The purpose of the Mycenaean Atlas is to furnish accurate lat/lon pairs for Bronze Age sites in the eastern Mediterranean. The emphasis of the Atlas is on the Later Greek Bronze Age (the Mycenaean) although the Atlas does include sites associated with the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, Sub-Mycenaean, and the Geometric. Presently there are more than 1800 named and located sites in the Atlas.

The Control Screen

From the control screen you can reach all the available controls in the MAP.

It contains the usual menu buttons, Regional Gazetteer, General Gazetteer, Info page, Using the MAP, and Blog.

The 'Combined Control' allows you to draw a map using one or more of three criteria: Region, Ceramic Horizon, and/or (artifact) type. To reset these three criteria to null simply click on the 'Reset' button.

Using the control is simple. Click on the arrow of the desired criterion (e.g., 'Region') and you will get a drop-down menu. Click on, say, 'Magnesia'. Then click on the 'Generate Map' button. Your map will appear. Here is the Magnesia example.

The Elevation Control

The Elevation control allows you to draw a map with just those sites (of whatever kind) which lie between two elevations. For example you may be interested in a map of sites close to the sea. To generate such a map you can specify 0 (all measurements in meters) for the Low box and, perhaps, 100 for the High box. When you press 'submit' your map will be drawn.

At the time this guide was written such a search would return 824 sites. Here's a portion of that map taken from the south-western Peloponnese.

There's actually quite a lot of information on this map. Notice how so many of these sites are right on the shore. It would be easy, for example, to generate a list of these communities just by pressing the .kml button on the map (described later). This map also suggests where the seashore might have been in antiquity particularly in the Pamisos region .

You don't have to use 0 as the 'Low' parameter. You may be interested in just those sites between 100 and 110 m. in elevation. In that case enter '100' for the Low parameter and '110' for the High.

The Habitation Size Control

This control allows you to search for habitations in user-defined ranges. The units are square meters; one hectare is 10,000 square meters. At the time this was written the average habitation size (arithmetic mean) in the Atlas is 31900 square meters (3.2 ha.) but this measure is skewed by very large sites at the upper end. A better average measurement might be the median of all habitations (that measure right in the middle of the whole set); that is about 12000 square meters (1.2 ha.). The habitation sizes in the DB are not normally distributed; they are skewed to the left.

I have been told by professionals that these habitation size estimates are not very reliable. I'm sure that that's true. Putting that question aside for a moment I feel that important analysis can be performed even if all we have are relative sizes of sites. There is a great deal of interest in settlement hierarchy sizes (relative sizes) as a clue to the organization of a society and I know of no other way that professionals have easy access to such data and for that reason I include it.

How accurate are these estimates? How is it possible to derive an accurate idea of a habitation size from a scatter of sherds (which is usually how it's done)? No such estimate can be exact in the commonly accepted sense. It's all a matter of probabilities. Let's say that there is a site called 'alpha' which, when it was inhabited, was exactly and precisely 2.0 ha in size. Alpha has been deserted since LHIIIC and, aside from a few sherds, very few traces of it remain. Now let's say that four scholars, A, B, C, and D visit the site at different times and each gives a size estimate. Those estimates are:

A: 1.2 ha. ('obviously')

B: 3.0 ha. ('A significant site whose size scholar A underestimated')

C: 1.6 ha. ('Fashionable in B's time to overestimate hab. sizes')

D: 2.1 ha. ('..an unimportant site to which B gave exaggerated significance')

The average of these estimates is 1.975 ha. Surprisingly close to the real value of 2.0 ha. Now this example was cooked up in order to illustrate the idea. But does this work in real life? Can a series of estimates converge on the actual value? In lots of cases it can. To see why let us imagine a fifth scholar, E, who visits the site and gives an estimate of 100 ha.

Impossible? Well, nearly. The odds of any experienced and reliable scholar, such as E, giving an estimate such as 100 ha. and which wildly varies from the true value (of 2.0 ha.) are almost exactly zero (0.0). And the odds are also nearly zero for any scholar to estimate its size as 20 ha., or 10 ha. The odds are better that some enthusiastic researcher will return an estimate of 5.0 ha. or 4.0 ha. But experience (scholars A through D) has shown that the most likely estimate of the habitation size of A is going to fluctuate around its true value of 2.0 ha. Of course field conditions can actively work against this idea. There are a number of sites on the seashore (or actually underwater such as Nisakouli (C1921) in Messenia) where the ocean has worn away significant parts of the site. Nonetheless the truth is in the aggregate. If the Atlas only supports relative site size comparisons it will have accomplished its job.

