Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90a km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 kms to the south; Corinth, 48 kms to the north. From the hill on which the palace was located one can see across the Argolid to the Saronic Gulf.
In the second millennium BC Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae.
The first excavations at Mycenae were carried out by the Greek archaeologist Kyriakos Pittakis in 1841. He found and restored the Lion Gate. In 1874 Heinrich Schliemann arrived at the site and started a complete excavation. Schliemann believed in the historical truth of the Homeric stories and interpreted the site accordingly. He found the ancient shaft graves with their royal skeletons and spectacular grave goods. Upon discovering a human skull beneath a gold death mask in one of the tombs, he declared: "I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon".
Since Schliemann's day more scientific excavations have taken place at Mycenae, mainly by Greek archaeologists but also by the British School at Athens. The acropolis was excavated in 1902, and the surrounding hills have been methodically investigated by subsequent excavations.
The Athens Archaeological Society is currently excavating the Mycenae Lower Town (as of 2011), with support from Dickinson College and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory.