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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

F. B. Tarbell, A History of Ancient Greek Art

Prehistoric Art in Greece



Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

Thirty years ago it would have been impossible to write with any considerable knowledge of prehistoric art in Greece. The Iliad and Odyssey, to be sure, tell of numerous artistic objects, but no definite pictures of these were called up by the poet's words. Of actual remains only a few were known. Some implements of stone, the mighty walls of Tiryns, Mycenae, and many another ancient citadel, four "treasuries," as they were often called, at Mycenae and one at the Boeotian Orchomenus – these made up pretty nearly the total of the visible relics of that early time. To-day [the author writes at 1900] the case is far different. Thanks to the faith, the liberality, and the energy of Heinrich Schliemann, an immense impetus has been given to the study of prehistoric Greek archaeology. His excavations at Troy, Mycenae, Tiryns, and elsewhere aroused the world. He labored, and other men, better trained than he, have entered into his labors. The material for study is constantly accumulating, and constant progress is being made in classifying and interpreting this material. A civilization antedating the Homeric poems stands now dimly revealed to us. Mycenae, the city "rich in gold," the residence of Agamemnon, whence he ruled over "many islands and all Argos,"[1] is seen to have had no merely legendary preeminence.

[1] Iliad II, 108.

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