The first evidence of Mycenaean culture began on the Greek mainland, with the evidence of the burial cult in the circle shaft grave at Mycenae, with their rich offerings, including the famous gold masks. But it was only during the 14th to 13th century BC that Mycenae became an imperial capital, which gave its name to the civilization in which it played such a major role.
The best preserved palace on the mainland, dated from the 13th century BC, was at Pylos, with Linear B archives that describe the king of a district (the wanax) as head of a highly organized feudal system. In Homer’s Iliad, we learn that these local potentates were required to supply troops for the Siege of Troy (dated around 1250 BC), lead by Agamemnon.
Settlements in Myceaean centers were usually built on low rocky bluffs, encircled by a ring of massive Cyclopean masonry, the palace within these fortifications housing the king and his court. These palaces were smaller than their Minoan counterparts, and more symmetrical in design, below which were usually found an elaborate complex of shrines.
The populace lived in settlements outside of the citadel, each with its own cemetery, hewn into the rock,. The royal families were buried in the famous beehive tombs (the monumental ‘tholos’ tombs).