Taten und Geschicke gänzlich fallen zu lassen und völlig verschiedene zuerfinden, [das] konnte Niemanden einfallen…
The excavations of Schliemann changed this discussion. Schliemann’s uncovering of a powerful Bronze Age settlement at the site of what –at least in later Classical times- wasknown as Ilion (even if his initial identification of Troy II as the “Homeric Troy” wasutterly wrong), his findings at Mycenae, Tiryns and Orchomenos showed that the worlddescribed in the Homeric Epics was remarkably reminiscent to Bronze Age reality. Bymany, this was taken as proof that the Homeric songs were “real”; that Agamemnon andhis companions once lived and fought for Troy and that they had lived in splendid palaces such as they were now known at Mycenae and Tiryns.
This was most of all thecase with Schliemann himself who, of course, always had been a believer, a “positivist”.In general, it seems that after Schliemann’s excavations, the popular consensus was thatthe Homeric stories held at least some core of Bronze Age reality, a belief that grew withthe slightly later discoveries in Crete, where several large “palatial” structures wereexcavated. Most notable amongst these was the palace at Knossos, which was being dug by Sir Arthur Evans. Evans’ excavations at Knossos on the one hand put Schliemann’sfinds in a better perspective; not only showing that a much older culture had precededthe mainland civilization that had by now been coined “Mycenaean”, but also thatMycenaean society owed much to its Cretan predecessors in virtually every field of religion, “art”, social organisation.
On the other hand, Evans’ excavations also cast a shadow on scholarship that was to lastfor several decades. Although not explicitly stated in his early work, Evans increasinglyconsidered the Minoan civilization
not only as a major influence on the Mainlandsociety of the Mycenaean palaces, but even saw those palaces as Minoan dependencies,subject to the rule of Knossos. This view was to dominate scholarship for decades tocome. Indeed, such was his influence on contemporary scholarship that those that did not
Welcker 1849, 43.
See for example the preface to Schliemann’s “Mycenae” (1880) by W. E. Gladstone.
Cf. Dickinson1994; Schachermeyr1987, with references.
See for an extensive discussion of the term “Minoan” before Evans, Karadimas / Momigliano 2004.