Department of History and Archaeology


Spring Semester, Optional module, 10 ECTS

Instructor: Yiannnis Papadatos



The course deals with the archaeology of prehistoric Mainland Greece and the Aegean littoral, with special emphasis on the Mycenaean palatial states of the second millennium BC, their political and social organization and their administration system. The course includes an overview of all aspects of the Mycenaean material culture: settlement patterns, palatial and domestic architecture, funerary practices, and arts and crafts such as pottery, frescoes and metallurgy. This evidence constitutes the basis for the understanding of Mycenaean society and life, including social organization and politics, beliefs, ideology and rituals, economy, trade and relations with important neighboring powers, namely the Hittite empire and pharaonic Egypt. Special focus is also given to the texts of Linear B and the validity of Homer’s poems as a source for the reconstruction of the Mycenaean world.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be familiar with

  • the main Mycenaean sites and all aspects of Mycenaean material culture,
  • the main debates about social structure in Mycenaean Greece
  • the main debates about the form, function, social significance and evolution of the Mycenaean palaces

They should also be able to

  • study and analyze a broad array of archaeological evidence
  • understand and apply a variety of methodological processes for the interpretation of such archaeological evidence
  • critically review contrasting interpretations about the emergence of the first palatial states in Mainland Greece
  • form and express their own opinions about the structure and function of complex social and political phenomena, such as the Mycenaean palatial states.
  • work both alone and in groups


Essay (3,500-5,000 words). A list of indicative topics is provided, but students are strongly encouraged to discuss and personalize the essay topic with the course instructor. In addition, students may be asked to study select research papers from the existing bibliography on the Aegean Bronze Age and to discuss them in special meetings with the tutors.


Students are advised to familiarize with the following works:

Burns, E. B. 2010. Mycenaean Greece, Mediterranean Commerce, and the Formation of Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cline, E.H. (ed.) 2010. The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean (ca. 3000-1000 BC).Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapters 7, 10, 15, 16-18, 20-21, 25, 27, 31-33, 35-36.

Galaty, M.L. and W.A. Parkinson (eds.) 2007. Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces II. Revised and Expanded Second Edition. The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Monograph 60. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA.

Preziosi D. and L. Hitchcock 1999. Aegean Art and Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shelmerdine, C.W. (ed.) 2008. The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapters 2, 10-15.

Shelmerdine, C.W. 1997. Review of Aegean Prehistory VI: The Palatial Bronze Age of the Southern and Central Greek Mainland. American Journal of Archaeology 101:3, 537-585.

Voutsaki, S. and J.Τ. Killen (eds.) 2001. Economy and Politics in the Mycenaean Palace States.Proceedings of a Conference Held on 1-3 July 1999 in the Faculty of Classics. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society Supplement 33. Cambridge: The Cambridge Philological Society.