the area of Grave Circle A and the house which
contained the Warrior Vase, Schliemann discovered fragments of a bronze
cooking cauldron supported by three legs. Unfortunately, he did not record
its exact provenience (which would have helped to fix its precise date),1
but it is of more interest for its relative position in the history of
Aegean metallurgy than its specific location inside the citadel of Mycenae.
Both its shape
and its area of discovery help to define its chronological limits within
the Mycenaean period. Stylistically the tripod cauldron could be as early
as the LH III A period, which corresponds to the reigns of Pharaohs Amenhotep
III and Akhenaten; both stylistically and stratigraphically it seems to
be no later than the LH III C period, so that, in broad terms, archaeologists
have assigned its date of fabrication and its subsequent burial sometime
within the fourteenth-twelfth centuries.2
Snodgrass recently called its shape particularly important,
and noted its close resemblance to the bronze tripods of the
eighth century from3 Olympia.
Many archaeologists have long observed that close resemblance, and since
it is essentially a utilitarian object, they believed that there must
have been a continuous production of similar bronze tripods between the
Today one sees
that at the end of the Mycenaean Age there apparently occurred a
precipitous decline in the technique and employment of Bronze. Presumably,
the Mycenaeans no longer had access to their sources of copper and/or
tin ore to form new bronze, did not have enough old bronze artifacts and
scrap to melt down to create new objects, and also lost the technology
to cast the metal in complex molds.5
Therefore, despite the close similarities of eighth-century bronze tripod
cauldrons to Mycenaean specimens, all the excavation of the last century
reveals no evidence for the continuous manufacture of bronze tripods of
that distinct form, or, indeed, of any form during the Dark Age.6
Catling, a specialist in the Aegean bronzework of the Mycenaean Age, felt
that the close resemblance of eighth-century tripod cauldrons from Olympia
and elsewhere in Greece to the Late Helladic examples, as well as the
close resemblance of a highly developed eighth-century cuirass from Argos
to an example from fourteenth-century Dendra (both places less than ten
miles from Mycenae and from each other) implied continuous production
for at least those two classes of bronze objects, despite the present
gap of centuries in the evidence.7
Snodgrass, also a specialist in metal work, and on the Dark Age as well,
took the same position vis-à-vis Catling, with regard to tripods
and body armor as he did with chariots, feeling that, despite the close
similarities, a 400-600-year gap in the evidence indicated the the eighth-century
items did not evolve directly from their Mycenaean antecedents.8
The tripod cauldrons
were very effective for heating meals over a cooking fire, but they had
their disadvantages. Because of their massive size and weight, their boiling
contents and their own heat over the flame, one could not remove them
from the fire beneath them, but instead had to ladle what one could of
the boiling liquid from their interior. In the LH III C period the Cypriots
developed an improved model, consisting of a hollow tripod stand upon
which one placed a separate cauldron, which one could remove from the
fire, allow to cool, bring to the table, and from which one could pour
the contents. Those tripods present similar chronological problems to
the one-piece Mycenaean tripod cauldrons which they came to replace. Because
there are numerous LH III C examples and a few precisely similar ones
in contexts as late as the eighth century, Benson, endorsing earlier opinion,
recently called the new tripods one of the most often cited examples
of continuity between the Late Bronze Age and the Geometric Period in
the Aegean. 9
studied the numerous tripods, including the Dark Age stands, who noted
the close similarity of an example from an eighth-century Athenian context
to those of LH III C date, and who did believe, despite the complete lack
of evidence, in the continuity of chariots, body armor, and tripod cauldrons
during the Dark Age, which separates similar examples, nevertheless dated
all the tripod stands to the LH III C period. Rejecting continuity of
manufacture after that time, he postulated that all the tripod stands
in later contexts were prized antiques.10
It is of no little
interest that the bronze tripod stands of the LH III C period, replacing
one-piece tripod cauldrons, then supposedly vanishing (except for rare
heirlooms and much later clay models),11
followed the same course as, and physically resemble other Eastern tripod
stands of the seventh century, which came to replace the eighth-century
Greek tripod cauldrons,12
as if history repeated itself with one 500-year throwback evolving from
and supplanting another 500-year throwback. It is of still greater interest
that a bronze bulls head attachment, presumably from a cauldron
of LH III C date, looks very similar to animal-head attachments found
on eighth-seventh-century Eastern cauldrons imported to Greece. Catling
and others, noting that resemblance, believed that there must be some
kind of connection, but felt perplexed that so many centuries, which offered
nothing remotely similar, separated the Mycenaean Age example from its
much later counterparts.13
Furthermore, one of the most ornately decorated Cypriote tripod stands,
presumably also of LH III C date, showed Levantine motifs which seemed
to derive from somewhat earlier ivory carvings, but the one Levantine
ivory carving, which Catling considered stylistically closest to that
stand, probably belongs to the eighth century, while one of the closest
Cypro-Levantine metalwork analogies dates to the seventh century B.C.14
As in other cases
that we have already seen, and still others as well, the archaeologists
impasse has also had a direct effect on Homeric scholarship, since Homer
mentions bronze corselets and tripods in his epics. One group of scholars
heralds those references as accurate memories of the Mycenaean Age, preserved
through the centuries, while the other regards them as a reflection of
the eighth-century world in which Homer and his audience lived.15
Regarding two sources of literary controversy Homer refers to tripods
as prizes at chariot races.
