A death mask is a likeness of a person's face following death made by taking a cast or impression directly from the corpse. Death masks may be used for creation of portraits; such casts obviate idealised representations by revealing the actual features. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mold; the main purpose of the death mask from the Middle Ages until the 19th century was to serve as a model for sculptors in creating statues and busts of the deceased person. Not until the 1800s did such masks become valued for themselves. In other cultures a death mask may be a funeral mask, an image placed on the face of the deceased before burial rites, buried with them; the best known of these are the masks used in ancient Egypt as part of the mummification process, such as Tutankhamun's mask, those from Mycenaean Greece such as the Mask of Agamemnon.
In some European countries, it was common for death masks to be used as part of the effigy of the deceased, displayed at state funerals. Mourning portraits were painted, showing the subject lying in repose. During the 18th and 19th centuries masks were used to permanently record the features of unknown corpses for purposes of identification; this function was replaced by post-mortem photography. In the cases of people whose faces were damaged by their death, it was common to take casts of their hands. An example of this occurred in the case of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, the Canadian statesman whose face was shattered by the bullet which assassinated him in 1868; when taken from a living subject, such a cast is called a life mask. Proponents of phrenology used both death masks and life masks for pseudoscientific purposes. Masks of deceased persons are part of traditions in many countries; the most important process of the funeral ceremony in ancient Egypt was the mummification of the body, after prayers and consecration, was put into a sarcophagus enameled and decorated with gold and gems.
A special element of the rite was a sculpted mask, put on the face of the deceased. This mask was believed to strengthen the spirit of the mummy and guard the soul from evil spirits on its way to the afterworld; the best known mask is Tutankhamun's mask. Made of gold and gems, the mask conveys the stylized features of the ancient ruler; such masks were not, made from casts of the features. In 1876 the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered in Mycenae six graves, which he was confident belonged to kings and ancient Greek heroes—Agamemnon, Cassandra and their associates. To his surprise, the skulls were covered with gold masks, it is now thought most unlikely that the masks belonged to Agamemnon and other heroes of the Homeric epics. The lifelike character of Roman portrait sculptures has been attributed to the earlier Roman use of wax to preserve the features of deceased family members; the wax masks were subsequently reproduced in more durable stone. The use of masks in the ancestor cult is attested in Etruria.
Excavations of tombs in the area of the ancient city of Clusium have yielded a number of sheet bronze masks dating from the Etruscan Late Orientalising period. In the 19th century it was thought that they were related to the Mycenaean examples, but whether they served as actual death masks cannot be proven; the most credited hypothesis holds that they were fixed to cinerary urns, to give them a human appearance. In Orientalising Clusium, the anthropomorphization of urns was a prevalent phenomenon, rooted in local religious beliefs. In the late Middle Ages, a shift took place from sculpted masks to true death masks, made of wax or plaster; these masks were not interred with the deceased. Instead, they were used in funeral ceremonies and were kept in libraries and universities. Death masks were taken not only of deceased royalty and nobility, but of eminent persons—composers, dramaturges and political leaders, philosophers and scientists, such as Dante Alighieri, Ludwig van Beethoven, Napoleon Bonaparte, Filippo Brunelleschi, Frédéric Chopin, Oliver Cromwell, Joseph Haydn, John Keats, Franz Liszt, Blaise Pascal, Nikola Tesla, Torquato Tasso, Voltaire.
As in ancient Rome, death masks were subsequently used in making marble sculpture portraits, busts, or engravings of the deceased. In Russia, the death mask tradition dates back to the times of Peter the Great, whose death mask was taken by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Well known are the death masks of Nicholas I, Alexander I. Stalin's death mask is on display at the Stalin Museum in Georgia. One of the first real Ukrainian death masks was that of the poet Taras Shevchenko, taken by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg in St. Petersburg, Russia. In early spring of 1860 and shortly before his death in April 1865, two life masks were created of President Abraham Lincoln. Death masks were used by scientists from the late 18th century onwards to record variations in human physiognomy; the life mask was increasingly common at this time, taken from living persons. Anthropologists used such masks to study physiognomic features in famous people and notorious criminals. M
Egypt the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, across the Mediterranean lie Greece and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman Turkish, Nubian.
Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority. From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967.
In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian. Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa, the fifteenth-most populous in the world; the great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres, where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, a middle power worldwide. Egypt's economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt became Africa's second largest economy. Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. "Miṣr" is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while "Maṣr" is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic. The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew "מִצְרַיִם"; the oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian "mi-iṣ-ru" related to miṣru/miṣirru/miṣaru, meaning "border" or "frontier". There is evidence of rock carvings in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BCE, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture.
Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BCE began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society. By about 6000 BCE, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt; the Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade; the earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BCE. A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BCE
Tiryns or is a Mycenaean archaeological site in Argolis in the Peloponnese, the location from which mythical hero Heracles performed his 12 labors. Tiryns was a hill fort with occupation ranging back seven thousand years, from before the beginning of the Bronze Age, it reached its height between 1400 and 1200 BC, when it was one of the most important centers of the Mycenaean world, in particular in Argolis. Its most notable features were its palace, its cyclopean tunnels and its walls, which gave the city its Homeric epithet of "mighty walled Tiryns". Tiryns is linked with the myths surrounding Heracles, as the city was the residence of the hero during his labors, some sources cite it as his birthplace; the famous megaron of the palace of Tiryns has a large reception hall, the main room of which had a throne placed against the right wall and a central hearth bordered by four Minoan-style wooden columns that served as supports for the roof. Two of the three walls of the megaron were incorporated into an archaic temple of Hera.
The site went into decline at the end of the Mycenaean period, was deserted by the time Pausanias visited in the 2nd century AD. This site was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in 1884–1885, is the subject of ongoing excavations by the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and the University of Heidelberg. In 1300 BC the citadel and lower town had a population of 10,000 people covering 20–25 hectares. Despite the destruction of the palace in 1200 BC, the city population continued to increase and by 1150 BC it had a population of 15,000 people. Tiryns was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1999. Tiryns is first referenced by Homer. Ancient tradition held that the walls were built by the cyclopes because only giants of superhuman strength could have lifted the enormous stones. After viewing the walls of the ruined citadel in the 2nd century AD, the geographer Pausanias wrote that two mules pulling together could not move the smaller stones. Tradition associates the walls with Proetus, the sibling of Acrisius, king of Argos.
According to the legend Proetus, pursued by his brother, fled to Lycia. With the help of the Lycians, he managed to return to Argolis. There, Proetus fortified it with the assistance of the cyclopes, thus Greek legend links the three Argolic centers with three mythical heroes: Acrisius, founder of the Doric colony of Argos. But this tradition was born at the beginning of the historical period, when Argos was fighting to become the hegemonic power in the area and needed a glorious past to compete with the other two cities; the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. A lesser neolithic settlement was followed, in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, by a flourishing early pre-Hellenic settlement located about 15 km southeast of Mycenae, on a hill 300 m long, 45–100 m wide, no more than 18 meters high. From this period survived under the yard of a Mycenaean palace, an imposing circular structure 28 meters in diameter, which appears to be a fortified place of refuge for the city's inhabitants in time of war, and/or a residence of a king.
Its base was powerful, was constructed from two concentric stone walls, among which there were others cross-cutting, so that the thickness reached 45 m. The superstructure was clay and the roof was made from fire-baked tiles; the first Greek inhabitants—the creators of the Middle Helladic civilization and the Mycenaean civilization after that—settled Tiryns at the beginning of the Middle period, though the city underwent its greatest growth during the Mycenaean period. The Acropolis was constructed in three phases, the first at the end of the Late Helladic II period, the second in Late Helladic III, the third at the end of the Late Helladic III B; the surviving ruins of the Mycenaean citadel date to the end of the third period. The city proper surrounded the acropolis on the plain below; the disaster that struck the Mycenaean centers at the end of the Bronze Age affected Tiryns, but it is certain that the area of the palace was inhabited continuously until the middle of the 8th century BC. At the beginning of the classical period Tiryns, like Mycenae, became a insignificant city.
