in fact, does Mycenae appear in the light as well of archaeology as of
epic, that it has become common, somewhat misleading though it is, to
call a whole epoch and a whole civilization "Mycenaean." This
"Mycenaean" civilization was widely extended over the Greek islands
and the eastern portions of continental Greece in the second
millennium before our era. Exact dates are very risky, but it is
reasonably safe to say that this civilization was in full development
as early as the fifteenth century B.C., and that it was not wholly
superseded till considerably later than 1000 B.C.
It is our present business to gain some acquaintance with this epoch
on its artistic side. It will be readily understood that our knowledge
of the long period in question is still very fragmentary, and that, in
the absence of written records, our interpretation of the facts is
hardly better than a groping in the dark. Fortunately we can afford,
so far as the purposes of this book are concerned, to be content with
a slight review. For it seems clear that the "Mycenaean" civilization
developed little which can be called artistic in the highest sense of
that term. The real history of Greek art – that is to say, of Greek
architecture, sculpture, and painting – begins much later.
Nevertheless it will repay us to get some notion, however slight, of
such prehistoric Greek remains as can be included under the broadest
acceptation of the word "art."