passage, referring to an aborted chariot race for a tripod at or near
Olympia shortly before the Trojan War (Iliad XI: 698-702) sparked
one of the first chronological debates in Homeric scholarship. Writers
of the Roman period argued whether or not the hard made a poetic allusion
to the famous Olympic Games of his own day,16
a problem which still troubles modern authors,17
especially since some archaeologists feel that the eighth-century tripods
found at Olympia, which so closely resemble the centuries-older Mycenaean
examples, were, in fact, as Homer recounted, prizes for the winners of
the early Olympic Games.18
then as now, compounds itself because of two conflicting chronological
schemes The Greeks of the classical period attributed the foundation
of the Olympic chariot races to a pre-Trojan War hero such as Pelops,
Heracles or Atreus,19
at a time when they had come to believe, via Egyptian reckoning, that
the Trojan War fell sometime during the fourteenth-twelfth centuries B.C.
At the end of the fifth century the Greeks, using native accounts, calculated
that the first recorded Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C.20
A dispute then arose between those who assigned the foundation of the
Olympics to the thirteenth century, and those who opted for the early
eighth.21 As happened
with contemporary and analogous debates over the foundation dates of Rome
and Carthageeither the era of the Trojan War heroes or the ninth/eighth
ancients decided to resolve the arguments by accepting both traditionsall
three were founded in the Heroic Age, abandoned for nearly half a millennium,
then refounded at the later date. Pausanias, who over 1800 years ago related
that compromise for the Olympics,23
did not end the debate, and, in fact, created yet another 500-year problem
for Olympia, which sparked the heated quarrel between Furtwängler
and Dörpfeld, which Velikovsky has recorded above Olympia.24
Rather than resolving
ancient literary debates over Olympia, chariots and tripods, modern philologists
and archaeologists have run into the same problems (and still more) as
their predecessors, and for the same reasonEgyptian chronology placed
Mycenaean objects and institutions half a millennium before similar objects
and institutions again appear.
Benton, The Evolution of the Tripod-Lebes, BSA, 35 (1934-35),
p. 76, n. 5.
cit.; Catling, (1968), pp. 169-170.
(1971), pp. 281-283.
Evans, (1935), vol. II (1928), pp. 629, 637; W. Lamb,
Greek and Roman Bronzes (New York, 1929). p. 44; Benton, (1934-35),
pp. 76-77; Catling, (1968), pp. 169-170; idem, in Popham-Sackett,
(1968), p. 29.
Mitten, and S.F. Doeringer, Master Bronzes from the Classical World
(Los Angeles, 1968), p. 19; cf. Snodgrass, (1971). pp.
237-238, 284, and Desborough, (1972, pp. 314-318.)
ibid, pp. 281-285, 399.
in Popham-Sackett, (1968), p. 29.
Snodgrass, (1971), pp. 281-285; cuirass; ibid.,
pp. 271, 345 and idem, Arms and Armour of the Greeks (Ithaca.
New York, 1967), pp. 30, 41; idem,(1974). p. 123. To
bolster his case for the discontinuity of bronze tripods during the
Dark Age, Snodgrass not only pointed to their absence but also to clay
models manufactured during the eleventh-eighth centuries, as evidence
that the Greeks of that era, between the two periods of similar bronze
examples, experienced a bronze shortage, so that they turned to clay
substitutes. Actually, clay tripods had a very long history in the Aegean
before the advent of the Mycenaean Age, when bronze replaced clay. By
a chronological revision, the Dark Age clay examples did
not come after the Mycenaean Period and before the revived widespread
use of bronze tripods in the eighth century; instead, they served as
the original models before, and the poorer peoples utensils during
the time of Mycenaean metal examples, whose similarity to eighth-century
bronze tripods is due to their rough contemporaneity.
Benson, Bronze Tripods from Koran, GRBS, 3 (1960), p. 7
and cf. p. 16; cf. Hall, (1914), pp. 132-135; Lamb, (1929),
p. 44; J. Charbonneaux, Greek Bronzes (tr. K. Watson) (New- York,
1962), p. 54; Aström, (1972), p. 563.
(1968), pp. 194, 216-217, 223; cf. Snodgrass, (1971)
pp. 119, 251, 271, 285, 325.
heirlooms, see Catling, (1964), pp. 194, 216-217, 223; Snodgrass
(1971), pp. 119, 251, 271, 285, 325. Regarding clay substitutes,
Catling (ibid., pp. 215-217), noted that they did not exist during
the time of the twelfth-century bronze stands; more surprisingly,
rather than immediately replacing the bronzes at the end of the twelfth
century, the clay models only started to appear in the late tenth
century, but were still remarkably close to their metal originals.
(p. 215), whose production had supposedly ceased long beforehand the
clay substitutes ceased being made at the end of the eighth
century, once bronze stands began to reappear in Greece. By a chronological
revision, the latest heirlooms and all the clay copies
preceded the bronze stands of LH III C date, whose resemblance
to seventh-century bronze stands is due to their contemporaneity (cf.
n. 8 above).
(1971), pp. 321, 345; For the resemblance, cf.
Boardman, (1961), pp. 132-134.
(1968), pp. 154-155; E. Sjöqvist, review of Catlings
Cypriot Bronzework in the Mycenaean World, Gnomon, 3 9 (1965),
ibid., pp. 197, 222. The ivory carving from Assyria comes
from a deposit whose limits are 824-703 B.C. (R. Barnett, A Catalogue
of the Nimrud ivories [London, 1957], p. 49).
Mycenaean or eighth century: Snodgrass, (1974), p.
123; idem, (1964), pp. 171-177; probably Mycenaean: Dickinson,
(1973-4), p. 37; F. Stubbings, Arms and Armour
in Wace and Stubbings, A Companion to Homer (London, 1962), pp.
506-510, 522n; probably eighth-century: P. Courbin, Une tombe
géometrique dArgos, BCH, 81 (1957), p. 356. Tripods:
probably Mycenaean: F. Stubbings, Crafts and industries
in Wace-Stubbings (ibid.), p. 535 (although see p. 419); probably
eighth-century: Snodgrass, (1971), p. 436; Dickinson,
(1973-4), p. 43.
VIII.3, 30; Pausanias V.8.2.
Ridington, The Minoan-Mycenaean Background of Greek Athletics
(Philadelphia, 1935), pp. 17-19, 23, 34, 50, 87; H. Schöbel, The
Ancient Olympic Games (Princeton, 1966), pp. 19-21, 73, 75, 92,
Sandys, The Odes of Pindar (New York, 1924), p. xxv; Benton,
(1934-35), pp. 114-115;
Ahlberg, (1971a, p. 198 and n. 1.)
east pediment of the early fifth century temple of Zeus at Olympia
showed Pelops chariot race, which many considered the first Olympic
Game. Pindar (Olympians X: 55-59), at about the same date, attributed
the Games to Heracles. For Atreus, see Velleius Paterculus I:8.1-2.
For the Bronze Age in general, see Pausanias V:7.6-8.4, 10.6-7.
Forsdyke, Greece before Homer (London, 1956), p. 62; G. Mylonas,
Troy and the Date of its Fall, Hesperia 33 (1964), pp.