The Literature Source Control

The Controls Page supports a control that allows you to see Atlas coverage of several well-known literature sources. Making a selection and pressing 'Select' will generate a map with just sites from that source shown.

So, for example, if you selected 'Alin 1962' and pressed 'Select' then you would be shown a map consisting of DB points described in Per Ålin's Das Ende der Mykenischen Fundstätten auf dem Griechischen Festland, from 1962.

At the time this document was written the sources supported are:

  1. Alin, 1962.

    Ålin, Per, Das Ende der Mykenischen Fundstätten auf dem Griechischen Festland. Carl Bloms Boktryckeri A.-B., Lund, 1962.

  2. Boyd, 1999.

    Boyd, Michael John. Middle Helladic and Early Mycenaean Mortuary Customs in the Southern and Western Peloponnese. University of Edinborough. Scotland. 1999.

  3. Boyd, 2001.

    Boyd, Michael J., Middle Helladic And Early Mycenaean Mortuary Practices In The Southern And Western Peloponnese. np. 2001.

  4. Howell, 1970.

    Howell, R. "A Survey of Eastern Arcadia in Prehistory", The Annual of the British School at Athens. 65. November, 1970. 79-127.'

  5. Jameson et al. 1994.

    Jameson, Michael H, Curtis N. Runnels, Tjeerd H. van Andel, A Greek Countryside; The Southern Argolid from Prehistory to the Present Day, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 1994.

  6. McDonald & Rapp, 1972.

    McDonald, William A. and George R. Rapp, Jr., The Minnesota Messenia Expedition: Reconstructing a Bronze Age Regional Environment, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. USA. 1972.

  7. Messenia I.

    McDonald, William A. and Richard Hope Simpson. 1961. Prehistoric Habitation in Southwestern Peloponnese. American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 65, No. 3 (Jul., 1961), pp. 221-260.

  8. Messenia II.

    McDonald, William A. and Richard Hope Simpson. 1964. Further Exploration in Southwestern Peloponnese: 1962-1963. American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 68, No. 3 (Jul., 1964), pp. 229-245.

  9. Messenia III.

    McDonald, William A. and Richard Hope Simpson. 1969. Further Explorations in Southwestern Peloponnese: 1964-1968. American Journal of Archaeology. Vol. 73, No. 2 (Apr., 1969), pp. 123-177.

  10. Papadopoulos, 1979.

    Papadopoulos, Thanasis J., Mycenaean Achaea; Part 1: Text. Paul Åströms Förlag, Göteborg, Sweden. 1979. Vol 1. 1979.

  11. Pelon, 1976.

    Pelon, Olivier. Tholoi, tumuli et cercles funéraires; Recherches sur les monuments funéraires de plan circulaire dans l'Égée de l'Âge du Bronze (IIIe at IIe millénaires av. J.-C). Bibliothèques de l'École française d'Athènes et de Rome - Série Athènes, 229. 1976.

  12. PRAP.

    These entries were taken from PRAP's website. That site is maintained by Sebastian Heath and is here: http://classics.uc.edu/prap/static/sites_list.xsl.html

  13. Simpson, 1981.

    Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press, 1981.

  14. Simpson, 2014.

    Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Messenia and the Kingdom of Pylos. Philadelphia:Instap Academic Press, 2014. 978-1-931534-75-8.

  15. Simpson & Dickinson, 1979.

    Simpson, Richard Hope and O.T.P.K. Dickinson, A Gazetteer of Aegean Civilization in the Bronze Age, Vol. I: The Mainland and the Islands, Paul Åströms Förlag, Goteborg. 1979.

  16. UMME. This is redundant to McDonald & Rapp, 1972 combined with Simpson 1981. It is a handy way to look at MME's coverage.

  17. van Wijngaarden, 2002.

    van Wijngaarden, G., Use and Appreciation of Mycenaean Pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy (ca. 1600 - 1200 BC). Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and Amsterdam University Press. 2002.

  18. Zavadil, 2012.

    Zavadil, Michaela. Monumenta: Studien zu mittel- und späthelladischen Gräbern in Messenien. Wien:Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch-Historische Klasse Denkschriften. 2012.

Currently the Helladic material is covered completely for

  1. Boyd [1999]
  2. Howell [1970]
  3. Jameson et al. [1994] (EH, MH, & LH)
  4. Papadopoulos [1979]
  5. Pelon [1976]
  6. PRAP (EH, MH, LH)
  7. Simpson [1981]
  8. Simpson [2014]
  9. McDonald & Rapp, 1972 (Appendix A),
  10. UMME

The others are extensively covered but not complete. Much material is redundant. For example Messenia I, II, III and Simpson & Dickinson [1979] are only partly integrated as yet because much of their material is covered in Simpson [1981]. Nonetheless these other sources will eventually be completely integrated into the DB.