When Cleomenes I of Sparta defeated the Argives, their slaves occupied Tiryns for many years, according to Herodotus. Herodotus mentions that Tiryns took part in the Battle of Plataea in 480 BC with 400 hoplites. In decline and Tiryns were disturbing to the Argives, who in their political propaganda wanted to monopolize the glory of legendary ancestors. In 468 BC Argos destroyed both Mycenae and Tiryns, and—according to Pausanias—transferred the residents to Argos, to increase the population of the city. However, Strabo says that many Tirynthians moved to found the city of modern Porto Heli. Despite its importance, little value was given to Tiryns and its mythical rulers and traditions by epics and drama. Pausanias dedicated a short piece to Tiryns, newer travelers, traveling to Greece in search of places where the heroes of the ancient texts lived, did not understand the significance of the city; the Acropolis was first excavated by the German scholar Friedrich Thiersch in 1831. In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann considered the palace of Tiryns to be medieval, so he came close to destroying the remains to excavate deeper for Mycenaean treasures.
However, the next period of excavation was under Wilhelm Dörpfeld, a director of the German Archaeological Institute.
Mask of Agamemnon
The Mask of Agamemnon is a gold funeral mask discovered at the ancient Greek site of Mycenae. The mask, displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, has been described by Cathy Gere as the "Mona Lisa of prehistory". German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the artifact in 1876, believed that he had found the body of the Mycenaean king Agamemnon, leader of the Achaeans in Homer's epic of the Trojan War, the Iliad, but modern archaeological research suggests that the mask predates the period of the legendary Trojan War by about 300 years. German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann found the mask in 1876 in a burial shaft designated Grave V at the site "Grave Circle A, Mycenae"; the mask is one of five discovered in the royal shaft graves at Mycenae—three in Grave IV and two in Grave V. The faces and hands of two children in Grave III are covered with gold leaf, one covering having holes for the eyes; the mask was designed to be a funeral mask covered in gold. The faces of the men are not all covered with masks.
That they are men and warriors is suggested by the presence of weapons in their graves. The quantities of gold and worked artifacts indicate honor and status; the custom of clothing leaders in gold leaf is known elsewhere. The Mask of Agamemnon was named by Schliemann after the legendary Greek king of Homer's Iliad; this mask adorned one of the bodies in the shaft graves at Mycenae. Schliemann took this as evidence; the mask of Agamemnon was created from a single thick gold sheet and hammered against a wooden background with the details chased on with a sharp tool. Following his discoveries at the site, Schliemann notified King George of Greece, he is supposed to have told the king in a telegraph, "I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon". Schliemann named his son, Agamemnon Schliemann, after the legendary king. In the half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the authenticity of the mask has been formally questioned by William Calder III and David Traill. Archaeology magazine has run a series of articles presenting both sides of the debate.
By the time of the excavation of the Shaft Graves, the Greek Archaeological Society had taken a hand in supervising Schliemann's work, sending Panagiotis Stamatakis as ephor, or director, of the excavation, who kept a close eye on Schliemann. Proponents of the fraud argument center their case on Schliemann's reputation for salting digs with artifacts from elsewhere; the resourceful Schliemann, they assert, could have had the mask manufactured on the general model of the other Mycenaean masks and found an opportunity to place it in the excavation. The defending advocate point out that the excavation was closed on November 26–27 for Sunday holiday and rain, it was not allowed to reopen. The three other masks were not discovered until the 28th; the Mask of Agamemnon was found on the 30th. A second critique is based on style; the Mask of Agamemnon differs from three of the other masks in a number of points: it is three-dimensional rather than flat, one of the facial hairs is cut out, rather than engraved, the ears are cut out, the eyes are depicted as both open and shut, with open eyelids, but a line of closed eyelids across the center, the face alone of all the depictions of faces in Mycenaean art has a full pointed beard with handlebar mustache, the mouth is well-defined, the brows are formed to two arches rather than one.
