Mycenaean Architecture

Louise A. Hitchcock

in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199873609
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Mycenaean Architecture

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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Art and Architecture
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology


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Mycenaean architecture is characterized by both continuity and innovation, as well as by the adoption and adaptation of neighboring practices. The most obvious feature of mainland architecture is that it is hall centered, dominated by a central rectangular hall or megaron, thereby combining both axiality and simplicity. It forms the core element of the palaces in Mycenae, with additional rooms and courtyards organized around it. Construction techniques varied regionally and chronologically but include a variety of techniques including mud-brick superstructures on a stone socle, drywall masonry, rubble masonry, Cyclopean masonry, and ashlar masonry on a stone socle. Ashlar was typically sand or limestone, although saw-cut, dressed conglomerate blocks were used in special places such as thresholds and the entrances of fortifications and tholos tombs. There was also a sparing use of decorative stone such as gypsum, which might reference Crete, in the palaces and other monumental structures such as tombs.

Keywords: Mycenaea; architecture; continuity; innovation; megaron; palaces; stone socle; masonry; tholos; Crete

Article.  4275 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Greek and Roman Archaeology

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