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This 50-kilogram (110-pound) block of hand-worked stone very well may be a throne of ancient Mycenae, tragic royal houses immortalized by the ancient Greek epic poet Homer.

Archaeologist says he Found Part of the Throne of the Cursed Mycenaean Kings


A Greek archaeologist says he has found part of the throne of the tragic kings of ancient Mycenae, one of whom was said to be among the Greek gods and heroes who attacked Troy and was later murdered by his wife and her lover upon his return.

Christofilis Maggidis says his team found the limestone piece in 2014 in a stream under the ruins of the citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. Dr. Maggidis has been leading excavations at the Mycenae site since 2007. He is an associate professor of archaeology at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, United States. He hopes to get permission from authorities to do further excavations in the streambed.

Dr. Maggidis said this is the only throne discovered from ancient Mycenae, though a smaller one was found in Knossos, the ancient seat of the royal of house of Minoa on the island of Crete. That Minoan throne predates the Mycenaeans.

The ancient throne room at Knossos

The ancient throne room at Knossos ( Wikimedia photo /Chris 73)

Some archaeologists have cast doubt on Dr. Maggidis’ discovery and said the stone was a basin for holding liquids, but he says the stone is porous and is therefore not suited for that purpose. According to Fox News , Maggidis maintains that the only likely purpose for the large block of stone was as a seat or throne.

The type of limestone that the throne is carved from is not evident elsewhere in the palace. But a similar type has been found in the citadel’s defensive walls and in the tombs where its rulers were laid to rest.

The ruins of the citadel of Mycenae have been under excavation for many years.

The ruins of the citadel of Mycenae have been under excavation for many years. ( Photo courtesy of Christofilis Maggidis)

The Mycenaean dynasties, which ruled the area from the mid-14 th to the 12 th centuries BC, got off to a fair start and were a powerhouse in the region during the late Bronze Age. But the royal houses descended into parricide, murder, adultery, war, incestuous rape, usurpation and a final fire that destroyed the city.

King Agamemnon of Mycenae was the leader of the Greek forces that, according to myth, besieged Troy and battled with its warriors for 10 years, from 1194 to 1184 BC. The Greeks and Mycenaeans finally overcame Troy in the infamous Trojan Horse episode where their troops made a colossal, hollow wooden horse, got it into Troy by subterfuge and poured out to sack the city. The story of the Trojan War is told in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

When Agamemnon returned to Mycenae after the war, his wife Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus, who ruled in Agamemnon’s absence, murdered him.

“Agamemnon's son Orestes was to revenge his fathers' death by killing his mother and her lover, and after a long time of persecution by the Furies he was finally cleared of the crime,” says an article about Mycenae at www.in2greece.com. “Orestes then married Menelaus and Helen's daughter Hermione, and so the kingdom of Mycenae and Sparta were united. After some time Heracles' descendants came and overthrew the king, and so, the cycle was complete.”

Legend says another Greek hero, Perseus, had earlier founded Mycenae.

Bronze swords from the collection of the Athens National Archaeological Museum; who knows if any of them were used by famous ancient heroes or gods, or even how true to history Homer’s tales of the Trojan War are.

Bronze swords from the collection of the Athens National Archaeological Museum; who knows if any of them were used by famous ancient heroes or gods, or even how true to history Homer’s tales of the Trojan War are. (Photo by Dorieo21/ Wikimedia Commons )

Dr. Maggidis issued a press release in December 2015 saying that the Athens Archaeological Society and the Culture of Ministry had undermined his many of years of work as an expert in Mycenae by questioning the likelihood that the rock was indeed a throne. The press release (PDF here) states:

It is puzzling that the Ministry, though officially notified of the discovery with my report of 07.27.2015, decided to publicize the arbitrary and unfounded statement of the Archaeological Society that rejects, inexplicably and prematurely, the interpretation of the find as part of the throne. What is even more puzzling is the attempt of the Archaeological Society and their Secretary General, Mr. B. Petrakos, to disdain such an important discovery by biasing the scientific publication of the find, with complete disregard for professional ethics. In my absence (as excavator and researcher) and without my knowledge, Mr. Petrakos formed a committee to “thoroughly examine” (within two hours) the very find that we have been studying for a whole year. The committee discredited our interpretation, without having any access to our study data, and determined impromptu that the find is merely a stone “basin.” Mr. Petrakos and his committee are hereby reminded that no ‘thorough’ examination can be conducted within hours and without data.

This is not the first conflict between Mr. Petrakos and Dr. Maggidis. Mr. Petrakos had responded to Dr. Maggidis’ calls for protection from looters at the citadel with a recommendation that the excavations end because “any new excavation is useless,” according to this article (PDF) .

In his years at the site, Dr. Maggidis and his students have unearthed figurines, flint and obsidian blades and other stone tools, fragments of stone vases, stone cloth weights and seal-stones. They have also found pendants and beads, glass shards, rings, objects of metal, coins, iron nails and hooks and fragments of frescoes and plaster. They have turned up pigments, carbonized wood, animal bones, shells, roof tiles and much pottery.

In a June 2013 article in Popular Archaeology, the writer states:

But the greatest takeaway thus far has been the confirming evidence that Mycenae, more than its popular image as the fortified palatial abode of Agamemnon, was a large, complex urban center where a population made their living in trade, commercial production, agriculture, and all the other typical functions of an ancient culture, in space and time well beyond the politics and military campaigns of a prominent kingly reign.

Top image: This 50-kilogram (110-pound) block of hand-worked stone very well may be a throne of ancient Mycenae, tragic royal houses immortalized by the ancient Greek epic poet Homer. (Photo by Christofilis Maggidis)

By Mark Miller

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