The Lion Gate was the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, southern Greece. It was erected during the 13th century BC, around 1250 BC in the northwest side of the acropolis and is named after the relief sculpture of two lionesses or lions in a heraldic pose that stands above the entrance.
The Lion Gate is the sole surviving monumental piece of Mycenaean sculpture, as well as the largest sculpture in the prehistoric Aegean. It is the only monument of Bronze Age Greece to bear an iconographic motif that survived without being buried underground, and the only relief image which was described in the literature of classical antiquity, such that it was well known prior to modern archaeology.
|Native name |
Greek: Πύλη των Λεόντων
|Built for||Main entrance of the citadel|
|Architectural style(s)||Conglomerate Ashlar|
The greater part of the cyclopean wall in Mycenae, including the Lion Gate itself, was built during the second extension of the citadel which occurred in the Late Helladic period IIIB (13th century BC). At that time, the extended fortifications also included Grave Circle A, the burial place of the 16th-century BC royal families inside the city wall. This grave circle was found east of the Lion Gate, where a peribolos wall was also built. After the expansion, Mycenae could be entered by two gates, a main entrance and a postern, while the most extensive feature was undoubtedly the remodeling of the main entrance to the citadel, known as the Lion Gate, in the northwestern side built circa 1250 BC.
The Lion Gate was approached by a natural, partly engineered ramp on a northwest-southeast axis. The eastern side of the approach is flanked by the steep smooth slope of the earlier enceinte. This was embellished with a new facade of conglomerate. On the western side a rectangular bastion was erected, 14.80 m (49 ft) long and 7.23 m (24 ft) wide, built in pseudo-ashlar style of enormous blocks of conglomerate. The term "Cyclopean" was therefore applied to imply that the ancient structures had been built by the legendary race of giants whose culture was presumed to have preceded that of the Classical Greeks, as described in their myths. Between the wall and the bastion, the approach narrows to a small open courtyard measuring 15 m × 7.23 m (49 ft × 24 ft), possibly serving to limit the numbers of attackers on the gate. The bastion on the right side of the gate facilitated defensive actions against the attackers' right hand side, which would normally be vulnerable as they would carry their shields on their left arms. At the end of the approach stands the Lion Gate.
The Lion Gate is a massive and imposing construction, standing 3.10 m (10 ft) wide and 2.95 m (10 ft) high at the threshold. It narrows as it rises, measuring 2.78 m (9 ft) below the lintel. The opening was closed by a double door mortised to a vertical beam that acted as a pivot around which the door revolved.
The gate itself consists of two great monoliths capped with a huge lintel that measures 4.5×2.0×0.8 m (15×7×3 ft). Above the lintel, the masonry courses form a corbelled arch, leaving an opening that lightens the weight carried by the lintel. This relieving triangle is a great limestone slab on which two confronted lionesses or lions carved in high relief stand on either sides of a central pillar. The heads of the animals were fashioned separately and are missing, but their necks are present. The pillar, specifically, is a Minoan-type column that is placed on top of an altar-like platform upon which the lionesses rest their front feet. It has been suggested that lions were not present in Greece at the time showing some sort of hierarchy in power with them fashioned on this monumental gate.
Early imagery of a deity that was found at Knossos presents a goddess flanked clearly by two lionesses, establishing a continuity in religious imagery when later, a deity is represented abstractly by a column. It clearly identifies the species of feline, because of the characteristic tuft at the end of the tail, not present in any other feline species.
Speculation also exists that the animal figures are male lions. One author believes that the Mycenaean artist did not indicate the sex of lions by the genital organs on any artifact known to have been recovered from an excavation. Neither were teats indicated on the body of the lions to indicate they were female. Furthermore, he asserts that on the Lion Gate relief, cuttings on the side of the neck of the lion to the left of the spectator indicate that the animal represented is male, for the cuttings were where the ends of the mane of the animal were fitted to provide additional support to the block, perhaps of steatite, on which the head, face, and mane of the animal were carved. He asserts that the same section of the lion to the right fails to show the same characteristic because it has weathered badly, but that he detects remnants of one cutting which indicate to him that a similar provision was made for the head of that lion. Consequently, he presumes that both animals can be considered lions and not lionesses. Griffins or sphinxes have also been depicted on opposite sides of a column on gems and gold rings but always with wings. The absence of wings also indicates that the animals were probably lions.
