Archaeology

An Overview of the Bronze Age Palace of Pylos



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The Palace of Pylos is one of the most important archeological sites dating from the Bronze Age due to the preservation of hundreds of clay tablets that were found at the site. Located at Pylos, Messenia, near the Navarino Bay, the site was discovered by Carl Blegen and excavated between the years of 1939 and1952. Blegen had the good fortune of finding many important archeological artifacts at the site, and, despite being burned, large portions of the palace remained well preserved, offering many important insights into the history and importance of the site.

Also referred to as the Palace of Nestor, named after the elderly king who ruled during the Trojan War, it was an important military, economic and religious center during the Bronze Age. The large Mycenaean Palace was occupied between the years of 1300 BC and slightly after 800 BC before it was burned mostly to the ground. It is believed that the Palace of Pylos was built to replace an older fortified palace located atop the now-leveled Ano Englianos Hill near Navarino Bay.

The fire which destroyed the palace was also a key factor in preserving some of the most important artifacts ever discovered that date from the Bronze Age period. This includes 600 clay tablets which were baked by the fire and therefore survived the destruction of the palace. Carl Blegen, who excavated the site, had the good fortune of finding these tablets during his very first day of exploring the site. The tablets were found within what was the archival center of the palace and were written in a language that was originally referred to Linear B. After closer examination, this language was later found to be an early form of the Greek language, and the tablets offer many details about the history of the palace and the people who resided there.

The Palace of Pylos has much to offer in the way of archeological discovery, as many of its key structures survived, including the royal apartments, as well as a large bathroom facility which includes a tub. It is believed that this tub was used by the elderly King Nestor, as there is a step built next to it, which is thought by many scholars to have been designed for the king himself so that he could safely enter the tub. It was originally adorned with many frescoes and was quite lavishly decorated. Many of these frescoes, as well as artifacts found at the location of the Palace of Pylos, can be seen at the museum located in the village of Hora, which is near the site of the original palace.

Unlike many administrative centers dating from that period, it was not strongly fortified and was lacking the presence of high walls and defenses. The remarkable preservation of the site and many of its contents make it one of the most important finds dating from the Bronze Age, and much has been learned from its discovery.

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