353, n. 3. The ceremonial date of 1184/3 B.C. was the estimate of Eratosthenes
of Alexandria who, writing in the late third century B.C., relied very
heavily on the works of Ctesias (late fifth century) and Manetho (early
third century). Modern authorities (e.g., Forsdyke, ibid., p.
68; A.R. Burn, Persia and the Greeks [London, 1962], pp. 11-13)
completely mistrust Ctesias work. Without any direct knowledge,
he purported to recount Assyrian history, pushing it back much too far.
Even the fall of the neo-Assyrian empire in 612 B.C. (only about 200
years before Ctesias own time), he dated some 265 years too earlyactually
to the period of its foundation (Forsdyke, pp. 68-74). Manethos
history of Egypt is roughly twice as long as modern scholars
view it (A. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaons [New York, 1972],
pp. 61-62). Although even such respected Egyptologists as Hall, Breasted
and Gardiner have noted gross errors in the number, order, dynasties,
names and reqnal years of Manethos list of pharaohs, as well as
irreconcilable discrepancies between different versions of the list,
they still base much of the present chronological scheme for Egypt on
his account (Velikovsky, (1977), pp. 208-209 and ns. 3-5).
Velikovsky (ibid., pp. 205-244) has convincingly challenged
Manethos scheme and the modern one which it helped to create,
and in the Ages in Chaos volumes has proposed his revision for
the entire structure of later Egyptian history. Despite the faith that
the ancients placed in those three late classical sources, even modern
scholars, who adhere to the present chronological system, dismiss their
calculations as worthless (in addition to those already cited, cf. Dickinson,
(1973-4), pp. 34-35). As we shall see below, these
three writers all drew on the still earlier texts of Herodotus, Hellanicus
and Hecataeus, who also relied directly on fallacious Egyptian accounts
to fix dates for events in Greek prehistory - generally four to five
centuries too old.
Velleius Paterculus 1:8.1-2.
Rome, see Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1. 72.1-74.2; For references to
Carthage, see G.C. and C. Picard, (1968), pp. 30-33; Davis,
Carthage and Her Remains (London, 1861), pp. 1-2. Of special
interest, Appian (Roman History VIII:1,132), accepting both traditions,
had Carthages foundation both before the Trojan War and
in the ninth century.
V:4.5, 8.5. For recent discussions, see n. 17 above and D.I.
Lazarides, Greek Athletics in The Archaic Period (1975,
assigned the earliest temple of Hera at Olympia to the reign of
a king whose grandfather fought at Troy (Ibid., V:3.6, 16.1).
Contemporary archaeologists, who have studied the actual remains (A.
Mallwitz, Olympia und seine Bauten [Munich, 1972], pp. 85-88;
H-V. Hernnan, Olympia: Heiligtum und Wettkampfstätte [Munich,
1972], pp. 93-94; S. Kunze, Zur Geschichte und zu den Denkmälern
Olympias in 100 Jahre deutche Ausgrabung in Olympia [Munich,
1972], p. 11), date the foundation to the mid-seventh century, which
is ca. 500 years later than Dörpfeld, trusting Pausanias, maintained.
In addition to Velikovskys treatment above, see H.E. Searls and
W.B. Dinsmoor, The Date of the Olympia Heraeum, AJA, 49
(1945), p. 62.
Ancient debates between
those advocating the Late Helladic Period and those championing the
ninth-seventh centuries for various events were by no means rare. There
are far more instances today, where the ancients unanimously attributed
something to the Mycenaean Age, but modern archaeologists and historians
can date it no earlier than the ninth-seventh centuries (e.g., Phrygians
in Anatolia; Etruscans in Italy; Phoenicians in the Aegean; Phoenician
colonization of the West Mediterranean; the Mycenaean [or Trojan] colonization
of Sicily, South Italy, Cyrene, Chios, Thera [cf. n. below], Ionia [cf.
below The Design of the Palace, n. 11], and other regions,
the unification of Attica, Athens institution of the archonship
and its participation in the league of Calauria [cf. below The
Design of the Palace, ns. 13, 18]; the arrival of the alphabet
[cf. n. below]; the first temples to Hera not only at Olympia, but also
at Prosymna [cf. n below], Perachora and Foce del Sele in Italy; the
temple to Artemis in Brauron; the Isthmian, Pythian, Nemean and Olympic
Games; the sculpture of Daedalus; the prominence of Argos; etc. etc.).