The epic poet Homer used the epithet ‘Rich in Gold’ in The Iliad and The Odyssey to describe Mycenae, the wealthiest, most powerful, and most infamous of all the palatial citadels in Bronze Age Greece. Mycenae was the home or haunt for many of the greatest heroes of mythology: Perseus, Herakles, and Agamemnon, not to mention some of the most illustrious characters: murderous and incestuous Atreus, husband-slaying Clytemnestra, and matricidal Orestes. It is the setting for tragedy, epic, and intrigue. Despite the fantastic tales associated with it, Mycenae is a real place with a real history. The archaeological excavation of the site has spanned more than a century and produced amazing treasures and unbelievable modern legends, including characters, like Heinrich Schliemann, almost as mythical as the ancient heroes he investigated. Mycenae was indeed ‘Rich in Gold’ as it was also rich in mythology, history, and modern adventure. Mycenae will be the setting for our seminar, with the mythological heroes and villains as its main characters, and the excavated artifacts as its props. The course will be primarily class discussion based on readings. Requirements: Regular attendance and participation in class once a week; several short written assignments on questions and/or topics of discussion.
Kim Shelton is a faculty member in the department of Classics and the Director of the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology. She has two excavation projects in Greece, including the UC Berkeley Excavations at the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea and at the prehistoric Bronze Age site of Mycenae. She began excavating at a very young age and has never looked back. Her experience includes thirty years of fieldwork in this country and abroad, as well as twelve years of fullt-ime research living in Greece.