Cover: The Tomb of Agamemnon, from Harvard University PressCover: The Tomb of Agamemnon in PAPERBACK

The Tomb of Agamemnon

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$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674063884

Publication Date: 04/02/2012


208 pages

24 halftones, 2 maps

Wonders of the World

North America only

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Gere’s elegantly succinct and enlightening book in fact takes for its subject an assemblage of the iconic archaeological remains and their poetic archetypes or analogues: the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae with its Lion Gate, cyclopean walls, palace, royal grave circle, nearby tholos tombs, and the spectacular grave goods on display in the National Museum at Athens. Whether or not any person called Agamemnon ever actually lived, died, and was buried in the citadel at Mycenae, these items of Greek cultural inheritance have always been inextricably bound up with his name. Gere reconstructs the history and significance of Mycenae in the literary and archaeological records and astutely examines why the place and its denizens have so gripped the collective consciousness of the West through the centuries… Gere concludes by asking ‘can we finally acknowledge the battle-scarred heroes of Mycenae without recruiting them to fight?’ This delightful book goes far to answer that question in the affirmative by combining a crisp, yet nuanced portrayal of the ‘tomb of Agamemnon’ and associated artifacts with an absorbing history of their reception through the ages.—James P. Holoka, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

A wonderfully lively tale of Mycenae, its mythic king Agamemnon, and the popular and academic understanding of the site down through the ages.—Aaron Britt, Dwell.com

Archaeologist Cathy Gere’s wonderful little history/guidebook, The Tomb of Agamemnon, is about a lot of things. It’s about how each new era bends the past to its own needs. It’s about what’s gained—and lost—when scientists displace passionate amateurs. It’s about the human desire to impose narrative, false if need be, on the mute relics of history. What Gere’s book isn’t about, strictly speaking, is the tomb of Agamemnon, because that doesn’t exist… Still, lots of historical icons are fictional—George Washington’s wooden teeth come to mind—and Gere spends a hundred or so lively, thought-provoking pages describing the ‘highly productive career’ of this one… Unlikely as it seems, this book is a real page-turner. And if you like it, you’re in luck. Gere’s book is the latest in an ongoing series on great monuments—Westminster Abbey, the Parthenon—published by Harvard University Press. Don’t leave home without them.—Joann C. Gutin, Newsday

For a history of both ancient Mycenae and its rediscovery and significance, read The Tomb of Agamemnon, by Cathy Gere.—Erica Marcus, Newsday

When Heinrich Schliemann incorrectly identified in 1876 one of the shaft graves at Mycenae as the ‘tomb of Agamemnon,’ he revived a myth first created by the eighth-century B.C. inhabitants of the Argive plain who looked upon Mycenae’s ruins as the place where Agamemnon gathered the Greek armies for an assault on Troy. It was not until the 20th century that archaeologists accurately dated the Mycenaean tombs to a period 300 to 400 years before any possible date of a Trojan War. This tangled history of remaking and unmaking the myths of Mycenae is the subject of Gere’s fascinating book. It offers a compact and richly informative cultural history that ranges from Aeschylus’s Oresteia and Pausanias’s Description of Greece, a second-century A.D. travelogue, to the spectacular discoveries of Schliemann and the overturning of his conclusions by his more careful successors.Publishers Weekly

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