The Tomb of Agamemnon

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Overview

Read the Bldg Blog interview with Mary Beard about the Wonders of the World series
(Part I and Part II)

Mycenae, the fabled city of Homer's King Agamemnon, still stands in a remote corner of mainland Greece. Revered in antiquity as the pagan world's most tangible connection to the heroes of the Trojan War, Mycenae leapt into the headlines in the late nineteenth century when Heinrich Schliemann announced that he had opened the Tomb of Agamemnon ...

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The Tomb of Agamemnon

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Overview

Read the Bldg Blog interview with Mary Beard about the Wonders of the World series
(Part I and Part II)

Mycenae, the fabled city of Homer's King Agamemnon, still stands in a remote corner of mainland Greece. Revered in antiquity as the pagan world's most tangible connection to the heroes of the Trojan War, Mycenae leapt into the headlines in the late nineteenth century when Heinrich Schliemann announced that he had opened the Tomb of Agamemnon and found the body of the hero smothered in gold treasure. Now Mycenae is one of the most haunting and impressive archaeological sites in Europe, visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

From Homer to Himmler, from Thucydides to Freud, Mycenae has occupied a singular place in the western imagination. As the backdrop to one of the most famous military campaigns of all time, Agamemnon's city has served for generation after generation as a symbol of the human appetite for war. As an archaeological site, it has given its name to the splendors of one of Europe's earliest civilizations: the Mycenaean Age. In this book, historian of science Cathy Gere tells the story of these extraordinary ruins--from the Cult of the Hero that sprung up in the shadow of the great burned walls in the eighth century bc, to the time after Schliemann's excavations when the Homeric warriors were resurrected to play their part in the political tragedies of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Newsday

For a history of both ancient Mycenae and its rediscovery and significance, read The Tomb of Agamemnon, by Cathy Gere.
— Erica Marcus

dwell.com

A wonderfully lively tale of Mycenae, its mythic king Agamemnon, and the popular and academic understanding of the site down through the ages.
— Aaron Britt

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Gere's elegantly succinct and enlightening book in fact takes for its subject an assemblage of the iconic archaeological remains and their poetic archetypes or analogues: the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae with its Lion Gate, cyclopean walls, palace, royal grave circle, nearby tholos tombs, and the spectacular grave goods on display in the National Museum at Athens. Whether or not any person called Agamemnon ever actually lived, died, and was buried in the citadel at Mycenae, these items of Greek cultural inheritance have always been inextricably bound up with his name. Gere reconstructs the history and significance of Mycenae in the literary and archaeological records and astutely examines why the place and its denizens have so gripped the collective consciousness of the West through the centuries...Gere concludes by asking "can we finally acknowledge the battle-scarred heroes of Mycenae without recruiting them to fight?" This delightful book goes far to answer that question in the affirmative by combining a crisp, yet nuanced portrayal of the "tomb of Agamemnon" and associated artifacts with an absorbing history of their reception through the ages.

— James P. Holoka

Newsday - Joann C. Gutin
Archaeologist Cathy Gere's wonderful little history/guidebook, The Tomb of Agamemnon, is about a lot of things. It's about how each new era bends the past to its own needs. It's about what's gained--and lost--when scientists displace passionate amateurs. It's about the human desire to impose narrative, false if need be, on the mute relics of history. What Gere's book isn't about, strictly speaking, is the tomb of Agamemnon, because that doesn't exist...Still, lots of historical icons are fictional--George Washington's wooden teeth come to mind--and Gere spends a hundred or so lively, thought-provoking pages describing the "highly productive career" of this one... Unlikely as it seems, this book is a real page-turner. And if you like it, you're in luck. Gere's book is the latest in an ongoing series [Wonders of the World] on great monuments--Westminster Abbey, the Parthenon--published by Harvard University Press. Don't leave home without them.
Newsday - Erica Marcus
For a history of both ancient Mycenae and its rediscovery and significance, read The Tomb of Agamemnon, by Cathy Gere.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review - James P. Holoka
Gere's elegantly succinct and enlightening book in fact takes for its subject an assemblage of the iconic archaeological remains and their poetic archetypes or analogues: the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae with its Lion Gate, cyclopean walls, palace, royal grave circle, nearby tholos tombs, and the spectacular grave goods on display in the National Museum at Athens. Whether or not any person called Agamemnon ever actually lived, died, and was buried in the citadel at Mycenae, these items of Greek cultural inheritance have always been inextricably bound up with his name. Gere reconstructs the history and significance of Mycenae in the literary and archaeological records and astutely examines why the place and its denizens have so gripped the collective consciousness of the West through the centuries...Gere concludes by asking "can we finally acknowledge the battle-scarred heroes of Mycenae without recruiting them to fight?" This delightful book goes far to answer that question in the affirmative by combining a crisp, yet nuanced portrayal of the "tomb of Agamemnon" and associated artifacts with an absorbing history of their reception through the ages.
dwell.com - Aaron Britt
A wonderfully lively tale of Mycenae, its mythic king Agamemnon, and the popular and academic understanding of the site down through the ages.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674063884
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/2/2012
  • Series: Wonders of the World , #37
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,389,504
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Cathy Gere is Associate Professor of the History of Science at the University of California, San Diego.
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction : Narnia of the Peloponnese 1
Ch. 2 The cult of the hero and the agony of war 25
Ch. 3 Mycenae enlightened 47
Ch. 4 Agamemnon awakened 60
Ch. 5 Saviour of antichrist? 81
Ch. 6 The birth of the Bronze Age 95
Ch. 7 The swastika and the butterfly 117
Ch. 8 A city without heroes 145
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    No Images

    The electronic version of this book does not have images. The frequent notes to "refer to the printed version of this book for images" is horrible for a book about archeological artifacts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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