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Mycenae Excavation and Publication Archive

 Fonds
Reference Code: GBR/3437/MCNE

Scope and Contents

The Mycenae Excavation and Publication archive comprises records created in connection with the British School at Athens (BSA) and British-Helleno excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site of Mycenae, Greece.

Dig and study seasons took place in the following years:
1920-1923 – BSA excavations directed by A. J. B. Wace
1939 – BSA excavations directed by A. J. B. Wace
1950 – 1955 BSA excavations directed by A. J. B. Wace
1956-1957 – Study seasons at Nauplion Museum
1959 - 1960 British-Helleno excavations directed by Lord William D. Taylour
1962 - British-Helleno excavations directed by Lord William D. Taylour
1964 - British-Helleno excavations directed by Lord William D. Taylour
1965 – Study season at Nauplion Museum
1966 - British-Helleno excavations directed by Lord William D. Taylour
1967 – Study season at Nauplion Museum
1968 – 1969 British-Helleno excavations directed by Lord William D. Taylour
1970-88 - Study seasons at Nauplion directed by Dr E. B. French

Areas excavated or re-excavated on the acropolis include the Lion Gate and Granary, Grave Circle A, the Ramp House, Hellenistic Chambers, Citadel House area, Tsountas House, the Palace, the Archaic Temple, the House of Columns, the Postern Gate and Gallery. Beyond the citadel, in the ancient town below, the 'Ivory Houses' - House of Sphinxes (South House), House of Shields (North House), House of the Oil Merchant - Schliemann's dump, Perseia area, Fountain House (Hellenistic Gymnasium), Cyclopean Terrace Building (House of the Wine Merchant) were dug. In addition to the Prehistoric Cemetery (which begins in Grave Circle A and extends north-west beyond the citadel walls), the other main areas of funerary archaeology were the chamber tombs and the tholos tombs: Aegisthus, Clytemnestra, Epano Phournos, Kato Phournos, Cyclopean, Panagia, Lion and Treasury of Atreus. Further afield, Atreus Ridge (House of Lead), the Agamemnoneion and Argive Heraion tholos tomb were investigated.

Primary material encompasses the Excavation and Study seasons 1920-1969 notebooks, site albums, pottery notes, pottery drawings, site plans and sections, maps, photographic positive and negative prints and transparencies, and administrative papers.

Secondary material was created by post-1969 study seasons.

The archive also contains original material which underpin publications relating directly to these excavations, in particular Chamber Tombs at Mycenae Archaeologia 82 (1932) and Mycenae (1949) by A. J. B. Wace, BSA and Journal of Hellenic Studies articles, the Archaeological Atlas of Mycenae by Dr E. B. French and the Well Built Mycenae series which is ongoing in its publications.

Dates

  • 1915-2013

Creator

Extent

15 linear metre(s) (15 linear metres (135 boxes))

15 linear metre(s) (15 linear metres (135 boxes))

Language of Materials

English

Greek, Modern (1453-)

Arrangement

The original order of the collection as devised by Professor A. J. B. Wace, and refined and augmented by Dr E. B. W. French, has been maintained. It is arranged into 8 series which reflect the major activities of the Directors of the excavation and their archaeological teams:

1. Excavation and Pottery Notebooks 2. Maps, Plans and Drawings 3. Photographic Material 4. Administrative and Study Materials 5. Well Built Mycenae Publication Material 6. Mycenae Survey and Archaeological Atlas Publication Material 7. Further Publications 8. Miscellaneous

Within series, records have been grouped in chronological order of excavation year and by site area, or otherwise by project.

Other Finding Aids

Dr E. B. W. French in the 1980s assigned 'Mycenae Archive' numbers to individual notebooks and batches of photographs and catalogued them under these numbers, written by hand on a card index now stored in the Archive. Some older publications may refer to these 'Mycenae Archive' numbers.

BSA Supplementary Volume 12 (1980) 'Excavations at Mycenae 1939-1955' reprinted the extensive preliminary reports published by Alan J. B. Wace (AJBW) in the Annual of the BSA, to which Dr E. B. W. French (EBWF) added a series of summaries and an index.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dr E. B. W. French, 29 August 2013.

General

Mycenae, located in the north-eastern Peloponnese region of Greece, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Inhabited since the Neolithic era, a fortified acropolis, encircled by 'Cyclopean' walls, by the Late Bronze Age (c.1100-1600 BCE) Mycenae dominated much of southern Greece militarily, politically and culturally. Featured in the Homeric epics as the city of Agamemnon, Mycenae has a rich mythological past that archaeologists have taken inspiration from when naming features and finds from the site. Much of what can be seen at the site today, including the iconic Lion Gate, Grave Circles A and B, and tholos tombs such as the Treasury of Atreus, date to the Late Bronze Age.

The first excavations of Mycenae were carried out by Kyriakos Pittakis in 1841, who excavated around the famous Lion Gate entrance. Pittakis was followed by Heinrich Schliemann in 1874 and Christos Tsountas, of the Archaeological Society of Athens (ASA), from 1884. This site was personally ceded to to A. J. B. Wace by the ASA, via Professor Tsountas, in 1920. This agreement lapsed on Wace's death in 1957 but the Greek Archaeological Service permitted completion of the work begun in 1953/1954 in the Citadel House Area within the acropolis, under the directorship of Lord William Taylour from 1959-1969, in cooperation with Dr I. Papadimitriou, Dr Nikolaos Verdelis and Professor G. E. Mylonas. Mycenae remains an ASA site and work continues there to the present day.

The British dig teams excavated during the summer months, with varying numbers of excavators involved. Dr Elizabeth (Lisa) French, the daughter of Alan J. B. Wace and the donor of this archive, was present for all of the seasons between 1939 and 1969, except for 1964. Lists of the excavation participants and a summary of each season were published in the British School at Athens Annual. Each excavation season also employed an architect and a foreman, the latter often undertaken by members of the Dasis family who ran the Fair Helen (Belle Helene), the inn which provided accommodation for the excavators.

Between 1900 and 1998 the bulk of all excavated material from Mycenae was housed in the storerooms of Nauplion Museum, with a few choice pieces taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Much study was undertaken during excavations and study seasons in the Nauplion storerooms. In 1952 a small room on the top floor became a storeroom for the British finds. When the building was renovated individual 'cells' were created as storerooms for the various excavations. Ultimately all the finds not exhibited or in special storage from the 1920-1923 and 1939-1955 excavations were stored here. Two more storerooms were allocated later for material from the Citadel House 1959-1969 excavations. In 1998/9 all Nauplion Mycenae material (both stored and exhibited) was transferred gradually to the new on-site Mycenae Museum, where it remains today along with the original object registration cards.

Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the University of Cambridge: Faculty of Classics Archives Repository

Contact:
Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge CB3 9DA United Kingdom
+441223 335193

The UK Archival Thesaurus has been integrated with our catalogue, thanks to Kings College London and the AIM25 project for their support with this.