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Grave Circle A


The Perseid grave circle referred to in the story is Grave Circle A, in which Heinrich Schliemann discovered five intact shaft graves.  The dead buried here were loaded down with gold and other fabulous treasures, including the so-called Mask of Agamemnon.  These graves date from between 1550-1450 B.C., too early to belong to the later Atreid kings who fought in the Trojan War, but not the Perseid kings who came before.  Legend says Perseus founded Mycenae; the shaft graves might belong to his family. 

The first citadel at Mycenae was much smaller than the one whose ruins you can visit today, and Grave Circle A stood outside the walls.  At some point around 1260 B.C., the citadel walls were expanded and strengthened; the famous Lion Gate was part of these constructions.  In addition, Grave Circle A was brought into the citadel, refurbished with a new supporting terrace, and turned into a place for cult worship; the king or kings who ordered this work clearly wanted to stress a link with those earlier rulers, and this fits very well with the legend of Atreus taking over after his nephew Eurystheus, the last Perseid king, died without an heir. 


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