transferring the weight to the posts. Maybe this is common knowledge to you, but it’s new to me and fun to hear about from my husband.

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Post and lintel doorway at the Citadel

Another spot I saw today: the House of Columns at the Citadel at Mycenae. Notice the large stone in the front of the picture? Now see how there are four more behind it spaced regularly? Those used to be columns. Amazing.

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The House of Columns at Mycenae
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Quick summary of the importance of Mycenae

We walked the mile or so up the road to Mycenae from our AirBnB. It was a breezy, sunny day and warm, but not too warm. It was actually a nice walk full of oleander and olive trees.

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We started out here at our AirBnb. Yesterday was a long day. We arrived here last night after leaving Skopelos, ferrying to Skiathos, flying to Athens, and taking a bus to Fichti, where our host met us at the bus stop before driving us to Mycenae (spelled Mikines in Greece using English alphabet).

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Our AirBnb in Mycenae

 

Tomorrow, we head to Delphi, where Mitch will get to play tour guide again. What a perk for me!


Thanks for reading! Catch tomorrow’s post by following my blog. Ever been to the Peloponnese? Leave a comment about your experience.

 

By marilynyung

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

7 replies on “Marry an artist and then go to Mycenae”

Hoisting such huge stones during ancient times, that too without machines, is an astounding feat by itself.. the engineers and architects were ahead of their times..
In India, we do have such huge stones which were hoisted to impossible places. In one of the places I visited (Brihadeeshwar Temple), large chunks of granite weighing tons were hoisted using an artificial ramp of several kilometres length, pulled by elephants..
But how did they cut such slabs out? That’s another story..
I invite you to visit my blog and see that piece. Hope to hear your feedback as well.. 🙂

Liked by 1 person

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