The imposing gate of the citadel with the representation of the lionesses or lions was an emblem of the Mycenaean kings and a symbol of their power to both subjects and foreigners. It also has been argued that the lionesses (assuming they are not male lions) are a symbol of the goddess Hera. The Lion Gate may be compared to the gates of the Hittite Bronze Age citadel of Hattusa, in Asia Minor. Since the heads of the animals were of a different material from their bodies and originally were fashioned to look toward those approaching below, a number of scholars have suggested that they were composite beasts, probably sphinxes, in the typical Middle Eastern tradition. On the top of the pillar is a row of four discs, apparently representing rafters supporting a further piece of sculpture that has since been lost. Another view is as follows: above the head of the column and what is probably a slab supporting an architrave is a row of discs (ends of transverse beams) and another slab the same size as the slab on top of the column. The beams and the block above them represent a more extended superstructure shortened here because of the diminishing space in the triangle. Thus, no further piece of sculpture has been lost.
The design of the gate had precedents in other surviving artworks of the time; a similar design was depicted on fifteenth-century Minoan seals and a gem found at Mycenae. On a pithos from Knossos, the same imagery exists depicting a goddess flanked by two lionesses. Many other pieces of Mycenaean artwork share the same basic pattern of two opposed animals separated by a vertical divider, such as two lambs facing a column and two sphinxes facing a sacred tree representing a deity. The architectural design in the gate relief may reflect an entrance of a type characterized by a central support, commonly a single column. More specifically, the gate relief may allude to the propylon (structure which forms the entrance) that provides the main direct access to the palace. The lions acted as guardians to the entrance of the palace. If so, the symbol of a sanctified palace entrance would have appeared above the gate of the fortifications: a double blessing.
Beyond the gate and inside the citadel was a covered court with a small chamber, which probably functioned as a guard post. On the right, adjacent to the wall, was a building that has been identified as a granary because of the pithoi found there containing carbonized wheat.
|Lion Gate, Mycenae, c. 1300-1250 B.C.E., Smarthistory|
The Lion Gate stood in full view of visitors to Mycenae for centuries. It was mentioned by the ancient geographer Pausanias in the 2nd century AD. The first correct identification of the Lion Gate in modern literature was during a survey conducted by Francesco Grimani, commissioned by the Provveditore Generale of the Kingdom of the Morea in 1700, who used Pausanias's description of the Lion Gate to identify the ruins of Mycenae.
In 1840, the Greek Archaeological Society undertook the initial clearing of the site from debris and soil that had accumulated to bury it, and in 1876 Heinrich Schliemann, guided by Pausanias's accounts, excavated the area south of the Lion Gate.
The 1250s BC is a decade which lasted from 1259 BC to 1250 BC.Anthony Abdy (1579–1640)
Anthony Abdy (18 October 1579 (baptised) – 10 September 1640), was a citizen and East India merchant of London. On the death of his father in 1595 he inherited lands at Colliers Row, Havering atte Bower, Essex and property in Red Lion Gate, London.City gate
A city gate is a gate which is, or was, set within a city wall.Confronted animals
Confronted animals, or confronted-animal as an adjective, where two animals face each other in a symmetrical pose, is an ancient bilateral motif in art and artifacts studied in archaeology and art history. The "anti-confronted animals" is the opposing motif, with the animals back to back.
Bilateral symmetry is a dominant aspect of our world and strong representation of it with matching figures often creates a balance that is appealing in artwork.
In ancient art, confronted-animal motifs often involve the Master of Animals, a central human figure between two confronted animals, often grasping them, and are probably part of a unified socio-cultural motif. A related motif in ancient art is known as the Mistress of Animals.
It is thought that the iconography sometimes has ritual and religious associations; for example, the Lion Gate of Mycenae has a column between the protective, surmounted and confronted lionesses standing with two feet on the ground and two on the same base on which the column rests. The column is thought to represent a goddess, abstracted to avoid tabooed direct representation. Alternatively, the column has also been interpreted as symbolizing the entrance to the palace. The lions are thus guarding the entrance to the palace and the walled fortification simultaneously. The motif called the Tree of Life, where two confronted animals graze on a shrub or tree, is also very ancient.Cyclopean masonry
Cyclopean masonry is a type of stonework found in Mycenaean architecture, built with massive limestone boulders, roughly fitted together with minimal clearance between adjacent stones and no use of mortar. The boulders typically seem unworked, but some may have been worked roughly with a hammer and the gaps between boulders filled in with smaller chunks of limestone.
