Funerary Mask of Agamemnon
Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae and leader of the Greek army in the Trojan War. He is presented as a great warrior but selfish ruler, famously upsetting his invincible champion Achilles and so prolonging the war and suffering of his men.
Agamemnon was married to Clytemnestra, and they had three daughters; Iphigeneia, Electra, and Chrysothemis, and a son; Orestes. When Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, carried off Helen, Agamemnon called on the princes of the country to unite in a war of revenge against the Trojans. He himself furnished 100 ships and was chosen commander in chief of the combined forces. The fleet assembled at the port of Aulis in Boeotia but was prevented from sailing by calms or contrary winds that were sent by the Goddess Artemis because Agamemnon had in some way offended her. To appease the wrath of Artemis, Agamemnon was forced to sacrifice his own daughter Iphigeneia.
The Mask of Agamemnon is an artifact discovered in Mycenae in 1876 by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. It is made of gold and is a funeral mask found over the face of a dead body in a burial place at Mycenae. Heinrich Schliemann believed that he had discovered the body of the Mycenaean king Agamemnon, but modern archaeological research suggests that the mask dates to about 1600 BC, pre-dating the period of the legendary Trojan War by about 400 years. The mask is displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, and has been described by Cathy Gere as the “Mona Lisa” of prehistory.
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