National Geographic : 1999 Dec
S Mycenae. So powerful and rich was the "strong founded citadel" that histo rians refer to Bronze Age Greece as the Mycenaean Age. This reconstruction, based on excavation and speculation, shows Mycenae's fortress in the late 13th century B.c., at the peak of its power. Within those 20-foot-thick cyclo pean walls lived Mycenae's royalty and their minions. Visitorsto the citadel would pass through the regal Lion Gate and see an ancient grave circle, resting place of earlier rulers. Charred bones on an altar in the cult center indicate animal sac rifice likely made to Zeus, Hera, and other favored gods. The palace presided over a trading empire. Exca vation of workshops has revealed fine metalwork, jewelry, even carvings of hippopotamus ivory. Crafted from imported materials, such goods were exported to enrich the king's coffers. Troy. As gatekeeper of the Hellespont, Troy may have exacted tolls from merchant ships seeking access to Asia, thus gaining wealth and making bitter enemies. But it was well prepared for defense. In the early 1990s archaeologists discovered several wooden palisades and an extensive ten-foot wide trench encircling a lower town. The trench, probably used to stop on rushing chariots, increased by almost ten times the known size of Troy, a thriv ing city of some 6,000 people. Earlier only the hilltop citadel was known, where Homer's King Priam would have ruled during the Greek siege. According to legend this "god-built bastion" had one weakness: a thin section of wall built by a mortal, near Homer's Scaean Gate. Here Hector's parents grieved as they watched their son's corpse dragged by the heels behind Achilles' chariot.