This video is part of a series of 16 animated maps.

View series: Ancient Greece

An example of an animated map


This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of Ancient Greece.

Around 1600 BC, the Achaeans settled in the Peloponnese where they founded a number of cities including Mycenae and Pylos. Archaeological excavations carried out at Mycenae, and the many Greek legends that refer to the city, have led to this civilization being known as the “Mycenaean world”.

A major cultural event was the introduction of Linear B in Mycenae, this form of writing, originally from Crete, paved the way for the emergence of the Greek alphabet. 

Towards 1300, the city Mycenae was surrounded by immense fortifications. These are often referred to as ‘Cyclopean’, because it was thought that only giants were capable of constructing such huge walls. 

Mycenae was ruled by a military aristocracy under a king with his entourage of scribes. It seems that their religion already celebrated the gods Zeus and Poseidon and the goddess Athena.

The city had a thriving economy. Mycenaean ceramics have been found on the Syrian coast, in Southern Italy and Sicily. In addition, the Mycenaeans increased their wealth by numerous military raids, including the attack on Troy, which Homer described in his Iliad.  


After 1300 BC, the Mycenaean world fell into a decline. Pylos was destroyed before 1200, never to be rebuilt, Mycenae fell around 1150. Mycenaean arts and writing disappeared, Greece became less populated, and people hid in villages in the mountains. This devastation was probably caused by the arrival of a people later known as the Dorians.