The Lion Gate at Mycenae
The name ‘Lion Gate‘ comes from a relief sculpture on the lintel of the gate, which depicts two lions and two lionesses facing the central pillar on the altar. The lions are a controversial subject; many scholars debate whether they are sphinxes or lions. In either case, the lions might be symbolic of a ceremonial gateway and their presence may have been meant as sanctified guardians. This article is about The Lion Gate at Mycenae.
Construction of the lion gate
The Lion Gate, or the gate of the lion, was the main entrance to the citadel of Mycenae. Built in the mid-13th century, the structure is a combination of Minoan, Mycenaean, and Hittite stonework. The gate features a monolithic stone lintel and a relief of two lions.
The structure of the Lion Gate shows details of Hittite sculpture from the 14th century BCE. It represents the mastery of the Hittite masons. The stone blocks that form the gate are connected in a polygonal way. In contrast, a thin piece of paper is unable to fit between the stones in Hattusa. Construction techniques are similar to those used in the Mycenaean Gate.
After excavations at Mycenae began in 1841 by Kyriakos Pittakis and the Archaeological Society of Athens, the Lion Gate had already become an icon of Mycenae. Before Heinrich Schliemann identified Mycenae’s culture, the Gate became a renowned ruin. Today, the Lion Gate is one of the most photographed monuments of the ancient world.
The lions of the gate are thought to represent the rulers of the Mycenaean kingdom. They might have acted as guards over the people of the ancient city. The lions are also thought to have symbolized a sacred area. However, it is not clear if lions were used to protect the citadel, which is why the Gate of the Lions was a symbol of power.
The lion gate at Mycenae demonstrates the unique stoneworking techniques used by the Mycenaean Civilization. It was built in the 15th to 13th Century B.C. during the Greek Bronze Age. Homer describes Mycenae as a well-founded citadel with wide streets and a golden city, supported by over 15 kilograms of gold objects.
The lion gate at Mycenae is an example of an early Bronze Age tomb portal. The Lion Gate is a spectacular example of this style, and is the only surviving monumental sculpture in the Aegean region. It features two lionesses atop a lintel that is more than three feet high. The lion gate was built by applying basic geometry and rational numbers to create a strong and beautiful structure. The lions are crowned by two large lions, and the gate was designed to allow access to a palace.
The lion gate at Mycenae is composed of four megalithic stone blocks, including two upright stones and an open space in between. The lion gate spanned the city of Mycenae, and was the main entrance for its citadel. The Lion Gate was built in the mid-13th century by sculptors and masons with knowledge of hittite stonework and Greek styles.
The lion gate at Mycenae illustrates the diverse techniques and tools used in the construction of the city. Stone-cutting techniques used for its construction show different phases of the construction process and indicate different artisan choices. Some of the stone-cutting techniques used for the lion gate at Mycenae are similar to those in central Anatolia. While the stone-cutting methods used on the lion gate may have originated in Mycenae, they were shared by the Mycenaean and Hittite cultures.
Construction of the lion relief
The lion relief at Mycenae features a central slab supported by two lateral ones. The rectangular stone rocks are placed one above the other, except for the central slab. The central slab was not filled with heavy stone rocks, so a decorative plate was placed there instead. This is the first example of an Ancient Greek relief that shows the skill with which an artist carved lions’ heads.
The lion gate is a prime example of this type of masonry. The gate is built of dressed stone laid in regular courses. The massive stonework at Mycenae is also sometimes called Cyclopean. The Greeks associated this type of masonry with Cyclops, a race of Giants who lived in the area. Later Greeks believed that only Cyclops were able to move blocks of stone at Mycenae.
Mycenae’s Lion Gate served as the main entrance to the citadel, and it was constructed in the 13th century BC. It is the only surviving monument from this time period of Greek history, and it is the largest prehistoric sculpture in the Aegean. This two-story, three-meter-high lion gate is a beautiful example of Mycenaean sculpture.
The Gate at Mycenae is the largest archaeological site at Mycenae, and it dates to around 1250 BCE. Excavations in the Gate led to the identification of the Mycenaean culture. Before Heinrich Schliemann identified Mycenae’s culture, it became an iconic ruin. This relief has since been admired as an example of the Mycenaean tradition.
Construction of the lionesses
The lionesses at Mycenai were a major symbol of power for the Mycenaean kings and served as a symbol of authority for foreigners. The heads of the lionesses differ from their bodies and were carved to stare at approaching people. The sculpture’s top pillar has a row of four discs representing the rafters that support the lost sculpture.
The construction of the lionesses is the result of a complex and lengthy process. The process began with the excavation of the royal palaces of King Nestor at Pylos, which was completed in the mid-twelfth century BCE. The excavations provided a reliable record of the richness and wealth of the Mycenaean civilization, which continued to exist for centuries after the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire.
Pausanias, a historian who specialised in ancient Greece, wrote that the Mycenaean monuments were created by the Greek god Megapenthes. This is the earliest record of the lionesses, but Pausanias explains that these statues were actually lions, and that they were built to be guards and protectors. However, the Mycenaean sculptures of the lionesses were later destroyed by an earthquake and were never returned.
Mycenae was an important city during the Helladic period. Its influence probably reached beyond Crete, which was the capital of a powerful state that dominated the eastern Mediterranean. During this time, Mycenae also impacted the cities of Athens, Corinth, and Pylos, as the Hellenics had set up settlements in Anatolia and the Hittite kingdom over Troy.
Meaning of the lion relief
The Lion Gate is the most prominent feature of the archaeological site of Mycenae. Its triangular relief depicts two lions, each facing its opposite. It was once thought to be the oldest monument in Europe, but discoveries at Lepenski Vir in the Balkans have shown that this is not the case. But the Lion Gate remains a crucial monument in the history of ancient art, and serves as a portentous prelude to later Greek sculpture.
In the past, the eyes of the lions were lined with decorative material. The lion relief at Mycenae has exquisite carving, and the right lion’s head and mane still retain their fur. The left lion, however, has lost most of its head, although recent restoration has restored its appearance. Whatever its origins, the lion relief at Mycenae shows its religious significance.
The lion relief at Mycenae was rediscovered in 1880, and its dates have been assigned by various scholars. They have been dated to varying times between 1800 and the early 7th century B.C. or to Byzantine times. These dates have been rejected by archaeologists and art historians and require careful reassessment. However, the lion relief at Mycenae has been the focus of intensive study.
The lion relief is carved into a massive rock block on the wall above the lintel. The triangular space between the lions’ forepaws reduces the pressure of stones below. It is best seen from the rear where it sits upon a row of blocks above a double plinth. This double plinth may represent an altar. It may also represent an entrance room. In addition, it may also be the heraldic symbol of the Royal House of Atreus.