Friday, July 4, 2014

Treasury of Atreus – Tomb of Agamemmon

Treasury of Atreus
Treasury of Atreus, also known as Tomb of Agamemnon, the legendary king of Mycenae, is the most impressive and the largest of the nine tholos tombs which were built around 1350 to 1250 BC at Mycenae, Greece.

This surviving architectural structure of the Mycenean period is a pointed dome which has been built up of overhanging or corbeled blocks of conglomerate masonry, cut and polished, giving the impression of a true vault.

Treasury of Atreus
The Mycanaean tholos, which is the ancient Greek word for a round building tomb, comprises of an entrance leading to a circular burial chamber which has been roofed over with corbel vault in the shape of an old fashioned beehive.

The nine tholos found at Mycenae have been divided into two sections by a long hill, the Panagia ridge, where four tombs are on the east side of the hill which have been romantically named like the Tomb of Aegisthus, the Lion Tomb, the Treasury of Atreus and the Tomb of Clytemnestra.

Treasure House of Atreus

Treasury of Atreus
The `Treasury of Atreus’ was so called because the travel writer, Pausanias in the 2nd century AD thought that the structure had been the treasure house of Atreus, one of the legendary kings of Mycenae, Of the four tholos, three seem to be set close together besides the acropolis hill though the Treasury of Atreus stands approximately 500 metres away from the other three and the tomb is placed halfway towards the eastern slope of the Panagia ridge and the location of the Atreus Tomb has fascinated archaeologist for several years and has given cause for speculation.

The other five tombs are located on the west side of the ridge and it has been observed that the tombs on the east side were more ornate, larger and closer to the acropolis than the ones on the west side and are presumed to have been built by ruler of Mycenae while the other five could have been built by the aristocratic members of the Mycenae.

Vaulted Tomb of Stone

Treasury of Atreus
The Treasury of Atreus is a vaulted tomb built of stone and a small path of 36 metres gives way to the entrance of the tomb. 

 It has a triangle lintel heavy stone over the doorway weighing about 120 tons, while the interior of the tomb has the effect of creating echo and the ceiling is vaulted.

The Treasury of Atreus, which was constructed around 1250 BC is 13.5 metres high with a diameter of 14.5 metres and is the tallest dome for many centuries till the Pantheon construction in Rome.

Treasury of Atreus
The interior of the tomb was decorated with red porphyry and green alabaster which is a very rare painting colour during that time. Small side chamber made out of rock contained the burials while the main chamber could have been kept for the purpose of rituals.

Two engaged columns which are presently in the British Museum of the Minoan type were made of green limestone, decorated with zigzag pattern and secured to the façade. This was approached by a ceremonial passage or dromos, protected with cyclopean blocks of masonry which was open to the sky.

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