Treasury of Atreus

As Treasury of Atreus (Greek θησαυρός του Ατρέα ) is now called the grandest obtained in royal tombs of Mycenae. There is an underground Tholosbau, which was built during the Late Helladic period. According to the classification of Alan Wace it belongs to the third and final Tholos Group and is dated to LH III B.


Pausanias reported that there is an underground building of Atreus and his sons were in Mycenae, where they stored their treasures. Probably because of the valuable grave goods were thought to be tombs in the ancient world for treasure houses. The first visitors Mykenes kept the dome, which was, however, now stripped of its valuables, for the described building and therefore called it the Treasury of Atreus. Sometimes you will also find the term grave of Agamemnon.


The dome grave is located on the eastern slope of the Panagitsa hill about 400 m southwest of the upper city of Mycenae, on the road that leads from the village of Mykines to the excavation site. One enters the grave from the east through a monumental dromos of almost 6 m wide and 36 m long whose side are built of conglomerate blocks. Rise penetrates deeper access into the grave mound, the higher the side walls until they finally 10.50 meters in the height of the entrance facade reach.

The entrance has a height of 5.40 m and a bottom width of 2.70 m, which tapers upwards to 2.45 m. It was formerly flanked by two half columns. On both sides you can still see the three-tiered, rectangular column bases and the holes that served for attachment of the columns see today. In the columns and capitals of green marble Zigzaglinien and spirals were carved. Above the lintel there is a relief triangle that distributes the weight on the side walls, thus relieving the deck beams. The wall and the discharge chamber were previously faced with ornate cover Blatten red marble. Left and right, there was one small pillar of green marble. Fragments of columns and the veneer are now in the British Museum in London, the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and in the Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities.

The gate was previously closed by a double door. The approximately 5 m long doorway is covered by two deck beams. The larger inner cover stone has a length of 8.30 m, a width of 5.20 m and a thickness of 1.20 m. Its mass is estimated to be 120 t. Directly behind the gate leads into the dome grave. It has a height of 13.50 m and a diameter of 14.60 m. It was built from 33 layers horizontally one above the other brick stones without mortar in the form of a beehive. By layering the blocks that are constantly shifted inward, resulting in a so-called false vault. These rocks consist of conglomerate rock, which is found on the spot. Starting from the third position to the top infected earlier bronze nails in the stones of which bear witness today only holes in the stones. On the nails probably bronze jewelry was attached, as has been proven him dome in the grave of Orchomenus. The floor is made of natural rock.

On the north side of the grave chamber, there is a door that leads to another chamber. This next room is almost square of 6 mx 6 m and has a height of 5.80 m. It was carved into the rock. The rough wall was once covered with stone slabs. The access was closed with a door and there is the door beams, a relief triangle.

The " Treasury of Atreus " the largest circular dome ( Kragkuppel ) was over 1300 years, started to construction of the Pantheon in Rome under Emperor Hadrian 118 AD

Construction and function

The dome grave was erected around 1250 BC. For this purpose, a hole was dug and dug a flat surface of the rock. Well you built the dome and at first covered him with rocks and finally to ground. The floor of the vaulted chamber was covered with a whitish ground and stomped it fixed. On this ground, the dead were placed. After the funeral, the gate was closed, walled with stones and filled the earth with dromos, with probably the upper part of the entrance façade was still visible. The grave was used further for a long time, and it was opened and closed again and again.


The Treasury of Atreus was never completely buried and therefore not forgotten. In 1729, visited the French clergy Michel Mont Four Mycenae and made ​​a drawing of the Treasury to. Around 1780 Louis Francois Sebastien Fauvel surveyed the grave for the first time. 1802 Lord Elgin made ​​excavation at the treasure house and took some fragments of the facade to England. 1805 Edward Dodwell visited the archaeological site and reported by some fragments of half-pedestal, he saw there. About the same time William Gell paid a visit to the grave. Lord Sligo came to Mycenae in 1810 and led excavations and Veli Pasha of Morea, the governor of the Morea, allowed him to take the fragments of half- column to Ireland.

It was not until 1874 put Heinrich Schliemann, the Treasury of Atreus completely free. 1939 examined Alan Wace the Treasury closer and could based on shards that he found under the door threshold, to show that it was not built until the mid-13th century BC.