The defense presented prior arguments that the shape of the lip, the triangular beard and the detail of the beard are nearly the same as the mane and locks of the gold lion-head rhyton from Shaft Grave IV. Schliemann's duplicity, they claim, has been exaggerated, they claim that the attackers were conducting a vendetta. Modern archaeological research suggests that the mask is genuine but predates the period of the Trojan War by about 300 years. Achaeans Teres I Gere, Cathy; the Tomb of Agamemnon. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-06824-7. Behind the mask of Agamemnon, July/August 1999 Is the Mask a Hoax? op. cit. Insistent Questions op. cit. The Case for Authenticity op. cit. Not A Forgery. How about a Pastiche? op. cit. Epilogue op. cit. Questioning The Mycenaean Death Mask Of Agamemnon op. cit
China the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering 9,600,000 square kilometers, it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since China has expanded, re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin established the first Chinese empire; the succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements.
The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty and Northern Song completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution; the Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China, a unitary one-party sovereign state on Mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The political status of Taiwan remains disputed. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates above 6 percent. According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017. Since 2010, China has been the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and since 2014, the largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity.
China is the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget; the PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as it replaced the ROC in 1971, as well as an active global partner of ASEAN Plus mechanism. China is a leading member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, WTO, APEC, BRICS, the BCIM, the G20. In recent times, scholars have argued that it will soon be a world superpower, rivaling the United States; the word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century. It is not a word used by the Chinese themselves, it has been traced through Portuguese and Persian back to the Sanskrit word Cīna, used in ancient India."China" appears in Richard Eden's 1555 translation of the 1516 journal of the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa. Barbosa's usage was derived from Persian Chīn, in turn derived from Sanskrit Cīna.
Cīna was first used including the Mahābhārata and the Laws of Manu. In 1655, Martino Martini suggested that the word China is derived from the name of the Qin dynasty. Although this derivation is still given in various sources, it is complicated by the fact that the Sanskrit word appears in pre-Qin literature; the word may have referred to a state such as Yelang. The meaning transferred to China as a whole; the origin of the Sanskrit word is still a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China"; the shorter form is "China" Zhōngguó, from zhōng and guó, a term which developed under the Western Zhou dynasty in reference to its royal demesne. It was applied to the area around Luoyi during the Eastern Zhou and to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state under the Qing, it was used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia people from perceived "barbarians". The name Zhongguo is translated as "Middle Kingdom" in English.
Archaeological evidence suggests that early hominids inhabited China between 2.24 million and 250,000 years ago. The hominid fossils of Peking Man, a Homo erectus who used fire, were discovered in a cave at Zhoukoudian near Beijing; the fossilized teeth of Homo sapiens have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Hunan. Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BCE, Damaidi around 6000 BCE, Dadiwan from 5800–5400 BCE, Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BCE; some scholars have suggested. According to Chinese tradition, the first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged around 2100 BCE; the dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959. It remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period; the succeeding Shang dynasty is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records. The Shang ruled the plain of the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BCE.
Their oracle bone script
History of ancient Israel and Judah
The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were related kingdoms from the Iron Age period of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 10th century BCE before falling to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE. Israel's southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Judah, emerged in the 8th or 9th century BCE and became a client state of first the Neo-Assyrian Empire and the Neo-Babylonian Empire before a revolt against the latter led to its destruction in 586 BCE. Following the fall of Babylon to the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, some Judean exiles returned to Jerusalem, inaugurating the formative period in the development of a distinctive Judahite identity in the province of Yehud Medinata. During the Hellenistic classic period, Yehud was absorbed into the subsequent Hellenistic kingdoms that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great, but in the 2nd century BCE the Judaeans revolted against the Seleucid Empire and created the Hasmonean kingdom.