The most famous examples of Cyclopean masonry are found in the walls of Mycenae and Tiryns, and the style is characteristic of Mycenaean fortifications. Similar styles of stonework are found in other cultures and the term has come to be used to describe typical stonework of this sort, such as the old city walls of Rajgir.The term comes from the belief of classical Greeks that only the mythical Cyclopes had the strength to move the enormous boulders that made up the walls of Mycenae and Tiryns. Pliny's Natural History reported the tradition attributed to Aristotle, that the Cyclopes were the inventors of masonry towers, giving rise to the designation Cyclopean.Discharging arch
A discharging arch or relieving arch is an arch built over a lintel or architrave to take off the superincumbent weight.Fortifications of Mycenae
Mycenae is a city in the Argolid, in the Peloponnese peninsula of Greece. It was first excavated by Heinrich and Sophia Schliemann in the 1870s and is believed to have flourished in the Mid- to Late Bronze Age. The fortifications of Mycenae were built with the use of Cyclopean masonry. With the citadel built on a cliff, the architects created protection not only for the upper class that lived within the walls, but the lower-class farmers in the surrounding areas, who could find refuge there in times of war. Due to high competition in the Mid to Late Bronze Age, the citadel wall expanded significantly with the inclusion of Grave Circle A and the addition of the Lion Gate.Grave Circle A, Mycenae
Grave Circle A is a 16th-century BC royal cemetery situated to the south of the Lion Gate, the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. This burial complex was initially constructed outside the fortification walls of Mycenae, but was ultimately enclosed in the acropolis when the fortifications were extended during the 13th century BC.
Grave Circle A and Grave Circle B, the latter found outside the walls of Mycenae, represent one of the major characteristics of the early phase of the Mycenaean civilization.The circle has a diameter of 27.5 m (90 ft) and contains six shaft graves, where a total of nineteen bodies were buried. It has been suggested that a mound was constructed over each grave, and funeral stelae were erected. Among the objects found were a series of gold death masks, additionally beside the deceased were full sets of weapons, ornate staffs as well as gold and silver cups. The site was excavated by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1876, following the descriptions of Homer and Pausanias. One of the gold masks he unearthed became known as "The Death Mask of Agamemnon", ruler of Mycenae according to Greek mythology. However, it has been proved that the burials date circa three centuries earlier, before Agamemnon is supposed to have lived.
The valuable objects found in the graves suggest that powerful rulers were buried in this site. Although Agamemnon was supposed to have lived centuries later, these graves might have belonged to the former ruling dynasty of Mycenae – according to Greek mythology, the Perseides. According to later Greek mythology, Mycenae had a period where two kings ruled and archeologists have suggested that these dual graves may correspond to both kings.Hattusa
Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite: URUḪa-at-tu-ša) was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızılırmak River (Hittite: Marashantiya; Greek: Halys).
Hattusa was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986.Ince Blundell Hall
For the building with a similar name in Cheshire see Ince HallInce Blundell Hall is a former country house near the village of Ince Blundell, in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, Merseyside, England. It was built between 1720 and 1750 for Robert Blundell, the lord of the manor, and was designed by Henry Sephton, a local mason-architect. Robert's son, Henry, was a collector of paintings and antiquities, and he built impressive structures in the grounds of the hall in which to house them. In the 19th century the estate passed to the Weld family. Thomas Weld Blundell modernised and expanded the house, and built an adjoining chapel. In the 1960s the house and estate were sold again, and have since been run as a nursing home by the Canonesses of St. Augustine of the Mercy of Jesus.
The hall is Georgian in style, and consists of a main block with a service block linked at a right-angle to its rear. The hall is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building. Some of the buildings associated with the hall are also designated at this grade; these are the Pantheon and the Garden Temple, both of which were built by Henry Blundell for his collection of statues, the chapel, and a building known as the Old Hall. In the garden and grounds of the hall are nine structures listed at Grade II; these include the stables, a monument, a sundial, gateways and a lodge, and the base of a medieval wayside cross.Kyriakos Pittakis
Kyriakos S. Pittakis or Pittakys (1798–1863) was a Greek archaeologist from Athens. He fought in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, besieging the Ottoman troops in the Acropolis; desperate for ammunition, the Ottomans began to dismantle sections of the Acropolis in order to recover the lead clamps which they intended to use for bullets. When Pittakis and his cohorts learned of this, they sent bullets to the opposing army, in hopes that the Acropolis would be spared such destruction.
