Abstract: Digging Homer: Pylos and the birth of Mycenaean States

For thousands of years the Iliad, Homer's epic story of the Trojan War, has remained the classic tale of love, honor, and greed.  In the past century archaeological work in major archaeological sites like Mycenae, Pylos, and Troy has helped us put Homeric myths into historical perspective and shown that many of Homer's  tails were rooted in  reality. 

This lecture will discuss the exciting discoveries made by the UM-St. Louis archaeological expedition at Iklaina, one of the capitals of the legendary king Nestor, who figures prominently in Greek mythology and Homer’s Iliad.   The unique discoveries in this site (which include Cyclopean walls, frescoes, and the oldest known written tablet from the Greek Mainland)  challenge current knowledge about the origins of states, bureaucracy, and literacy in ancient Greece and allow us a glimpse into the captivating world of the Greek epics.  The discoveries at Iklaina received extensive coverage by the New York Times and other major newspapers across the US and internationally.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

M. Cosmopoulos: "The Political Landscape of Mycenaean States: A-pu2 adn the Hither Province of Pylos", American Journal of Archaeology 2006, 205-228.

A. Summer-Slavin: "New discoveries at Iklaina", Archaeology Magazine (forthcoming, 2012).


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