This, the last nominally independent kingdom of Israel lost its independence from 63 BCE with its conquest by Pompey of Rome, becoming a Roman and Parthian client kingdom. Following the installation of client kingdoms under the Herodian dynasty, the Province of Judea was wracked by civil disturbances, which culminated in the First Jewish–Roman War, the destruction of the Second Temple, the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity; the name Judea ceased to be used by Greco-Romans after the revolt of Simon Bar Kochba in 135 CE. Iron Age I: 1200–1000 BCE Iron Age II: 1000–586 BCE Neo-Babylonian: 586–539 BCE Persian: 539–332 BCE Hellenistic: 332–53 BCEOther academic terms used are: First Temple period Second Temple period The eastern Mediterranean seaboard – the Levant – stretches 400 miles north to south from the Taurus Mountains to the Sinai Peninsula, 70 to 100 miles east to west between the sea and the Arabian Desert; the coastal plain of the southern Levant, broad in the south and narrowing to the north, is backed in its southernmost portion by a zone of foothills, the Shfela.
East of the plain and the Shfela is a mountainous ridge, the "hill country of Judah" in the south, the "hill country of Ephraim" north of that Galilee and Mount Lebanon. To the east again lie the steep-sided valley occupied by the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, the wadi of the Arabah, which continues down to the eastern arm of the Red Sea. Beyond the plateau is the Syrian desert, separating the Levant from Mesopotamia. To the southwest is Egypt, to the northeast Mesopotamia; the location and geographical characteristics of the narrow Levant made the area a battleground among the powerful entities that surrounded it. Canaan in the Late Bronze Age was a shadow of what it had been centuries earlier: many cities were abandoned, others shrank in size, the total settled population was not much more than a hundred thousand. Settlement was concentrated along major communication routes. Politically and culturally it was dominated by Egypt, each city under its own ruler at odds with its neighbours, appealing to the Egyptians to adjudicate their differences.
The Canaanite city state system broke down during the Late Bronze Age collapse, Canaanite culture was gradually absorbed into that of the Philistines and Israelites. The process was gradual and a strong Egyptian presence continued into the 12th century BCE, while some Canaanite cities were destroyed, others continued to exist in Iron Age I; the name "Israel" first appears in the Merneptah Stele c. 1209 BCE: "Israel is laid waste and his seed is no more." This "Israel" was a cultural and political entity, well enough established for the Egyptians to perceive it as a possible challenge, but an ethnic group rather than an organised state. In the Late Bronze Age there were no more than about 25 villages in the highlands, but this increased to over 300 by the end of Iron Age I, while the settled population doubled from 20,000 to 40,000; the villages were more numerous and larger in the north, shared the highlands with pastoral nomads, who left no remains. Archaeologists and historians attempting to trace the origins of these villagers have found it impossible to identify any distinctive features that could define them as Israelite – collared-rim jars and four-room houses have been identified outside the highlands and thus cannot be used to distinguish Israelite sites, while the pottery of the highland villages is far more limited than that of lowland Canaanite sites, it develops typologically out of Canaanite pottery that came before.
Israel Finkelstein proposed that the oval or circular layout that distinguishes some of the earliest highland sites, the notable absence of pig bones from hill sites, could be taken as markers of ethnicity, but others have cautioned that these can be a "common-sense" adaptation to highland life and not revelatory of origins. Other Aramaean sites demonstrate a contemporary absence of pig remains at that time, unlike earlier Canaanite and Philistine excavations. In The Bible Unea
Grave Circle A, Mycenae
Grave Circle A is a 16th-century BC royal cemetery situated to the south of the Lion Gate, the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. This burial complex was constructed outside the fortification walls of Mycenae, but was enclosed in the acropolis when the fortifications were extended during the 13th century BC. Grave Circle A and Grave Circle B, the latter found outside the walls of Mycenae, represent one of the major characteristics of the early phase of the Mycenaean civilization; the circle has a diameter of 27.5 m and contains six shaft graves, where a total of nineteen bodies were buried. It has been suggested that a mound was constructed over each grave, funeral stelae were erected. Among the objects found were a series of gold death masks, additionally beside the deceased were full sets of weapons, ornate staffs as well as gold and silver cups; the site was excavated by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1876, following the descriptions of Homer and Pausanias.
