Mycenaean civilization refers to a late Bronze Age civilization existing from 1650 to 1100 B.C., and centered on mainland Greece and the islands of the Aegean Sea. This civilization is particularly characterized by its palace-fortresses, its different types of painted pottery found all around the Aegean Sea, as well as its writing, with the linear B script being the oldest known writing transcribing Greek. Since its decipherment by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick in 1952, the Mycenaean civilization is, of all the pre-Hellenic Aegean civilizations, the only one known at the same time by archaeological remains and epigraphic documents1.
The term "Mycenaean" was chosen by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann to describe this civilization in the second half of the nineteenth century, before Charles Thomas Newton defined its characteristics by identifying its homogeneous material culture from finds made over several centuries. The name itself is taken from that of the city of Mycenae (Peloponnese), due in part to it being the first archaeological site excavated to reveal the importance of this civilization as a whole, as well as its prominence within the memory of ancient Greek writers, with Homer making the king of Mycenae "the chief of the Achaeans" in his epic, the Illiad.