The total number of bibliographic sources for this database now numbers some 350 items but these are the most significant.

The Place Key Report

To retrieve a report about a site you enter its place key in the place key box. The place key is unique to each site; it consists of the letter 'C' followed by a three or four-place number. Here's an example. You can try entering something like '219' (without the quotes); the 'C' is already entered.

C

That place key would have taken you to the report page for 'Ano Engliano' (Nestor's Palace).

On that report page there were several sections describing the site. There is a general information section which gives you the exact latitude and longitude in decimal and DMS form. You are also given the location in Universal Transverse Mercator, and in What3Words form.

You can see from this image clip that you also get the region (Messenia), the elevation of the site (186 m.) and an indicator of how accurate the given location actually is (Accuracy). There are occasions where that is not possible and when that happens the database supplies an error radius. This is radius of a circle, centered at the lat/lon pair, which touches some part of the sought-for feature. For a complete description of this parameter and of the concepts of Precision and Accuracy as they apply to this web site see this. In this case we are certain that the supplied lat/lon pair actually is the location of Nestor's Palace.

The Type section provides some information about the site type. It may be a tholos, a habitation, or something else. Here is an example from site C445 which is the tholos tomb at Koutsochira: Diasela in Triphylia.

In this example there are three citations for the type. One is from McDonald and Simpson's famous 1961 article about the Peloponnese (described at the bottom of the place key report). McDonald and Simpson typed it as a tholos tomb. In the second citation McDonald and Rapp, in their report on the Minnesota Messenia Expedition emphasized the general nature of the site as a cemetery. In the last citation Simpson, in his 1981 Mycenaean Greece, typed it as a tholos.

The next section provides chronological information about the site. For nearly all sites this is the most difficult information to provide. Ceramic horizons can often be identified (or plausibly guessed at); it is the conversion of these ceramic horizon names into actual year ranges which is controversial. Ordinarily a number of chronological citations are supplied here (with many more to come in the future). It should serve to at least orient you in this area.

You should be aware that the year ranges given are expressed in the 'High' Chronology. The date of the transition from LMIA to LMIB (LHI to LHIIA) is controversial. Both sides agree that the transition occurred shortly after the eruption of the volcano on the Cycladic island of Thera and the traditional date attached to the eruption (based largely on pottery sequences) is ca. 1500 BC. But more and more scientific evidence is accumulating that indicates the eruption occurred about 100 years earlier; perhaps about 1628 B.C. That means that the (LMIA to LMIB) LHI to LHII transition is to be dated about 100 years earlier than used to be thought. The 'scientific' arguments for retaining the traditional transition date are looking more and more strained and so this site adopts the earlier (the 'High') chronology. The most reasoned and reasonable discussion of the issues can be found in Sturt Manning's essay entitled "Eruption of Thera/Santorini" which comprises Chapter 34 (pp. 457-474) of the Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean (Eric Cline, ed), OUP, 2010. The Mycenaean Archaeological Project database itself does supply Low Chronology equivalents for the Ceramic Horizon names but this feature has not yet been incorporated into the website.

The following is an example of the Period (Ceramic Horizon) information for site 'C125' which is a site at Mandra in Messenia.

In this example five ceramic horizon citations are supplied from two different works, McDonald and Rapp [1972] as well as a famous article by McDonald and Simpson from 1969 (sometimes called 'Messenia III'). The ceramic horizon name is presented followed by the short form citation of the authority being used. Oridnarily each citation is accompanied by a comment that justifies my citing them in this way. So in citation 1 I have quoted McDonald and Simpson: "A sherd from a thin-walled open shape could be MH or EH", to support the ceramic horizon name of 'EH'. The long form of the bibliographic citation is given in the next section.

In the bibliography section attached to C125 at Mandra four citations are supplied. Each citation gives the short form (used in the rest of the report), here, for the first citation, 'Simpson [1981]',

then the full title: 'Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press, 1981.'

followed by the chapter or paragraph name: 'F 235 Mandhra: Chazna'

and, lastly, the page which is 141.

The bibliography section is not meant to be exhaustive. Its purpose is to give you at least one reliable source from which to start your investigation into the site. A fine general bibliographical work in this area is Bryan Feuer's Mycenaean Civilization, Revised Edition, McFarland & Company, Inc., North Carolina, USA. 2004.