In 1824, he left for Corfu, where he studied in the Ionian Academy. After independence, Pittakis became Greece's first General Keeper of Antiquities. From 1837 to 1840, Pittakis supervised the reassembly of the Erechtheion. Though well-intentioned, his ignorance drew criticism from architecture historians and archaeologists. Kyriakos Pittakis campaigned to collect epigraphical material in Athens, gathering inscriptions in the church of Megali Panagia, the Theseum, the Stoa of Hadrian and the Tower of the Winds. Such preservationary efforts have been considered significant contributions to Greek archaeology. He also carried out the first excavations at Mycenae in 1841. He found and restored the Lion Gate.Lion Gate (Mumbai)
Lion Gate is a locality in Mumbai, India. The old heritage building of the Naval Dockyard starts from Lion Gate.Lions Gate (disambiguation)
Lions' Gate or similar terms may refer to:
the Lions' Gate, also called St. Stephen's Gate, in the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem
the Lions Gate Bridge in British Columbia
the Lion Gate at Mycenae in Greece
Lionsgate, a U.S.-based film and television production company
Lion's Gate (professional wrestling), professional wrestling developmental branchMendham's Point
Mendham's Point is a locality near the present day Lion Gate at Colaba in Mumbai. Until 1760, the English buried their dead at Mendham's Point. Gerald Aungier, Governor of Bombay, had planned extensive fortifications for Bombay from Dongri in the north to Mendham's Point in the south.Mycenae
Mycenae (Ancient Greek: Μυκῆναι Mykēnai or Μυκήνη Mykēnē) is an archaeological site near Mykines in Argolis, north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south-west of Athens; 11 kilometres (7 miles) north of Argos; and 48 kilometres (30 miles) south of Corinth. The site is 19 kilometres (12 miles) inland from the Saronic Gulf and built upon a hill rising 900 feet above sea level.In the second millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece, Crete, the Cyclades and parts of southwest Anatolia. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. At its peak in 1350 BC, the citadel and lower town had a population of 30,000 and an area of 32 hectares.The first correct identification of Mycenae in modern literature was during a survey conducted by Francesco Grimani, commissioned by the Provveditore Generale of the Kingdom of the Morea in 1700, who used Pausanias's description of the Lion Gate to identify the ruins of Mycenae.Mycenaean Revival architecture
Mycenaean Revival is a rare revival architectural style developed as part of the 20th century neoclassicist architectural revival in Greece.The National Bank of Greece in Nafplio, built near the heart of the Mycenaean civilization in the 1930s by the architect Zouboulidis, is built in Mycenaean Revival, or neo-Mycenaean style. The door of the bank is an evocation of the form of the Lion Gate and the Tomb of Clytemnestra at Mycenae. The form of the columns is copied from the column on the Lion Gate, and the building is painted in colors used at Mycenae.South Bank Lion
The South Bank Lion, also known as the Red Lion, is a Coade stone sculpture of a standing male lion cast in 1837. It has stood at the east end of Westminster Bridge in London, to the north side of the bridge beside County Hall, since 1966. Painted red between 1951 and 1966, the paint was later removed to reveal again the white ceramic surface underneath.
The statue is about 13 feet (4.0 m) long and 12 feet (3.7 m) high, and weighs about 13 tonnes (14 tons). It is made of Coade stone, a type of ceramic stoneware that resembles artificial stone and which is very resistant to weathering. The fine details of its modelling still remain clear after decades of exposure to the corrosive atmosphere in London throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries caused by heavy use of coal. The statue was made in separate parts and cramped together on an iron frame.The Glen, Scottish Borders
The Glen, also known as Glen House, is an estate and country house in southern Scotland. It is located in the glen of the Quair Water, around 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south-west of Innerleithen, and 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) south-east of Peebles, in the Scottish Borders. The estate is recorded from the 13th century, but the present Glen House was built in the mid 19th century. The house is protected as a category A listed building, and the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens. Besides the house, the Temple, stables, and the "Lion Gate" are also category A listed.Šibenik Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. James (Croatian: Katedrala sv. Jakova) in Šibenik, Croatia is a triple-nave basilica with three apses and a dome (32 m high inside) in the city of Šibenik, Croatia. It is the church of the Catholic Church in Croatia, and the see of the Šibenik diocese. It is also the most important architectural monument of the Renaissance in the entire country. Since 2000, the Cathedral has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It is often known as "St Jacob's", because Croatian, like many other languages, uses the same name for both "James" and "Jacob". It is dedicated to Saint James the Greater.
|Buildings and structures|