Remembering the Mycenaeans: how the ancient Greeks repurposed their prehistoric past




Van Damme, Trevor

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis argues that in Archaic and Classical Greece (700-336 B.C.E.), the construction of social and civic identities relied on the redeposition and repurposing of older artifacts, including architecture, dating from the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 B.C.E.). By considering the distribution of Mycenaean artifacts in later contexts, this work aims to demonstrate that discernible patterns emerge. From 1000 to 700 B.C.E., the deposition is primarily limited to private burials, but from 700 to 336 B.C.E. deposition switches to sanctuaries, as there is a shift from constructing familial identities to communal identities. This process is intimately linked with the emergence of the political institution known as the polis. Interacting with the prehistoric ruins dotting their landscape, both by building on them, as well as imitating them, the ancient Greeks engaged in the process of memory modification. Because these ruins served as the loci of memory, their survival or loss had a profound effect on historical narratives. Nowhere is this more apparent than in ancient Athens. By tracing the development of Athenian interaction with Mycenaean artifacts and architecture, this thesis demonstrates the profound role Athens’ prehistoric past had on the construction of a singular Athenian identity.



Archaeology, Greek Archaeology, Archaeology of Memory, Identity