One of the gold masks he unearthed became known as "The Death Mask of Agamemnon", ruler of Mycenae according to Greek mythology. However, it has been proved that the burials date circa three centuries earlier, before Agamemnon is supposed to have lived; the valuable objects found in the graves suggest. Although Agamemnon was supposed to have lived centuries these graves might have belonged to the former ruling dynasty of Mycenae – according to Greek mythology, the Perseides. According to Greek mythology, Mycenae had a period where two kings ruled and archeologists have suggested that these dual graves may correspond to both kings. During the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the indigenous inhabitants of mainland Greece underwent a cultural transformation attributed to climate change, local events and developments, as well as to continuous contacts with various areas such as western Asia Minor, the Cyclades and Dalmatia; these Bronze Age people were equipped with horses, surrounded themselves with luxury goods, constructed elaborate shaft graves.
The acropolis of Mycenae, one of the main centers of Mycenaean culture, located in Argolis, northeast Peloponnese, was built on a defensive hill at an elevation of 128 m and covers an area of 30,000 m2. The Shaft Graves found in Mycenae signified the elevation of a new Greek-speaking royal dynasty whose economic power depended on long-distance sea trade. Grave Circles A and B, the latter found outside the walls of Mycenae, represent one of the major characteristics of the early phase of the Mycenaean civilization. Mycenaean shaft graves are an Argive variant of the rudimentary Middle Helladic funerary tradition with features derived from Early Bronze Age traditions developed locally in mainland Greece. Grave Circle A, formed circa 1600 BC as a new elite burial place, was first restricted to men and seems to be a continuation of the earlier Grave Circle B and correlates with the general social trend of higher burial investment taking place throughout entire Greece that time; the Grave Circle A site was part of a larger funeral place from the Middle Helladic period.
At the time it was built, during the Late Helladic I, there was a small unfortified palace on Mycenae, while the graves of the Mycenaean ruling family remained outside of the city walls. There is no evidence of a circular wall around the site during the period of the burials; the last interment took place circa 1500 BC. After the last interment, the local rulers abandoned the shaft graves in favour of a new and more imposing form of tomb developing in Messenia, south Peloponessus, the tholos. Around 1250 BC, when the fortifications of Mycenae were extended, the Grave Circle was included inside the new wall. A double ring peribolos wall was built around the area, it appears that the site became a temenos, while a circular construction an altar was found above one grave. The burial site had been replanned as a monument, an attempt by the 13th century BC Mycenean rulers to appropriate the possible heroic past of the older ruling dynasty. Under this context, the land surface was built up to make a level precinct for ceremonies, with the stelae over the graves being re-erected.
A new entrance, the Lion Gate, was constructed near the site. Grave Circle A, with a diameter of 27.5 m, is situated on the acropolis of Mycenae southeast of the Lion Gate. The site is surrounded by two rows of slabs, while the space between the rows was filled with earth and roofed with slabs; the Grave Circle contains six shaft graves, the smallest of, measured at 3.0 m by 3.5 m and the largest measured at 4.50 m by 6.40 m. Over each grave a mound was constructed and stelae were erected; these stelae had been erected in memory of the Mycenaean rulers buried there. A total of nineteen bodies – eight men, nine women and two children – were found in the shafts, which contained two to five bodies each. Among the findings, boars' tusks were found in Grave IV, as well as five golden masks in Graves IV and V. One of them, the supposed Mask of Agamemnon, was found in Grave V. Additionally and silver cups, including Nestor's Cup and the Silver Siege Rhyton, were found by the side of the deceased. A number of gold rings and bracelets were found.
Most of the graves were equipped with full sets of weapons swords, the figural depictions of the objects show fighting and hunting scenes. The gender of those entombed here were distinguished b