In the study of ancient Greece, myth and history often go hand in hand. Just as we lay the foundations of our society on science and logic, so too did ancient Greeks believe that their gods and goddesses played an integral part in their everyday life. Nowhere is this idea more clearly present than in Homer’s Iliad. A legendary story of war, love, and tragedy, the Iliad sees immortal deities fighting side-by-side with mortal men and women. The Iliad has become such an integral part of world culture that it is impossible to correctly examine the history of ancient Greece without it. Many archeologists have even focused their career on corroborating parts of the Iliad. Thus is the case of Christofilis Maggidis, who recently made a monumental discovery.
Maggidis is a professor at Dickinson College and one of the foremost experts on Bronze Age Greece. At a press conference, Professor Maggidis shared a startling discovery with the world. The modern-day Indiana Jones claims to have found the throne of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae during the Trojan War. Detailing his process in finding the king’s throne, Maggidis told of how he and his students had been working on the project for the past two years. The throne was found in the ruins of a mountaintop palace that had been destroyed in an earthquake in 1200 BC. As the stone throne is now in pieces, Maggidis and his team are still examining the area to verify that the throne belonged to Agamemnon.
Maggidis’ claims created quite the stir among archeologists, many of whom were skeptical of his assertions. In an effort to get a fresh perspective on Maggidis’ work, the Greek Culture Ministry sent their own archeologist to examine the ruins. Upon investigating the fragments, the workers with the ministry determined that they could not have come from a throne and instead hypothesize that they are part of a wash basin. The ministry supported their findings by pointing out that the fragments are curved, making it unlikely that they could have come from a throne. After hearing the explanation, Maggidis refuted the ministry’s findings by pointing out that the stone was especially porous. Maggidis argues that porous stones would never be used in wash basins and that the curved portions of the fragments come from a decorated portion of the throne.
King Agamemnon is one of the most important figures in the Iliad. While a powerful warrior, Agamemnon is nonetheless arrogant and incurs the wrath of the goddess Artemis. As the most powerful king in Greece, Agamemnon commands the Greek forces at Troy, achieving a victory against the Trojans at an incredible loss of life. Although triumphant against his foes, Agamemnon came to a bad end in Homer’s follow up tale, Odyssey. According to the revered storyteller, upon returning from the Trojan War, Agamemnon was murdered by Aegisthus, his wife’s lover. Agamemnon’s life has been dramatized in countless plays, movies, and TV shows, including 2004’s Troy, where he was portrayed by Brian Cox.
Agamemnon is also the subject of one of the most well-known relics of ancient Greece, the Death Mask of Agamemnon. The funerary mask was found in 1876 by archeologist Heinrich Schliemann and is made entirely of gold. Like the throne of Agamemnon, the Death Mask of Agamemnon is also the source of controversy. While for decades historians and archeologists attributed the mask to the famed king of the Trojan War, modern researchers allege that while the mask is a genuine historic find, it probably predates Agamemnon by several hundred years.
Interest in Mycenae is particularly strong in history circles. Mycenaean rule lasted from 1400 to 1200 BC and is regarded as the high point of Bronze Age Greece. Like Agamemnon, most Mycenean kings were regarded as particularly ruthless, with palace politics and intrigue bearing a close resemblance to the bloodiest outings of Game of Thrones.